Analyzing Braking Stability: Why Is Honda So Much Better Than Yamaha?

One of the great privileges which holding a MotoGP media pass allows is to stand behind the armco and watch and listen to the bikes as they go past. At the Sepang test, I made full use of that opportunity, and wandered over to Turn 3 – the glorious, fast right hander, where the riders get sideways driving through the turn and onto the short straight to Turn 4 – to enjoy the spectacle of the best riders of the world showing off their skills.

There is more to be learned from watching at track side than just how spectacular MotoGP bikes are through fast corners, though. The careful observer can pick up clues to what both the riders and factories are doing. With electronics such a key part of MotoGP nowadays, the track is one of the few places where updates are visible. Updated vehicle dynamics algorithms may be invisible from pit lane (or nearly so, with the occasional addition of sensors or torque gauges the only visible clue), bike behavior on the track will sometimes betray them.

At the end of 2013, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa had asked for more stability under braking, and some more corner speed. Listening to the bikes at Sepang gave a possible clue as to how they had achieved that. The differences in engine note between the various bikes were instructive of the varying levels of electronics, engine braking strategies, and gearbox function.

That Honda have been working on braking and corner entry was audible at Sepang. Though the RC213V always sounded smooth under braking, braking for Turn 4 the improvement was noticeable. As they braked and downshifted for the corner, the Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa sounded more like a big scooter with a constantly variable transmission than a racing four stroke with six separate gears. Engine revs decreased smoothly, downshifts barely perceptible. There was no popping or crackle of extra fuel burning off, just a smooth, booming descending tone.

How should we interpret this noise? It seems safe to assume that it finds its origins in the seamless gearbox. The system Honda has developed provides advantages changing gear both up and down. We have previously measured the advantage of upshifts, and now HRC appeared to have mastered downshifts. Honda riders change down through the box without using the clutch – a feature Yamaha was testing at Sepang, and at the top of the list of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi's wish list at the end of 2013 – but Honda also appears to have combined fuel metering and control of the RC213V's slipper clutch to produce a truly seamless downshift.

What are the advantages of such a system? The crackling and popping heard on downshifts, especially on the Open class machines, are all a sign of fuel being wasted. Excess unburnt fuel enters the hot exhaust pipe, where it spontaneously ignites, causing the irregular crackling. On systems with a lot of fuel, this is not a problem, and produces spectacular jets of flame from the exhaust pipe. The Kawasaki ZX-10R World Superbike machine is a notorious flamethrower; to see it in MotoGP, you need to go to Qatar, where the darkness of the night betrays the soft blue flames so vividly caught by Scott Jones1.

Injecting precisely enough fuel to match the engine speed means the engine produces exactly the amount of engine braking required, with all the fuel being burnt, none being wasted. With the fuel allowance reduced from 21 to 20 liters for 2014, saving fuel is paramount, and deceleration and engine braking is a prime area for seeking to reduce fuel consumption. The fact that Yamaha spent much of the test working with fuel strategies to find a set up which worked with the ultra lean fueling, while the Honda riders repeatedly said they had not spent any time on it as fuel consumption was not a problem in the heat at Sepang, is a clear indication that Honda's 90°V is already extremely efficient with fuel.

Saving fuel is one key target, but having exceptionally smooth deceleration offers another significant benefit. Acting like a slipper clutch on steroids, the scooter-like deceleration means that the rear wheel stays firmly put under braking. The changes in braking torque caused by downshifting are being managed perfectly. The rear wheel no longer hops as engine braking increases after gearshifts, keeping the wheels nicely in line. It is a rather neat little irony that HRC appeared to have replicated the downshifting behavior of a two stroke on a 1000cc four stroke, though at an astronomical cost.

How are they managing downshifts so well? It seems likely that the Torductor – the rotating torque sensor on the gearbox output shaft on the factory Hondas, rumored to cost 60,000 euros – plays a key role here. Initially employed to assist with upshifts and smooth power delivery, it can also play a role when changing down through the gears. The sensor detects the torque going through the output shaft, measuring both the engine torque as it drives the rear wheel, but also the braking torque from the rear wheel, as it slows the engine when the throttle is closed. Based on that signal, it would be possible to both monitor engine braking much more closely, and track and respond to it using the engine management system.

By having the combination of electronics, seamless gearbox and slipper clutch manage engine braking torque, this frees the riders up to concentrate on braking. Though they still have to operate the gears (the rules explicitly demand this), precisely timing downshifts no longer appears to be necessary. Instead, the rider can focus more of his attention on just operating the brakes, searching for the best possible point at which to apply the brakes. The rider has more control over the bike, allowing more precise corner entry, with no fear of the bike being upset by engine braking forces. More efficient braking and better corner entry mean more chances to pass other riders on the brakes, while simultaneously increasing corner speed.

This, incidentally, is why fans have been robbed of the spectacle of riders backing MotoGP bikes into turns. A combination of electronics and vastly improved slipper clutches now mean the rear of the bike is under control. That is a much more efficient way of entering corners, and therefore faster, if less visually appealing.

Comparison with the other bikes was illustrative. The most obvious comparison is with the Honda RCV1000R production racer, as that is very close to being a 2013 RC213V with conventional valve springs, a conventional gearbox, more fuel and the Dorna-spec software (popularly referred to as the 'championship software' in the paddock). Watching Nicky Hayden on the Drive M7 Aspar RCV1000R, you could clearly hear his gear changes while braking for Turn 4. The Honda production racer crackled and popped, and moved visibly underneath Hayden as he lined up for the turn. No doubt as the season progresses, the teams will get the championship software dialed in better, and smooth corner entry out. But it will never be as good as the factory bikes.

There was a clear differences between the Yamahas as well. While the Tech 3 riders are still without Yamaha's seamless gearbox – team boss Herve Poncharal told us that they would probably receive the gearbox early in the season – their bikes make the same kind of noise which the production Hondas do, though a little bit more refined. They still crackle and pop, but significantly less.

The factory Yamahas, on the other hand, make a good deal less noise under braking. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were experimenting with Yamaha's new improved seamless gearbox, though it was impossible for me to tell from track side whether they were using it while I was out watching them. The gearbox is still not as sophisticated as Honda's, but it offers some advantages. The factory Yamaha riders' gear changes were smoother and less noisy than the Tech 3 bikes or the RCV1000R. They were clearly audible, but there were only a few pops and bangs, and the revs sounded as if they were being managed better.

The fact that the Yamahas need a different riding style to get the best out of it also makes comparisons harder. Jorge Lorenzo already brakes earlier than the Hondas, letting off the brakes earlier and carrying more speed into the corner. His style is silky smooth and sweeping, and so his downshifting is already optimized as a result of his riding style. Yet the Yamaha's downshifts were still clearly audible, something which it was often hard to hear on the factory Honda bikes.

From the side of the track, it looks like gear changes while braking are the next front in the continuing battle between the two Japanese MotoGP giants. It is a natural consequence of the reduction of the fuel allowance, and the search for ever more speed. From my limited vantage point, it looks as if Honda currently has the upper hand.

I should stress that the above is all just conjecture, based on my own observations from the side of the track. I spent an hour or more watching at the same point, early in the day while all of the riders were posting a lot of laps. There was a difference in engine note that I could clearly hear, and there was a visible difference in the behavior of the various bikes under braking. But the theories of how the system might work are entirely mine. I did not try to confirm them with either HRC or Yamaha engineers, as the engineers have no interest in sharing such information. They would have had reason both to confirm and deny any theory I put to them, and no way for me to know whether I was a victim of disinformation or they were showing me a kindness. For the moment, the above is merely my best guess. And it remains a privilege to be in a position to make such observations, and draw my own conclusions from them.

1: While I was writing this article, I asked Scott if he had a photo of from Qatar showing a Honda producing exhaust flames, either during practice or while the engines were being warmed up. I was confident that Scott would have such a shot, as he is the photographer with the most attention to detail in the paddock. He has a talent for spotting some of the more remarkable parts of racing, and then capturing them on film, with other photographers tending quickly to follow his lead. If anyone had a photo of a Honda shooting exhaust flames, I knew he would. So when he told me that he did not have such a photo, nor had he ever seen the Honda RC213V produce flames in the way that both the Ducati and the Yamaha does, it confirmed to me that there is something in my theory.


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One of the great privileges which holding a MotoGP media pass allows is to stand behind the armco and watch and listen to the bikes as they go past. At the Sepang test, I made full use of that opportunity, and wandered over to Turn 3 – the glorious, fast right hander, where the riders get sideways driving through the turn and onto the short straight to Turn 4 – to enjoy the spectacle of the best riders of the world showing off their skills.There is more to be learned from watching at track side than just how spectacular MotoGP bikes are through fast corners, though. The careful observer can pick up clues to what both the riders and factories are doing. With electronics such a key part of MotoGP nowadays, the track is one of the few places where updates are visible. Updated vehicle dynamics algorithms may be invisible from pit lane (or nearly so, with the occasional addition of sensors or torque gauges the only visible clue), bike behavior on the track will sometimes betray them.At the end of 2013, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa had asked for more stability under braking, and some more corner speed. Listening to the bikes at Sepang gave a possible clue as to how they had achieved that. The differences in engine note between the various bikes were instructive of the varying levels of electronics, engine braking strategies, and gearbox function.That Honda have been working on braking and corner entry was audible at Sepang. Though the RC213V always sounded smooth under braking, braking for Turn 4 the improvement was noticeable. As they braked and downshifted for the corner, the Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa sounded more like a big scooter with a constantly variable transmission than a racing four stroke with six separate gears. Engine revs decreased smoothly, downshifts barely perceptible. There was no popping or crackle of extra fuel burning off, just a smooth, booming descending tone.

Comments

Interesting stuff

Proper prototype technology at work.

I really don't know how you can judge one bike's braking stability compared to another's though. Marc trail brakes exceptionally hard and can make up ground on all riders under braking, both Yamaha and Honda. Dani is not as spectacular under braking, and Jorge has a different style altogether as you say. Rossi seems to have had some particular problems with the softer carcass front tyres last year. I'd be willing to bet that Marc would still be the deepest trail braker even if you stuck him on the Ya,aha though, and Jorge would still be the smoothest if he was riding the Honda. It's just the way they ride.

Total votes: 28

It was a combination of things

The way I judged it was on a range of clues. Firstly, the noise. It sounds more like a T Max scooter decelerating than a bike with a gearbox, like something with CVT. Secondly, visually. The bike looked a lot more stable, no twitching or moving under braking. Trail braking wouldn't necessarily change the look of the bike, or the sound. It was just very smooth indeed.

Total votes: 39

Best. Site. Ever.

Great article. Honda ups the ante constantly. No dual clutch gearboxs leads to the super expensive seamless shift transmissions. More rules=higher costs. Fuel limits, no DCT, ever changing weight limits, engine limits... I'll still watch though, but im an addict.

Total votes: 34

Not sure

I'm not sure how I feel about this sort of technology. On one hand, if it come to our roadbikes, they'd make our bikes so much more stable and easier to ride... On other hand, it takes away yet another aspect of riding skill and hands it over to the computers. I don't like that part one bit.

Total votes: 45

Just rotate, sir

Certainly sir, you can absolutely have this option on your road bike. Just be aware the rotating torque sensor is an extra 60K euros, and you'll also need the seamless gearbox which is a bargain February special at 250K euros - but just think of the fuel savings: at least one whole litre every thousand miles.
Hold on one minute, sir - I'll go get my calculator.

Total votes: 43

sigh

I didn't say this technology will come to our bikes today (or even next year). But technology does tend to trickle down. Slipper clutches, quickshifter, traction control and anti-wheelie did. Little reason to believe that this won't make it in the future.

Total votes: 37

No comparison

Sinbad - the cost to a road bike rider will never be 60,000EU, so let's dispel that hyperbole.
The cost will be amortised across a production run of thousands of road bikes, rather than 10 prototypes.
Companies making prototypes of anything do so with the intention of productionising the technology, and then recouping their investment many times over. Let's look at the massive investment in ABS over the years, and lean-angle sensors and the like. As an example, has the technology from various arms of motorsport turned the BMW S1000RR into a $100K bike?? No. Because the cost has been spread across mutliple production runs of multiple bikes.

Total votes: 18

Old dogs on the rabid edge

Oh dear - I guess you missed the ironic element in my post. Yes, I am aware that mass production lowers unit costs.
But there's another point - who needs this stuff on a road bike? If you feel the need to stuff your machine into corners beyond the limit of your ability to control it without exotic technology, you should probably be at the track.

Total votes: 17

Who says we're not at the track?

I don't know what kind of bikes you buy, but I know that myself and many thousands of other people buy road bikes, then we ride them to the track, then we ride them on the track.

So yes, I want this stuff on my road bike, because that is also the same bike I ride on the track.

Of course I'd be even happier if they just skipped right past ICE bikes & went to EV... No need to worry about gear shifts, just flat-out fast motorcycles.

Total votes: 12

Yep I agree. I watch for the

Yep I agree. I watch for the human element not for the engineers to keep designing more of the riders job into 1's and 0's. Even the riders say (most) that most of the electronics/TC is for performance and only a small portion is for safety. Keep the safety part, drop the rest, 24L of fuel and let's go racing. Bikes going sideways is what it's all about. If the racing suffers, the sport suffers.

And give them a rider/bike weight limit like the other classes. No reason to skip MotoGP.

Total votes: 34

Removes skill, or reduces rider workload?

I know what you're saying, I used to feel exactly the same about power steering in cars, and ABS, traction control & wheelie control on bikes.

But the fact is that a fast rider will always be fast. I'd say it's a different kind of skill, probably "control skill" is the best I can describe what is required to manage all those things like gear shifts & braking. "Riding skill" is independant to all those control aspects. (if that makes sense... For example you could put a fast rider on a bike with no engine, send them down a hill & they'll still beat everyone else.)

I guess the point of mentioning that is to say that electronic aids don't "remove skill" so much as make the performance of modern machinery more accessible and safer for the majority of people.

Don't be afraid of change - that is how you get old before your time!

Total votes: 10

MM at its best!

Wonderfully written, technical information accessible to any fan. How would we know any of this, David, or just be equipped to evaluate these things for ourselves, without your worthy efforts?

Bravo and thank you as always!

Total votes: 37

Great analysis

@ machine - I think David's analysis is entirely sound, and thoroughly compelling. Braking in a straight line is pretty much the same for everyone, and effectiveness/stability is this situation is down to machinery. What the rider does between turn in and apex is the human factor, and what can make a huge difference. Proven to devastating effect in Marquez' almost unique talent for scrubbing off speed with both wheels once he starts to turn in. I'm no fan of HRC but you have to be wowed by their engineering talent. I suppose it'll give them something to do once a rev limit is imposed. Great article.

Total votes: 24

Cost Savings!

HRC has been saying that its uses racing as a test bed for their street bikes. Right! How is this system gonna be implemented on street bikes, along with a billion $$$ seamless gearbox? Honda is no different than any politician, saying whats in their best interest....damn the rest of you! This is precisely why Dorna has to change the rules. I'm sorry guys, raciing and winning shouldn't be strictly for those with the biggest checkbook. And I'm not anti-Honda. I want racing back! Having a couple of bikes at the front, the SAME bikes all the time, is.....A guy like Alexi is ridding the wheels off everything he's been on, but has no change at winning because he isn't on a factory bike. Ridiculous!

Total votes: 39

MotoGizmo

Yes indeed - these $ billion widgets resulting in greater corner speed and braking stability sound rather desirable in a racing bike - but how is it going to pan out for those who don't have HRC's deep pockets - not to mention the spectators?
Without these devices Ducati lags .837 secs behind the factory Honda of #93. If they go Open, they might be able to extract more power from their extra fuel allowance, but it looks like it'll continue to be canceled out by the many advantages associated with the expensive technology described in the article - ie. lower weight, less tire and rider wear, higher corner speed, later braking etc etc.
A lot of people seem to be getting a touch over-excited by the new season - I suspect 2014 could be another series of processions with the front two running on rails, and the big prize decided primarily by the size of HRC's R&D budget.

Total votes: 29

Not really...

"HRC has been saying that its uses racing as a test bed for their street bikes."

I don't think I've ever heard Honda say that about MotoGP, what I have heard is that HRC justifies the cost of the racing programs to their board of directors by using them as a training program for young engineers and as a demonstration of their technological prowess.

It's the knowledge learned and engineering skills and discipline gained that will impact future street bikes, not specific individual gadgets like a $60K torque sensor in a seamless gearbox. Better engineers make better bikes.

Total votes: 36

Simple- DCT

As I said on the forums Honda's seamless box appears to be a carefully arranged assembly of gears and broken glass. Far too complex for mass manufacture.

However, the principles could be easily and cheaply applied to a DCT gearbox, like the one in the VFR1200. I'm still holding out hope that Honda will replace the CBRs with a pair of V4 bikes packed to the brim with MotoGP derived tech, including an optional seamless shifting DCT with slipper clutches and all types of TC goodies. Honda is very conservative but they come around eventually, and I don't think this will be any different.

Total votes: 19

LOL David

No wonder you called my bluff on the "article" that I posted in the furum. He he.

Total votes: 18

Thank's

Thank you David for sharing your observations with us. This is real journalism that is forgotten long ago. A personal point of view. This days we all hear/read just a PR bs that is far away from the truth.

Total votes: 31

What About AE41's Machinery, David???

Aleix is doing a fantastic job for FTR, but what of his bikes? I read that Yamaha gave him (and Edwards) old M1 Chassis along with the other pieces they were entitled to under the Open category. No wonder AE41 was in-step with the factory guys... he was pretty much on a FTR pieced together Factory Yamaha M1!!! Nakamoto has every right to be pissed about Yamaha stepping outside of the Open rules. FTR are still working on their frames. Is this why Herve (Tech3) is so upset with Yamaha? Is giving Tech3 the factory seamless gearboxes Yamaha's way of mending the fences with Herve? If Aleix had the seamless gearbox, he would be a podium threat at every race. Compare Pol/Smith's performance to Aleix and everyone could see what his potential could be on a factory bike.
Yamaha has a way to go to make up the difference with Honda's engineering for fuel management. It's still early days but Rossi should be more concerned than Jorge since he's a taller/heavier rider.

Total votes: 28

Open rules

The Open rules say one thing, and one thing only: If you use the championship software, you are an Open class entry. You could run a hotrodded version of Honda's RC213V, and as long as you are using the championship software, you are Open. The rules are very clear.

As for both the Forward Yamaha and the Ducati, the braking noise was something I first noticed standing trackside, so I didn't really approach this as methodically as I would have liked. I didn't make any recordings, for example, which I should have done, of all the bikes. My plan is to do that at one of the first races I go to. I listened carefully to the factory Hondas and Yamahas, and to the Open Honda, but that's all I'm certain of.

Total votes: 29

Ducati ?

Seamless shifter. How did that sound ? The Ducati one I mean. Its been around I believe since around the same time as HRC's, give or take, with their respective L-4 engine layouts. Snap.crackle and pop. Sure,we all know the fundamentals here David. And right now the fundamental is evidently all about HRC and Yamaha Factory and 4 great riders. Sadly,this is not a good scenario for the sport in general. May as well go back to oval dirt track. 4 JAWA'S and 4 laps securing a dirt track oval title. Really,is this where the GPC want this sport to be ? Sure looks that way. Nevermind, I will switch the live feed back on about 48 hours prior to Qatar just to enjoy watching the huge skill of the the technical staff, riders and teams. Outside of that, the sport currently stinks. Do we have to endure a 4th bike in the ring post race as per last year ? You know,1st OPEN class albeit 12th. The GPC's first priority is obviously to re-introduce the tyre war. Bike manufacturer's locking down with tyre manufacturer's for at least 4 year terms and 'snap,crackle and pop' be damned. Maybe they should write a clause that stipulates Japanese MGP bike suppliers use Japanese tyre manuacturer's and European MGP bike manufacturer's use European rubber. No, I'm not advocating a 3rd world war re MGP, but the rules have left Ducati out to dry circa 2008. If they choke all you have left is the Japanese cup. HRC/Yamaha and Bridgestone. Sad but true.

Total votes: 32

Is Ducati still playing follow the leader?

I remember a few years ago in the preseason they were testing a system that engaged the clutch and idled the engine during turn entry then reengaged and spun it back up on turn exit. I think Capirex crashed and they put it on hold. Any sense of them trying to reintroduce it? Or maybe they have enough problems as it is!

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 19

Ducati

I remember exactly the same system, it was one of the things which first came to mind. That was tested in 2004, I think, so it was a long time ago. Things have come a long way since then, not least because the bikes still had 24 liters of fuel then, I believe.

Right now, Ducati has much bigger problems, though. They have to fix the understeer first, then they can start thinking about refining corner entry. They have bigger fish to fry first...

Total votes: 16

Quick fix for Yamaha Ghostrider

Fuel consumption: Dump the transverse 4 layout and run an L-4. Negate central heating. No balance shaft required. Rider mass ? If you are too tall and heavy to compete go play rugby.
Judging by Sepang 1, Valentino is in his comfort zone again and Jorge is only a smidgeon lighter. Rossi's great strength was his ability to use his height and leverage to muscle a bike into corners and undercut riders of lesser stature upon corner entry.
The day the GPC introduce a combined rider/bike mass ruling is the day I will stop following the sport. Such a potential ruling is tantamount to penalizing a bloke who had his legs amputated. He's lighter than me, that's why he beat me...boo,hoo,hoo. In any event, what is the most powerfull component of the bike?. The brakes and the front tyre keeping it planted. The more force exerted in this area,the quicker the lap time in the final analysis. The better the rider can use these tools, the quicker he can cut through the field ahead of him. He can save more fuel and better yet, he can 'duff up' any potential pursuers. Valencia 2013 was a prime example. Pity no one could stay with Lorenzo in that race, a memorable one to say the least.

Total votes: 30

Ghostrider

Aleix is doing a fantastic job for FTR, but what of his bikes? I read that Yamaha gave him (and Edwards) old M1 Chassis along with the other pieces they were entitled to under the Open category. No wonder AE41 was in-step with the factory guys... he was pretty much on a FTR pieced together Factory Yamaha M1!!! Nakamoto has every right to be pissed about Yamaha stepping outside of the Open rules.

Honda knew this last year. as everybuddy else does.(engine/swingarm/frame/dorna ecu/24 litre) And wasn't the open class a new class that was designed to be faster then crt but slower then factory? yes!

And guess what!! YAMAHA just did that. And honda came with a lame camel and suddenly Nakamo-aning is crying out loud because again he didnt read the rules, like he did with mm and mm recieved a black flag.

But if honda would be faster then Yamaha you wouldn't hear a thing.

Total votes: 35

FTR's Yami is in the rules

Like David said the only limit on open class bikes is the ECU. Yami is well within its right to hand out factory bikes if they want... the only ones they hurt are themselves, really, if the open class bikes are better than their own factory offering.

Total votes: 19

Nakamoto;s beef

Is that Honda was baited into starting waay earlier when the concept was complete factory racers for 1 million euro. Yamaha stalled and reworked the concept. The rules we are talking about came out a year after Honda had started their design and after they had already been testing their bike.

Total votes: 23

Technology

The technology on display is impressive, but the GPC have got to get the competitive aspects of the sport sorted. When the tires are guaranteed to last race distance (no tire war) and the fuel computers closely meter every drop of fuel (20L rule), these fascinating superfluous technologies are turned into cumbersome prerequisites for teams and manufacturers who want to compete.

Improving the sport could be as simple as altering the arrangement with Bridgestone so they bring a wider variety of tires with less variability so teams can take chances with tire selection. Perhaps the new tire arrangement will improve the racing this year, but the changes don't seem comprehensive enough.

It's not fair to the engineers to vilify them for being competent, but it's not fair to motorsports competition to have engineers rule the roost. Engineering contests don't require races or live television broadcasts. The engineering is supposed to be operating in the background, providing another layer of depth, intrigue, and gamesmanship that can't be found in stick-and-ball sports.

Total votes: 24

Ducati doesn't need power nor more fuel

Ducati needs to be able to move the engine around, change the mount points. With 5 engines, they can't.

It was funny to see the contortions Ducati went through when Rossi was there. The swingarm pivot was fixed in place and so was everything else. I think if there's a limit on engines, you want to make sure that any changes don't require a new engine. Frankly, they should've started every race at the back of the pack so they could swap engines at will. All the contortions they made so they didn't have to lose and engine were stupid.

If Ducati goes open, they get 6 more chances to redo the mount points, etc. If they stay factory they get no chances.

Total votes: 25

and after the first time they tried that

The rule for starting from pit lane after taking a new engine was rewritten to include a 10 second wait after the rest had gone.

Total votes: 17

Its very simple...

In my mind the whole MotoGP and Formula-one technical rules are a joke.
These rules are invented by people obviously not connected with the real world anymore.

When I was racing, it was about one thing and one thing only:
Money.
It rules what technical advantage you can built into your bike.

So why-oh-why do they not even the field and simply rule the whole thing with a fixed budget???

You tell them that they have -lets say 10 million $ per year- and they can come up with whatever they want.
End of story!
Let them have oval pistons, triangular pistons, reving up to 30 000 rpm if they can afford it, on tyres made from whalevagina if it is making sense.
The ammount of gas will be limited by its weight anyways!
Or do you think anybody suddenly comes up with a bike that needs 50l during a race?
What if an electric bike or one with a turbine has a lower laptime than any other bike??

Man, that engineering effort deserves the World Championship then-together with the rider who could adapt to that wicked object against the other best riders of the World in every race.

Let them come up with true ingenuity for god sake!

The smartest design combined with a rider that has the ultimate feeling to set it up, should win this thing.

Let those riders have the machine they like most and enables them to really exploit their talent to achieve what racing is all about:
Winning by intelligence and sheer determination to risk everything for the fastest lap time.

This would push bike developement like crazy as well as riding technique and everybody would profit from it.

At the moment the MotoGP-world is becoming more and more a club-racing-association, when it was originally created as a prototype running series.
The more rules they create, the more people try to break them or go arround them.

These rules are artificial.
Why not design by the real rules of physics and the rules of resourceful thinking...just like every engineer does every day of its life!

What is a Championship worth, that has been won on artificial rules made by people who have never won under the same terms themselves?
In my eyes this system at the moment is unfair for the riders, the engineers,the factories and above all the viewers.

The results are mostly boring races where circumstances totally out of control of the riders talent, decide who is the winner.Rubbish.

Total votes: 25

Budget + No Rules

Steve,

Financial engineering has as many loopholes as technical rules do.

And don't you know whales are a protected species?

The principle of what you say is right though.

Total votes: 21

Budget caps

I agree with both you and Steve. In theory, the best possible way to control costs is to remove the technical restrictions and impose a budget cap, allowing factories and teams to spend only a specified amount of money. Unfortunately, that would be completely impossible to police. It would require an army of forensic accountants to ensure that money wasn't being sneaked in from other sources, and complete access at all times to the complete financial accounts of every factory and team involved. There is no way that either teams or factories would agree to that, and given the, shall we say, interesting international dynamic of these companies (both teams and factories have subsidiaries around the world, some of the teams have holding companies in countries more famous for their banking secrecy than their race tracks), there are too many places for them to camouflage spending.

What is clear is that it is not working in F1 either, with Bernie Ecclestone trying to promise rewards for whistleblowers. It's a very interesting idea, though. 

Total votes: 18

What loopholes do think there

What loopholes do think there are?
Why do you think they will be stay unnoticed by everybody?
How can that make an advantage to the laptimes?

Lets say they come up with an invention and claim it costs 5$ even when in reality it costs 10$.
Cheating on a budget is the essence of all people do since the invention of money and never ever did it went unnoticed .

Because opposite to a technical matter in racing, money produces hard numbers that can be compared independent of the laws of physics.
That means, somebody without technical knowledge can make a simple research whether or not he gets that invention purchased somewhere else for the ammount of money claimed.

Why do you think they limit the elctronic hardware?Because to prove that the software is not according to the rules , you must be as good a programmer as the software guy from HRC himself=Impossible.
They try to limit the posibillities of the hardware, but they can´t limit the intelligence of people.
Which is why HRC still has the edge in things about the software.
Because DORNA can not limit the salary HONDA is paying for those software engineers.

If the DORNA would manage the budget representatively and every part would have a purchase history with the matching numbers marking, I don´t see any loopholes here.

Btw: Tyres made from whale vagina...where is your sense of humor if you are taking THIS serious???

Total votes: 21

Budgets

>> Cheating on a budget is the essence of all people do since the invention of money and never ever did it went unnoticed .

If it never went unnoticed, how come tax accountants get paid so much money?

Dorna to manage HRC's budget? Honda would never agree, nor would Ducati or Yamaha. Nor would Gresini or Tech 3. Those budgets are used to fuel more than just the pure racing.

And how do you classify spending on MotoGP? Let's say Yamaha develop a radical new form of engine management, and use it on their road bikes. It costs them $20 million to develop, but they get the money back from bike sales. They then license the use of that technology to their MotoGP team, for, say, $100. What part of the development costs should be in Yamaha's racing budget? The $100? Or the $20 million? Or some amount in between the two? If so, who decides how much?

What about transport, for example? Honda, Yamaha and Ducati are constantly shipping large amounts of material and large numbers of people around the world for their road bike businesses. Is all of Shuhei Nakamoto's travel solely related to his role in HRC? What if Nakamoto-san has a meeting with the head of Honda Italia on the Monday after Mugello? Should all of his travel costs be paid by HRC, as he is flying to Italy for the MotoGP race? Should some of his travel costs be paid for by Honda Motor Company, as he is also traveling to Europe for a business meeting related to road bikes? Should all of his travel costs be paid for by Honda, rather than HRC? Who decides how much?

Same is true of parts and materials, maybe Ducati are shipping their bikes to, say, France to put on display at a show. Or maybe to go racing.

Who pays the salaries of HRC or Yamaha engineers? If budgets are capped in MotoGP, then maybe Ten Kate suddenly receives a lot of support from HRC, including the placement of six or ten electronics engineers. In their 'spare time', they help out with Honda's MotoGP program. Can you prove they are not part of Honda's WSBK program? Maybe their salaries are being paid by HRC via Ten Kate, and Ten Kate are then hiring them back to HRC's MotoGP program. As it's an internal arrangement, the MotoGP program is only being charged a nominal hourly rate, say $10 an hour.

Budgets are the easiest things in the world to manipulate and hide money in. That's why accountants are paid so much, it is their job to find ways to most efficiently allocate money. All a budget cap would do is create a lot more work for accountants, inside the factories, the teams and Dorna.

I am very sympathetic to the idea of a budget cap, as it is the only way of actually controlling costs. The trouble is, they are impossible to enforce. If even Bernie Ecclestone can't enforce them, Dorna doesn't stand a chance.

Total votes: 25

Cutting costs

I don't agree on that with you David, if there is a real desire and commitment to do so then for sure it is possible to reduce the costs with a serious amount of money. The real problem is what you discribe in your article is the lack of moral in the heads of the people who are not acting according to rules but to look in between the lines of the rule book, you may call me naief now ;-)!! In my opinion and I believe that is also what mr.Hislop is saying they are no longer racing with the spirit of what is racing about but they are racing with such a tremendous amount of money so that is impossible to compeet against them. Is it not strange that you want to race with four strokes saying it is cheaper then two strokes, then when you've build your four stroke and you start to make it behave like a two stroke, never tell me again this is a cheap way to race!! Also the statement of the factorys that (maybe) one day you will find all these gadgets on a roadbike is in my opinion not true. There are many ways to cut costs like a ban on electronic aids, no carbon brakes or fairings and God knows what else, I think it is good for competition and saves very much money and easy to control.

Total votes: 20

I saw your answer too late David,sry.

An army of accountants.
Hmm.About how many parts does a motorcycle have?
A thousand?
That should be doable to manage to check with ten people, everybody checking 100 parts per bike.
How many technical people does DORNA employ now to check that bikes are according to the rules all together?
They could be saved and only roadworthyness needed to be checked like at the IOMTT.

When NASA was still flying the Space shuttle in 2010, it had a budget of 17.804.000.000$ and the shuttle containes of 2.500.000 parts.
That makes it 7.121,-$ per part and they checked every part technically AND financially.Thats why they needed 70 000 people.

I think you don´t need so many people for checking, but I´m guessing.

Total votes: 21

The difference between NASA and Dorna

Is that nobody was trying to cheat NASA. There are big incentives for the factories and teams to cheat. It would create a war between accountants, as well as a war between engineers.

Total votes: 20

NASA/Dorna

They did´nt cheat NASA because the did it for a cause bigger then themselfes:Putting an American Shuttle into orbit over and over again for all human kind.

They had the right intentions.

Putting the engineering creativity at the forefront of MotoGP again "because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Sorry I´ve got taken away here:)...but you´ll catch my drift,right?

Total votes: 20

Entropy of closed systems.

This is what I see as the biggest danger at the moment:

Every closed system has entropy.
It goes from order to disorder.

Take an ice cube and let it melt...it goes from a strict crystaline order into utter chaos.
You have to go back put it into shape and freeze it again to start the process all over.

MotoGP is an isolated system and its entropy has a history of some decades now.

The only way to restore this basic order today, would be to go back and let the original rules start the whole process again.

This is the universal law, described in the second sentence of thermodynamics.It is a proven fact.

The other thing is the intent of MotoGP.
With open technical rules , you would support true creativity.
Right now I see creativity supressed.

Total votes: 20

Agree

Can't disagree with that. Current technical rules suppress creativity. However, the question is how to allow creativity without sending costs skyrocketing. That is really hard to achieve.

Total votes: 23

No kidding.

We could continue like this forever, but I must confess that I´m probably dreaming here of the perfect world and your arguments are valid.
Hopefully bigger minds are working at that issue too:)

Total votes: 16

Whale of an idea

Steve,

I love innovation, but I did doubt the seriousness of your proposal; I had my sense of humour intact. I was being ironic.

As David has said the complexities of trying to police a budget and agree whether the latest idea is worth $50 or $5M is going to be wide open to debate. The Torductor and seamless box are good examples. The 'alleged' costs could themselves be miles out, and how do we know what the R&D cost is. Honda could do R&D and pass an idea/product to HRC to manufacture. Teams cannot afford a back room/back door R&D team, so you will have the same arms race/cost problems.

Small teams will always be behind the game; you have to accept that and police it as simply as possible. Things like bore/stroke, never mind fuel type are getting way too tight. The spec ECU is a necessary compromise in my view because the open option has been proven too expensive and anti-competitive in race terms. The single-make tyre was a thing worth trying that has failed IMO.

We should accept that Dorna has as much need to R&D rules as the teams do technology or other things. That also means that Dorna should be free to change rules at short notice, just like HRC change their chassis'. Yes, it needs common-sense, but if a team brought an idea to Dorna for technical approval they could get a steer on whether it was a non-starter or would be accepted for use.
No system is going to be perfect.

Total votes: 16

"Whale of an idea"....chuckle!

"We should accept that Dorna has as much need to R&D rules as the teams do technology or other things. That also means that Dorna should be free to change rules at short notice, just like HRC change their chassis'. Yes, it needs common-sense, but if a team brought an idea to Dorna for technical approval they could get a steer on whether it was a non-starter or would be accepted for use.
No system is going to be perfect."

I could not agree more.
At the moment, the situation borders to insanity to say at least.

Total votes: 18

Anybody want to buy a software geek's T-shirt?

The restricted budget idea won't get out of the pit lane, let alone onto the starting grid. Huge multinational corporations would be too sophisticated for Dorna's forensic accountants. Casey Stoner had a better idea - restricting the technology - when he put his tongue in his cheek and suggested racing 750cc 2-strokes.
Some people might recall Yamonda had agreed to a self-imposed avoidance of pneumatic valves between themselves until Ducati's desmodromics threw a wrench into their cozy arrangement. Apparently, up until that moment, R&D wasn't a crucial priority for the Japanese - afterwards it suddenly became a life and death issue.
I'm very skeptical whether many of these extreme racing technologies have much practical application to road bikes. Bespoke TC for individual corners, seamless gearboxes, frugal fuel allowances for ultra high revving race bikes, etc, etc are principally useful only on the track, just like slick tires. At Aragon, we all saw what happens when a single wire gets loose - who's going to set it up for Joe Blow's road machine, and for what purpose?
What's certain is that the spectacle is being destroyed. Most spectators would prefer to see the racers backing their machines into corners, and using their skill to control them on the way out.
Steve Hislop is very right about two things - something is wrong with MotoGP, and races are being decided by faceless geeks rather than the riders.

Total votes: 20

2015

dorna.magnetti ecu. done!!! lets race. because the ecu cost the world. 12 engines a year? no need for utra reliable and costy engines.

Total votes: 19

You Would Think....

...that the development of a gadget as cool as this is raison de entre enough for Honda to continue in MotoGP, even if the electronics get reigned in.

Total votes: 18

Fuel limits, consumption, and all that

It just seems to me that until Dorma and the factories implement a total bike/rider weight minimum that technology will only be of so much use.
When the manufacturer with the deepest pockets has the tiniest weight class riders, that is an advantage on every part of the track. Is there any surprise that Honda hasn't had to deal with fuel consumption when its ridera are the smallest? What is 15-25 kilos of rider weight worth in technology spending? And more importantly, do we want our champions to be squeezed down to jockey sized? Or worse, do the worlds greatest riders have to embrace eating disorders to have a chance to win?

If anything, the dominance of butterballs like micheal dunlop and john mcguiness on the road courses show that blubber is no impediment to speed--unless we make it that way.

Total votes: 24

The beauty of this goofy-ass

The beauty of this goofy-ass conjecture is that it shows the wisdom of what Dorna is doing right now (I am w Yogi up above). With a spec ECU and REDUCING rules that make for expensive solutions to artificial "engineering challenges" we are getting a good solid step. This is motorcycle racing, we do this all the time. I always raced "Supersport" classes instead of "Superbike" and it was a ton cheaper, and importantly THE RULES STAYED A CONSTANT so my cheap-o budget did okay with a gradual yr to yr upkeep and bits of upgrades.
Simple rules that stay more constant/predictable keeps more smaller teams able to stay in the game. In the spirit of keeping things simple we have these few rule changes to UNdo that were a MISTAKE. No need to reinvent the whale vagina tire.

Total votes: 17

finale winner

Probably honda calculated that bulldozer the competition with high tech stuff against any price will be cheaper in the long run, and go in the history books as the last motogp winner and will be remembered that way "the ultimate win"

Total votes: 13

Wow. What a story.

Setting aside for a moment how interested I was in the story itself, the real value here is in Mr Emmett raising the benchmark, yet again, on MotoGP reporting.

This single shining example of MotoGP journalism (I mean MM more so than just this article) should inevitably/hopefully see a demise in the popularity of sites which simply re-hash press releases and produce controversy invoking polls.

Give me the informed opinions of Dennis Noyes, Matt Oxley, Carlo Pernat and David Emmett any day over the standard PR babble.

Heart felt thanks David for bearing the torch.

Total votes: 13

No machine development!

I remember an article, many years ago, where Kenny Roberts (Snr) used to bemoan the fact that the Japanese used to race the same bike throughout the season without developing it during the season!
Regarding the hardware, here we are again! It's just the software that gets developed now!

Total votes: 12

"The Prince"

If you're familiar with the classic text, Chapter 15 is all about destroying your enemy!
I offer the British bike industry as exhibit one!
Honda has been doing this sort of thing for quite a while now!

Total votes: 16

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