MotoGP: Riders Give Mixed Reactions to Spec-ECU News

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With the MotoGP paddock assembled at the Motorland Aragon circuit, the press got their first chance to gauge rider reaction to the proposal of a spec ECU which Dorna is looking to introduce into MotoGP, most probably from 2014. The reaction was guardedly positive among the MotoGP regulars, though all five riders questioned in the pre-event press conference raised concerns over safety. Only Jonathan Rea, standing in for Casey Stoner in the Repsol Honda team for probably the last time, dissented, believing that MotoGP should be a pure prototype series.

“If everyone has the same electronics, this will be positive for everyone, more positive for the ones who do not have the best electronics,” Jorge Lorenzo told the press conference. He was the first to voice safety concerns. “I think we have to try it and to see if we still have the same security on the bike. Because now we avoid a lot of crashes, especially highsides, and maybe with the standard electronics the bike is a bit more dangerous. Because now, the bikes are more powerful, we have more than 250 horsepower, so we have to be careful of these things.”

For Dani Pedrosa, many unknowns remained, but the experience from Formula One was positive. “It’s hard to say now because it’s a new thing, and nobody tried it, nobody know which challenge this new electronics will provide on the bike,” Pedrosa said. “Obviously it’s a thing coming from Formula One, and it seems like there it’s working. I’m not sure really who is taking the advantage or disadvantage, but it seems like they don’t complain much about that. But obviously a car is not a bike, so everything is unknown.”

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow was the most positive of the riders asked, but he warned that it won’t change anything at the front of the race. “I think it’s going to be the same for everyone, I don’t really have a big opinion on it,” Crutchlow said. “I think it’s a good idea, but it makes no real difference, you’re still going to see the same guys in the front. I think the guys who are fast in the championship are fast in the championship for a reason, not just electronics. I don’t think it’s suddenly going to make one guy at the back win the race. But I think it’s good for the championship, and especially the financial situation of everyone.” Never short of a quip, Crutchlow immediately spotted a business opportunity: “Maybe also a leathers manufacturer needs to make a parachute in the humps!” he joked.

Valentino Rossi, who has been critical of the influence of electronics in the past, was similarly cautious. “For me it’s quite early to say, to understand, because it depends very much on the product. I think it’s good to have everyone on the same electronics, but they have to study the right balance, the right level to make sure the bike is safe close to what it is now, but to have a bit less help and make the races more fun and have more fights, so we have to see.” The experience of Formula One was cause for optimism, however: “Like Dani said, when the idea first arrived at Formula One, there were a lot of people who said it was impossible, but at the end, it was possible, and also the races became more fun to follow.”

San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista’s main concern was with safety: “I think if you have the same electronics, for sure the races will be more interesting to watch on TV. But you have to see how safe those electronics are. I don’t know what will happen in the future, I think what is most important to the rider is the security, and it will be important to give us the security and the confidence to ride the bike.”

The lone voice of dissent was Jonathan Rea, standing in for the still-injured Casey Stoner, probably for the last time this season. Though he would enjoy racing whatever he was given, MotoGP was supposed to be special. “I’m a rider, I get paid to do a job and I do it,” Rea told the media at Aragon. “Whatever, I’m going to enjoy riding a motorcycle, but for me, it’s nice to ride the best a motorcycle can be, and that is with full electronics, full slick tires, the best of the best. It’s not about cutting corners because of this or that. For me, MotoGP is not spec ECU, it’s prototype racing at its best. But it’s pointless asking me, I’m not opinionated enough about it, but whatever happens happens, it makes no difference to me, it maybe makes some difference to lap time or whatever.”

Imposing a spec ECU could give Honda cause to consider their interest in MotoGP, Rea warned. “I think as a company, especially Honda – I’m not speaking on behalf of them – but it’s very important to develop new technologies so they can filter down to their customers. And they use MotoGP as that test ground. So if they have a spec ECU, maybe the grass will be greener in World Superbikes.”

Rea had an alternative suggestion for fixing the problem of boring racing in MotoGP. “I think the first thing you fix is the tire,” Rea told reports. “Because with the tire, the Bridgestone tire now, the level is so high, I think when you start introducing a tire with less performance – Bridgestone could produce a much worse tire – and let everyone go racing, and it will bring the racing together.”

Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

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