The Moto2 paddock in Phillip Island was awash with rumors of cheating, and not for the first time. There have been accusations of cheating by Marc Marquez’s Monlau Competicion team running around the paddock for most of the two years the young Spaniard has been racing in Moto2, accusations which we have been reporting on since earlier this year.
The rumors in Australia centered round illegal manipulation of the spec HRC ECU fitted to all Moto2 machines. The German magazine Speedweek suggested that Marquez’s team had been able to load an illegal map on to the ECU, capable of overriding the quickshifter function and preventing fuel from being cut when the quickshifter was used. This, Speedweek claimed citing an unnamed technician, is what the Monlau team had been doing, and this explained his superior acceleration.
The advantage offered was that by not cutting the fuel injection, the air/fuel mixture was much better directly after a gear change, improving throttle pickup and helping to explain some of Marquez’s advantage in acceleration. The fuel map, Speedweek alleged, would be loaded onto the ECU before the start of a race, and would then automatically erase itself when the engine was switched off.
I contacted MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb for a response to these allegations. Webb prefaced his remarks saying that he had not read the allegations made in Speedweek, as he was not a German speaker, but was aware of the contents of the Speedweek report after being approached by the magazine’s editor, Günther Wiesinger.
The allegations, Webb told me, were in part incorrect and in part irrelevant. The accusations that the software of the ECU was being overwritten and then wiped when the engine was switched off were wrong, said Webb. “I am confident in the information from my technical experts (including the ECU suppliers) that the alleged rewriting of the ECU software, and then magically wiping it again is not occurring.”
As to the quickshifter strategy Marquez’ team is accused of employing, Webb said that it was not necessary to hack the ECU to achieve this. “Quick-shifters are ‘free’ [not defined as a spec part in the regulations], they are deliberately not included in the official definition of the Moto2 engine, so the team is free to choose their own solution. Whether they choose to use the quick-shift strategies included in the ECU is up to them,” Webb explained.
“In fact no manipulation of ECU software is necessary in order to use a non-Honda quick-shifter, which may or may not use the fuel cut strategies available in the ECU,” he continued. The quickshifter used by Marquez’s team had been submitted for approval to the Technical Director, HRC and engine supplier Geo Tech for inspection at the beginning of the season, as had the systems used by all the other teams. No irregularities had been found in any of the systems.
The accusations being leveled against Marquez and his team appear to consist of doing something that is completely legal. The Monlau team maintain that they prepare Marquez’ bike completely within the Moto2 rulebook. When asked about the allegations, a spokesperson for the team told me “the best they can do is to open the bike”. No doubt Marquez’s Catalunya CX Suter machine will be subject to a full inspection at the last race of the year this weekend at Valencia.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.