MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
MotoGP’s next electronics ban
Dorna is so convinced that most teams are fiddling their ECU sensory systems that it will banish tailormade IMUs from 2019
MotoGP is better than it’s ever been for several reasons, including 2016’s move to control software.
Dorna’s control software narrowed the performance gap between the motorcycles and most importantly gave control back to the riders, so when you see Marc Márquez or Johann Zarco smoking the rear tyre, that’s their right wrists playing the game of risk versus reward, rather than a little black box playing rhythms with its algorithms. Up to a point, anyway.
For years Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta fought with factory bosses to ban factory-made software, which was transforming MotoGP bikes into computer-controlled missiles. It was a huge day for Ezpeleta when he finally won the battle to introduce control software (and God only knows how he did it).
Now Dorna is again downgrading electronics to further close the performance gap and remove more electronics rider assistance: from the end of this season tailormade factory IMUs will be banned.
What’s an IMU? An inertial measurement unit is to the ECU software what your sensory system is to your brain. It tells the rider-control systems where the bike is and what it’s doing: pitching, yawing, rolling and so on. A MotoGP IMU consists of gyroscopes and accelerometers, which perform these measurements to calculate banking rate, pitch rate and other dynamic factors. Accelerometers were first seriously used in the World War II, when the US Air Force used them to monitor g-forces on fighter pilots.
In theory, an IMU’s sole purpose is to make calculations from lateral g-forces and other measurements it makes, then send the results to the ECU, which uses the numbers to operate the traction control, wheelie control, engine-braking control and launch control.
So why does Dorna want to ban tailormade IMUs? Because it is certain that most factories and teams are bending the rules and using the software within their own IMUs to help the ECU software perform better. This is illegal but almost impossible to police.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.