Ducati Considering Racing MotoGP As Open Entries For 2014?

After a year of evolution in MotoGP which brought them few rewards, Ducati looks set for a radical shake up for next season. Respected Italian website GPOne.com is reporting that Ducati is considering racing in MotoGP as an Open entry, instead of under the Factory option. In practice, Ducati would be free of the engine freeze in place for Factory Option teams in 2014, have 24 liters of fuel instead of 20, and twelve engines per season instead of just five. In addition, they have more freedom to test with factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. In exchange, they will have to forego the freedom to develop their own software, and will run the spec Dorna-supplied software instead.

GPOne's source is impeccable, quoting Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso. The two bikes - the GP13 in factory configuration, and in the Open configuration with more fuel and the spec software - have already been tested back-to-back, at the test in Jerez in November. However, those bikes were ridden by test riders, and not by Ducati factory men Dovizioso and Crutchlow. 'The real test will come when we test the bike,' Dovizioso told GPOne.com. That test is set to happen at Sepang, at the first test of the 2014 season from 4th to 6th February. One of the things which was said to be improved was the engine response when running with more fuel. An aggressive throttle response is something which Ducati riders have all complained of in the past, and having more fuel available could alleviate.

Switching to an Open entry offers Ducati a lot of advantages, which far outweigh the disadvantage of losing the use of their own software. Right now, what Ducati needs is testing and development, and by removing the software from the equation, Ducati are free to concentrate on engine and chassis. The fact that Open entries are not subject to the engine freeze in place on all engine internals for 2014 for Factory Option bikes means that Ducati are free to change engine configurations and internals when they want. With twelve engines for the season, they can test a lot more variables, playing with crankshaft masses, valve timing and sizes, the configuration of the V, tilting it backwards and forwards, and rejigging the layout of gearbox shafts, should they so wish. In effect, Ducati can circumvent the engine freeze imposed on factory entries and try to catch up with Yamaha and Honda. To catch the two Japanese factories, Ducati have a lot of development work to do, and the engine freeze is a massive impediment to doing just that.

Racing as an Open entry has two more major benefits. The first is testing, which Open entries have much more freedom in. Dovizioso and Crutchlow would be free to test at any circuit they like, rather than having to rely on test riders at all but the official test days, as Factory option entries must. Though there is a minor difference in tire allocations for testing, the net result is the same, with 120 testing tires each for Dovizioso and Crutchlow.

The race tire allocation is the other benefit of being an Open entry. So far, it looks like Bridgestone will continue to supply the softer option rear tire for the Open entries, which is not open to Factory option entries. The softer tire offers more rear grip and more performance, and allowed Aleix Espargaro to be extremely competitive last year on the underpowered Aprilia ART bike. No decision has yet been made on the softer tire for the Open class, as Bridgestone has concerns over the durability of the tire when used by the new Open class bikes, which are much more powerful than the old CRT machines. A final decision is set to be made after the Sepang tests, once more data has been collected.

If Ducati do decide to enter as Open entries, this looks like a stroke of genius by new Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna. There are many benefits to be had from racing in the Open class, especially in the field of engine development, which is what Ducati needs most right now. Given that the bike is a long way from being competitive right now, they have very little to lose by giving up the right to use and develop their own software. With Dorna and IRTA pushing for all entries to use the spec software from 2017 onwards, this also gives Ducati a head start on the possible new rules. This is a sign that Ducati are very serious indeed about trying to return to the front.

After a year of evolution in MotoGP which brought them few rewards, Ducati looks set for a radical shake up for next season. Respected Italian website GPOne.com is reporting that Ducati is considering racing in MotoGP as an Open entry, instead of under the Factory option. In practice, Ducati would be free of the engine freeze in place for Factory Option teams in 2014, have 24 liters of fuel instead of 20, and twelve engines per season instead of just five. In addition, they have more freedom to test with factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. In exchange, they will have to forego the freedom to develop their own software, and will run the spec Dorna-supplied software instead.GPOne's source is impeccable, quoting Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso. The two bikes - the GP13 in factory configuration, and in the Open configuration with more fuel and the spec software - have already been tested back-to-back, at the test in Jerez in November. However, those bikes were ridden by test riders, and not by Ducati factory men Dovizioso and Crutchlow. 'The real test will come when we test the bike,' Dovizioso told GPOne.com. That test is set to happen at Sepang, at the first test of the 2014 season from 4th to 6th February. One of the things which was said to be improved was the engine response when running with more fuel. An aggressive throttle response is something which Ducati riders have all complained of in the past, and having more fuel available could alleviate.

Comments

pretty obvious choice, now that you make it obvious

Unless I'm missing something (which is entirely likely) this potential decision looks like a no-brainer, and might help make the racing that much more exciting even in the immediate future, let alone that it might help develop a better bike for the future. So what am I missing?

Total votes: 29

Very exciting

This is very exciting news!! I got saw the tweet a mere 30 minutes ago and waited for an entry David and sure enough, you're on it. I think this is brilliant idea for Ducati and I especially agree with your point above that they can focus on chassis and engine development whilst forgoing software, something needed critically in the garage. Isn't raw speed and power the Ducati way from what we saw in the 800cc days, anyway?

Of course it'll be challenging for them in many ways and there are no right answers, but I think this exactly the type of creative thinking Ducati needed (and hopefully was looking for) by hiring Gigi. Enough of the 'traditional' way, try something different and go with it. Can't wait for 2014.

Total votes: 27

Agreed

Yamaha should follow suit

Total votes: 34

And behind the scenes...

...I wonder whether Dorna mightn't be *quite* happy to have a factory team (which it is, even if running Open) already adopt the spec electronics. Seems like it might provide if not a lever, some momentum for the coming attempts to get all the manufacturers on spec electronics. Not sure whether this has any bearing on things, but it seems likely that there is some sort of capital in making Dorna happy...

Total votes: 32

Very

Good idea. It is the epitome of a no brainer. If this is Gigi Dall'Igna's idea, frankly, the mans cleverer than I thought. Because it makes so much sense it's not true.

Will Cal care? Probably not no, he'll surely see the validity of this. And after all, he's still on the works bike, with all the trappings that comes with. And he gets to develop the bike properly.

To sum up, yes, yes and thrice yes.

Total votes: 20

Engine developement??

Dall'Igna shows that he can move things, and also think out of the box. Something that Filippo Preziosi did I believe, in the first years of the Ducati MotoGP effort.
Also interesting I find this sentence: "here are many benefits to be had from racing in the Open class, especially in the field of engine development, which is what Ducati needs most right now". Does it mean that the problem is after all NOT lying with the chassis? That would only mean the source of Ducati's problems is the engine -- a suggestion made in this blog and elseweher more than once.
Is that now the official position of Ducati? It would be very interesting, were Bologna to -however indirectly- admit this.

Total votes: 19

my first thoughts are the same

engine development? I thought the riders complained about power delivery and wouldn't this be predominantly controlled by software nowadays?

What would it say about the Ducati software team if the common spec CPU and software manages to tame the engine in one go?

All the same, for Ducati at this moment in time this is probably the correct path. They have created a nightmare of a multidimensional maze for themselves and this move takes one of the biggest dimensions out of the picture.

Cal is looking smarter and smarter every day :-)

Total votes: 17

This has been in the works for a while and David has hinted

Reading closely, David mentioned that Honda was facing defection from the factory manufacturers in terms unanimous vote for rules changes etc.

This is the Ducati taking the carrot that is put out in front of them from Dorna. As the Ducati chip falls in line so shall others.

Dare I say Suzuki also moves in this direction - More engines, fuel, and softer tires?

The leverage that Honda has had on the series is slowly waning.
David posed the question whether Honda would leave the series. Where would they go for motorcycle development- WSBK? (Dorna owned). BSB?

Total votes: 25

heck, not just duc and yam

...suzuki, too!

Total votes: 24

A bit like

their move to Bridgestone in 05 or whenever. Initially a disadvantage but it gave them a point of difference and it soon enough became a major strength over the others. Hope this move works just as well for them.

Total votes: 22

Cool news

Cool news. Seems that things are scooting along quickly over at Ducati these days. I like an underdog cause especially when Honda is being such a pain in the butt re rules.
I wonder how long the 90 degree V layout will remain? I sould like to see them play w a smaller angle and open up a whole host of synergistic secondary gains. Go Gigi go!
And yes Suzuki and others, come on in...the water is warming up. Exciting times afoot!

Total votes: 24

interesting

This is definately a reaction to Hondas threats of withdrawing, Suzuki struggled with mitsubishi electronics in their previous gp effort, Kawasaki struggled in various areas but made an awesome zx10 from it at the end of the day from what they learned in gp. Hopefully these rules are brought forward if it means more manufacturers and closer racing.

I always thought that the Ducati engine was fine and it was the chassis and electronics causing their understeer and poor drive out of corners, top speed doesn't seem to be an issue though. The fact they are even considering this as well suggests to me that the management (or Gigi) in Ducati are willing to change in order to find solutions to becoming competitive. I guess the engine development could also help to find solutions for the panigale as well.

Total votes: 23

Can Ducati go back to "Factory Option"?

David,

Assuming this plan works and Ducati becomes more competitive at some point, can they go back to being a "Factory Option" team?

Total votes: 19

WWHD

While this is a smart move by Ducati for all the development reasons under the current rules & conditions as mentioned by others. What about the long game? And I don't mean just Ducati...

If this is the first domino to fall in favor of Dorna's plans for a move towards more "spec. type" racing and weakening the manufacturers position withing the sport and significantly slowing technical development, where are all the purists who constantly decry the loss of true "prototype" racing in seemingly every other post on this site?!

The real question is What Will Honda Do?

If they eventually pick up their toys and go home (hard to believe, but certainly possible), then where does that leave the sport? Maybe we end up looking back and saying this was a really bad day for MotoGP.

Total votes: 23

Ducati to open

Fascinating development for Ducati considering their current problems. Smart politics as well considering the costs Yamaha is struggling with to keep up with Honda. I wonder how Honda will react to a series where as soon as 2015 they may be isolated in a class of one while all the competition compete on another level? Dorna must be very pleased!

Total votes: 18

I hope this does happen

Ducati definitely need to change their approach. Nothing has worked for them since 2008. Stoner's freakish talent made that bike look better than what it is. Have often heard about the engine not being smooth, working like a wild untamed beast, but what I hear more is more a of a problem is that the chassis does not allow good cornering. Always has underesteer and vague feelings at the front.

Maybe they are working one thing at a time. Which is fine. I have have full trust in Gigi to bring my favorite manufacturer back to the front. Looking at his work with WSBK and Motogp. Both of his past race bikes were known for their chassis working quite well. Cannot wait to see the first test with this Open bike.

Averagerider (formerly whorida)

Total votes: 16

Number of engines

With twelve engines and more fuel, Honda and Yamaha are likely to have one more team to worry about, maybe as early as mid-season. It would be funny to see their early advantage, from the first races, disappear when they have to start from pit lane because they ran out of engines in their allocation. If Ducati start bothering them for podiums they likely will have to run their engines harder and that could play into Ducati's hands. Engines and chassis are much more likely to trickle down to us mere mortals than turn-by-turn software anyways.

Total votes: 24

Not a smart move

Its their only move. Ducati cannot hope to make progress during the season if they are not allowed to modify the engine at all. Another case of the rules getting in the way of development.

As far as them actually making enough parts to 'test a lot more variables, playing with crankshaft masses, valve timing and sizes, the configuration of the V, tilting it backwards and forwards, and rejigging the layout of gearbox shafts' during the season, well, let's see.

I do wonder at the effect of giving a true Grand Prix engine design 24l of fuel for a race. That may trump their poor electronics setup and in fact the Dorna software may be close to or just as advanced as their own, as rumours of them running a single injector setup seem to back up.

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

Total votes: 20

That was my initial reaction

That was my initial reaction as well; a strategic retreat, not a brilliant step forward. I was under the impression that Ducati's electronics suite was the weakest of the three factory teams. If this actually comes to pass, it could be seen as Ducati having the least to lose by going to Dorna-spec software.

This would free Ducati to focus its resources elsewhere. I'm OK with Dorna offering this level of support by providing that option being available for a factory that wants to come play.

Total votes: 20

Stick to the game plane

Ducati must see this through,the open option and focus accordingly. Its not like the spec ECU will be a problem for them. Spec ECU is a problem for HRC and Yamaha. The tyre war for Ducati is a sub-plot. If the soft Bridgestone can be handled by the D16 over race distance with the spec ECU at Sepang test 1, HRC may aswell go home prior to 2015. Grid slots will be filled by Mahindra GP/BigBoy GP et al sooner rather than later. Look East young man, its inevitable. Ducati at least have a game plan. With the cost of Japanese racing machinery as it is, its a no brainer for Ducati. I don't see Gigi changing engine layout and sundry blah as much as I see him changing efficiency in transforming established norms within Ducati Corse. He knows he is in a battle with HRC and Yamaha just like he was in SBK with Aprilia. Right now there is only one kid on the block outside of Japan and that is Italy and Ducati.
Footnote and Felippe Prezziosi. Ducati's failure over the past several years was not a result of his incompetence,not by a country mile. It was a direct result of the Dorna/GP marketing machine... you know, The RonaldMcDonald venture circa soundings 2009.

Total votes: 17

Can we CAN it for once and always

Ducati and HRC run L not V layouts. Take the rest of the argument to chasssis, tyres,suspension,valve train and ECU. Thats all.
Harly Davidson run V's. I've got a 'shovelhead' V in the garage next to a Ducati L.

Total votes: 23

Nobody really cares about the

Nobody really cares about the distinction between 'L' and 'V'. If you really want to be pedantic , let's notice that one leg of the capital letter L is shorter than the other . Is one of the cylinder bores 'shorter' than the other in the above mentioned HRC or Ducati engines ? No! Then they are 90 degree vees!

Total votes: 42

Seems more like an admission

Seems more like an admission that they can't do the electronics programming more than anything. They'll have the built-in excuse that something out of their control is the problem now. "Strategic Retreat" is the best way to put it. As the first factory to defect this does set a precedent. How many more factories can Carmelo get on the "open" team before 2017 when he wants the spec software to be compulsory? Add in Suzuki? Aprilia? Can he get enough interest that the departure of Honda and Yamaha wouldn't be the series killer it would be now?

Total votes: 25

Tell ya what ghostdog6

Umpteen years back I enjoyed 'On any Sunday' featuring live footage of King Kenny,Malcolm Smith and Steve McQeen. Thats irrelevant to the topic. What is,is that in one scene the commentatator said someting to the effect that Yamaha should stick to making PIANO's. My,my,Hey,Hey.

Total votes: 15

Spec Racing....

DMG had grand ideas of pushing out the factories and making virtually "spec" bikes. How'd that work out for them? Only five races this year........

If they leave other development avenues open and just shut out the electronics it may not be so bad.

As far as Ducati's possible decision is concerned, to me, it appears as a hail marry attempt at more in season testing and engine development and preparing for the inevitable. Also gives them a convenient scape goat when the customer "prototypes" are finishing in front of them. Maybe Marlboro wont care about the back marker results for the next couple years if they think there is a head start on 2017.

Total votes: 21

Marlboro's money...

... runs only through 2014. They say they won't entertain an extension w/o better results. We'll see if they stick to that.

Total votes: 15

Who's behind it?

Who makes the spec MotoGP black box? Who's coming up with the software? How does it translate to road bikes? In other words, who makes the black boxes and software used by the major manufacturers on their road bikes?

Could it be that there's a company who'd like to be the go-to road-bike electronic engine-control provider for the major manufacturers? Could it be that the opportunity to create proprietary electronic controls is being nipped in the bud by taking away the MotoGP test lab? Leaving a huge opportunity for one company that specializes in such things (creating electronic controls, not nipping in the bud) to create a monopoly?

Is there a special connection between Dorna and a certain hardware/software provider?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, biggest market is small-displacement bikes in SE Asia, how do MotoGP lessons translate, blah blah blah. Ya know what? Big bikes, little bikes, it doesn't matter. Air/fuel ratios are air/fuel ratios, useable power is useable power, and fuel consumption is fuel consumption, no matter how big the engine is. Or isn't.

Total votes: 20

Magneti Marelli...

... ecu w/ a fixed number of sensors & channels.

Teams will tuning fuel maps et al w/ the spec. software provided w/ the boxes.

It doesn't translate at all to street bikes.

Total votes: 11

No

There is no ambition to control production software. Do you think MM wants to assume that kind of liability to customers and manufacturers? I doubt the spec software is really spec software anyway. It's probably just a program that limits the number of times the crankshaft can turn per minute.

Fuel limits regulate the amount of power available over race distance. The spec software will do the same. How? The options are limited. Rev limit seems the most likely, especially since Dorna is pushing rev limits for everyone.

Total votes: 15

I don't get it...

because how hard can it be to make a new trellis frame? they tried it all but nothing worked or works, and its not like ducati never won anything with a trellis frame. honda yamaha twin-tube ducati trellis. thats it. no byebye preziosi ,no hello gobmeier, no goodbye gobmeier. no hello Gigi. and alot of money extra to spend on other things

Total votes: 23

trellis

It was said a few years back that the trellis frame couldn't handle the new tires. that's why they went carbon. I think once they get the frame geometry right, they probably could go back to a carbon frame but I don't see that happening. I think one issue they have is since they rotated the engine back they didn't make any new engine cases. I think with the 6 and now 5 engine rule that hurts Ducati the most. If they could find the best position and centralize the CG in that sweetspot that Honda has right now then they would be on the right path. until then they will just be chasing their tail and get nowhere. Thats just my 2 cents

Total votes: 21

Would be very interesting to hear Mr Stoner's views on this

He's usually very open in his opinions, and isn't a Ducati employee so won't be bound to silence.

Given that in his book he says the CRT introduction was one of the reasons he left, it will be interesting to see what he makes of these rumours.

Total votes: 16

Choked factory team in 2016?

Just as saying there will be no factory team at the end, it is an open entries gp in year 2016... fun may be yes, some excitement? maybe too, just not a moto grand prix.
If "joke" is too strong, it's a "choke" factory we'll see race in the future.

Total votes: 16

Watch Hernandez

Ducati denied any immediate plans to go all Open in 2014. That doesn't mean they can't change their mind during or after winter testing. If Hernandez starts beating Iannone and getting too close to the factory guys, expect those plans to change.

Total votes: 12

Hernandez is a poor benchmark

Hernandez is a poor benchmark in my opinion as he is not the caliber of rider or experienced enough to be of help in developing and exploiting what is possible w the Open Ducati. I think they will know sooner and more clearly watching the two bikes in comparison in the hands of the other Duc riders. Crutchlow won't be shy, nor will Gigi. They seem ready to move fwd in either direction.
Popcorn bowl full, beer cold, ready for Spring!

Total votes: 20

Consider this

Consider this - specifically where we are at and what this step means. One manufacturer has forced rules that favor them. Now the series organizer is taking a simple step to undo that.
How are restrictive limits on the amount of fuel and number of engines/engine development during season congruent with prototype racing? And how is letting one overdog participant squeezing out other competitors with self serving rules sport?
Why not go another step fwd in considering electronics specifically, although this seems a bit dicier. There must be a "sweet spot" of computer involvement in making a motorcycle go fast vs a rider doing so. There are a LOT of sensors on MotoGP bikes now doing what a rider would be doing w their throttle hand. Where is that sweet spot? Who decides and how?
If I try to minimize my emotional reactivity, black and white all-or-nothing thinking and such it seems pretty clear that steps are being taken AWAY from the unwise ones that were taken too far in the last 5 seasons or so. The pendulum comes towards center again. Let Honda have a tantrum. Watch Aprillia and Suzuki return, and likely more. Watch Espargaro and a LESS restricted Open Yamaha rip up a wider range of tire compounds. Watch Ducati accelerate engine development and Bridgestone adapt front tires to suit the wider range of set up strategies being used. Watch more lines and race strategies being used. Watch Kawasaki come back. Watch four manufacturers battling for podiums. Watch less Pedrosa style "tidy" riding and more Stoner/Rossi/Marquez etc "gritty" riding. My heart and soul awaken with the possibility unfolding right now. My eyes are on A.Espargaro vs Smith vs Crutchlow vs Bradl/Beautista JUST as much as the front. HOW they do it just as much as WHAT they accomplish.
PASSION. It's what Sunday is for!

Total votes: 24

Why not?

Why not go back to two strokes and forget that silly name pototype, it is a rediculous name and means nothing. They had everything they are surching for now, low costs for maintenance or developement, much less electronics and the driver skills were much more dominant, please bring back the two strokes!!
4 strokes you use in car racing 2 strokes in motorcycle racing.

Total votes: 26

couldn't handle the new tyres?????????

didn't honda and yamah to struggled with the tyres. did they go carbon or monocoque?? no.!! they kept the twintube frame and adjust it. just like duc should have done with the trellis. keep improving it. duc has a history with trellis and with all the race data etc sure duc must know what to do with it. But i know what duc is doing, duc is doing the same stuff mv agusta has done for years.... let another factory pay massive money for nothing and then buy it back for 1$. Befor this all happens audi must consider to make it a totaly new brand "AUDI" and develop things them self. its obvlious the italians do nothing and let audi pay massive amount of money and duc does nothing. hahaha with all the money from audi and money from marlboro, and still nothing? c'mon!!!!!!!!!!!!!! first audi must make it a audi motorcycle, 2nd marboro needs to open their eyes and leave to.

this 1 is for audi. audi i can't do S#!t to please give me millions to.

Total votes: 20

Blame Stoner for the switch

Blame Stoner for the switch away from the trellis frame. He's the one that liked the carbon frame better than the trellis. The problem with the trellis was always that each bike would feel different from the next. They weren't consistent.

Total votes: 14

2 strokes!!!

What? Those cheap old NSR500s, with their traction control (yes) and low budget price tag - so low that in the late 90s the organisers were struggling to get 15 bikes on the grid. No thank you, they sounded crap too.

MotoGP has been brilliant for GP racing (I've been avidly following for 45 years now). It is not perfect and Honda have certainly had too much influence over the rules but I feel that Dorna are now on the right tracks.

Racing should be an exiting spectacle first and development vehicle second. How much of what is needed to do 200+mph is needed to create an exiting road bike when national speed limits through out the vast majority of Europe are set at around 70 or 80 mph (and with speed limits being reduced in the UK in hot spot areas to reduce local air pollution!)

Total votes: 14

Yes 2 strokes

As for as I know Little-Brit, there was only electronic aids in the form of a selector on the gearbox so that the electronics knew in which gear the bike was and not so much with traction control and what about the sound of the two strokes its mostly a matter of taste, I prefer the sound of a two stroke compared to the sound of the four strokes with exception for the Yamaha and Aprilia.
My point was and is, that if they had limited the costs of the two strokes in the same way as they are trying now with the 4strokes we still had some great racing and a clear difference with for example the SBK. The problem in my opinion is that to compete with a four stroke on the level that the current MotorGP is it will cost you a tremendous amount of money.

Total votes: 19

There would be the same

There would be the same amount of electronics on 2-strokes if they were being raced today. An engine is still an engine; the manufacturers would still be exploring how to get the most out of an engine that was built for peak power, and electronics would be the way they would do it. The problem of electronics would still exist with 2 strokes.

Total votes: 21

Aprilia 250

Exactly. One does not have to look too hard to see the electronics taking over, even on the old two-strokes. Aprilia had traction control on their 250s the last two seasons they raced. In the first year it was only the factory team, and then the ones they wanted to see at the front. Even if they went with Stoner's dream and raced 750cc two-strokes those beasts would have the same amount of electronics. Granted, in the aforementioned dream there would be minimal electronics, but you get the idea.

Total votes: 7

Electronics

Perhaps I should have been clearer in my comments, its the electronic aids that I don't like and in my opinion make most of the costs today in racing. Also the statement that the factorys make peak power engines and then try to control it trough electronics is in my opinion not the best way to race, but hey, thats only my opinion.

Total votes: 11

Electronics are cheap

Its high-revving long-lasting 4-stroke engines that are expensive. The electronics hard costs are much lower than the cost of one engine, they don't wear out, and can be reprogrammed and reconfigured indefinitely. The several electronics techs each team now has are replacing the several engine techs that are no longer needed since the engines are sealed. Where is this huge cost of electronics coming from?

>>is in my opinion not the best way to race, but hey, thats only my opinion

If someone could win doing it a different way they would be........undermined by the rules.

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

Total votes: 8

Electronics are cheap??

Don't think so!! What about the people who program this stuff, they are for sure not cheap!! What you said about the long lasting 4stroke is exacly the reason why they never should have left the 2strokes in the first place, these are much easyer and cheaper to maintain,cut out also the electronic part and we can start racing again. My English is'nt good enough to write down here in the right words to explain why the electronics, again in my opinion, should be banned and also there is'nt enough room in this blog.

Total votes: 10

Compared to the engines, electronics are cheap

Yes, I agree that 2 strokes are lighter and less expansive than 4 strokes. That said they are just as ripe for electronics control (movable intake/exhaust, FI/DI, FBW for example) as a 4 stroke. If we were still using 2 strokes they would be festooned with sensors and electronic control systems.

Programmers can program with a laptop computer. Engine designs need engineers to design the parts. Making the parts require foundries, CNC machining, dyno testing for power and reliability, etc. and all the personnel to operate them. To make another part you have to......make another part. To copy software you simply copy it. Electronics development is much cheaper than engine development. Your english seems fine but the reason you don't want electronics is you don't like them. That's your opinion and you are more than welcome to it but electronics cost is not really an issue of opinion.

Racing seemed fine to me this year. Sometimes exciting, sometimes not. Go back to the 2 stroke era and look at some results. Race results are available on the motogp.com website back to 1950. You'll see that more often than not the gap to the leader was as large or larger than today. If you define good racing by small gaps then you'll see that there were much more boring races than good ones. If you define good racing by seeing the best riders on the best equipment then all racing is good.

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

Total votes: 11

Electronics are not cheap

Your point is technically correct, Chris, but rather disingenuous. Yes, copying software is cheap. All it needs is a laptop and a USB stick. However, the cost of electronics development is not in hardware, but in wetware, for two reasons.

Firstly, the programmers. Great programmers are few and far between. I have worked with a lot of good programmers in the past, but I have only worked with one truly great programmer. Of the 15 people working on the product I was involved in, he did about 80% of the work. He was paid well, and smart companies pay people like that a lot of money to stick around. They earn every penny of it, but their pay is driven by supply and demand, where supply is tiny, and demand huge. See Honda's poaching of Andrea Zugna for an example. Zugna is a modest and charming man, and I doubt very much he played hard to maximize the money he got out of HRC, but Honda will have offered him a lot of money to leave.

You can also achieve a lot just by throwing more good programmers at a problem. If one great programmer is worth ten to fifteen good programmers, you can always throw fifteen good programmers at a problem. You don't need to build extra physical tooling, you just rent a room, put in a few desks, some ethernet cabling and workstations. You can increase one programmer at a time, and before you know it, you have a massive army of software engineers working for you which need to be paid.

Which leads me on to my second point. Software is a money pit because it keeps adding benefits the more you invest in it. In terms of hardware, there is always a point at which the law of diminishing returns kicks in. An extra million will make you another 0.1 faster, but the next 0.1 will cost ten times as much. We are not at that point with motorcycle software yet. Spend a million, gain 0.1. Spend another million, gain another 0.1. Spend another million, gain yet another 0.1. In a recent interview with Solo Moto magazine, Shuhei Nakamoto said they have at least another 15 years worth of development they can do on electronics. So they can gain more simply by spending more, in a direct, arithmetical relationship. The more you spend, the faster you go.

Hardware is cheap. Software is cheap to copy, but expensive to create. Electronics are a black hole that you can keep throwing money into, and which gives enough back in terms of performance gains that factories can't afford not to keep throwing money at it. It is exactly like aerodynamics in Formula One.

Total votes: 13

Compared to engine development they are

My post is not disingenuous at all. Yes, developing software you have the costs you listed. Yet to develop any other aspect of motorcycle technology you need all of the same group of talented people to design the parts but then need an another group of people with expensive machinery to fabricate the parts and then another set of people with yet more expensive machinery to test the parts. And yes, great people of any given useful discipline are few and far in between, not just programmers. They are just the new kids on the block.

>>See Honda's poaching of Andrea Zugna for an example.

He is one of, if not the the great programmer in the paddock. So we are to assume that Andrea's salary is bankrupting MotoGP? No, it is not. It is a tiny cost when compared to the entire circus. And all the equipment he ever needs is his laptop. And the improvements he develps can be copied to all 4 factory Honda bikes at zero cost. And the changes can be removed just as easily.

>>If one great programmer is worth ten to fifteen good programmers, you can always throw fifteen good programmers at a problem.

Yes, and get results that are not as good. The thing that makes a great programmer great is his logic, not the volume of code he produces. That's like saying a few good writers together can write better than a great writer. Its nonsense.

>>Which leads me on to my second point. Software is a money pit because it keeps adding benefits the more you invest in it.

Funny, in any other field a development channel that keeps giving returns is considered great! If you spend money on a problem and it achieves a significant improvement then you are not throwing money into a black hole or wasting it in any way. It actually is the exact opposite. How much money did Honda and Yamaha spend developing a seamless gearbox to work around the dual clutch prohibition? The trans upgrade for Honda satellite bikes was over 1M. And the benefit was a couple of hundredths per lap. Yet it was a race-only solution as a production solution has already been figured out. That's a black hole. Nearly spec brakes that are barely capable of working at some tracks yet are insanely expensive (due to their rulebook-supported monopoly) is a black hole. Developing entire motorcycles around spec tires that can change at any time is a black hole. If electronics still have years to get to the point of diminishing returns then it seems to me that money spent there is better than money spent on chassis and engine development, areas where we definitely have reached the point of diminishing returns.

There's no more tire development. With frozen engines there is very little engine development. Tight fuel specifications means there is no fuel research. Materials regulations prevent anything from happening on the brake front. Seems that the only avenue for any significant development is electronics and now Dorna wants to prohibit that too. The factories are completely in the right to resist.

>>It is exactly like aerodynamics in Formula One.

Except for the huge point that advanced electronic control algorithms are useful for production vehicles where F1 style aero is not.

You, or anybody else, has still not clearly explained how a spec ECU will force the factories to spend less money or result in cheaper bikes to the teams. That's the disingenuous part of this discussion. As long as they are participating the factories will not spend less and they will not be slowed so significantly that the production racers or DIY bikes will be competitive with them. There are other options for change (TIRES) that can easily improve the racing yet still keep the most important participants in the paddock. What gives?

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

Total votes: 9

Tires

No argument from me on tire development. Bridgestone tires are marvels of performance, but they are killing the sport. And Bridgestone has little interest in changing the tire performance. I don't think any of the other factories do either, however, as the standard has now been set.

How will a spec ECU help reduce costs? Well, it certainly won't cut costs as much as many people hope. But as it is one of the places where gains are still arithmetic and not tapering, it rewards spending more money. Every other avenue encounters rapidly diminishing returns, and so the gains from spending more money become less and less. 

How will a spec ECU make racing more exciting? Right now, the tires work in sync with the electronics, as the factories working on easing the load on the tires. When Dorna controls the spec ECU, they can impose limits, such as a rev limit, or limitations on functionality. Dorna can't force Bridgestone to make less durable tires, but they can strip out a lot of the functionality currently being used, winding down traction control to a minimum, removing anti wheelie, removing launch control. That will stress the tires more, making them go off. And every time Bridgestone adapts, Dorna can move the goalposts. Right now, Dorna has little clout over the tire makers, but spec electronics gives them a lot more.

I also agree with your point on the cost of engine development being much higher on four strokes than two strokes. There is a simple, and very obvious solution to that problem too...

Total votes: 11

Really toeing the corporate line here....

>>Bridgestone tires are marvels of performance, but they are killing the sport. And Bridgestone has little interest in changing the tire performance.

Isn't Dorna the paying customer? Why can't they specify what they want to buy? F1 tells Pirelli what kind of tires to make.

>>How will a spec ECU help reduce costs? Well, it certainly won't cut costs as much as many people hope. But as it is one of the places where gains are still arithmetic and not tapering, it rewards spending more money.

So it won't really control costs but will limit the effectiveness of spending and curtail areas of gain that are most relevant to the manufacturers and consumers. Since we know from the factories' development of high cost seamless shift gearboxes that have no production relevance for .02-.05 improvement per lap they are wiling to spend a lot on obscure areas for scant improvement how can this even be considered an effective approach?

>>How will a spec ECU make racing more exciting? Right now, the tires work in sync with the electronics, as the factories working on easing the load on the tires. When Dorna controls the spec ECU, they can impose limits, such as a rev limit, or limitations on functionality.

Don't Dorna already control the tires? You are basically saying that Dorna will start to implement a version of performance leveling where you take away advanced features from everybody until nobody has an advantage. Besides an extremely questionable likelihood of success (it has never worked before) what you describe is the antitheses of Grand Prix racing. Its horrible that these rules are being proposed and ironic that a website that started out named 'motogpmatters.com' is advocating for them. This proposed rule is the most significant step in the process of making MotoGP completely not matter.

>>but they can strip out a lot of the functionality currently being used

So Dorna does not want to just limit electronics development they want to go back in time. 2016 will be remembered as the last year that it was possible to break track records. Now that's progress! Soon we'll have club racing being faster than GP machines. And with bigger crowds too. Has anyone considered the effects on the non-factory bikes? The ART and FTR bikes will get slower and harder to ride and chew up the soft tires more. Aprilia's software was very good and by all indications the Dorna software will not be as good so that will at least give the Ducati's some breathing space. The FTR bikes were finally getting their wheelie control dialed in the 2nd half of the season which if taken away will result in them backtracking. And whatever factory that figures out how to game the ECU gets to run away with it. But full steam ahead with implementing these useless measures!

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

Total votes: 9

Politics

>>Isn't Dorna the paying customer? Why can't they specify what they want to buy? F1 tells Pirelli what kind of tires to make.

F1 ditched Bridgestone because they wouldn't build what they wanted. MotoGP has the same problem, Bridgestone are too afraid of losing their reputation of being able to build a durable product, and are very resistant to Dorna's requests to reduce the performance of the tires. They already feel they don't get the exposure they need in return for the amount they pay as sole supplier, and are not happy to do Dorna's bidding. This issue will only be resolved when either we have a return of the tire war, or Dorna give the tire contract to another party.

>>So it won't really control costs but will limit the effectiveness of spending and curtail areas of gain that are most relevant to the manufacturers and consumers.

Professional motorcycle racing is entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. Any other benefits are merely tangential, and of no real consequence to the sport. The point of professional motorcycle racing is exactly the same as all other professional sports: to help a paying audience pass a few pleasant hours.

>> 2016 will be remembered as the last year that it was possible to break track records. 

Track records are irrelevant. The number of people who actually know what the record of a particular track is a vanishingly small number. Could you tell me what the Moto2 record is for, say, Assen without looking it up? Or Moto3 at Misano? Or MotoGP at Jerez? Records count for very little. The aim is to beat the other riders on the track on the day, not some other rider on some other day riding under entirely different conditions. 

>> Its horrible that these rules are being proposed and ironic that a website that started out named 'motogpmatters.com' is advocating for them. This proposed rule is the most significant step in the process of making MotoGP completely not matter.

MotoGP does not really matter, in the grand scheme of things. Whether MotoGP adopts spec software or not, people will still die of hunger, war, disease.

Where MotoGP matters is to the fans, to the people who live for every race, who idolize their heroes the riders, who spend their savings to travel to races, who watch on TV, who read everything voraciously online, who pour their heart and soul into the sport. To them, MotoGP is everything. And for the vast majority of them, the role of electronics and the potential R&D benefits of the sport are irrelevant. 

The R&D benefits of the sport are also irrelevant to the manufacturers. Grand Prix racing is already crippled by rules (the restriction to four-stroke engines was the blow which killed any pretense of prototype racing, everything since then has been fiddling while Rome burns), and yet the factories have still not set up a rival series, nor has the idea even crossed their minds. If the ability to develop technologies freely, without any hindrance from regulation, were really important, the factories would have pulled out a long time ago and set up a rival series. They have not done so, so apparently, racing is not that crucial a development tool.

The real passion which fans have for MotoGP is for the riders, not for the factories. There are vast numbers of flags around the track bearing #46, #93, #35, #99. There are a fair number of flags with Ducati on it, but given the parlous state of Ducati's MotoGP project, it seems fair to assume that those Ducati fans are not really that interested in technological prowess. MotoGP matters, because it matters to the fans. It matters to people, because of the people. Without the people, MotoGP loses all relevance.

Total votes: 9

If one spec supplier is bad, let's have 2!

>>They already feel they don't get the exposure they need in return for the amount they pay as sole supplier, and are not happy to do Dorna's bidding.

So let's get into another situation like this?

>>Professional motorcycle racing is entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. Any other benefits are merely tangential, and of no real consequence to the sport. The point of professional motorcycle racing is exactly the same as all other professional sports: to help a paying audience pass a few pleasant hours.

That's a very narrow view of motorsports. No other sports are dependent on 3rd party companies for the expensive equipment needed to actually perform the sport. Without manufacturers there would be no motorsports. That can't be said for any other stick and ball sport. Motorsports has consistently improved the breed and its benefits pass down to large scale manufacturing companies and the everyday products they sell. Where does that happen with other sports? The economics of participation in motorsports from both a supplier and participant's perspective differ greatly from any other sport. Without the significant investment provided by the manufacturers the sport cannot continue.

>>MotoGP does not really matter, in the grand scheme of things.

Yes, in the long run we all die. So? You seemed to rearrange your entire life over the past few years to report on this sport. I'd hope it matters to you but maybe not.

>>Track records are irrelevant. The number of people who actually know what the record of a particular track is a vanishingly small number.

Then why do they point out during a qualifying session or race that a new record has been set? Why even keep track? Because fans 'who live for every race, who idolize their heroes the riders, who spend their savings to travel to races, who watch on TV, who read everything voraciously online, who pour their heart and soul into the sport' care about these details just like stick and ball sports fans pour over their statistics. They like their rider to hold the record.

>>And for the vast majority of them, the role of electronics and the potential R&D benefits of the sport are irrelevant.

Everybody that I know personally watches GP especially because of the nature of the machinery they use. Coupled with the best riders it is the best show. Take away one and its not the same.

>>The R&D benefits of the sport are also irrelevant to the manufacturers. Grand Prix racing is already crippled by rules

Open your perspective a bit. Up to now the crippling rules you describe are the ones the manufacturers largely have supported. The end of the 2 stroke years had been when they really got chassis and tire design down. Those areas were well understood so they needed a new challenge: 4 strokes. The first 4 stroke years were relatively free from regulations and they spent those years developing high-revving fire-breathing engines. Once they accomplished that the target was increased efficiency with the 800s and fuel limits. Once they got that skill worked out pretty well they moved on to making the engines last a long time. Now they have that down pat too. Tire development was sufficiently advanced by 2009 that they had no issues with using a spec tire. It even might have made their development of other areas easier as now tires were not a changing variable. All along the way they used unrestricted electronics to assist development. Now that electronics are the only area where significant development can still occur (something you, Honda and I agree on) they are happy to restrict everything else. So in effect the restrictive rules are not crippling factory R&D efforts, they are merely tracking the areas that the factories feel they have sufficiently mastered so no longer want to spend development dollars on.

>>The real passion which fans have for MotoGP is for the riders, not for the factories. There are vast numbers of flags around the track bearing #46, #93, #35, #99.

10 years ago all those numbers were different. 10 years from now the same will be true. The continuity in the paddock comes from the manufacturers' factory teams. All the riders dream of riding factory bikes. All the CRT and privateer riders dream of riding a factory prototype. Its amazing that you so easily dismiss the why of why they want it. Its like you feel that all those fans that idolize the riders and devote so much of their leisure to following the sport are completely blind to the machine they are riding.

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

Total votes: 11

Engineers

>>Everybody that I know personally watches GP especially because of the nature of the machinery they use. 

You're an engineer. Think your background has something to do with the friends you watch racing with? This is precisely why the sport is in the state it is, because it isn't appealing to non-engineers.

>> You seemed to rearrange your entire life over the past few years to report on this sport. I'd hope it matters to you but maybe not.

It matters to me so much I work insane hours for a very scant living, spending a lot of time away from my wife, who I married because I love spending time with her. It matters so much I spend nearly every waking moment reading, talking, learning, writing. It matters so much that I cannot stand idly by while the factories do their utmost to kill the sport. If the sport dies, it makes no difference to them, they will continue to sell motorcycles. If the sport dies, the thousands of riders, mechanics, team members, journalists, track staff, Dorna staff and others all lose their jobs.

Nakamoto-san says he is not in the business of entertaining the crowds. If he is not in the business of entertaining the crowds, the crowds will stay away, and the sport dies. He can go back to Japan and take an engineering position. The rest of us are out of business.

Total votes: 14

are people too

>>You're an engineer. Think your background has something to do with the friends you watch racing with?

I'm the only engineer in the group. Some finance guys, a couple of photogs, an architect, sound guy, a couple of machinists and a few blue collar guys. A few women too: writer, sales, designer. We all ride. Some have raced, some not. And your point, even if it were true, does not matter. We are long time fans. We buy video passes. We travel to races. We read and pour over information between races. Why are we so readily dismissed for a potential audience that may not even be interested for a rule that will not even have its intended effect?

>>It matters to me so much I work insane hours for a very scant living.....

Then don't be so dismissive of it in your post.

>>I cannot stand idly by while the factories do their utmost to kill the sport

Difference of opinion here I guess. The factories are the long term players here. Dorna is a johnny come lately that wants to redefine what Grand Prix racing is in order to have yet another mindless entertainment spectacle to fill its pockets.

>>Nakamoto-san says he is not in the business of entertaining the crowds.

It amazes me that anyone would even think twice when the VP of a major vehicle manufacturing company says he is not in the entertainment business. Honda is in it to improve motorcycles and have increased visibility in order to sell more of them. Dorna is in it to market and grow the business of racing motorcycles. Of the two it is Honda that is doing well at what they are supposed to do. For years Dorna was happy to sit on the success brought to them by Rossi's charisma and skill. They saw the loss of tobacco and alcohol sponsorship money coming from a mile away and did little about it. There are many major multinationals that should be sponsoring in GP but aren't. Logistics expenses are staggering. Riders are having to bring money to the table. In the face of this we have huge amounts of effort devoted to a conflict with the sport's biggest participants. No marketing outreaches. No initiative in that direction. Poor social media skills. Yamaha can't get a title sponsor for a team with 2 superstars, one of which is Valentino Rossi. Why? Because companies don't see value in what Dorna is peddling. 4 races in a country with a small population that is in a years long recession with high unemployment don't help matters.

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

Total votes: 9

Dismissive

If you think I'm being dismissive of the sport, you have totally and completely misunderstood my point.

And you'll get no argument from me over Dorna's lack of promotion of the sport.

Total votes: 8

Re electronics

You keep saying Chris that the software part is cheaper then the hardware part for developping new engine/chassis or whatever parts. This is partly true, I have worked for over ten years with two strokes and the biggest problem we had was money and so we start to develope the parts we already had and in this way we still were competitive to the other competitors who did buy new expensive hardware in the forms of barrels or better electronics. My point today is the electronics are taking over a poor engine design (peaky powerdelivery) or support the driver to avoid a possible mistake and don't get me wrong I do not like to see the men crash or hurt themselves. I feel that the influence of the performance of bike & rider are to much regulated by electronics also in formula 1
and in that way, as you said correctly, I don't like electronics but I do see the very very clever solutions the come up with.

Total votes: 10

A different beast

Developing a 2 stroke is much cheaper than developing a 4 stroke. Port duration changes on a 2 stroke are accomplished with a hand grinder. Timing changes on a 4 stroke involve producing a new camshaft with many precision ground hardened surfaces. Moving parts on a 2 stroke = crank, piston, conrod, 1 piston ring, and a reed valve. For a 4 stroke = crank, piston, conrod, 2 rings, 4 valves, 4 springs, 4 soft seals, 4 hard seals, 2 camshafts and a timing drive system. Many more parts that each need to be designed and fabricated from expensive materials and coatings to high tolerances. Then add in the high speed, 18000rpm comapred to a 2 stroke at roughly 13000rpm, and it is easy to see where all the money is going. Remove the displacement and forced induction rules and you'd easily get a reliable 250hp out of a compact 750cc or so V twin from a low revving, high boost, inexpensive engine. Or out of a large displacement 2 stroke.

>>My point today is the electronics are taking over a poor engine design (peaky powerdelivery)

Modern GP engines are not a poor engine design. They are extremely low loss and high efficiency designs that can run extremely lean without seizing. The electronics are merely allowing them to do more with less, a worthy goal for any engineer. I think they are less peaky than a 500cc 2 stroke. From watching GP online you can see that the powerband is over 6000rpm wide, pretty damn good for a race engine and double or triple a GP 2-stroke. The electronics do offload some tasks from the rider but if the electronics really reduced the skill needed to ride at 100% wouldn't more than 3 riders would be in contention for the title? And why the fastest riders are the ones that have figured out how to ride the bike with minimal TC interference. Stoner at Duc and Honda always liked to turn the settings down and Marquez is using Stoner's settings as a base.

To me its all about the tires. They are the last word on how the bikes are designed and can be ridden and the current tire design rewards lapping at the same speed the entire race. A little too fast and its completely cooked. A little too slow and its too cold and spits you off. Not to mention the loss of tire management skills. And the loss of the skill of riding on worn tires. That's where most of the excitment of the past came from, the tires going off separated the men from the boys.

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

Total votes: 13

A different beast

I'll come back to you of this subject this evening, I have to work now but I like it very much to discuss this with you, cheers.

Total votes: 9

Not sure

of the reasoning behind the comments regarding engine development being expensive.

That sort of stuff is just too simple these days of Computer Aided Manufacturing where any half decent machine shop could turn out MotoGP quality parts if given the right materials and a memory stick. Change something in your primary drive and need a new gearbox? No problem, email the design for the new components to the machinist on the other side of the world (if need be) and send the courier around in the morning to pick up the new items.

I can remember being amazed at this vid 5 or so years ago, where a Bugatti W16 engine block is machined from a solid block of alloy down to the near finished article in a matter of minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU32Q6QXtWQ

The mind boggles as to the advances in machining/manufacturing in the years since.

So why all this talk of the huge time frames and extreme difficulty Ducati are having with possibly redesigning their D16? Seriously, they could give the task to any tech college in the 1st world and it would be a matter of weeks not months to produce the finished article. No, Ducati just have to decide on a path forward which is the hard part, making the actual hardware is easy.

As for the electronics, my feeling is they remove the variability of rider input. Each machine is now operated within a very narrow window of error as opposed to earlier less complicated times where the pilot had more input and variability in his control actions. Now everyone's traction is optimised +/- 2% instead of the +/- 10% that actually enabled passing and mistakes to occur. What's more we could see the wriggle on corner exit, see the bike sideways, see the wheel lofted a lil' too high and got a real sense of speed and a real sense of the battle on the riders hands. The modern "slot bikes" may rewrite the laptimes records but they entirely remove much of the visual appreciation. The sad thing is much of the electronic interference has absolutley no relevance to what we need/use in the real world so is just as much of a financial dead end as F1's aero war.

Total votes: 13

Because it is

Ask Bugatti, the people that make the $2M+ car that the engine you mention goes in.

>>That sort of stuff is just too simple these days of Computer Aided Manufacturing where any half decent machine shop could turn out MotoGP quality parts if given the right materials and a memory stick.

That statement shows a complete lack of understanding on the difference between a mass produced part and a motorsports quality part. High grade material, tight tolerances, ultra fine surface finishes, and advanced surface coatings all add a lot of expense to a grand prix engine compared to a production one and are things that not every shop can pull off.

>>can remember being amazed at this vid 5 or so years ago, where a Bugatti W16 engine block is machined from a solid block of alloy down to the near finished article in a matter of minutes

Its pretty apparent that the video does not show the entire machining process. While the actual making of chips has been largely automated the human input for design and testing is still required. And that CNC machine is not your average CNC mill. And the part you are referencing happens to be in the most expensive production car ever. Not exactly an example of the low cost of modern manufacturing.

>>The mind boggles as to the advances in machining/manufacturing in the years since.

Are you easily boggled? There have been some incremental advances but nothing significant.

>>why all this talk of the huge time frames and extreme difficulty Ducati are having with possibly redesigning their D16?

Because they don't know what to do. I don't think their technical background is deep enough to figure out how to best use the control tire. All the advanced manufacturing automation in the world can't help if you don't know what the problem is.

>>The sad thing is much of the electronic interference has absolutely no relevance to what we need/use in the real world so is just as much of a financial dead end as F1's aero war.

And all of the production motorcycles with TC and changeable maps is what? Riding a 1000cc bike with confidence in the rain is due to GP style electronics that have made it to production bikes. Every 200hp sportbike sold can only meet stringent emissions and mileage regulations because of the lean burn knowledge gained racing in a fuel-limited GP. How is that not relevant?

>>As for the electronics, my feeling is they remove the variability of rider input......Now everyone's traction is optimised +/- 2% instead of the +/- 10%

Good point but isn't that what improving the machine is supposed to do? Make it easier to ride fast? Don't forget that riders have also been optimized compared to the mistake strewn days of yesteryear. Imagine seeing a modern rider smoke a cigarette or drink a beer! Their trainers would throw a fit. The training regimens are optimized so they are not tired and making mistakes at the end of the race. Due to data acquisition they can more closely analyze the mistakes they do make and figure out how to avoid them. Tires are behaving more consistently from beginning of a race to the end so less surprises for the rider. There are a lot of factors moving towards reducing errors, electronics is only one contributor.

>>The modern "slot bikes" may rewrite the laptimes records but they entirely remove much of the visual appreciation.

Watch a few old races then watch one from this year. This is where Dorna does shine. Their production, close-ups, on bike footage and the super-slo-mos make really put the feeling of speed right in your face. At least it does for me. Old races had long lines of sight, no on board footage or slow motion and to me seemed very remote from the action even with all the bike movement.

All everybody wants is a few passes among the leaders on the last few laps and they'd be happy. Control software won't do this. Maybe they should take another page from F1 and play with the points system: the smaller the gap to second place the more points awarded to first place.

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

Total votes: 6

Triumph, BMW, Moto Guzzi

>>  Riding a 1000cc bike with confidence in the rain is due to GP style electronics that have made it to production bikes. Every 200hp sportbike sold can only meet stringent emissions and mileage regulations because of the lean burn knowledge gained racing in a fuel-limited GP. 

Triumph, BMW, Moto Guzzi, KTM, MV Agusta. Where did they develop their electronics? Not in MotoGP. Not even in World Superbikes, for the most part, as the BMW S1000RR was launched with the most sophisticated electronics package before they had even gone racing in WSBK.

If MotoGP was crucial to the development of electronics, all of the factories would have no choice but to race in MotoGP. Most of them don't. Racing provides an interesting extra source of data, but it is perfectly possible to develop electronic rider aids in the lab, in the dyno room, on simulators, with test riders on the road and around test tracks. One of the first road bikes to have electronic rider aids fitted was the Honda ST1100, introduced in 1990, when the factories were racing 500cc two strokes. The amount of racing tech in that bike is very, very close to zero.

Total votes: 13

I have been enjoying this

I have been enjoying this discussion.

Brief clarification: KTM, MV Agusta, Triumph, and Guzzi's electronics suck in comparison to a full MotoGP or even customer Superbike setup by Honda or Yamaha - or even the street-stock setups on a humble Kawasaki ZX-10R. MV Agusta's street bike was almost unrideable in the Roadracing World track comparison last summer.

BMW's electronics suite was pretty miserable in the first year of the production bike, if I recall the reviews. In particular, the wheelie control was nasty. But Troy Corser points out that in the unrestricted world of WSBK, BMW was able to develop its electronics because it went racing; “Over a period of time we actually developed the system quite quickly because we were doing a lot of testing on track," Corser says:

http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/466/14489/Motorcycle-Article/Troy-Corser-B...

BMW's current, well-developed electronics suite has been honed - you guessed it, in the relatively unrestricted arena of the German IDM Superbike series and in the World Endurance series. Hell, you can run ABS in the German SuperSTOCK class in 2014. At a dinner with some BMW execs a couple of years ago, they were thrilled with their development of race ABS, and actually asked what they had to do to get riders in the U.S. to understand that ABS wasn't a nanny, but a performance advantage.

A couple more thoughts:

I think Chris is spot-on with his observation that in a decade, the stands will be filled with fans waving different flags with different numbers. The riders will be different, but the machines will be made by the companies that have been doing this for more than a half-century combined, Honda and Yamaha.

And lastly, the indisputable truth about Ducati's problem really is that they don't know what to do. If they knew, they could fix it in the next revision. It is the imperfections in the machines, their personalities and differences, that add the additional layer to GP racing that separates it from Auto Race motorcycle competition in Japan, or a spec club series.

For me, the race itself is merely the easily visible tip of the iceberg. But for those who are deeply interested in the sport, each race is a continuation of a titanic, decades-long war, pitting thousands of unseen warriors - racers, each of them - against each other.

Total votes: 9

A second voice in the wilderness

Whew, some support! Thanks Morbidelli.

The main point is that the companies DE mentions would never have developed their versions of TC technology if they were not playing catch-up to the companies that originally developed the ideas in GP racing.

Troy Corser: “Over a period of time we actually developed the system quite quickly because we were doing a lot of testing on track. And when we got it working well there, we transferred it STRAIGHT TO THE STREET BIKE."

So much for ' Professional motorcycle racing is entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.' and 'The R&D benefits of the sport are also irrelevant to the manufacturers.' and 'racing is not that crucial a development tool' and especially 'Racing provides an interesting extra source of data, but it is perfectly possible to develop electronic rider aids in the lab, in the dyno room, on simulators, with test riders on the road and around test tracks.' Don't you think BMW did all that before going into production with the S1000? Then they got to the track and found their system lacked when compared to the people who race developed theirs. So they raced and developed it further than they were able to do without professional rides in competition.

>>But for those who are deeply interested in the sport, each race is a continuation of a titanic, decades-long war, pitting thousands of unseen warriors - racers, each of them - against each other.

Brilliant.

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

Total votes: 9

Another thought: Testing as

Another thought: Testing as development, computer modeling as development, is good, but takes you only so far. Every team in international racing tests their stuff and develops it as far as they can before the season starts; quickly, almost everyone learns that they didn't get it right. Some of them learn that they've really screwed something up.

Even on the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati MotoGP teams, parts and developments that work just fine in the hands of incredibly talented test riders turn out to be pigs (hams?) when tested in the crucible of racing. And the fact is that without going racing, no factory is going to hire Stoner, Corser or the like, pair them with a guy like Burgess, and put in thousands of miles at lap record pace.

If I can mention the MV Agusta bike one more time: This year's literbike was equipped with a full electronics package for the first time, I think, and it was awful. The system manufacturer marketed the system to MV Agusta with the promise that its computer modeling was so good that the system did not need to be honed in the real world, and therefore would save the company big $$$ in development.

Big mistake.

The bike was awful, and now MV is taking feedback from its customers and testers and giving free software updates to its customers who have the road bikes - and they're still behind the effectiveness of a simple road-going R1.

Total votes: 7

MV Agusta

I did worry about mentioning MV Agusta, as every MV I have ridden has had awful fueling. So that their electronics package should be pretty horrible is hardly a surprise.

>> And the fact is that without going racing, no factory is going to hire Stoner, Corser or the like, pair them with a guy like Burgess, and put in thousands of miles at lap record pace.

When you are building "sports" bikes for fat fifty-year-olds to potter around a few country roads, I am not sure you need the ability of Casey Stoner in testing. 99.9% of street riders never use more than 10% of the potential of their bikes on the road. The only technology they will regularly use to the limit is ABS. And that's banned. I presume you are in favor of removing the ban on ABS?

Total votes: 5

Philosophically, I'm pretty

Philosophically, I'm pretty much in favor of removing the ban on everything except the fairing designs. I'm funny, but I hate the idea of the way the bikes LOOK changing. Call me old-fashioned.

But realistically, I know that to keep manufacturers building race machines, you have to set parameters that they are interested in playing within. A professional boxer will not engage in an underground knife fight; the game is different. So if you absolutely eliminate a rule structure, you could wind up with a situation where the fastest race bike looks nothing like a streetbike and uses none of the technology or the ideas relevant to the street. RRW did a piece a few years back on what GP bikes might look like with no rules in place. Some designers had two wheels side-by-side. Most had a rider in a completely prone position and enclosed by the bodywork. I'm not interested in that, and nor is, say, Ducati.

The tech from the race bike doesn't have to directly bolt onto the street bikes to make it effective. It's the freedom of thought and the vehicular behavior learned that is the value in racing. So race ABS might never be noticed by the fat guy on his S1000RR (and my 50-some fat friend who actually owns the S1000RR might be a little hurt by that, but f*** him, he does need to lose some weight), but what is learned by pushing the envelope of a race ABS system can indeed translate into the behavior programmed into the simplest of street ABS systems.

More later.

I will say that I think that a rules package that allows a manufacturer to either develop an unrestricted prototype or one with a pile of spec parts - and allows the "spec" bikes to come close to the prototype performance - might be the best of both worlds.

It would allow manufacturers two ways into the sport and give each a way to meet their corporate goals. If they want to develop technology, let them. If they just want to win the "spec" class and put a bike on the overall podium occasionally for PR purposes, let them. Hell, score the "prototype" and "spec" classes separately, give out a pile of trophies, and send everyone home happy.

Total votes: 7

Philosophically

Philosophically, I'm all in favor of an open rulebook, as I wrote several years ago. But actually removing the rules would be a quicker way to get the factories to leave than by imposing more rules. Fear of being beaten by blue-sky thinking and left-field ideas at a fraction of the cost would be a real PR disaster. This, to me, also gives the lie to the manufacturers' claims that they are in it for R&D. If they were REALLY in it for R&D, they would have pushed for real freedom to innovate, in terms of aerodynamics, shape, and all sorts of things. Unfortunately, most motorcyclists and bike fans are immensely conservative, and not open to really radical change. Hence the failure of most of the truly interesting bikes produced over the last 30 years.

Given that an open rulebook is completely out of the question, the only way to improve the racing is by leveling the playing field, and taking the factories' toys away. Then at least the racing might be more entertaining, and you might be able to see what the riders are doing.

Total votes: 9

Shades of gray, and not the

Shades of gray, and not the books (that's a different 12-step program for me). As mentioned, a true blue-sky rulebook would be a disaster.

But where we disagree is the idea of 'leveling the playing field.' I think that idea would prove to be equally disastrous.

Honda, Yamaha and Ducati could all sit down and agree to make prototype bikes that are exactly equal. 210 horses, no electronics, spec tires, suspension, brakes, identical frame geometry and weight. And they could make said bikes relatively inexpensively.

But they will never agree to do so, because they run the risk of - gasp! - losing. They're in racing to compete, and not just the competition of hiring the fastest rider. Think about it; if all the bikes were absolutely equal, whichever rider was fastest would win all the races.

They need areas to innovate, pursue different avenues, try new things. Honda, Yamaha and Ducati get absolutely nothing from building a spec race bike that is the performance equal to the others and pushes the performance envelope in no direction.

The trick is to figure out where the manufacturers want to innovate and where they don't want to.

Like everything else in life, a balancing act.

Total votes: 10

Riders

>>Think about it; if all the bikes were absolutely equal, whichever rider was fastest would win all the races.

The horror! Imagine the best rider winning. That would be a travesty of the sport...

Total votes: 9

Ha! But you miss the point.

Ha!

But you miss the point. Stone-reliable, dead-equal machines mean one rider wins every race, all the time, on the same bike, over and over and over. Actually, I won't even say the best rider. The one who adapts to that particular spec of machine the best would win every time, unless it rained. We wouldn't even have the "Honda track" vs. "Yamaha track" variety to look forward to. Talk about a snoozefest. You'd only have to watch the first two races of any given season.

That might work for ball-and-stick sports, where they play dozens of games a season, so there are variations in the individual athlete's performance combined (and this is crucial) with the effectiveness of the team on any given day.

But in motorsports, spec machines take the team out of the equation. It's just the rider, facing the same competitors over and over and over, with the only variation being the weather. It would be like watching a one-on-one basketball league, or a baseball contest that involved only the pitcher and the batter.

Later: My grand unified field theory of motorsport as entertainment, set in a "hypothetical" strip club.

Total votes: 7

cycling

It doesn't work for cycling. It doesn't work for the Red Bull Rookies Cup. It doesn't work for any of the single-make series. So why should it work for MotoGP?

Total votes: 10

By "it" I presume you mean

By "it" I presume you mean the same person doesn't win all the time. Couple of reasons our hypothetical "identical bike" MotoGP series is different:

- Cycling: The athlete is the powerplant. Riding a motorcycle taxes the body in an entirely different way. Beyond a certain level of physical strength and ability there is no direct increase in speed for the motorcycle rider. There is no upper level of fitness and prep for a bicyclist. Cycling is somewhat akin to a race series where every machine makes a different amount of horsepower, and it varies from day to day and at various times during the race!

- Single-make series: Still big variations in machine prep, setup and knowledge. I have mentioned in the past my personal experience with the IndyCar series, where spec chassis, spec motors, spec bodywork, spec tires, etc., are required, and the teams with big $$$ still dominate by bringing their prep and setup skills to bear. Take a series where Honda and BOTTpower build identical bikes and run factory teams, and Honda will win every time.

- Red Bull Rookies Cup: Actually proves my point. In 2013, on ostensibly identical bikes, one rider won half the races and finished second three other times. The times he wasn't first or second he DNF'd (and I wonder if it was weather or contact). The next-best rider won two races. A complete ass-kicking. A 2013 MotoGP race was a completely unpredictable crapshoot in comparison.

Those are my thoughts ...

Total votes: 8

2013 MotoGP winners

Three riders won all but one race, and took nearly all the podiums. Only injury or unusual cirumstances saw any other rider on the podium. It was beyond a whitewash, far worse than the Rookies. And the Rookies Cup proves my point. Despite the fact that Hanika was a much better rider than the rest (he is widely regarded as the best rider the Rookies series has produced) he still didn't win all the races. Previous seasons have had more winners. Anyway, I only want electronics limited, not setup changes banned.

Total votes: 12

For good reason

The 3 riders that won are all considered to be the best 3 riders in the world. Limiting electronics won't prevent that. At best it will bring the backmarkers a bit closer to the front. Even that is in doubt as it seems that the level of electronics you would like is less than what the CRTs are currently running, which means that the backmarkers will also be penalized by the spec electronics. IMO the factories will take one step backwards and everyone else will take 1.5-2 steps backward. How does that improve racing?

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

Total votes: 7

Toeing the line

>> Troy Corser: “Over a period of time we actually developed the system quite quickly because we were doing a lot of testing on track. And when we got it working well there, we transferred it STRAIGHT TO THE STREET BIKE."

BMW employee restates company line? Surely not...

It is also not really fair to compare the first run of a street bike to its third or fourth iteration. All products are released to the public full of undiscovered inadequacies. When I was a software engineer, we called that 'gamma testing'. Did BMW's racing program improve their electronics? Almost certainly. Did anyone actually riding the bike on the street notice? I wonder.

Also, where I think we fundamentally misunderstand each other, I am not saying that there is no R&D benefits to be had from racing, I am saying it is not the reason that racing exists. To reiterate, motorcycle racing, like all professional sports, is first and foremost entertainment. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be a PROFESSIONAL sport, as there would be nobody to pay for it. That factories might benefit from R&D is nice, but not relevant to the sport of motorcycle racing. After all, LED technology was one product of NASA's space program, but NASA didn't go into space with the intention of developing LEDs.

Total votes: 5

So as a member of the public,

So as a member of the public, I'm a 'gamma tester'? I feel so ... cheap and used ...

ROTFL ...

Total votes: 8

Point Oh

Exactly. Never buy the first version of anything which comes out. Always wait for the updated version with all the bugs ironed out...

Total votes: 5

First versions

I agree with you on that David, for example look at cars (most of the time European manufacturers) the first ones are not the good ones, buy the second lot of a certain modell and this is much better, compare this to Japanese cars ;-)

Total votes: 9

>>It is also not really fair

>>It is also not really fair to compare the first run of a street bike to its third or fourth iteration. All products are released to the public full of undiscovered inadequacies.

Why are they undiscovered? Maybe because all the lab testing is not real world testing and for superbikes none of the factory testers can push the bike as far as a pro racer can and a racer wants to race, not test, for as long as he is competitive during his relatively short career. Unless you are Casey Stoner.

>>BMW employee restates company line? Surely not...

This article was after BMW signed another rider for his seat and he retired. Regardless, we can see by their results that the bike showed marked improvements year on year.

>>To reiterate, motorcycle racing, like all professional sports, is first and foremost entertainment. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be a PROFESSIONAL sport, as there would be nobody to pay for it.

And the fact that the biggest spenders are the manufacturers?

>>I am not saying that there is no R&D benefits to be had from racing..

Maybe you should reread some of your previous posts on the subject.

>>I am saying it is not the reason that racing exists.

I don't agree. A popular adage states that racing started after the production of the 2nd unit of whatever was made as people tried to see which was faster.

>>After all, LED technology was one product of NASA's space program, but NASA didn't go into space with the intention of developing LEDs.

Yes, NASA knew that going into the unknown would provide them with chances to develop things they didn't anticipate beforehand. Just like GP racing did for the manufacturers.

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

Total votes: 8

Racing

In my opinion Chris racing was/is a bunch of people riding motorcycles or cars or whatever has wheel and an engine to compete and see who is the fastest one. Then the factorys came and saw the importance of racing related to marketing and selling your products. The only problem is that a factory has almost unlimited sources in terms of money and/or equipment to alter a design they made. Back in the 60's (no I'm not that old) there was a possibility for people to make there own racing machine, for example Jamathi from the Netherlands, three guy's who design and produce this machine with very little money involved. Even in the 90's if you had a good mechanic he could make the difference between a good bike and a outstanding one, today this is impossible, if you don't have a factory machine youre changes of even being on the podiumare are almost zero. To my opinion this was due to the switch from two strokes to four strokes and then also the electronics coming in. I think these are the main reasons why racing got so expensive and there are now so little competitors who can challenge the top riders of today. I also feel that you give to much credit to what is invented on the circuit and what is in a roadbike today. As David said, remove the electronic aids and then there is still enough to setup the bikes.

Total votes: 6

Discussion

The real discussion here is about the tecnnical aids/development they are using in GP's today. I my opinion racing is about the skills of the driver but also the skills of a mechanic to make the machine work for the rider. Now you can say Chris that today a man with a laptop is the mechanic who supports the rider the best way he can and for sure this is true. Though I feel (also in formula 1) that the possibility of a rider who makes a mistake during a race is the icing on the cake, no, I do not like to see them crash but I like to see a rider coming back after he made a mistake and with the clean racing that today is most of the time the case, again in my humble opion, is reduced to lets say alomost zero, because of the electronics who prevent a rider of distroying his tyres, or hit the throttle to fast exiting a corner, in my opinion this is racing. Also the change to four strokes did motorcycleracing no good, because it raises the costs so much more then with a two stroke, if they really wanted to cut costs they should have done that with two strokes.
I don't believe that when manufacturers no longer compete in Gp's the racing stops, I do believe when the costs don't drop enough the factorys eventuelly will kill the sport, simply because they can't no longer carry these costs.
Also I don't believe that all the things they find in racing, find there way to the production bikes some parts will but most parts won't.
I can't hardly wait for your response Chris, cheers.

Total votes: 6

keep it going

There are many different types of motorcycle racing. If you want to see contests of the rider there are nearly stock and spec classes that provide that. Superbike racing attracts a lot of people because they can go out and buy a bike that is largely the same as what the pros ride. GP racing was always the best riders on the fastest bikes. It attracts the best riders because they are interested in riding the best equipment developed by the most prestigious factories with all the benefits that come with it. The riders want every advantage they can get to beat the guy next to him, who is doing the same thing. All to be known as the fastest motorcycle racer on earth. That's GP racing.

As far as coming back from mistakes, didn't you watch Marques this year? He regularly outbraked himself or ran wide but always was able to come back and fight for the win. I think the boring racing has more to do with Pedrosa, Stoner, and Lorenzo's racing personality than the bikes or electronics. They are all nice and polite and don't want to get too close. If the riders don't want to pull block passes or dice closely then all the restrictions in the world won't stop it.

Its like that Zen saying on how to hold water in your hands. If you try to squeeze it tightly the water will just slip through your fingers. If you gently cup your hands you can easily do it. The same goes for a rulebook. The more rules and regulations that are instituted to try to force close racing the more someone will be able to exploit one and dominate the field. Look at F1. All those regulations to force close racing, even to the point of having push to pass buttons that can only be used in certain conditions. Yet Vettel and Red Bull dominated completely. With a spec ECU and software.

>>I do believe when the costs don't drop enough the factorys eventuelly will kill the sport, simply because they can't no longer carry these costs.

The factories are not complaining about the costs.

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

Total votes: 7

F1 is a good case in point.

F1 is a good case in point.

Vettel and Red Bull utterly dominated F1 with not just spec ECUs and spec software but spec tires, engine usage limits, transmission usage limits, mandatory tire stops, minimum and maximum speeds behind the safety cars, and a rulebook that has specifications for parts and configurations that reads like - honestly, I'm not sure anything in human history has been written like the modern F1 rulebook. The specs for spacecraft aren't written like that. Everyone should take a look at it - it is really amazing.

All that has happened, though, is that RBR has spent more and gotten more incremental gains from every place imaginable in the rulebook.

And in my observation, nothing more, it really doesn't matter what you set the spec at. A company that wants to win will figure out how to spend the resources at its disposal to produce a better motorcycle. Almost always, more resources = faster motorcycle. See KTM, Moto3, and how the Austrians are laughing their asses off and fondling their trophies everytime someone talks about "spirit of the rules" and "the show."

Total votes: 11

Cars != bikes

One of the reasons why car racing is so expensive is because the car itself is a much, much bigger part of the equation. Investment in the car always pays off, because driver input is not sufficient to overcome the weaknesses of a car. Limits in F1 merely mean that manufacturers divert funds from the banned technologies to finding a way around it.

The input of a rider is much, much bigger in motorcycle racing. Even with all the influence which modern rider aids have, a rider can overcome inferior equipment. Fill in the names yourself.

If technologies are banned in MotoGP, will factories try to find a way around them and end up spending the same amount of money? Definitely. But the advantage of trying to circumvent the rules may not be as large as having a fast young rider. If the performance gap can be closed a little, then private teams may be more inclined to take a gamble on a fast young rider, rather than going with the rider who brings the most sponsorship money (see F1). Right now, the biggest advantage the factories have is in electronics. Remove them, and the same people will be winning, but they will have to fight harder, and the gaps will be smaller.

 

Total votes: 8

Rules <> budget cap

>>Limits in F1 merely mean that manufacturers divert funds from the banned technologies to finding a way around it.

How is that any different from seamless transmission development in GP?

>>Even with all the influence which modern rider aids have, a rider can overcome inferior equipment. Fill in the names yourself.

OK, who? I think the game has moved on to the point where anyone with what can be considered 'inferior equipment' will not be competitive. And the M1 is not inferior. The Duc is.

>But the advantage of trying to circumvent the rules may not be as large as having a fast young rider.

And its the factories that have the resources to cultivate those young riders through the lower classes and offer them pay packages that the smaller teams can't compete with. And those young riders dream of riding for the factory teams.

>>Right now, the biggest advantage the factories have is in electronics.

No, their biggest advantage is their experience and amount of resources. The electronics is merely one manifestation of those advantages. Limit the electronics and those advantages will reappear in a different area.

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

Total votes: 7

Re not sure

Amen to that seven4nineR, I could not say this any better then you did. It specify exactly what I ment to say, cheers.

Total votes: 9

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