Corrado Cecchinelli Interview: The Goal Of MotoGP's Spec Software? More Usable, More Relevant To The Road

From 2016, the entire MotoGP class will switch to a single, spec software for the electronics on the bikes. Development of the software is to become a collaborative process, with the factories competing in MotoGP supplying code and requirements through a single website. This much we know. But what we don't know is much more interesting. Which technologies will be supported? Which functions will be available? How sophisticated will the software be? Who will lead the software process, the factories or Dorna?

To get answers to all of these questions and more I spoke to MotoGP's Director of Technology, Corrado Cecchinelli at Silverstone. He is the man in charge of the process of making the switch to the spec, or unified software, as it is now being called. Cecchinelli will manage the development process, and define the goal of the unified software, trying to create a level playing field for all of the competitors.

It was a long and interesting interview. We covered many subjects, from the logistics of the development process, to the technologies which will be allowed, to what Cecchinelli sees as the objective of the software, and the goals it should achieve. Cecchinelli described in some detail how the development process for the unified software is to work, and how the process will be managed. It will be a collaborative process, but it will not, as some fans had hoped, be a fully open process, with fully public access to the code.

Cecchinelli then set out his vision for the unified software, both in terms of implementation at the track and its application in production bikes. The goal is that any MotoGP-level electronics engineer should be able to extract the maximum performance from the software, rather than requiring mastery of an arcane and excessively complex piece of software. It should be fully usable by the engineers in the independent or non-factory teams, allowing them to use the software to its full potential. This is one of the complaints made by the Open teams at the Sepang test at the start of the year, when they were handed an extremely powerful, but extremely complex software update. The update was soon dropped, in favor of an evolution of the existing software.

Cecchinelli's vision of how the unified software should be applicable to road-going machines makes for interesting reading. The aim is for technology developed at the track to be directly transferrable to production bikes. That does not mean restricting technology, but rather focusing it on making it usable for all riders. The idea is not to remove traction control and engine braking, but to keep them relevant to production bikes, and improve rideability. Though the software will still allow turn-by-turn settings, Cecchinelli made a strong case for why it should be removed, and the focus switched to other technology areas. The aim, Cecchinelli was keen to emphasize, was to prevent factories getting into a spending war over extreme performance, and make them focus instead on providing the rider with a more rideable package. Cecchinelli admitted that the unified software would not stop factories from spending money, but his aim was to limit the return on throwing ever larger resources at the field of electronics which had no direct relevance to MotoGP.

We started on the subject of the development process, and where it stands at the moment.

MotoMatters: As I understand it, the championship software is to be developed by Magneti Marelli, together with the factories, all of the factories will be able to have input, and it will be done by a collaborative website. First of all, how far along are you with the project?

Corrado Cecchinelli: The idea, and at the moment, it is still only an idea, is to do like you say. We handle the project, and the way it works is that we can have some sort of spontaneous or natural evolution of software. I can have ideas, the Marelli guys can have ideas, and so we will introduce them. Or evolution as requested by the end users, which will be everybody, including the manufacturers in 2016. And yes, the plan is to make the process more formal and public and fair, by means of a tool on a reserved area on our Sharepoint server. We will have an area where all the restricted area permit holders, will have the chance to input their requests, so we will evaluate them, and after saying yes or no, we put them in a priority, and that priority will be public, and everyone will know what's going on.

Which is more or less the way it is working now with the present Open software, but it's a less refined approach now, it's just a mailing list.

MM: A little bit like bug tracking software … Will every request be public, or will the request be private, and only go public when the request has been evaluated?

CC: The idea is that all the requests, if you want us to consider your request, you have to put it there, so it will be automatically public. But public means open to the other members of the list, of the allowed list, which will be one or two people per manufacturer, something like this. It will not be an open website, open to the public. It will be a restricted area on a website.

MM: So it won't be completely open source, so I could not go to the website and look at the source code?

CC: You will not have this chance. But all the participants will. So it's a matter of defining the dimension of this group. Some of them will have write permission, others just read permission, but these are just details.

MM: Who will be leading the direction of the software? Will it be Dorna and Magneti Marelli, or will it be the factories.

CC: Actually, it will be myself. I will in the end take all the requests into consideration and decide which ones are yes and which ones are no, and order the yes ones into a priority. Which answers your question, because in the end, this is the direction of the software.

Of course, it must be an organic process. So sometimes if you want to do this, you have to do that beforehand, so the direction is not that free. You are not free to pick just one of the activities and do that, because maybe you will need to do something before that, and probably the outcome will be that you will have to do something else before that. But in general, I'm free to decide.

The tool I'm talking about is very close to being ready at the moment. I am the only allowed user, I'm training myself to use it. If we are talking about 2016 common software, we will be ready well in advance of when the manufacturers need it, because they decided that they will not participate in the evolution process, so as not to reveal their secrets, until a certain date [31st June 2015], when they will agree to freeze their proprietary software. So I think we will be ready with the tool in a few weeks' time. And I think we will need it in years' time. This is more or less the situation now.

If the tool is ready and it is working well, we can use it for the present software evolution by replacing the mailing list. I can use it with the Open teams with a different users list. I think we will do that, because it is also something which helps us in testing it, before the real proper use.

MM: Do you intend to use the Open software to control the more advanced aspects of the electronics? For example, will it still support a seamless gearbox?

CC: Yes.

MM: There's a lot of complaints about the general level of electronics, is it your idea to restrict the level of the electronics, or to allow the factories to continue at the level they are now.

CC: This is a very big project which will involve different parties, because it will involve myself – the organizer's side – the manufacturers' side, the teams' side, at the least. And I think there are at least two different opinions on this. My opinion may be close to the teams' opinion, but I don't know, I can tell you it's my opinion. My opinion is that it it should be something reasonable that is not science fiction level. For me, the idea is the present Open riders' software, plus evolution.

We will continue with the evolution as it is now, but of course you can understand that once the evolution goes on with different partners, it will take a different pace. But still, the concept is the present software with evolution. Which is not the best possible in the world...

MM: So the goal is to make good, functioning software, not the most amazing software you can build?

CC: The goal is, there is something that we want to be at the top, but this is not performance, it is the compromise between ease of use and performance. This is what we want to bring to the top, and this is not what the factory software does. They are not the best compromise of all, they are very complicated, almost impossible to understand by human beings, but the power is so high. So they are not the best compromise, they are the best performance. This is not what we are looking for, what I am looking for.

In this process, as I said, I think the teams, which means to me the independent structures, I think they will be with me, but I don't think this is the idea of the big MSMA manufacturers. Because they ideally would like to get to the result of everybody having the same features as now, which of course is not possible. So I cannot tell now what will be the result in the end, but I told you what the idea is.

MM: So the idea is that an independent team with one, maybe two electronics guys can get the best out of the electronics package?

CC: My idea is that all the users have the capability to use it 100%. This is the idea, this is my concept. Of course, I think we have to put ourselves in the scenario where the level of the users is higher than now, which means that the potential can be higher than now. Because I think that the manufacturers' involvement will be more than now even in the non-factory teams. So I think the level will be higher, but that as the organizer, our goal is that anybody has the skills to use the full potential, so that it is fair in principle.

The goal is not as powerful as possible. In principle I would not like that the bigger you are, the more you can use the potential of the software. Of course, still, the bigger you are, the better rider you will have, and the better team, and everything. But I can work on my side of the equation, not on everything.

MM: So there hasn't been a decision on what will be allowed and what won't, whether the software will allow turn-by-turn adjustment, etc?

CC: This is not decided now, but there is the very high chance that my idea, which is starting from the present open software, will be the choice. Which means that we will have all the strategies, and they will depend on the position on the track.

Which, I have to say, is something I don't like at all. Because it needs some tuning effort which to me is a waste, because it has no production return at all, not return on road bikes at all. I think that we as the organizer should feel the responsibility of steering the investments towards road-relevant areas. This is what I feel as my responsibility, which I am not managing to do, but I feel as a general, high-level goal. In this idea, turn-by-turn tuning for me is a waste of money.

MM: What would be a more relevant goal for production bikes? Throttle response? Fuel consumption?

CC: If we put ourselves in the present scenario, rideability for example. Which means a lot of things: engine brake control, traction control, all the present strategies can have an important return on production machines in the present scenario. I would like just to remove the possibility to tune them turn-by-turn, because this will save some useless work, and possibly, everybody will be forced to find a compromise solution, which again is more road relevant.

For sure, the result will be a machine that works as a better compromise everywhere, which is a more production-oriented bike. Then of course you can even think about a different scenario where something else is allowed which is banned at the moment: just to name a few, electronic suspension, ABS, things like this.

MM: Because ABS is going to be compulsory on production bikes in the EU from 2016, electronic suspension is becoming more common on road bikes...

CC: I don't think this is the moment to introduce this, but they can be areas where it would be interesting to steer the investments. If we as the organizer manage to make the manufacturers spend their money in road-relevant areas, I think this is healthy for everybody, and in return, we have more chance that the sport will survive. Because it has a return. Because the manufacturers don't see racing as a pure marketing cost, they want to have an R&D return.

But, although this is what they say, this is not what they actually look for.

MM: What they look for is success, at any cost?

CC: Yes. So my idea is that if you have a strategy that you can tune turn-by-turn, if you have ten people going around the track and making pictures and measure everything, you can tune it better. If you have twenty people, you can tune it even better. And there is no limit to this, because if you have 1000 people, it would be a little bit better than having 900. So you can still be tempted to spend money there. This is why we should remove some areas.

MM: You don't think turn-by-turn has any use on the road? It seems to me that now, GPS is becoming ubiquitous, and more and more integrated into vehicles, they are already built in in cars. You don't see the possible crossover between that and racing?

CC: No. I don't see it at all, because first of all, as you know, GPS is not allowed in MotoGP. The way it works is completely different, and completely senseless for production machines, because it's just counting the wheel turns and resetting it at any split timing loop.

But even if we allowed the GPS to be used, first of all, at the moment, GPS technology is not accurate enough. This is not a motorcycling problem, a problem of people operating in the motorcycle business. But even if in the future, it becomes so accurate that it can be good for the goal, still the problem is that knowing where you are on a road is not enough. Because if you know where you are on a track, you know the road camber angle, the surface friction coefficient and whatever you would like. But if you know where you are on the road, there is no use for it, unless you have all the world mapped with the camber, the steepness of the road, the friction coefficient. And still you don't know anything, because if it's wet, or dirty, it changes. So I don't see any potential use of changing the strategies depending on the place where you are.

The only use I know of is that I think I read that the Nissan GTR goes only full power only in proximity of a track. So this is maybe the only use of different strategies depending on the place. But this is not depending a corner, it's just depending on whether you are on a track or not.

MM: So to summarize, the goal is that you want powerful software, but only so powerful that any well-trained, efficient engineer can extract maximum potential from the software?

CC: I don't see any other value in getting the extra 10%. You will not notice on the TV, and the show will be possibly worse.

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Total votes: 58

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Comments

Super article David. I wondered how they got tun by turn with no GPS. Now I know. It really seems like a great strategy to simplify and improve and possibly include some new parameters that are banned now but are already being used on road going bikes. Hope it all works out!

Total votes: 89

There is an excellent comment on the KTM post about the nature of the modern "hammer" and how it is so much better than the old version. This is the equivalent. Pining for the good 'ol electronic-free days is a waste, and it is a relief to hear Cecchinelli's grasp of reality.

Pushing electronics in a direction that makes better performance for road-going machines is an excellent way to attract manufacturer attention. Look at what allowing a wide variety of hybrid powerplants has done for the WEC sports car championship; next year, there will be five manufacturers competing (Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Porsche & Audi). THAT is a healthy series.

With road machines moving toward electronically controlled active suspensions and increasingly better ABS systems, it is quite reassuring to hear Cecchinelli talk about driving racebike electronics in that direction in the future, and to hear him recognize that developing traction control and electronic engine braking on racebikes pays dividends on streetbikes.

I think that if you throw in the ABS and electronic suspension control on MotoGP machines, the manufacturers would happily give up turn-by-turn in exchange.

Total votes: 96

>>I think that if you throw in the ABS and electronic suspension control on MotoGP machines, the manufacturers would happily give up turn-by-turn in exchange.

I disagree. Having turn-by-turn tuning with ABS and electronic suspension would allow them to tune and develop that technology even better. Couple it with GPS for the street and the bike will know a turn is approaching and to adjust brake and suspension settings properly. Hell, it could even estimate that the bike is approaching the curve too fast and use the ABS to automatically slow it down to a safer level before turning starts.

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

Total votes: 92

...and a giant helping of logic.

It can't possibly last.

I fervently hope that the 'turn-by-turn' TC gets binned.
It's idiotic.

If there has to be a bone to toss to the manufacturers, make it a form of TC that will actually help the common folk that finance this whole circus.
Something that responds to sensors on the bike that have no idea whether it's Phillip Island or Alcatraz Island.

Leave the riders to perform the ABS and wheelie control, that's their job.

Electronically controlled suspension will just become a variation of turn-by-turn TC if it's allowed in MotoGP.
It only exists on consumer bikes as a farkle and a method to avoid having a knowledgeable crew.

Total votes: 92

The future of MotoGP software sounds like too many cooks in the kitchen with Cecchinelli picking and choosing whose ingredients he likes best. The cook with the deepest pockets and the loudest complaints wins.
The logical answers he gives sound like the the best corporate speak typically thrown around in a corporate design meeting. Historically this kind of speak has been painstakingly honed to mask a lack of knowledge about what is actually needed. Let's hope that is not the case.

I wish Cecchinelli the best in teaching himself to use the 'Tool'.

Total votes: 95

ABS in MotoGP is a terrible idea. I don't like the idea of it on street bikes, I also didn't know it would be mandatory in the EU soon. I'm not very current on all things EU but I imagine their directive for motorcycles is to get rid of them altogether.

Total votes: 87

The arguments for ABS in MotoGP are identical to the arguments over traction control or launch control. They have the same function and rationalization: the function in MotoGP is to increase performance, the rationalization is to help development for road bikes (despite the fact that ABS has developed a long way despite being banned in racing).

As for ABS on the road, I personally will not buy a motorcycle without it. It is true that a well-trained rider can still outbrake an ABS system under controlled conditions, but that isn't when you need ABS. You need ABS when somebody does something idiotic in front of you and you need to brake as hard as possible without thinking about changing levels of traction. When an idiot pulls out in front of you on a country road in the rain, you don't get 3 sessions of 45 minutes practice to find the limits of traction, you get a few milliseconds to grab the brakes, figure out a plan, and take evasive action. Under those circumstances, 99% of riders will need all the help they can get.

You may feel you do not want ABS on your road bike, but I certainly do. 

Total votes: 112

I can attest to this. Was riding with 2 friends when a deer jumped out of the woods in front of the lead rider (I was third). Knocked my friend straight back into my line of travel. Deer and bike went left, second rider was on my right, I had to stop. Did a big endo. Didn't hit my friend or run him over, I took the brunt of the damage. I had only a fraction of a second to make my decision to brake. I had to stop as quickly as possible, but I overdid it. ABS would have prevented the endo. People say "If you'd practiced panic stops then you would have known how much brake to apply." Maybe. But there's no way to replicate the speed in which that incident happened. I had time to perform one action. ABS would have made that one action much more effective. And maybe saved me two surgeries, a concussion and a punctured ankle.

Total votes: 89

There was a great article in a Dutch magazine several years ago on the usefulness of ABS. A magazine editor (and experienced road tester) and an ex-racer had been to a test track, spent all day testing ABS vs non-ABS under all sorts of conditions. The ex-racer was able to beat ABS in the dry, and get close in the wet. The experienced journo was able to match or just beat ABS in the dry, and was a few meters longer than ABS in the wet. They had proved that ABS was good, but not convincingly.

On the ride home, they took one of the roads which leads over the dikes along a Dutch river (where the best roads in Holland usually are, nice and twisty). It had been a long and tiring day, and they were riding along at a relatively leisurely pace (for an ex-racer and bike journo ...). The journo was following the racer, and his mind was wandering a little. All of a sudden, he looked up and saw he was a lot closer to the racer than he thought he was, the lapse in attention meaning he missed the guy in front braking for a corner. The journo slammed the brakes on, and slowed just in time. The ABS on his bike kicked in a couple of times, but he made it, managed to come up short of hitting the ex-racer. That, the journo wrote, convinced him of the necessity of ABS more than anything else they had done that day.

Total votes: 80

I'm all for ABS on the streets and roads, and traction control as well. But not in racing, where I want the contest to be between the riders to the maximum extent possible. We certainly need to keep some form of TC to prevent highside crashes, but today's strategy of just whacking the throttle WFO on corner exit (and let the electrons take care of it) is just lame. The racing in F1 was improved when they banned TC, and MotoGP needs to do the same.

There are viable strategies for safety-only TC. For example, when TC kicks in (meaning the rider has made a mistake and in danger of a crash related to throttle control), the TC is there to save your ass, but full power will not be available for a dew seconds. So the rider will not activate TC intentionally. This is the approach I favor for the spec electronics. TC for safety only. Wheelie control banned. Launch control banned. Seamless gearboxs banned.

I'm very disappointed by Cecchinelli's approach to this opportunity. Just my $0.02.

Total votes: 100

Good interview David, you always ask the questions in such a way that the interviewee can give the most concise answer possible. Could have maybe tried to come off as even somewhat objective, but hey that's modern journalism for you.

He sounds like a very realistic guy, having a good vision of what the goal is and how to achieve it. I've been sceptical of the shared software idea, but I'm relieved to hear it won't be completely open source.

Total votes: 102

I'm a big fan of David's work but I did notice that his questions are very leading, often giving a list of suggested answers rather than allowing the interviewee to arrive at thier own.

Total votes: 91

Sometimes, when I am trying to get an answer, I will offer suggestions. But I am aware that too often, my interviews are more of a conversation than a Q&A session. That has good points and bad points, and the bad point is, as you say, that it can mean me leading the interviewee. I'm working on this, trying to improve. I want to find out as much as any of you do, and I need to avoid being told what I want to hear, so yours is a valid criticism.

Total votes: 80

I must say though I usually prefer conversations over Q&A sessions so I wouldn't change much. I also think the language barrier can be hard to navigate (especially with Italian people, no offense!) so offering suggestions can be helpful.

However in this particular interview you may have gone a little overboard with that.

Total votes: 87

I went in to the interview hoping to get Cecchinelli's vision for the future, the path he intended to set out. However, I opened the interview with a question about the process, and Cecchinelli spent a long time talking about that, and when I tried to turn the conversation towards what would and wouldn't be present in the unified software, Cecchinelli kept turning back to the process of putting together the IT infrastructure. I think that's why I led the conversation more than normal. I expected to spend maybe 10 minutes with Cecchinelli, in the end, it was nearly 25 minutes.

Total votes: 80

Learned a few things, been DYING to get this sort of connection with him re the project so thanks a TON David.

Speed dog with you on PLEASE nix the turn by turn. Important. You can do it Mr C! Hold firm!

Also agree w readers re ABS on bikes bugging me - don't want anything between my hand and the caliper but fluid. Odd to me it is becoming mandatory in EU. :(

I am liking where this is going and have been from the get go. I really value the view in the paddock of Herve Poncheral, when he speaks I listen. Except when he is massaging his relationship w Yamaha execs (which is perfectly understandable and needed of course) he is solid and open about things and I am usually in agreement w him.

Asked about ongoing regulation updates and the future of MotoGP from 2016 and beyond - when the official tyre supplier to the premier class changes and the use of universal ECU software will come into effect - Poncharal gave his perspective on the developments.He stated, “There are two ways of looking at it. If I think about it only from our perspective, I would say that last year it was easier. We were behind the four factory bikes, the two Yamahas and the two Hondas, and we could get onto the podium when the chance came. Now it’s harder because Aleix Espargaro and the Ducatis are up there and there are a number of factors, such as the tyre restrictions, which mean we are back in fifth to ninth position. When (Andrea) Dovizioso puts on a softer tyre and the pendulum swings in his favour I think, ‘well that was tough for us’.”“But also from a team perspective, I want the championship to work well. I want it to be interesting and for the fans to come. If the fans are there we can get more sponsors. So you have to look at the wider picture.”The Frenchman continued, “It's good to have provided an opportunity for teams and less successful manufacturers to balance out their disadvantages, and it's nice to think that after 2016, the situation will be more even technically. Everyone will be on a more level playing field, and at a lower cost.”“Currently, most of the investment of the factory teams goes on electronics. So if a standard ECU is imposed development opportunities are reduced, it will be open to everyone and ‘frozen’ (without the possibility of making updates) during the season. This should allow all teams to reduce their costs, and for private teams like ours to have the equivalent of official team material. So, to be attractive to a sponsor, for the teams it will be about the riders. Satellite teams could be fighting for victories, something unimaginable today, as we started the current season knowing that an official Yamaha rider or an official Honda rider would be the World Champion at the end of the year.”

Total votes: 94

As much as I enjoy David's interviews he can only do so much. CC's answers were cringe-worthy and inconsistent at best. I wonder how much English being his second language possibly makes word choice or sentence structure improper. I hope a hell of a lot.

>>We handle the project, and the way it works is that we can have some sort of spontaneous or natural evolution of software.

When will people actually think about the meaning of the words they use. Spontaneous evolution of the software? That does not happen. Natural evolution? Nature's way of evolving means waiting for random changes in the genome caused by random processes to achieve variations and then for those changes that are best suited for survival to get passed on. It is extremely wasteful in that only a small fraction of the changes are changes for the better and it takes place on an undefined timescale. What a way for control software to develop. Later in the interview he gets to the point: he will decide.

>>We will have an area where all the restricted area permit holders, will have the chance to input their requests, so we will evaluate them, and after saying yes or no, we put them in a priority

That description has nothing to do with spontaneity or evolution. Users will put requests in and CC will decide what does get done. Sounds like standard bug tracking functionality.

>> I am the only allowed user, I'm training myself to use it.

Do I really need to add anything?

>>If the tool is ready and it is working well, we can use it for the present software evolution by replacing the mailing list.

Mailing list.....hmmmmmm.....have they made sure all of their computers have had the y2k bug fix installed too? All he is really talking about in most of the responses is developing some sort of collaborative design website. Aren't there plenty of software vendors that already offer this functionality out of the box eliminating the need for development? It is worrying that he is talking about the software that will be used to manage the development process as the main part of the process.

>>This is a very big project which will involve different parties, because it will involve myself

I couldn't resist an incomplete quote......

>>The goal is, there is something that we want to be at the top, but this is not performance, it is the compromise between ease of use and performance.

So we are limiting the performance of GP bikes in order to make the software easier to use for the data guy? So which data guy will be the baseline for usability comparison?

>>Of course, I think we have to put ourselves in the scenario where the level of the users is higher than now, which means that the potential can be higher than now.

Huh? So the smaller teams will need to have better data guys to be able to use the spec software 100%? Aren't better data guys more expensive? Isn't this supposed to reduce costs for the smaller teams?

>>but that as the organizer, our goal is that anybody has the skills to use the full potential, so that it is fair in principle.

Anybody? But he just said that the level of the users needs to be higher than it is now which means that some people doing it now are not good enough to use the new spec software to 100%. But isn't the reason for this entire exercise that everyone will be able to use it 100%? Am I taking crazy pills?

>>they are the best performance. This is not what we are looking for

This should be emphasized. They are not looking for the best performance. After all, this isn't racing anymore, is it? Oh how I wish someone else was doing the looking.

>>Actually, it will be myself. I will in the end take all the requests into consideration and decide which ones are yes and which ones are no, and order the yes ones into a priority.

So much for natural evolution. Then a couple of sentences later we get:

>>So I cannot tell now what will be the result in the end

then a couple of more sentences later we get:

>>This is not decided now, but there is the very high chance that my idea, which is starting from the present open software, will be the choice. Which means that we will have all the strategies, and they will depend on the position on the track. Which, I have to say, is something I don't like at all.

Huh? I thought he was in charge? And he is promoting his own idea that he doesn't even like? Sounds just like when Mike Webb was telling me that nobody in charge liked the Moto2 spec engine idea including himself but they were doing it anyway.

>>I think that we as the organizer should feel the responsibility of steering the investments towards road-relevant areas.

Yea, as opposed to putting their effort towards marketing, sponsorship, expanding into new, highly populated areas, things that really secure the future of the sport. The one area where there is supreme relevance to road machines, fuel economy and engine life, is an area where Dorna resisted MSMA desires. Are we supposed to believe that Dorna knows what is production relevant more than the people who actually do the R&D and production of road machines? From Dorna's website: Dorna Sports is an international sports management, marketing and media company, founded in 1988.

>> If we put ourselves in the present scenario, rideability for example.

Its not as if both GP and road bikes are not more rideable than they have ever been in history. If you want rideability then make the BS tires easier to keep heat in. Oh, I forgot, Dorna does not have enough leverage to make BS provide the product they want so instead we get hard-to-adapt-to tires.

>>For sure, the result will be a machine that works as a better compromise everywhere

What he really means is that the software will be a compromise so logically the machines will perform almost as good in some areas and worse in the rest. Right now they can optimize machine behavior in every turn. If that ability is removed then the bikes cannot be optimized for every turn which by definition means they do not work as well everywhere.

>>which is a more production-oriented bike.

So why not use those rules in WSBK, you know, the production bike-based racing series, you know, the one you also own the rights to? And again, the road bikes we can buy are more capable and docile than ever before while getting better mileage with lower emissions and lasting longer.

>>Then of course you can even think about a different scenario where something else is allowed which is banned at the moment: just to name a few, electronic suspension, ABS, things like this.

So we can look forward to the future where you stop banning things that can now be had on $10k street bikes? How about stop banning them now and save us the wait?

>>If we as the organizer manage to make the manufacturers spend their money in road-relevant areas

The manufacturers are the only ones not complaining about spending money so why concern yourself? Talk about having misplaced priorities. The manufacturers have spoken, they want to develop high mileage, fuel efficient bikes that have electronics systems that increase rider safety and the level of accessible performance.

>>No. I don't see it at all, because first of all, as you know, GPS is not allowed in MotoGP. The way it works is completely different, and completely senseless for production machines, because it's just counting the wheel turns and resetting it at any split timing loop.

The GPS ban, which didn't achieve what it was intended to do (prevent turn-by-turn tuning), merely increased costs and made it more difficult for smaller teams to keep up. That result is exactly the opposite of what the rule was intended to accomplish. How is what is being proposed for the software overhaul going to be any different?

>>But even if we allowed the GPS to be used..................the strategies depending on the place where you are.

This entire paragraph screams 'I have no vision for the future'. 'at the moment, GPS technology is not accurate enough' 'You won't know road camber or friction coefficient' 'So I don't see any potential use'. We are hamstringing future development of motorcycling technology because of your lack of vision? Just knowing a curve is ahead or an incline or a decline could be beneficial in a world where most single vehicle motorcycle crashes are caused by the rider freezing up and running off the road. Truckers are using GPS elevation information to increase real-world fuel economy by knowing when an incline is ahead and encouraging the trucker to speed up a bit in response while stin on a flat section. There are any number of ways to implement technology in ways that you cannot imagine but since you cannot imagine them they are prohibited. Sigh.

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

Total votes: 111

>>CC's answers were cringe-worthy and inconsistent at best. I wonder how much English being his second language possibly makes word choice or sentence structure improper. I hope a hell of a lot.

I feel you are doing Cecchinelli a bit of a disservice. He speaks English exceptionally well, but his vocabulary and grammar are a little limited, as you might expect. Where the meaning of the sentence is unclear, the error is mine, as I chose to retain most of his word use, rather than correcting it. I did lightly massage this interview, to structure it a little better and clear up a few things, but I did not want to change too much, as I do not want to put things into Cecchinelli's mouth. I believe I have a clear idea of what he wants to do, and what the target is, but in reality, the collaborative development won't even start for another 10 months, and a lot can change by the time the bikes hit the track in 2016.

Below are some responses clarifying what I believe Cecchinelli meant:

>> Spontaneous evolution of the software?

What he means is normal, natural development arising from what Magneti Marelli and Dorna see is necessary. The "oh yeah, we need to do that," process of ongoing development.

>> I am the only allowed user, I'm training myself to use it.

At the moment. The system will be open to all authorized users from 30th June 2015, and Cecchinelli may decide to open it up to the Open teams later this year, to replace the current mailing list they use for functionality requests and bug reports. And yes, it is very similar to a bug-tracking system.

>> All he is really talking about in most of the responses is developing some sort of collaborative design website. Aren't there plenty of software vendors that already offer this functionality out of the box eliminating the need for development? I

Yes, they are using one of those systems, but even out-of-the-box systems need to be adapted to suit the particular needs of a project. As anyone who has used Wordpress to build a website can tell you.

>> Anybody? But he just said that the level of the users needs to be higher than it is now which means that some people doing it now are not good enough to use the new spec software to 100%. But isn't the reason for this entire exercise that everyone will be able to use it 100%? Am I taking crazy pills?

The goal is to help train the data and electronic engineers in all of the teams so that they can extract 100% performance from the software. The levels in Grand Prix racing can vary wildly, the factories have the best guys, some of the satellite and private teams have great guys, some of the private teams have people who are inexperienced and, above all, cheap. The goal, as I understand it, is to make it 100% usable by the best of the satellite guys, and to help get the others to that same level.

>> If you want rideability then make the BS tires easier to keep heat in. Oh, I forgot, Dorna does not have enough leverage to make BS provide the product they want so instead we get hard-to-adapt-to tires.

Two things: firstly, the tires now are much better than they were a couple of seasons ago. The hardest thing to get used to is the ridiculous amounts of grip they offer. Just getting your head around the fact that you won't crash when you go in that hard is the most difficult thing to adapt to now. They no longer spit you off if you don't go hard enough. And secondly, Dorna put so much pressure on Bridgestone to change their tires that Bridgestone decided to leave, with Michelin taking their place.

>> So we can look forward to the future where you stop banning things that can now be had on $10k street bikes? How about stop banning them now and save us the wait?

The manufacturers set the technical regulations, and the manufacturers wanted a ban on active suspension and ABS.

>> The manufacturers are the only ones not complaining about spending money so why concern yourself? 

When there were no restrictions, only Honda could really afford to build a competitive MotoGP bike, with Yamaha struggling financially, and Ducati riding on the mercurial talents of one rider. All factories complain about spending money, but that doesn't stop them from doing it. With spec electronics on horizon, Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM are all about to come back to MotoGP. Whether it's the electronics is debatable, but it certainly appears that something has happened to make MotoGP more affordable for smaller manufacturers, rather than just the Honda cup.

Total votes: 120

>>What he means is normal, natural development arising from what Magneti Marelli and Dorna see is necessary. The "oh yeah, we need to do that," process of ongoing development.

The process is described further in the interview as responding to user requests with him as the final say. In fact he did not mention MM once in the entire interview which is interesting since they have the most knowledge of these systems apart from the factories and will actually be doing the coding. From many previous statements he apparently will be making decisions to level the playing field and make the show more visually exciting. In fact, his stated desire to remove at least TbT functionality is exactly the opposite of evolution. Dorna does not want to make the software better, they want to reduce functionality it to make it easier to use. That is not spontaneous or natural evolution. That is devolution.

The funny thing is that on 6/15 the MSMA will drop a hugely complicated software package in their lap as the basis for the spec software and in reality no development will go on though the year. How could it? How could you fairly prioritize one team's request over another if granting that request gives that team a competitive advantage? Similar to this year's tire changes. Oh, they reduced edge grip. I wonder who that will affect most? As Bradley Smith how he feels about BS bring last year's spec to some tracks. Of course it was not because of Lorenzo bitching and moaning (rightfully).

>>Yes, they are using one of those systems, but even out-of-the-box systems need to be adapted to suit the particular needs of a project. As anyone who has used Wordpress to build a website can tell you.

Yes, and you usually hire specialists who have experience with the base architecture for training and development. He specifically says he is training himself which in my experience is not the best way learn software.

>>The goal is to help train the data and electronic......................to make it 100% usable by the best of the satellite guys, and to help get the others to that same level.

Talk about mission creep for a marketing company! They could do that without forcing spec software and hardware on everyone. I guess my main objection is that the previous rules they have created to level the playing field and reduce costs (primarily the spec tire rule) have not achieved the desired results and in fact have made racing more processional, reduced the number of possible winners or podium contenders, and increased costs. The rules that the MSMA want and that Dorna and a lot of people rail against, fuel and engine limits, have not affected racing at all. This year we have great racing. Why? 2 reasons. The riders, specifically Marquez resetting the bar for what is acceptable aggressive behavior. And Rossi is fast again and as aggressive as he used to be. You could freeze the tech specifications for 5 years as they are now and as long as Marquez and Rossi continue on as they are the fans will be happy. And the other reason for more exciting races? Ducati (and Forward) essentially get access to a qualifying tire so mix the grid up a bit and cause passing to happen during the race.

>>And secondly, Dorna put so much pressure on Bridgestone to change their tires that Bridgestone decided to leave, with Michelin taking their place.

Which just shows the folly of spec tires in the first place. When only two or three companies in the world can supply the product and only one tenders a proposal you are at their mercy. That happened in 2007 when BS won the contract and again this year when Michelin got the next contract so why is there any expectation that Michelin will behave any different than BS? It is a marketing effort from the tire manufacturer, they could care less if the racing is close as long as nothing makes them look bad.

>>The manufacturers set the technical regulations, and the manufacturers wanted a ban on active suspension and ABS.

The manufacturers wanted open software too but they didn't get it. I feel that Dorna forces the issue at completely the wrong times and on the wrong issues.

>>When there were no restrictions, only Honda could really afford to build a competitive MotoGP bike

That statement does not stand up to scrutiny. Yamaha won 2/5 990 titles and 3/5 800cc titles. If it weren't for Stoner, Honda would not have won any titles in the 800cc period. In the 500s until Doohan came around there were no serious periods of Honda dominance. Honda make great bikes and have a huge budget but without great riders they are no better off than anyone else. Ducati started off their GP participation at a high level but the spec tire regulations effectively shut down their progress and likely cost Ducati/PM well over $100M and any chance of being competitive in the process.

>>With spec electronics on horizon, Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM

It has been established that Suzuki and Aprilia have to spend more to adapt to the spec electronics than they would if they were allowed to use their own systems so I can't see spec electronics as a positive factor in their rejoining. KTM? Let's see what happens in 3 years. Its so convenient to make a PR for something far into the future. Motorcycle racing is starting to emerge from the double blow of the death of tobacco sponsorship followed by a global recession. To me that is why manufacturers are showing interest in coming back to the fold, they need to look a couple of years to the future when they hope people are purchasing expensive bikes again.

>>rather than just the Honda cup.

Nobody complained when it was the Rossi/Honda cup. Seems to me its more the lack of marketing and expansion plans that are crippling MotoGPs growth and attractiveness to manufacturers and sponsors more than anything else. Until I see them making strides in that direction all of the spec electronics stuff is just a distraction.

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

Total votes: 106

>> Nobody complained when it was the Rossi/Honda cup

Devil's advocate: because the fans don't care about technology, they care about riders.

Total votes: 90

>>Devil's advocate: because the fans don't care about technology, they care about riders.

Given riders on the top technology, yes. Every rider's dream is a factory GP ride. That's what the celebrity is built around. Take the exclusivity away and you've removed that abstract quality that is impossible to replace. The Honda V5 was all-powerful back then and people lauded Honda's willingness to spend excessively on R&D and didn't care that Rossi won so much. In many ways the V5 was just as popular as Rossi. Rossi quit them because he felt the V5 shared too much of the credit and in the following years proved himself to be both right and wrong.

As long as the highest technology is there then it is about the riders. Otherwise they lower themsleves in to the fray of fighting for viewers in a world of 140 character tweets.

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

Total votes: 85

Which brings us back to the question of what percentage of the audience understands exactly where the level of the technology is. Looking at the car world, F1 gets the eyeballs, despite being a series which is spec in almost every area bar aerodynamics, while the Le Mans series has a much smaller, but highly dedicated following, and is where the real technological development and advancement sits. I hate cars (so much so that I don't even own one), but even I am fascinated by the Le Mans cars. 

Total votes: 87

>>Which brings us back to the question of what percentage of the audience understands exactly where the level of the technology is.

Understanding the latest technology is not a prerequisite for thinking it is cool. In fact, the less people understand about something usually the more impressed they are by it. People don't want to go to GP or WSBK or AMA racing and see machines full of components they can buy online, they want to drool over stuff they will never be able to get. That is a huge part of F1's attraction, all of the people and equipment are at a level that is hard to comprehend but we do know that it is the best and that's enough.

>>but even I am fascinated by the Le Mans cars

Yes, endurance race cars are ultra-trick. I wish it would be more popular but think the extended format does not fit well with broadcast people which means no big money, which means relative obscurity.

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

Total votes: 94

>> Understanding the latest technology is not a prerequisite for thinking it is cool. In fact, the less people understand about something usually the more impressed they are by it. 

Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic, said Arthur C. Clarke. Anything which ordinary riders don't have, and don't understand, turns it into voodoo, something special. This was a trick I used as an IT consultant from time to time: blind your audience with technical voodoo. But make sure there is no one in the room who actually knows what they are talking about.

My point is that the actual level of technology is far less important than the perceived level of technology. Maintaining the perception is key. The balancing act is ensuring that whatever the actual level, the perceived level is high.

Interesting side note: one thing which teams try to do with potential sponsors is get them to the race, and get them into pit lane when the MotoGP bikes are started. The noise is shocking, visceral. That experience, the raw power of 130dB, is often enough to seal the deal.

>> Yes, endurance race cars are ultra-trick. I wish it would be more popular but think the extended format does not fit well with broadcast people which means no big money, which means relative obscurity.

To me, this indicates that what makes a series popular is a difficult-to-predict mix of technology, excitement and prestige. The fact that the World Superbike series matched Grand Prix racing in terms of popularity in the late '90s is proof enough of that.

Total votes: 89

Here's something I've not seen discussed in recent times - how are they actually controlling the clutch? In Spaldings 2006 book he said all the manufacturers were at that stage using ramp-type slipper units, is this still the case? Given the march of technology I presume that the engagement and disengagement of the clutch is now mechanised via some type of actuator under ECU control? While the "strategies" to control it will never be known by more than a handful of the factory elite techs, the mechanical gubbins can often be spotted in the odd pit or crash photo and make for interesting discussion.

This possibly goes to the core of the anti-electronics argument - in 1964 any idiot could tell the RC164 was something from another planet to a Manx Norton. Can we say the same about the intricacies of Honda's clutch control algorithm vs Yamaha's?

Total votes: 72

According to the 2014 rules the clutch should only be hand actuated with no form of electronic, hydraulic or pheumatic control or assistance. I suspect that with the amount of sensors and electronic control they have over the engine, the slipper clutch is a minor part of tuning if at all. That type of slip is not controlled by the ECU so may not mesh nicely with the programming for the seamless trans.

>>in 1964 any idiot could tell the RC164 was something from another planet to a Manx Norton. Can we say the same about the intricacies of Honda's clutch control algorithm vs Yamaha's?

If the rules didn't ban a cheap dual clutch system there would be visible mechanical differences to normal single slutch bikes. I recall hearing the commentators in recent races saying how impressive the wheelie control system is with the bikes having the front tire only mm above the tarmac for nearly the entire straight. I laughed! I then went and watched some 500cc races and it was amazing how ackward their power wheelies seemed to me today.

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

Total votes: 109

@ Cosman: I thought he explained quite well how what is "approaching the curve too fast" varies according to camber, weather, slope and friction, not to mention other road users. And that GPS accuracy is unlikely to attain that level of resolution any time soon. This incidentally mirrors what developers of "self-driving" cars are now coming to terms with - that automated systems are no where near handling real world variables.

And here's a link on trucking GPS

http://www.automotive-fleet.com/blog/market-trends/story/2010/04/the-dan...

that points out that the most significant gains (and perils) come from route optimization. BTW the LEAST accurate calculation from typical GPS units is elevation, and I seriously doubt truckers are encouraged to "speed up" ahead of grades to save fuel.

All of this overlooks the central thesis that OTHER aspects of technology (such as active suspension) might have greater cost benefit ratios for both manufacturers and users, than mythical turn by turn gains. This it seems to me, is the pragmatic outlook from Checchinelli that should be encouraged.

Total votes: 94

>>I thought he explained quite well how what is "approaching the curve too fast" varies according to camber, weather, slope and friction, not to mention other road users.

For MotoGP peformance levels, yes. For the much lower limits of road riders, no. An extremely simplistic implimentation could be to use some multiple (hopefully greater than one!) of the speed limit (already programed into most car GPS systems) as a recommended safe limit. A not much more complicated version would be to use the GPS/map info to get a turn radius which can give a safe recommended speed. Bikes could easily incorporate rain sensors like cars do. The idea is not for a fully electroniclly controlled system but one that makes sure the rider knows what he/she is about to get into before they are in the middle of it and I think current GPS tech could do that decently.

>>This incidentally mirrors what developers of "self-driving" cars are now coming to terms with - that automated systems are no where near handling real world variables.

Yes, as modern society has shown human control with electronic oversight has provided so far to be superior to either completely human or completely electronic control. And since you mention driverless cars, so far that seems to be a future that exists without a thought for motorcycles. If motorcycle manufacturers could show progress on location awareness and semi-active safety systems similar to those sprouting up on cars I think that would go a long way towards mollifying any politicians who think they know best about our safety.

>> http://www.automotive-fleet.com/blog/market-trends/story/2010/04/the-dan...

That is an article mainly about truckers using car GPS systems that do not have truck-only route information and getting tickets. Yes, routing is the most important factor for fuel consumption but do we then ignore everything else?

http://truckgps.org/improve-fuel-economy-around-hills/

>>BTW the LEAST accurate calculation from typical GPS units is elevation

The three coordinates of location that GPS provide all have equal error bars. Maybe the maps have poor elevation information but that can and will improve, especially as efforts like driverless cars progress and better road maps are inevitably developed.

>>All of this overlooks the central thesis that OTHER aspects of technology (such as active suspension) might have greater cost benefit ratios for both manufacturers and users

The combination of them all is way more powerful for future development than any alone.

>>than mythical turn by turn gains.

We can clearly see that TbT has real gains in the racing world otherwise the teams would not be using it. It does not take much imagination to see where it can provide benefits in the real world too. Especially with electronic syspension and ABS. The bike would know a turn is approaching and the rider is going fast so it would stiffen up the suspension to prevent excessive dive and the computer could integrate information from GPS and bike sensors to generate a very accurate actual tire diameter for optimum ABS performance throughout the turn. That is all easily done with existing technology and GPS resolution.

>>This it seems to me, is the pragmatic outlook from Checchinelli that should be encouraged.

Dorna needs to spend their effort expanding into populated and emerging markets and courting new sponsors. Let the manufacturers worry about relevance to road machines, Dorna has no business nor experience nor benefit in that area. They are new to WSBK, which is where any road-relevance discussions should be taking place. Switching to pay TV which limits viewing audiences and signing up new tracks in unpopulated or existing fan bases does nothing to ensure the future of the sport. Worrying about the specific technologies that Honda and Yamaha devlop for production bike sales is the last thing they should be concerned with.

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

Total votes: 92

Turn by turn on the road is less useful than having up-to-date information on the condition of the road surface, though the combination of the two would be exceptionally powerful. The current state of the road surface could be provided by data coming from all vehicles on the road, which creates the need for peer-to-peer networking and data sharing between vehicles. I believe that VW is already experimenting with this in Germany.

Of course, this is most useful in the context of self-driving vehicles, with the vehicle itself managing all aspects of vehicle control. But where's the fun in that?

Total votes: 98

Ideally, this comment:

" ... though the combination of the two would be exceptionally powerful ..." would serve as a powerful reminder of why you have to be absolutely sure that something won't be real-world useful before banning it. Turn-by-turn alone, the way that it is done now in MotoGP, would have limited road use. A GPS-based turn-by-turn system, combined with powerful TC, would totally rock for road use.

My suggestion that the manus give up turn-by-turn was in the context of negotiating with Dorna. Right now, better ABS (already on racebikes in other series, and stunningly good) and electronic suspension is closer to production-ready than turn-by-turn systems. But there will come a day when it will be not only ready for, but available on, streetbikes. Let a street-worthy system, capable of dealing with surface conditions, rain, etc., be developed in endurance racing. But MotoGP needs to understand the reality that road-relevant technology will render its racing machines irrelevant if it is not embraced at some point. And at that point, manufacturers leave. I think that is the underlying point Cecchinelli is making.

Lastly, in re: manufacturers just want to win: Oh no! If a technology helps a bike go faster, it will be used, and - once again - if you ban a specific way of doing something, you run the risk of forcing people to use a much more expensive way of doing it. The double-clutch gearbox ban led to clutchless boxes that cost more than a Honda vice president's house.

Total votes: 84

Mercedes' latest iteration of Magic Body Control uses stereoscopic cameras to read the road surface ahead of the car and prepare the suspension accordingly, and Rolls-Royce are using GPS connected to the transmission in the Wraith to make sure the car is always in the right gear.

Total votes: 77

That is just a Small Matter Of Programming. ;-)

Total votes: 72

While having technically aware readers is unquestionably a plus, and fun to learn that David was once an IT guy...

I think there is a richer understanding of what Mr C is doing, why and how that can be missed if one does not have a dynamic and flexible focus. If you remove your eye from a technical microscope there are real world matters in Mr C's hands. And if you are visionary, a microscope flipped around upside down might be a telescope. Specifically, quite a leap to go from an understanding and concern re the functionality and viability of the website based software creation process or trucking logistics software, bouncing off of Mr C saying he hopes to be rid of turn-by-turn but isn't sure if that will be the case, assert mis-management or lack of vision because of that rather than him declaring/indicating a semi-democratic collaboration to create Unified software. Extrapolating from Mr C's comments that he is getting DORNA into the business of determining what tech is applicable to road bikes? That could be seen as a myopic jump as well, and that he is actually referring to bumping back to the Manu's their own varied consuderations and stated priorities in order to carve it OUT of his realm but made as a political or counterargument statement to conjectured schtuff that Manu's say is their 'investment in racing.'

Forest and trees go together nicely. Me? I just plain old do not like or want turn by turn. An argument against me that either personalizes my level of understanding of it, or moves into the functioning and efficacy of it in other contexts, etc is missing something in my view. For one, it is making assumptions about my view, perhaps self-referentially. It is not doing a good enough job of getting or accepting my view.

While I am at it, same can be said for 'all or nothing' arguments. Sometumes even our wonderful readers fall into black and white or slippery slope reactions. There will be a process in which a collaboratively created Championship software (as it was called a month ago anyway) comes to be. Mr C is not ruling things in or out now ahead of it starting. He is process focused now more than outcome focused. An important point is that the outcome is going to be shaped via a process that he will guide. What is important now is that they shift from an email list to a website, and that it is working, and that we have all the players focus on that. He says that what they will find there is a prioritized set of electronics functions, and that they are dynamically inter related. There will be an actual aoftware that can be used by everyone for testing before the 2016 season. What all is in there is taking shape. Mr C is saying that it will be a further development of the Open software they JUST BEGAN to put together w Ducati content that isn't yet useable by everyone. What is CURRENTLY being used is version #6 as I recall hearing, and will change a bunch to be certain. He indicated that seamless gearbox is on the table, and that while he 'would like' TbyT off the table it is not yet. Every indication is that we are going to have a more limited functionality than 2014 Factory software. GONE are our considerations from just a bit ago of "WILL HONDA LEAVE?!" Kuddos to DORNA and Mr C.

Ok, now that is done with, as a SEPARATE matter -
I did actually travel at night on curvy highway 101 going south down the Oregon, USA pacific oceanside stealing good looks down at GPS on every straight. It was like having the 2nd person in the Rally Car "next comes a sweeping left of constant radius then a braking area." It was COOL!

;)

Total votes: 101

>>can be missed if one does not have a dynamic and flexible focus

Good one! Gave me a nice belly laugh, thanks.

>>Extrapolating from Mr C's comments that he is getting DORNA into the business of determining what tech is applicable to road bikes?

Mr. C: I think that we as the organizer should feel the responsibility of steering the investments towards road-relevant areas.

That is not extrapolation. It is a clear statment that Dorna feels they know what tech is applicable to road bikes and will try to steer development in that direction.

>>declaring/indicating a semi-democratic collaboration to create Unified software

Where did you get semi-democratic? Teams will submit requests and he will decide what gets done. No voting, no majority rules, noting at all democratic.

>>Every indication is that we are going to have a more limited functionality than 2014 Factory software.

What indications? Mr. C indicates 'Which means that we will have all the strategies, and they will depend on the position on the track.' The factories just agreed to freeze development in June, 2015, so the software that they will submit as the base for the spec software is still under development and likely getting more complex every time.

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

Total votes: 88

>>We can clearly see that TbT has real gains in the racing world otherwise the teams would not be using it. It does not take much imagination to see where it can provide benefits in the real world too.

Checchinelli explains; TbT has racing gains BECAUSE it is not GPS based (insufficient resolution), and this is why it has no real world application. Whether or not consumer-grade GPS might eventually become sufficiently accurate is moot, because this is NOT the system MotoGP is using or developing.

>>Worrying about the specific technologies that Honda and Yamaha develop for production bike sales is the last thing they should be concerned with.

I see your point, but I think his gist is that YamaHonda only care about winning. They don't care if the series is too expensive for other teams to compete and they don't care if its a show. Their goals are quite different from DORNAs goals. Checchinelli thinks that if there are incentives to pursue R&D that can benefit street bikes, smaller manufacturers will be able to rationalize the costs of competing. They can't do this when they need 5 techs to program the TbT for each race. And when the series devolves into only a couple of protagonists, the fans stay away, so it is most definitely DORNAs concern.

Total votes: 97

>>Checchinelli explains; TbT has racing gains BECAUSE it is not GPS based (insufficient resolution), and this is why it has no real world application.

No, that's not it at all. GPS enabled TbT software was in use and in an attempt to eliminate TbT mapping Dorna banned GPS on the bike except for their camera stuff in 2010. (http://motomatters.com/news/2010/12/09/gp_commission_fp3_reinstated_gps_...) The manufacturers worked up a way to get TbT without GPS by using the sector/lap timing signals. Both systems used the rear wheel speed and vehicle sensors (gyro, acc) to get better accuracy than the GPS or lap signals could provide on their own. However without the GPS every now and then we now see a bike lose its place on track and the rider inevitably drops down the order. So we have a rule that was instituted to prevent something which did not prevent it but forced everyone into a more expensive, less safe and less effective workaround. That seems to be standard procedure for any of these restrictive regulations. Seamless transmission anyone? A cheap, durable dual clutch system or super expensive, high maintenance engineering tour-de-force? Which one do you think the regulations permit?

>>Whether or not consumer-grade GPS might eventually become sufficiently accurate is moot, because this is NOT the system MotoGP is using or developing.

Any $100 consumer 20Hz GPS unit is sufficient right now. That's a GPS data point every 11 feet at 150mph with an accuracy of about 2 feet. It is more than sufficient when combined with bike sensors (dynamic and weather) to provide useful information. And it is not what GP is using or developing because the cheap technology is arbitrarily banned.

>>YamaHonda only care about winning

IT IS COMPETITON!!!!!!!! That's the entire point!

>>Their goals are quite different from DORNAs goals.

As well they should be.

>>Checchinelli thinks that if there are incentives to pursue R&D that can benefit street bikes

This is a straw man argument since in the past 20 years under the management of the MSMA street bikes have become safer, more fuel efficient, emit less emissions and more capable across the board. Street bike development is not suffering at all. MotoGP sponsorship and teams' financial health is. And above all, smaller MotoGP teams (who this is all about) could care less about developing street bike technology.

>>They can't do this when they need 5 techs to program the TbT for each race.

More straw. That cost is miniscule compared to the costs of competing in a global 'prototype' series.

>>And when the series devolves into only a couple of protagonists, the fans stay away, so it is most definitely DORNAs concern.

The years of Rossi dominance prove this statement to be wrong.

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

Total votes: 81

Please feel free to call me a jerk, technophobe, neanderthal man, idiot, stupid and even worse things but I stand by the idea that MotoGP is ultimately on its way to becoming a racing competition for electronic appliances on two wheels (that two might change, though). Just like cell phones evolved from being phones to cameras, map readers, radios, televisions, music and voice recorders, mobile offices and in the future may have other things such as virtual kissing which will be very close to the real one, have CAD etc, the engine in the motorcycle also will become the most unimportant part. In the future, racers can make tea and have while riding a race (the handle bar will be programmed to take turns go around bends just by the movements of the riders body), crash proof stability which will allow riders to read books while racing, pit stops where the tyres can be changed in less than a second or two and finally the rider will become redundant and so engineers sitting on the pit wall will race these electronic appliances. Honda and Yamaha will be at the forefront of developing this technology while Ducati, Aprilia and Suzuki will struggle to keep up with the leading two. Kawasaki will take to racing bulk oil tankers across high seas and bullet trains before it realises that nobody knows what Kawasaki is doing so they will get into the manufacture of motorcycles that can go without riders but will compete in the WSBK because they want their products to be relevant to the road.

I am old school, love two strokes and the kick they give you in the back side with their phenomenal power delivery and rely entirely on the rider to tame them. The golden era of MotoGP was when Wayne Gardner, Randy Mamola, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, John Kocinski, the great Mick Doohan, Alex Criville, Daryl Beattie, Luca Cadalora, Norick Abe, Pierre Franceso Chilli, Tetsuya Harada, Loris Capirossi, Max Biaggi, Tadayuki Okada, Noburu Ueda, Dirk Rowdies, etc were riding in any of the three classes and doing phenomenal things that had people sitting at the edge of the seats and biting their finger nails. I was and am a great Wayne Rainey fan but I grudgingly learnt to respect Mick Doohan, who at one race at Donington was almost completely of the seat but managed to pull himself back up and continue riding at the same speed as if nothing happened.

Those days the rules were simple, the costs were down, the riders exceptional and the racing so great that it almost was nerve racking. Kevin Schwantz riding the Suzuki like he was controlling a wild horse was a sight to behold, just as Wayne Rainey often on inferior machinery plotted his way through the race to defeat even the phenomenally talented Mick Doohan. Electronics is best left on house hold appliances, not brought into GP racing either on two or four wheels. I miss the beauty of simplicity. How I wish it were back.

Total votes: 114

I have a good suggestion for you! All those things you describe, riders controlling untamable beasts and doing things that have you on your edge of your seat, plus close racing? I suggest you watch MotoGP, it has all of those things and more!

Total votes: 117

Thanks for the good suggestion. I will do as suggested by you.

Total votes: 97

I wonder if he knows the FIM Road-racing Commission (CCR) is voting to change their name to Commission of Circuit Racing (CCR) at there next meeting in 9 days time.

"Reminder of the Minutes of the CCR Meeting of February 8, 2014 in Geneva:
The Coordinator tackled the subject of the name of the Commission, "Road Racing".
This name had an historical value but it did not correspond at all to the values and reference required by the FIM in 2014. Indeed, in 2014, no race was run on an open road. All were run on closed and protected circuits.
This name, although traditional and historical, needed to be changed (as many national federations had already done).
Delegates were asked to submit their ideas for a new name for the Commission that would better reflect its activity.
For 2015, the Director of the Commission proposes to keep the historical acronym CCR and styling the Commission:« Commission of Circuit Racing” (in French: Commission de Courses sur CiRcuit)."

http://www.fim-live.com/fileadmin/alfresco/Agenda_of_the_Meetings_of_the...

Total votes: 86

I was not much encouraged by this interview. After we got past the first part talking about a collaborative software tool (which, as someone else pointed out, could have easily been purchased from a number of vendors) all I really took from it is that he's not sure where it will start, not sure where it will go, only that for some unknown reason the spec GP software must be more relevant to road bikes and that he's the one that will evaluate and decide on what requests make it into the software, according of course to whatever/whoever's influences he's currently under. It won't be make for the smartest guy, but it won't be made for the dumbest guy either.

You would think at this point he would have an idea of what functions the manufacturers currently use that he will allow in the spec software, and those he will not. I didn't get that impression at all.

Total votes: 103

Ghostdog and Cosman I see this differently (wish there was a font for friendly tone, this is a warm message).

Mr C is taking a managerial tone putting together a group process for something not-quite-democratic but collaborative. Like a project group of middle managers being chaired by a VP sort of thing. Heck, when I put together our first annual neighborhood block party it was similar. I wanted EVERYONE involved and brought out their contributions, didn't want to do all the work myself, wanted good attendance, and it went pretty well.

I was concerned that the one bossy guy that has been here a long time would want to do JUST hot dogs and burgers, and be cranky about kids running around on bikes/throwing water balloons/drawing w sidewalk chaulk. They think it is 'THEIR neighborhood party' since they have been here long enough (Honda-ish). That other house is a bit racist. That other family isolates themselves (Yamaha?). Those two don't get along about some tree on the property line cr*p. And then there was the question of pets.

"I don't know exactly how this block party will look, but I am not going to let a water balloon toss contest turn into hoses spraying babies and old people (Suzuki and Aprilia?). I am open to pets and maybe we could do a parade with kids and pets. I think I can get the new neighbor to smoke ribs for EVERYONE (Ducati?) and perhaps even have the racist family sit and enjoy them because the new guy is African American from Mississippi.'

I pulled it off! GO MR C! Don't forget to tell Kawasaki you are happy to send over a hot plate of Michelins with a side of fresh side of integrated software to their front door, they might attend the next year when they sample it and feel welcome.
:) - I love this site and our community of ideas.

VIVA MOTOGP!!!

Total votes: 75

>>putting together a group process for something not-quite-democratic but collaborative. Like a project group of middle managers being chaired by a VP sort of thing. Heck, when I put together our first annual neighborhood block party.......

The problem with this perspective is that they are all competitors. They want an advantage over the guy next to them, unlike planning a block party.

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

Total votes: 81

I just assume that the article gives the gist of the questions and answers. Open questions are part of the journalists art and avoid simple Yes/No answers. I would be surprised if David wasn't doing as you suggest most of the time - the quality and news value speaks for itself.

Total votes: 96

I can outbrake ABS. one of my bikes has it and it's almost caused a highside because I was performing a panic stop (on purpose to test a recently built bike) and ABS kicked in, allowing the front wheel to keep rolling, and I almost went over the bars, and definitely missed a stop sign. On that bike, it cannot be disabled so it does more harm than good when I can achieve a level of performance more so than the machine in terms of braking. I don't need it intervening and it shouldn't over ride the rider's input. None of my bikes have TC either and somehow I'm still walking and talking.

Traction control on MotoGP bikes is mostly a performance gain. Safety is only a small portion. Keep the safety bit, toss the rest.
Ban turn by turn as well as it has 0 to do with a roadbike.
GPS mapping is garbage because a satellite does not know the current conditions of the road. I've got twisty bits I regularly ride that have been repaved recently and the Sat isn't going to know about that.

Without some intervention on electronics the series could just put chimps on the bikes, in a few years, and have the techs with remote controls in the pits.

Total votes: 76

>>I can outbrake ABS

It is a misconception that ABS is only to shorten braking distances, which is does not always do. Its main benefit is retaining the ability to steer and keeping a consistent trajectory by preventing the front wheels from locking up. A locked tire still has a decent friction coefficient so is helping the car to stop but it does not allow any deliberate maneuvering.

>>I was performing a panic stop (on purpose to test a recently built bike) and ABS kicked in, allowing the front wheel to keep rolling, and I almost went over the bars, and definitely missed a stop sign.

You were stopping near the limit of traction (high deceleration rate), the ABS kicked in (which reduced the deceleration rate) and you nearly went over the bars? How exactly is that possible? Not to mention that testing the stopping ability of a newly built bike where there is a stop sign (that you apparently went through) sounds like a dangerous test procedure.

>>Traction control on MotoGP bikes is mostly a performance gain. Safety is only a small portion.

Don't you remember the variety of highsides we used to see that are now pretty rare?

>>Keep the safety bit, toss the rest.

That's like when some prince or something told Mozart that his composition had too many notes and to take some out. Much easier said than done and in the meantime who gets to go for a moonshot?

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

Total votes: 100

This interview and the boat load of comments it has generated are excellent. Nobody is talking about particular riders; their behavior; their behavior toward a different rider; who is the best in the world; etcetera. This is the dialogue that first drew me to MotoGPMatters. Oh, and outstanding writing by the editor. :-)

Keep the comments coming, in a civil tone, because I think they provide David with more material to ask questions in the paddock and to find out things that are not covered by other motorcycle racing blogs/magazines. He sees where his readers want more elucidation and that becomes a win-win situation. He gets to talk to people about things they probably have not spoken about before, and we get to read/get answers to our questions (which usually spawn a new round of comments and questions).

David - two thumbs up! Keep it coming.

Total votes: 97

Motorcycles are unique from cars in that, three variables define the balance of forces around a turn. 1. Corners radius, 2. Lean angle, 3. Speed.

With corner radius obtainable from google maps using your GPS location and lean angle from your bikes onboard lean sensor, it is very easy to give warning of a safe speed at any moment, or for an upcoming turn, or for a user defined distance ahead by using a saved memory of rider typical demonstrated lean angle. Wet whether of course means you have to lean less, but even this can be figured if have a rain mode and then temp sensor for ice mode.

In racing Turn by turn is a poor mans patch anyway, a proper system looks at the bikes attitude. I think Honda are ahead here.

As for EU it will be allowed to have a combined front-rear system instead, but the real change is On board Diagnostics to monitor emision performance throughout the bikes life. More electronics, not less is the future for road bikes.

Total votes: 86

GPS controlled turn by turn isn’t really a viable option for the real world because of the number of variables. I’m sorry folks but it’s not just Speed, lean angle and corner radius. To say such a thing is like saying there are only three key variables to raising a child.

Out in the real world there are a nearly infinite number of variables. Tires, road surface witch includes different types of asphalt, gravel, sand and weather or not those roads are in good or bad conditions. Also we can’t forget things like bumps or debris in the road. Im not saying spending $100 trillion investing in new HD GPS Satellites and Drones that scan every road in the land for conditions isn’t possible but (and this is just me) it seems just a little silly.

The simple point I’m trying to make is that the best form of GPS i’ve ever herd of are those two squashy balls you see through and that other squashy pink thing between your ears. You judge the road conditions in a nano second by nano second basis. We judge the correct corner speed and we can make better assumptions and better predictions with our million years of evolution. Some of us like my dad like to berbal down the road enjoying the slow flowing corners of a lake side road but, for us on the other side of the coin it’s about leaning off the bike believing for those few moments that we are a MotoGP racer.

It’s important that we remember why we ride because I’m pretty sure it’s more or less somewhere between the two reasons I listed above. Who wants to be enjoying them selves on a beautiful deserted country road just to have your bike suddenly slow down by it self or distract you with a warning by the local council saying the speed for this corner is ludicrously slower then you know it is. Wheres the fun in that. If we want to be safe when we are behind the wheel or handle bars we need to put the phone away, stay focused and keep those eyes pointed in the right direction. Not to mention a healthy helping of self preservation.

Now with that out of the way I can certainly see and understand the need and uses of ABS and TC on road bikes. Those kinds of aids are just that, AIDS! They are not excuses for us to not know what we are doing or depend on. Its my biggest fear that in the real world many of us do exactly that. We get comfortable and are happy to just wave are hand and call whats happening witch craft not realizing that we totally F’ed up and the system saved our ass. We need to take responsibility for our riding and our mistakes. Personally I think ABS and TC should be on every bike but… Maybe we could just turn it off? Granted I know that kind of defeats the point.

Racing is something totally different. It’s an entirely different breed of animal. Because they are trying to make the bike go as fast as possible and not crash it creates an incredibly fine line riders and engineers need to manage. It wasn’t until (and i think it was a Rossi) interview where he said that he thought they should keep the TC for safety I.E. preventing high-sides but and kill the performance side of it. Rather stupidly on my part if finally started to make sense. I can’t really elaborate further in regards to Racing TC because I don’t know what I’m talking about :-p

Total votes: 101

and if you have either of those other things you mention (TC or ABS), then you have a great way of measuring it in-situ continually. And, yes every corner you enter is always a prediction based on what came before. Great thing about motorcycles is they can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to see them...the same can be said of raising children too.

Total votes: 68

The whole thing sounds very professional and handled by experts, until you realise that the 'new system' that Cecchinelli is trying to implement and get his head around in preparation for July 2015 is an out of the box Sharepoint change request system.

Are these people going to be able understand and properly handle the software that controls the best prototype motorcycles in the world?

Total votes: 73

I think there is a level of misunderstanding on the real capabilities of current electronics. Maybe it's too many sci-fi movies. Currently, Google's self-driving car is unable to distinguish between rain drops and collision objects. And that is an unlimited-budget project with the best mapping available. Allow me to remind that people drive completely off the road, in broad daylight, every day, blindly following their GPS!

Electronics are rider's aids, not substitute riders. Some folks just need to get over that 2-strokes, shitty rubber, pathetic suspension and carburetors are NEVER coming back to MotoGP.

Even in a collaborative effort, someone has to lead. Cecchinelli comes off not like a tyrant, but more like a steering committee, herding cats in a general direction. Maybe its messy from time to time, but its better for fans in the long term than no rules, or as it has been: rule-making by the perennial winners.

Total votes: 79

The assumption in much of this discussion is that control is bad and freedom good. You need to look for gaps (which is what good race teams do).
An example is Michelin - I favoured a more open approach to tyres that could avoid Tyre Wars 2. However, looking at what Michelin is up to in other series, their role might be significant. It depends on what their agreement with Dorna says, of course. They are developing race tyres for the Formula E cars that will do wet and dry, and last the whole weekend. If you think about what this might do for road tyre evolution (we already have very good wet/dry/handling performance available as well as decent mileage) as well as perhaps requiring all-weather brakes the possibilities are significant. This will inevitably reduce (if it happens) grip in the short term, which will make tracks safer and increase overtaking options. If they can get the grip back the implications for road tyres are huge. Ditto a tyre that performs but lasts all weekend, wet or dry.
Racing has little comparison to road riding. ABS will therefore operate differently. Like TC a racer will only want intervention at limited times and will take significant risks at others. That's not really road compatible. However, developing the algorithms and hydraulics (or full electrical operation....) that permit that fine control, can allow lock-ups when surface coefficient or trajectory allow, but unlock when turning or grip improves, by the millisecond. That could be good.
I was anti ABS, because of the reduced braking distances it could offer. If you offset that with reduced tyre grip you could still have the racing and rider skill, safer/non-obsolete circuits etc. Win-win perhaps.

Total votes: 83

One small addition. Antilock brakes are currently banned in MotoGP and WSBK, but they are allowed in WEC racing. And the BMW team has used it in competition there. It would be fascinating to talk to someone who has used that braking system in competition (and don't think for a moment that International-level Endurance racing is people just cruising around. Go look at the lap times from the Suzuka 8-Hour this year.)

Total votes: 73