MotoGP has taken its first step towards the formal introduction of a standard ECU. Today, Dorna announced that they have reached agreement with Magneti Marelli to supply an electronics system to MotoGP teams for the next four years, starting from the 2013 season. To support the electronics system, Magneti Marelli will set up a MotoGP R&D center at their base in Bologna, Italy.

The system to be supplied is complete, and highly sophisticated. The system will comprise an ECU, a complete sensor package, data logger and all of the various wires and switches to make the system. The ECU on offer is described as being Magneti Marelli’s “highest technological option”. More importantly, the Italian electronics firm will supply full support for the ECU, both on and off the track, helping teams develop and set up the system. The system will be supplied free of charge to any team that requests it.

The system on offer will be supplied on a voluntary basis for 2013, with the teams free to continue to develop and use their own systems should they so choose. To allow teams to compete with the teams electing to use proprietary systems, the Magneti Marelli system supplied to the teams will be fully functional for the 2013 season. The Magneti Marelli system is the de facto standard in the paddock, with both Yamaha and Ducati already using a very similar system on their factory prototypes.

Though the press release does not mention it, the announcement marks the first stage on the way to the introduction of a spec ECU for all MotoGP entries. This same system, with a rev limit and restricted functions, will be made compulsory for all MotoGP entries. The spec ECU will be very similar to the system used in Moto3, where teams are allowed to change fuel maps, but not develop their own algorithms. Some level of traction control will still be available, but the parameters for applying it will be greatly restricted.

The argument currently is when the spec ECU is to be imposed. Dorna wants to impose a spec ECU on the series from 2014, but the factories are resisting. The MSMA, however, is split on the issue: Ducati is willing to accept a standard ECU, however begrudgingly, and Yamaha is prepared to accept standard hardware, but not standard software. Given that the hardware being introduced by Magneti Marelli is almost identical to the system being used by Yamaha, this should hardly be seen as a concession.

The fiercest resistance is coming from Honda. HRC have threatened to leave the series if a standard ECU is imposed, and given Honda’s massive influence on the series, this is a risk. Honda’s argument is that they use MotoGP as a platform for developing their electronics systems for use on road bikes, while Dorna points out that other manufacturers seem to develop their electronics system just fine without a MotoGP program. Whether Honda’s threat to leave is genuine or just bluster will come down to their judgement of the marketing value provided by MotoGP.

Source: Dorna

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • smiler

    Another nail in the coffin of MotoGP rivalling F1 of the motorcycle world. If the prototypes become more like the CRT bikes then what really is the difference between WSB and MotoGP. Moto2 and 3 never were the pinnacle of motorcycle sport.

    There must be other ways to reduce costs. They should go and talk to Bernie about it. He has managed to keep costs down in F1, keep it at the pinnacle of motorsport (however dull) and keep the teams coming in.

    Seems Honda develop their own electronics (?) whilst BMW use Bosch, Ducati and Aprilia use Magnetti Marelli. Yamahahaha Nippon Denso?

  • L2C

    Why would the factories want to spend money – a lot of money – to make Magnetti Marelli look good when in all probability their ECU will make the factories look bad? This doesn’t make a bit of sense.

    Is Magnetti Marelli quality control equal to Honda’s or Yamaha’s? And is the company’s approach to solving problems the same or similar to either of the two factories?

    I think the real risk is the factories staying on to actually see what the consequences are of using a standard ECU. After the standard ECU has been imposed on all teams, imagine the disaster it would be to see the factories withdrawing from MotoGP after the second or third race of that particular season. Imagine the factories also taking their satellite engines with them. It would be instant death to the sport.

    The problem in MotoGP is money. Not standard spec parts. All the bitching and moaning and blaming – with most of the blame aimed squarely at Honda – that the big factories are the ones who are killing the sport is bullshit. It’s bullshit because money is what makes the sport happen in the first place. Honda and Yamaha injecting more money into the sport, even if it is mostly in their own favor, and why have a problem with that in the first place, is a good thing.

    Man needs tools. Period. Ditto for the teams in MotoGP. Neither Man nor MotoGP stand a chance for survival without tools. Tools that they develop, advance and pay for with money and human capital is a vital necessity.

    The problem is not Big Red and its deep pockets. The problem is Dorna’s lack of creativity in solving the money problem. The problem is the CRT teams lack of creativity in solving the money problem. Hell, even Honda, and especially Yamaha, have the problem of finding creative ways to keep their respective teams properly funded. No one in MotoGP is immune from the challenge of creatively funding their teams!

    The imposition of standard spec tires didn’t solve the money problem, in fact it cost teams even more money. For a vibrant example, see Ducati. And the imposition of a standard ECU will not solve the money problem either.

    It is not that Dorna and most of the teams are bankrupt. The real problem is that Dorna and most of the teams have bankrupt imaginations. They cannot figure out ways to make (create) more money in order to stay competitive in the sport. The imposition of a standard ECU will most definitely not solve this serious problem either. The standard spec Bridgestones certainly failed to deliver a solution.

    Introducing a standard spec ECU will stifle technological innovation and have the effect of putting a Band-Aid on a patient with heart disease. If much more is not done to solve the money problem, cardiac arrest is more or less imminent and sudden death a real possibility.

  • David

    I understand the negativity. I lean that way also.

    But you guys evidently have not watched Formula One the last couple years. This year especially has been fantastic…..down to the wire….multiple winners and even…..PASSING….no shit. And the cars are still exotic works of art and technology.

    I sure hope this ecu idea works for MotoGP .

  • L2C: t

    The factories, by in large, are using Magneti Marelli ECU’s. Dorna’s move here is making those units available to the CRT teams, which are massively behind the factories when it comes to their electronics packages.

  • paulus

    “WE” pay for moto-GP. Every scheckle spent is charged back into the bikes we buy.
    The riders costs are massive.
    the Bike costs are massive.
    The way that they will get more money is charging more for new motorcycles….

    Screw that…

  • Westward

    Personally I don’t think the electronics are the big deal that people are making it out to be. The technology should alway come down to the bike. Electronics regardless of who makes them is a bandaid.

    By introducing a standard ECU the teams are now forced to win on pure engineering, team work, and rider talent. I think it will be good for the series in general. Look at this way, the stealth bomber and fighter are not aerodynamically sound. Without electronics and computers, both would drop like a rock out of the sky.

    Electronics in Motogp have been masking some flawed designs I would suspect. Unless the future of motorcycling is more like the stealth fighter, it really should not matter…

    However, on a more nefarious note, Dorna with the introduction of said units, might be able to dictate winners or losers more easily. Hopefully there are proper regulations and safe guards to prevent such a thing…

  • alex

    “while Dorna points out that other manufacturers seem to develop their electronics system just fine without a MotoGP program”

    way to make racing sound irrelevant to the biggest entities.

  • “There must be other ways to reduce costs. They should go and talk to Bernie about it. He has managed to keep costs down in F1, keep it at the pinnacle of motorsport (however dull) and keep the teams coming in.”

    Yeah, such as using spec ECUs (made by McLaren) and spec tires (Pirelli), along with an incredible list of restrictions involving technical development and reduced testing. Dorna, whether you like the organization or not, has been paying VERY close attention to what Bernie’s been doing in the 4-wheeled arena.

    David, up above, called it nicely. The last couple of years in F1 have made for excellent racing. This year, with the banning of blown diffusers, has been stunning even compared to last season, where Red Bull’s dominance was almost depressing. Next year’s restriction banning the so-called “double DRS” should tighten up the field even more, taking away direction from Lotus and Mercedes.

    You might be able to tell that I have zero issue with a spec ECU in MotoGP. Having limited traction-control parameters will be a boon for those of us who appreciate the back-it-in and spin-it-up of yesteryear. The factories spend a HUGE amount of money developing their traction control systems, which has a lot to do with why the CRTs are rather far off the mark.

    Bring back the days of customer bikes. Back when the grid regularly featured abundant numbers of wild card privateers on customer bikes, you occasionally got races such as Abe leading much of Suzuka before crashing out in spectacular fashion. Let a spec ECU even things up a bit between the CRTs and factories/satellite prototypes and let’s see some McCoy-esque slides already!