Will Cheats Prosper? How Inertial Platforms Can Manipulate The Spec ECU, And Is It Worth It

The move to a standard electronics package, both hardware and software, had raised the hopes of fans, teams and organizers that a more level playing field could be established, and costs cut. The ideal sketched by Dorna and IRTA when the plan first came out has proven to be impossible to achieve. The manufacturers have resisted calls for a completely spec hardware and software package, and so a compromise has been reached. The ECU hardware and software will be built, updated and managed by official electronics supplier to MotoGP, Magneti Marelli. Factories will be free to choose their own sensors, but those sensors will have to be homologated, and made available to any other manufacturer which wishes to use it at a reasonable price.

Not quite all of the sensors, however. In response to a request by the factories, the inertial platform will remain what is called a free device, i.e. any manufacturer can choose to use whichever inertial platform they like, without first submitting it for a approval to Dorna, or making it available to their rivals at a price. The inertial platform is a crucial part of the electronics package, consisting of a collection of gyroscopes and accelerometers, which describe the attitude and motion of the bike. In other words, the inertial platform tells the ECU what lean angle the bike is at, whether it is braking or accelerating, how hard it is corner, etc.

Giving manufacturers the freedom to use their own inertial platforms has created a lot of suspicion. Because the inertial platform plays such a pivotal role, there have been accusations that some manufacturers, especially Honda and Yamaha, wish to use their proprietary units to circumvent the rules. There are good reasons to build some intelligence into inertial platforms, as such intelligence can increase accuracy, and therefore help the ECU software perform better. This is the reason the factories give for wanting their own inertial platform; experience with the spec unit used by the Open class machines has shown it to be insufficiently accurate.

But the intelligence built in to the inertial platform could go well beyond just improving accuracy. By including a powerful processor in the inertial platform, one which could be programmed by a manufacturer with their own software, and their own algorithms and strategies, the inertial platform could hypothetically be used to modify the strategies being used by the unified software in the spec ECU.

For example, the unified software may be programmed to provide a given amount of torque for a particular lean angle, say, 59°. However, if the processor in the inertial platform is powerful enough, it could be programmed to calculate where the bike is on the track. If the inertial platform knows that a particular corner has a positive camber, meaning the bike is not leaned over quite as far as the lean angle sensor is measuring, then the inertial platform could modify the output of the lean angle sensor and send the modified data to the spec ECU. The unified software would then see the lean angle as, say, 52°, and provide more torque than it might have done otherwise.

At the BSB round at Assen and at Aragon, I spoke to a number of people on how this might work. Some of the smart minds at BSB suggested the inertial platform could be used as a piggyback ECU, if it had access to the right channels, and operate the engine directly. This would allow it to circumvent the unified software in the spec ECU completely, and run the engine independently. Dorna's director of technology, Corrado Cecchinelli, denied that this was the case. "First of all, I don't think it is completely true," he told me at Aragon. "I think it may be used beyond its scope, but not as a piggyback ECU, not in the sense that it can handle everything. It will always work like an IMU (inertial measurement unit), it means that its output will always be what is expected from an IMU. So it will be used by the software in that way. Which means that it cannot be used to correct the ignition advance, to use a stupid example, because this is not an input of the strategy of the ECU." The inertial platform can only communicate with the ECU, and the ECU uses its input to decide on what to do with ignition timing, throttle opening, fuel injection, etc.

Cecchinelli did allow that having a free inertial platform could potentially allow a factory which wished to cheat to modify its output in order to achieve the desired result indirectly. "By cheating with the rules, they could have more brain inside, and that could be like a remote processor. So that it is still working like an inertial platform, which means that their inputs and their outputs are the same. They can do something different than just what is expected," he explained. "So for instance, let's take a simple task, an inertial platform is designed to give the ECU the information of the lean angle. This is one of the things that it does, and it's basically the most important thing that it does. And this lean angle is considered in almost all strategies, engine and chassis control strategies. So one thing you can do in theory, is the measured value is a certain angle, instead of giving that certain angle, which is the true angle, as the output, you can have a strategy that gives more or less, depending on something else, so that actually, the traction control, which works like all the other machines, actually has a different input, so it gives a different output. So the traction control strategy is not altered, but by giving a fake or altered input, it gives an altered output. "

In that case, the inertial platform was not a piggyback ECU, but it went beyond what it was supposed to be doing. "It's not exactly a piggyback, it's not exactly an ECU, but it adds something. It adds something that you can be the only one to have," Cecchinelli said. "Plus, there is a way of connecting it to the ECU and all the rest of the electronics that can let the inertial platform have the signal from the infamous additional sensor, which every manufacturer has, but is different from one to the other. So for instance, we know that one of the typical additional sensors is the torque sensor. So in theory, let's go back to the lean angle, you can alter the lean angle depending on the torque. This is still cheating with the rules, but it's something that I don't think we would find out."

Cecchinelli was at pains to stress that he did not suspect that the factories wanted the free inertial platform because it would allow them to cheat. "Rumors of the paddock talk about a sort of fight between us the organizer and the manufacturers on this. But I want to be clear, and I never thought, and still I don't think that the reason behind the free inertial platform is to cheat. They want to keep their own inertial platforms mainly because they trust it more than anything else. Plus maybe even developing their own one if its proprietary. For instance I think Honda has its proprietary inertial platform, so they may be happy to keep on developing it."

The fact that having an open inertial platform left the possibility of cheating open for unscrupulous factories was something which needed to be addressed, Cecchinelli acknowledged, but it was not something which he felt could be addressed quickly. "I feel it's my responsibility to remove cheating possibilities. Not because they will use them, but because it's something that's not done properly if there's room for cheating. We need to have safe rules, because this is our job. A good championship is a championship that has good rules, to me. From a technical perspective, I'm not talking about the TV show or anything like this, I'm just talking about this. And to me, you should have safe rules, even if you deal with honest people like we are at the moment."

The obvious solution to preventing abuse of the inertial platform is to either make it spec, or homologate them all. This was very much Cecchinelli's aim for the future. "There's one thing that I personally always push for, which looks to be out of the question, which is a unified inertial platform. Because our initial proposal was that the hardware was more like the Open riders now than the factory riders now. It was a mix, actually, but we accept to have a free dashboard and free switchboard. But at least the ECU and inertial platform was unified. That was not accepted," he explained.

A compromise may be possible, though it will not be adopted in 2016, and may take some time after that. "There is something in between, that is not that out of the question. I hope I can say that it's under discussion for the next years, but not for 2016. This is a different connection between all the devices so that cheating is harder, plus a homologated inertial platform, which is not unified, but it means that it's like all the other sensors, so if you are a competitor, you can buy it at a reasonable price, and you can buy the same as your competitor. This is definitely not the perfect solution, but still it's better than everything free."

Can the inertial platform be used to circumvent the spec ECU? And should fans and factories be concerned that the level playing field the unified software and spec ECU were meant to create are being subverted? After speaking to various people on the subject, it seems clear that a proprietary inertial platform can be used to give a small measure of control over the electronics strategies controlling a MotoGP machine. But it also seems clear that the advantages which it conveys are limited. In the most extreme example, a factory could create a little more grip in some corners, allowing a rider to get on the gas fractionally earlier.

The main fear, that factories could use a proprietary inertial platform to bypass the spec ECU and run the engine directly, seems to be unfounded. The current electronics package does not allow that to happen.

Of course, that won't prevent factories, and probably even teams from trying. The spirit of the rules is paid only lip service in racing, teams and factories always on the look out for loopholes they can exploit. This one looks like allowing some wiggle room, but it is not the type to allow a smart operator to drive a bus through. The cost/benefit analysis which every team and factory does will show that the benefits to be had are small, for a relatively great expense. Whether they want to cover that expense remains to be seen.


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Total votes: 84
Total votes: 131

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Comments

When this whole escapade of the spec ECU was originally mentioned, it was said a limiting of TC and rider control aids would occur. After reading this article, the spec ECU is just a waste of time and money for everyone and a gaffe for the sport. Not much will change.

Total votes: 131

I have no clue where you even could have gotten that idea. Of course that was never going to happen, nor is it necessary.

It's always been a waste of time but it might actually save some money.

Total votes: 109

"The main fear, that factories could use a proprietary inertial platform to bypass the spec ECU and run the engine directly, seems to be unfounded. The current electronics package does not allow that to happen."

I have more faith in the legions of HRC and Yamaha engineers than I do Magnetti Marelli and, especially, Dorna. The reason they pushed for this is because they have found a way to continue what they're doing now using the IMU. Turn by turn is here to stay

Seriously, the most critical sensor of all doesn't have to be homologated or made available to other teams? Who cares if you can buy the same suspension travel sensor that Honda uses.

"In the most extreme example, a factory could create a little more grip in some corners, allowing a rider to get on the gas fractionally earlier."

In a game of tenths and thousandths of a second, a fraction is all you need.

The spec package is a joke, plain and simple. The factories have not had to give up anything and they playing field will be no more level than it is now.

Total votes: 133

I'd totally agree, in my opinion, the tyres will shake up more than the electronics will next year, but I think that'll only be because of Rider preference/bias to the new tyres.

In terms of Electronics, it'll never be equal. Even if you say the entire package (ECU, Sensors, Harness) is the same, and you limit a team to 1 data guy per team, it doesn't limit what 10 guys at the Factory can do with mathematical modelling/dynos and other tools. Ultimately, the factories outspend the smaller teams in equipment, technical resource and rider resource. As such, all things being even, they'll typically win short of a big anomaly which takes several factory riders out of contention.

Total votes: 123

Inertial stuff is pretty complicated to work with in practice. Keep in mind that to know the corner (and where you are in the corner) requires knowledge of where you are on the track to within a meter or perhaps even 10cm in cases where camber is changing. All inertial platforms drift over time, and correcting that drift (for example, by coupling the inertial platform with other inputs) requires a significant amount of expertise. The update rates, precision and packaging that are required for such a dynamic platform as a racing motorcycle make the problem even more difficult. And each bike will likely have its own implementation that works best - so what Honda uses vs. what Ducati should use may differ quite significantly.

In general, I think having spec. compute hardware is reasonable, but the rest of it is bad rules. I'd say, unlimited fuel (after all, the engines are air pumps and there is a maximum flow through them dictating how much can actually be burned), cap. on total bike compute power counting everything (sensors, suspension, ECU, navigation - all of it) and let development run free. The tighter these rules get (you use this ECU algo., etc.), the harder it is to come up with non-brute-force approaches that favor the biggest budgets and the more weirdo loopholes will emerge.

The Spec. ECU was an interesting idea, but the execution is totally corrupted.

Total votes: 136

So, in plain English, it means we're going to see the same four bikes in a private race at the front again? Unless it rains, of course.
Maybe spraying water on the track would be Dorna's cheaper, simpler solution to level the playing field - and we'd get to see some new faces on the podium. Hello Danilo and Lorenz!

Total votes: 114

The Michelins next year will play a part in the order of those four bikes, but yes, basically the same as this year. And the year before that. And the year before that, and before that, and before....

Total votes: 134

Cecchinelli: "And to me, you should have safe rules, even if you deal with honest people like we are at the moment."

Emmett: "The spirit of the rules is paid only lip service in racing, teams and factories always on the look out for loopholes they can exploit."

Don't like it one bit.

Total votes: 109

Can't these people be stopped? I would really like to watch a Moto GP race and believe that the motorcycles were essentially equal. That seems like something that could be achieved. As things stand now, it is clear that the bikes are not equal...the computers are not equal...and apparently the inertial platform will not be equal. I would really like the riders to be the ones determining the finishing order. Is that too much to ask??

Mike

Total votes: 122

Regardless of how Dorna tries to convert the sport into a revenue generating TV show the companies that spend the most on the sport (the factories) will always find a way to try to gain an advantage.

The problem with the tone of this article is that everything the factory could be accused of doing ('tampering' with IMU output) is not actually cheating. If the function of the IMU is to report the attitude of the bike to the ECU the next question is with respect to what? Most give it with respect to the center of the planet. Useful, but if software tweaking could change that reference point to relative to the track surface (a much more useful reference) then IMO that is a better IMU, not cheating.

There is no such thing as the 'spirit of the rules'. There are only good rulebook writers and bad ones. John Ulrich of RRW has lots to say on that topic. I'd say Dorna falls into the latter group.

Chris

Total votes: 125

Moto3 or Moto2. i want to see MotoGP and MotoGP stands for development. Alot is allready restricted and i dont want to see more restriction. and im glad if there are some loopholes and that not every factory can get anything the other factory is using. if anything....that is cheating. why would a factory invest alot of time development and money and another can say...ok i want what you have. ducati allready hinted about wanting some certain sensors Yamaha is using.....WTF??!! Ducati is behind and they wil jump to honda and yamaha like a kangaroo trying to get what they have......getting every sensor.

Total votes: 132

If Dorna makes the sensor package from any factory avail to others at a capped price they would still have to be able to have engineers able to utilize it and exploit the potential. It has been interesting to (try to) follow the progression over the last few yrs. Dorna bit off more than they could chew, swallow and digest at the onset attempting to create a package with MM. Each point that the factories make seems to be logical, but it creeps away significantly from a unified electronics each time.

A significant change has occurred away from Honda effectively creating the rulebook as they were. We had the CRT's and survived a "what if Honda pulls out of the series?!" posturing and power struggle. Dorna has their hands back on the rulebook.

Dorna could just decree a ban on turn by turn. They could ban a torqueductor sensor if they so chose. They could have every Manu with a bike on next season's grid get a seat at the table along with Yamaha, Ducati and Honda determining electronics functionality parameters. These seem easier and more direct than chasing the tail of the top 3 Manu's from change to change, fiddling unnecessarily and sacrificing rule continuity that makes for a more robust series. Oh, and in case you are reading, 23 liters of fuel and several more engines per season please.

Total votes: 126

So, in essense, the rule-makers have only pushed dynamic control systems development into a more arcane and exotic direction. To image that the factory teams will not pursue the edge of the ill-defined envelope is naive.

Total votes: 115

Wherever the envelope is placed, the engineers will push the boundaries. That's what they became engineers for.

Total votes: 124

We used to pretend that motogp was a birthing place for tech that would end up on the road, but with the fiddling of the rules road tech has often surpassed the motogp tech, and motogp tech has gone in strange directions.

- The ban on ABS
- The ban on dual clutch gearboxes
- Artificially low fuel limits
- Spec tyres

None of this is helping new teams/factories to enter. They used to have to put money into building a fast bike. Now they have to put money into building a fast bike that twists and contorts its way around all these strange rules.

Total votes: 116

A year or so ago, DE wrote about some rule change proposals regarding fuel and rev limits. The factories (Yamaha and Honda) chose the expensive, exotic route.
The current electronics situation is just another manifestation of the factories' preference for an uneven playing field. None of these developments have much application to road machines - unless riders want to hire an in-house geek for corner-by-corner set-up prior to going for a ride into unknown territory.

Total votes: 120

Hammer, nail, BANG!

MotoGP has so many ludicrous inconsistencies: I can buy a scooter with a dual clutch gearbox, or a tourer with variable timing and electronic suspension but that lot is illegal in MotoGP? While allowing carbon brakes and pneumatic valves which have no real world application?

So yes, if the envelop is going to be stretched lets at least stretch it towards the real world.

I used to ask myself "what kind of sport is this?" until i realised it's NOT sport. Sport enails at least a modicum of fair competition. What we are watching is Yamaha/Honda enacting a business plan. The spec ecu was a threat to their cosy lil' duopoly, as prospective entrants/manufacturers saw the techological mountain they have to climb actually become negotiable. But the threat has effectively been nullified, the mountain restored to everest proportions, normal service has been resumed.

Total votes: 124

Will Dorna have access to data from race weekends? Seems that they could mandate that teams also run a Dorna IMU and compare the data to try to detect trends in the differences that might suggest tampering.

That's the complicated and troublesome solution that I picture anyway. The easy one is make everyone use the same IMU. If it's inaccurate in a consistent way then everyone suffers the same. If it's unreliable in its accuracy build a better one.

Total votes: 111

Everyone here is deluded if they think tightening the rules will give the privateers more of a chance against the factories. Factories will always have the best riders, latest, trickest parts, most testing, best engineers, tuners, mechanics, technicians, and unlimited supplies of unobtainium etc...

Even if you take it back to an era where the traction control was the riders wrist and the inertial platform the feel through his ass look at the results below and how large the gaps in this "golden era of racing" were at Silverstone in 1980.... (and Rossi was only 4th lol)

1 Randy MAMOLA USA Suzuki 42'52.710
2 Kenny ROBERTS USA Yamaha +11.150
3 Marco LUCCHINELLI ITA Suzuki +26.390
4 Graziano ROSSI ITA Suzuki +26.510
5 Johnny CECOTTO VEN Yamaha +46.210
6 Franco UNCINI ITA Suzuki +49.780
7 Kork BALLINGTON RSA Kawasaki +56.020
8 Philippe COULON SWI Suzuki +1'03.500
9 Jack MIDDELBURG NED Yamaha +1'10.670
10 Dave POTTER GBR Yamaha +1'16.230
12 John NEWBOLD GBR Suzuki 0 Lap
13 Graeme CROSBY NZE Suzuki 0 Lap
14 Raymond ROCHE FRA Yamaha 0 Lap
15 Takazumi KATAYAMA JPN Honda 0 Lap

Over a minute covering the top 10!

When Lawson Schwantz Rainey Gardner etc were racing it was better right?

Suzuka, Sunday, March 27, 1988

1 Kevin SCHWANTZ USA Suzuki 50'03.750
2 Wayne GARDNER AUS Honda +8.380
3 Eddie LAWSON USA Yamaha +12.720
4 Niall MACKENZIE GBR Honda +15.780
5 Tadahiko TAIRA JPN Yamaha +36.380
6 Wayne RAINEY USA Yamaha 0 Lap
7 Kevin MAGEE AUS Yamaha +42.170
8 Christian SARRON FRA Yamaha +45.180
9 Didier DE RADIGUES BEL Yamaha +1'01.210
10 Shunji YATSUSHIRO JPN Honda +1'10.280
11 Hikaru MIYAGI JPN Honda +1'16.200
12 Ron HASLAM GBR Elf-Honda +1'20.040
13 Patrick IGOA FRA Yamaha +1'29.530
14 Pierfrancesco CHILI ITA Honda +1'38.980
15 Osamu HIWATASHI JPN Suzuki +1'42.540

And it got even worse in the Doohan era...

Le Mans, Sunday, July 17, 1994

1 Mick DOOHAN AUS Honda 46'28.917
2 John KOCINSKI USA Cagiva +6.101
3 Alex CRIVILLE SPA Honda +11.313
4 Alberto PUIG SPA Honda +12.327
5 Shinichi ITO JPN Honda +20.087
6 Alex BARROS BRA Suzuki +26.069
7 Luca CADALORA ITA Yamaha +36.873
8 Jeremy McWILLIAMS GBR Yamaha +45.759
9 Marc GARCIA FRA ROC Yamaha +1'48.508
10 Juan LOPEZ MELLA SPA ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
11 Jean FORAY FRA ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
12 Bernard HAENGGELI SWI ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
13 Bruno BONHUIL FRA ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
14 Udo MARK GER ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
15 Cristiano MIGLIORATI ITA ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
16 Kevin MITCHELL GBR Harris Yamaha 1 Lap
17 Andy LEUTHE LUX ROC Yamaha 1 Lap
18 Pierre MONNERET FRA ROC Yamaha 1 Lap

Barcelona, Sunday, June 14, 2015
1 25 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 165.3 42'53.208
2 20 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 165.2 +0.885
3 16 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 164.0 +19.455
4 13 29 Andrea IANNONE ITA Ducati Team Ducati 163.7 +24.925
5 11 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 163.5 +27.782
6 10 25 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 163.4 +29.559
7 9 45 Scott REDDING GBR EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 163.0 +36.424
8 8 6 Stefan BRADL GER Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 162.6 +42.103
9 7 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 162.2 +49.350
10 6 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 162.0 +52.569
11 5 43 Jack MILLER AUS CWM LCR Honda Honda 161.9 +53.666
12 4 50 Eugene LAVERTY IRL Aspar MotoGP Team Honda 161.8 +55.765
13 3 76 Loris BAZ FRA Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 161.8 +55.832
14 2 63 Mike DI MEGLIO FRA Avintia Racing Ducati 161.0 +1'09.037
15 1 15 Alex DE ANGELIS RSM E-Motion IodaRacing Team ART 160.0 +1'25.263
16 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Avintia Racing Ducati 156.1 1 Lap

Despite the factory status quo - you've never had it so good. Dorna aren't doing such a bad job of keeping things in check but they will never ever be able to reign in the factories short of banning them from MotoGP and adopting a spec engine package like Moto2!

Total votes: 126

I think we have! End of the 500cc era and entire 990cc era saw satellite teams winning races. Won't happen again until electronics are severely restricted.

Total votes: 126

One Swallow does not make a summer and Elias much quoted satellite win in '06 was just that. As much a result of lucking out with a surplus Michelin overnight special not wanted by one of the top guys as it was by the lack of electronics. Great race but essentially the same as a fluke wet weather win or podium by a satellite bike.

So what other satellite wins were there in the 990 era? Gibernau or Biaggi, or were they riding full HRC machines despite not being in the official Repsol squad? I think the only other win I can remember is that might be called a true satellite bike was Tamada (again heavily HRC backed) in somewhere like Brazil or Argentina when the Bridgestone tyre worked way better than the Michelins - again another fluke result. What about Jack Middleburg at Silverstone in 1981 after Crosby wiped out the leading pack and Roberts burnt up his tyres trying to catch him up later in the race? Great race, freak ocurrence. Frankie Chilli at Misano - another freak ocurrence as all the top riders went on strike.

Talking of Misano, Smith, Petrucci and Redding this year were great rides but also a freak result because of conditions and events. The factory teams have always won with the satellite or privateer only standing an outside chance to take advantage of unusual conditions or freak events. It has always been thus.

For the record I don't condone the electronics or the complex rules we have now but the genie IS out of the bottle and it won't go back in. And how far do we take it if we do totally and infallibally limit the rules - carbs, treaded tyres, 500 four stroke singles, open face helmets? I would much rather watch the 990's as they were in 04, 05 or the mental 500's where the rider talent made the biggest difference, but then I guess I am a realist not an idealist with Rose tinted goggles.

There has to be a balance in the rules and it's a job someone is always going to be criticised for, an unenviable position for Cecchinelli to take on, so I take my hat off to him for putting his head up to be shot at by one side or another, and usually by both at the same time.

Total votes: 119

Well said. This is something that Dr Martin Raines is always pointing out. By any measure you care to use, the racing has never been closer.

Total votes: 127

sevenfoureightR does sort of have a point as I can't for the life of me explain the 2000 season - wins for McCoy, Rossi, Roberts, Criville, Biaggi, Barros, podiums for McWilliams on the Proton triple.

Is that season an anomaly because of 2 stroke development becoming stagnant, was it just a lean year in terms of factory talent?

(Doohan had been forced into retirement and Criville was trying to recover from that terrible brain injury, Max didn't gel with the Yamaha right away, Rossi was in his rookie season and KRJR was playing the percentage game to the championship.)

Perhaps Dorna should introduce a rider handicap system instead (just kidding there).

Total votes: 111

Yes, the racing is closer, but times (no pun intended) have changed.

These days where a rider can only make up time on the brakes, 0.5s is a loooong way. We say Lorenzo has "checked out" when he has a mere 2 second gap. At Aragon we saw Lorenzo with that 2 sec gap after just 2 laps and and 99% of us knew it was game over with 22 laps still to run! What sort of racing is that?

Lorenzo's lap times vary by maybe 0.5 sec over the entire race, thanks to electronics limiting the riders ability to make mistakes and enabling perfect traction on every corner exit.

Back in the day where mistakes could be made the variation in laptimes was huge thanks to human fallability. Riders HAD to leave a safety margin, but they also had the choice to throw caution to the winds and push to (or over) the limit when needed. It was seeing riders tread that line, rather than an IT guy/girl in an office 10000km's away deciding where that limit is and dialing it into the bike, that made the racing more "real".

So the 2 sec gap we see these days is in effect the same as we we saw with a 5 sec gap a decade ago. The terms of reference have changed. It looks closer on the telly but in effect 2 second is an abyss that is rarely bridged.

I disagree with the earlier post regarding Elias' win being a fluke. No more than Melandri or Stoner fluked their privateer wins, he was simply the best on the day once an advantage was removed.

Total votes: 122

" It looks closer on the telly but in effect 2 second is an abyss that is rarely bridged."

Excellent point well made, completely agree.

Was it Schwantz that described braking on a 500 as "See God then back off"?

Well now it seems to be "See God, shake his hand and say hi to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, pet the donkey then tip in and pin it regardless".

Now this could be in large part to electronics but I think in larger part to the tyres. They are just too good and too consistent over the whole race and the adjustment to the TC setting to cope with a drop in performance is minimal, and this generation of riders have trained and tuned themselves to be ultra consistent in their riding, safe in the knowledge the bike and tyres will perform just as consistently. On a 500 it was way ahead of it's tyres in terms of performance and the rider had to tame it. Nowadays the rider doesn't need to perform that tightrope balancing act of grip vs flying into orbit on every corner as everything is virtually perfect. Throw in an anomaly - wet weather, bad tyre and things quickly change which is why we see satellite riders like Smith, Redding and Petrucci getting on the podium this year.

My case about factory v privateer still stands though, all things being normal the factory will win every time. Oh and Melandri was a wet win too! :)

This is why I love this site. Real racing fans chewing the fat like they would down the pub with a pint. Kudos to David for his sterling efforts in keeping the internet trolls away.

Total votes: 121

Has the spectacle improved because 10th place is now 40 seconds behind the winner instead of 60? It's still 10th, still only 6 points and still not on tv.

Total votes: 103

If you want the chance of a satellite bike winning the race then you need to allow for disruption. Rain is a disruption that allows satellite teams to get on a podium. Incorrect or unexpected tyres are a disruption. Ducati bringing an overpowered bike with tyres it could use was a disruption.

If everyone has to use the same tech, then the team who can spend the most money on optimising and utilising that tech will win. If you allow teams to try new things then they might luck into something, but if you force all the variables to be constant then you will get the same result every week.

Total votes: 113

With a max of 2 intertial platforms allowed by the rules teams could hedge their strategies and the rider toggle from one to another.

Or perhaps the engineers decide to locate them on opposite ends of the bike in hopes of detecting the origins of dynamic movements front versus rear with more accuracy allowing them to become more predictive than reactive with their control schemes.

Or say one gets used in combination with the teams proprietary sensor as a clever form of "dataloging" to map out better settings realtime for next lap while the other operates the bike this lap, and then they switch back and forth, therby getting around the latests restriction placed on proprietary sensors to dataloging only.

Or all of the above and some more.. In any event, no matter what gets used or how. It is good to see people begining to recognize the reality of what is coming rather than being fed a story line of parity coming from common software develoment and "spec hardware" next year.

Thanks for keeping this topic upfront. Cheers,

Total votes: 108

A big part of why the factories invest in racing is R&D. I can see a lot of potential in inertial platforms that can be of use in the real world.

But turn by turn, location-based traction controls? Outside of a controlled surface like a race track, it holds no future in production machines. I've been of the opinion for years that it should be removed.

The inertial platforms have a realistic, useful future. Let them have at it, free to develop a new technology. Just restrict its location specific properties.

Total votes: 115

I thought this sport was set up to reward the most skillful rider on a competitive machine. The "computer" was between the riders ears with "sensors" located in his rear end and "traction control" in his right wrist. The governing body has steadily let this idea become perverted to serve the business needs of the likes of Honda, Yamaha, etc. with little care about what the fans want to see or the long-term sustainability of the sport. And they'll wring their hands wondering why grid sizes dwindle along with attendance at the events and the size of TV audiences. Why they are determined to let a great sport like this descend to the pitiful (but very wealthy..for the select few) depths of Formula 1 is beyond me. Good f___ing luck DORNA!

Total votes: 122

Dave,
The point I was making was related to:

" The cost/benefit analysis which every team and factory does will show that the benefits to be had are small, for a relatively great expense. Whether they want to cover that expense remains to be seen."

Do you think that Honda will not spend what it takes to gain a fraction of a second on Yamaha, or vice-versa?

Total votes: 107

To answer your question, I have to say "yes and no". Honda won't spend what it takes, they will spend what they can get from their board. I asked someone involved in F1 once about controlling spending, and they said basically that spending was limited only by budgets, not by technology. If HRC can convince Honda Motor Corporation that they need €70 million to race in MotoGP, they will spend €70 million. If they can convince them they need €100 million, they will spend €100 million. They will spend it wherever they can, which means that if you limit spending on one technology, they will spend it on others, or invent a new technology to get around the ban on the old one (e.g. seamless gearboxes, turn-by-turn TC without GPS, etc).

As a rule maker, your aim is to try to make smart rules that will restrict gains through brute force approaches. What I mean by brute force is that you can increase your gains arithmetically as spending increases, e.g. spend €1 million to go 0.1s faster, and gain 0.1 seconds for every €1 million spent. The aim is to allow technologies that give you exponentially diminishing returns on investment. So the first 0.1 seconds might cost you €1 million, but the next 0.1 seconds costs you €10 million, the next costs you €100 million. That acts as a de facto budget cap, as no one is willing to spend that much on so little benefit. Are the rules on spec electronics that effective? Hard to say.

What you can be sure of, however, is that the factory teams will always, always win. They have the most money, and so they can afford the mechanics, the best components, the best crew chiefs, can spend more on data analysis and bike preparation. Most importantly of all, they have the best riders, who get the best treatment and have the time and support to be best prepared for every race weekend. That in itself is worth three or four tenths a lap. For proof of that, look at Moto2, where every year is a competition between Pons and Marc VDS / Monlau. Because those are, quite simply, the best teams on the grid.

Total votes: 112

Completely off topic - but has anyone noticed while viewing races on motogp.com how each time Rossi attempts an over-take, the audio switches to the crowd, after which the commentators will say "... will you just listen to that crowd!".

It's all choreographed to give a sense of 'spectacle', but it feels utterly unfair to the other riders.

Total votes: 101

That volume (crowd) must have been going up & down like a YoYo for the first few laps at Sepang - good point!!

Total votes: 95

Well, my people have a saying: "Tresla se gora, rodio se mis."

I can't translate it accurately, but you will get the point, here it goes:

"The mountain was shaking, a mouse was born."

Total votes: 100

Dave,
I can not argue the history of the sport, yes the factory or richest teams will usually win and will almost always win the championships. In my opinion the factories play the incremental spending game too well. It's a form of tech regulation that is made for deep pockets. I realize to revamp the methods of controlling technological development may very well upset the apple cart of those who reap the majority of the money from the 'sport' and for that reason it will not happen, but that doesn't make it right or in the least sporting. It's funny to think that I used to get excited about the latest technology in motorsport but now I cringe to think about how it will be used to up the costs of motorcycling to a degree that I can no longer afford to enjoy.

Total votes: 109

Great article David. Very informative and interesting. Unfortunately, nothing is really going to change in regards to electronics for the next couple of years which is a let down for many fans of the sport. I am glad to have such a detailed update. The one positive result from this journey to have a single ECU and unified software is that it has undoubtedly educated many of the Dorna MotoGP technical and safety staff. Other than that, this venture is not having a positive impact on the sport for a while. The Big Manufacturers win again.!! Sadly, I will still be reading articles about this sport everyday for years to come.!

Total votes: 103