The MotoGP field will be back up to 22 bikes for 2012 when the new technical regulations are introduced, the championship's commercial boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has predicted.
Next season the current 800cc engines will be replaced by 1000cc units, and production-derived engines will be permitted. The new rules are aimed to reduce costs and increase participation, with the usual MotoGP grid size having now fallen to 17 bikes.
"The big challenge for us during the next year is to try to make the championship more economical for the teams if possible, especially the independent teams. We are doing that. We are OK for 2011," said Ezpeleta. "I'm sure with the people who are talking with us regarding 2012, for sure we can see that we will have not less than 22 bikes in the MotoGP class."
Despite being optimistic about the level of interest in the 2012 rules, Ezpeleta said it was too soon to announce any firm commitments from newcomers.
"We have some manufacturers and new factory teams have showed us their interest, but today I cannot say anything 100 percent," he said.
Ezpeleta insisted there was no conflict between his Dorna group and World Superbike promoter Infront over MotoGP's new rules, which by allowing production-based machinery could be seen to be moving closer to Superbike territory.
"We are following our contract with the FIM and we have not any problem," said Ezpeleta. "The discussion about [what are] prototypes and not prototypes is not our discussion. Nobody can say that any of the bikes that are participating in MotoGP is not a prototype.
"This is not our problem. Maybe it's a problem between Infront and the FIM, but it's not my problem."
MotoGP's falling grids in recent years are due in part to Kawasaki's withdrawal and Suzuki now cutting back to a single bike for 2011. Both decisions were regarded by Dorna as in contravention of commitments previously made by the MotoGP manufacturers, leading to suggestions that legal action would now be taken against Suzuki to try and compel it to enter a second bike. Ezpeleta said this possibility was not currently being pursued, but intimated that it could be if Suzuki chose to leave MotoGP altogether after this season.
Asked if he expected Suzuki to stay for 2012, Ezpeleta replied: "They haven't confirmed anything. We talked with the MSMA people, and we need to wait and see if they participate.
"We are not interested in a legal case unless it can resolve something. We will wait and see what is the situation and how is the future. For us, the most important thing is to try to keep the contract in place. In our opinion, they didn't respect the contract.
"It's important how the behavior of Suzuki will be for the future. To be honest, if they continue participating we don't think we need to do any legal action. If not, maybe yes or maybe not. But it is not something that has a term – we can do it now or in six months."