Mugello MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Value Of Teamwork, The Value Of Foreign Travel, And What Ails Yamaha

There are two types of races at Mugello: either a rider has their bike dialed in better than the rest, and they disappear off into the distance from the start; or a group of riders on different bikes find a way to exploit their strengths at different points around the track, and they end up battling from start to finish.

On Sunday, we got the second type of race. Five riders on three different bikes slugged it out for 23 laps, no one able to make a decisive break, despite several riders trying. Each bike had its own strengths and weaknesses, but those differences equaled out over a complete lap, leaving all five on more or less the same lap time. The race was decided on the final lap, by a brave and desperate move, which came off.

The race underlined once again what a fantastic track Mugello can be. It has a range of corners and a very fast straight, and the contrasts between the bikes were stark. The Ducatis could use their top speed along the straight, but also their ability in braking and in holding a line. Alex Rins used the agility and corner speed of the Suzuki to make good any ground lost on the straight to the Ducatis and the Honda. Marc Márquez used the power of the 2019 Honda engine to match the Ducatis on the straight, and the bike's strength on corner entry to hold off the Ducatis, and not lose too much to the Suzuki.

Ducati track?

Is Mugello a Ducati track? Danilo Petrucci's victory makes it three wins in a row for Ducati at the Italian circuit, and the second time an Italian riding an Italian bike had won the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. But it was also the third year in a row that Ducati had had two bikes on the podium: Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci in 2017; Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso in 2018; and Petrucci and Dovizioso again in 2019.

But it wasn't just the factory bikes this year. Jack Miller was in podium contention for most of the race, until he made a small mistake trying to pass Alex Rins with eight laps to go, and crashed out of the race. Pecco Bagnaia had a strong race until half distance, when he, too, crashed out.

They were two very different types of crashes. Miller slid out when he thought he saw a chance to get past Alex Rins. "I wanted to pass him in Turn 1 but it was going to be a little bit hairy that lap," the Australian said, "so I knew I had a little bit of time on my side, so I just planned it to be patient. And yeah, he just had a big lateral slide on the entry to Turn 4, where I crashed. So as he had that slide, he sort of lifted the rear first up, so I braked a little bit harder in a straight line. And then I thought he was going to run it a little bit wide and lose the momentum on the exit, so I was going to be able to square it and drive underneath him there. But as I released the brakes, I released them a little bit earlier, and there was obviously a little bit too much lean angle with it, and that was enough to just upset it. I tried to hold it as much as I could on the elbow, but it wasn't to be today. It's a real shame. Gutted for the team, home Grand Prix for us. It's a tough one, but we showed we had great potential again, it's just a shame it ended up like this today."

Bagnaia's crash was more of a rookie mistake, and perhaps a result of riding a GP18, rather than a GP19. "When I crashed it was because I was exiting Turn 15 not so fast and I had to brake so hard to recover a bit of the gap," the Pramac Ducati rider said. "I was a little bit wide and when I tried to close the line I crashed." He got out onto the dirty part of the track, and found it had less grip than he had expected.

Getting the holeshot

Perhaps Ducati's holeshot device played a part in Ducati's success on Sunday. Petrucci did not get a fantastic start from the front row, losing a couple of places off the line. But he lost them to two fellow Ducatis, Andrea Dovizioso coming through from ninth on the grid to come up to third, and Jack Miller getting past the two Petronas Yamahas on the front two rows to take fourth.

How good was Dovizioso's start? Judge for yourself. The Italian posted a video of his start on Twitter, show below:



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It’s interesting to read Dovi’s comments about his relationship with Petrucci. Is it true, or just a narrative that Ducati wants us to hear? But I’d like to think it’s true, and perhaps Dovi’s willingness to work with Petrucci is another side of the lack of “fire” that many attribute to him ... but also a sign that he recognizes that working together as a team brings other benefits. I can’t imagine Márquez and Lorenzo, or Rossi and Viñales, or Iannone and Aleix, working together the same way. 

Great insights, mate!

If Ducati has decided that the second factory seat next year will be based on a two wheel form of Thunderdome, they should not be surprised when their riders start grabbing axes and chainsaws in the process. Especially in Danilo's case, where it is win or say goodby to MotoGP (there are zero other options for him with every other competitive ride locked up for next year). Jack at least has the option of staying with Pramac with, one would hope, a 2020 spec bike. Danilo's option would be to team up with Bautista in WSBK, which is like being told they will not only shoot your dog, "but please accept this smelly hamster as a substitute".

So Petrucci's lunge at San Donato on the final lap was not only a rational move, but was really the only one that made sense. Besides, Danilo, not Dovi, had the correct tactics today, which were to attack Marquez whenever and wherever possible. I really believe Dovi needs to rethink his traffic cop strategy from the front. The tires are too good this year, Marc does not need to cannibalize his front tire anymore with the latest Honda engine, and you are leaving him with too many cards to play at the end of the race. The days when the last few laps went in Ducati's favor because they managed their tires so much better that they were unassailable are gone. Marc may not have as much tire at the end of a race as Dovi, but this year he has enough left to beat him. But by getting in front and increasing the pace, you make Marquez push, ride in other people's exhaust heat and cook his front tire, increase his chances of making a mistake, and leave him far fewer ways to attack on the last few laps. It may not succeed everywhere over the course of a season, but at least you are in with a shout at some tracks. Thinking you are going to beat Marc over the final laps, where your school-zone pace has left him with relatively fresh cool tires while he sits there and analyzes your lines, is a fool's errand.

The "Team" strategy is the right one for Ducati, and I have no doubt that that Petrux can ably fill the role of wingman. But not today. Because Danilo really loves that dog. Cheers.

Nice analysis re: Dovi's strategy. As you say, definitely looks like a different game this year, with Marc being able to keep up with and even pass the Ducati on the long straights thanks to the engine changes, leaving him with more rubber to work with at the end of the race. Not that faded tires have ever held him back from making bold last-lap maneuvers :)

And I always remind my husband near the end of each race, when commentators lament MM’s fading rubber: Marc doesn’t even need two tires.

I'm really interested in how this Japan trip turns out for Jorge. It seems like both sides are really going to throw everything they have at this bike so it’s eventually ridable for more than 1 1/2 racers. I hope that’s the case. 

I was hoping Danilo would find his way to the top step of the podium at least once in his career, and he's done it in the best possible way - in the dry, going head-to-head with the best, and at Mugello. I was emotional just watching his comments in the post-race press conference. 100% worth watching if you have the MotoGP VideoPass. So happy for him.

If you win in Mugello, you are basically a hero for the rest of your life (at least in some part of the world and even if this the only win). Like winning a Kitzbühel downhill in mens' alpine skiing.

Track temp was 122 degrees F. Toasty! Bye bye Yamaha temps.
Watched both sets of commentators. Sure love Hodgey. Qatar, Austria, and Mugello - the standout Ducati tracks.
Marquez was exploring the limit a bit. His front pushed a couple of times. His rear expressed interest in swapping ends once. A good handful of "moments" during the race, albeit typical-for-Marc ones.

The pass last lap Petrux stuffed under Dovi punting him into Marquez was a tad of an ask during the job interview. About as close as it gets without contact. Had it unfolded just a little bit more the Press Conference, Dovi was as stern as you can get and Danillo was nearly weeping.

So much emotion! Petrux deep appreciation for his win, wonderful beauty. Then Dovi frustrated passion, and a prostrate confessor in Petrucci thereafter. Marc immersed in the moment of racing, said more today than I have heard him in a good while. Watched it 3 times - The tension between Dovi and Petrux in the presser could have been cut with a CNC machine.

David, again by far the best questions in the press conference.
"Marc, did you notice front tire overheating like you had at LeMans? You memtioned having to ride in a different way to not overheat, esp when forced to ride in a group?"
Marc emphasized that he was ABLE to ride in a different way,

Marc - that his natural regular style "is the fastest" but that today he was struggling and had to work opposite his natural style.

Danillo, you seem able to hold a much tighter line through the long sweeping first and last corners than the other Ducati riders, how do you explain that?"
Petrux I always turn in to the inside and run an unusual line, it was a problem for me in the past for turning the bike given that I need weight on the back tire.

I have done MANY laps here, as a test rider over a 1000 laps and with Superstock. I can really follow the curb, (like making passes as with Dovi).

So articulate Marc today!
Linking corners by coming into corners with a tad less speed. With the Michelin we haven't been finding how to best use the front, not sure why. I still love Valentino of course. And I LOVE this Marquez kid, he is amazing. It would be preferable that he not get so well tipped for the championship at round 4 and get second at a bogey track, but the kid is just a fantastic motorcycle racer. And a good guy. Just like Vale was. A tad more earth bound and sweet, rather than saucy and festive. Let Spainish and Italian tabloids muckrake as they want, but we have been the benefactors of two once in a lifetime racers crossing generation battles like the most ruthless of alpha male beasts when one is aging. Both were bettered by it. One lost out off track first if you ask me, then on track, pointing out some colorful character. Which one could wonderfully expect when both were so fully and richly immersed personally in the sport.

I don't have my glasses and can't see my phone, sorry for the poor editing. Watching this a 3rd time tomorrow over lunch.

is it the trend too destroy ore suggest already.. that a rider like lorenzo  is trying to get a hold of the honda  when its not working yet ,

i means david is pointing it out that others a making such reports ,   just why ?  give lorenzo some time and it wil work .. 


thanks for the write up david good stuff

These days if you aren't at the front the first race out on a new bike you're a failure. It took Lorenzo time to get up to speed on the Ducati.... I'm definitely affording him that time and more on the Honda

He said it himself.......... his sensitivity to feedback from the bike makes him more valuable to bike development than guys like Stoner and Marquez. But HRC has to take his feedback into consideration for them to leverage that value. Since Marquez can basically win on anything I'd almost say his feedback should hold a lot less weight, unless the changes to the bike truly threaten his championship chances

... to keep him off a Ducati!  I suspect he'd have been going quite well if he'd stayed in red (or better yet, a lighter shade of blue).

I think it’s a fair bet he’d be winning races. Such a talented rider, but dumping Ducati was a typically petulant act and a great shame for the entire spectacle of the sport.

Can someone please get an interview with Kenny Roberts and ask him what he thinks of JL, JZ and AI? Uncensored of course. Cheers

I thought the same thing watching the race.  As David has written about before, the greatest riders find multiple ways to win races.  Dovi seems to have one strategy in mind, and its just not working this year.  Can Dovi actually beat Marquez?  The needle is starting to swing towards no.  Strategy and tactics are great, but sometimes you just need to rip the other guy's throat out. Dovi just doesn't seem to have the killer instinct.

Aside from Petrux, the ride of the day has to surely be Alex Rins.  His qualifying position didn't seem to matter nearly as much as his straightline speed.  I haven't seen the sector times, but he must've been scything through the back sections to even stay with the other three.  The championship is all but done, barring an implosion in the Repsol camp; but, right now, I'd be more inclined to put money on Rins to finish second than Dovi.

Yamaha is just a jumbled mess. There doesn't seem to be any consistency from rider-to-rider in their performances or problems.  Its hard to figure out just what is happening over there.

I really wish Dovi had hit the gas at that critical moment when they were three abreast in San Donato on the last lap. Instead he went for his instinctual white horse. It is just not in his nature to create conflict both on and off the track. He almost looked pissed at Petrucci on the cool down lap. He should look in the mirror (and meditate on the dark horse). Maybe this will inspire him for the future because it will probably arise again. Dovi said he can learn from Petrux...well Danilo should teach him some argy-bargy on the motocross bikes. Petrucci said in the press conference that racing is subconscious. Well maybe Dovizioso should channel just a little bit of the dark horse instinctive destroyer in all of us. And Petrucci should stop apologizing - there was plenty of space on the inside. It is very clear from the heli cam view. In fact Dovi was slightly ahead of Marquez on track just as he was getting squeezed by a couple of racers that were not going to let up. Dovizioso contradicted himself by saying it would have been a disaster if he had not let up. He himself said on Saturday that anything can happen in the race. All we really know is the reality of what happened and not what could have happened if...

There should be some kind of end-of-season award for most positions gained from qualifying to race results. Rins is kicking ass.


"I really wish Dovi had hit the gas at that critical moment when they were three abreast in San Donato on the last lap". That's precisely what Andrea Iannone would have done, and possibly have taken out himself and MM, too.

I seem to remember a lot of backslaps and congratulatory shakes between the Ducati Corse duo on the cooldown lap. AD hid his disappointment well, and in the post race presser too.

But you bring up an interesting point. What if Dovi's studied approach could be melded with the Assassin approach of a Marc Marquez? Could we his change his moniker from "the Professor" to maybe "the Hatchetman"? Would he have 22 wins on his resume? Last year Dovi tried to override the bike, to make it do what he wanted, which resulted in crashes instead of points.

Love all the different personalities. I wonder how Dovi would mix with Jack Miller? Not well, I imagine.

From memory David suggested the idea of getting in front of Marc. Particularly in regard to  Marquez's choice of front tire. Well four riders were able to do that, which is an achievement in itself. But the strategy didn't seem to work from where I was sitting. Maybe it did, perhaps that kept MM93 in check a little & meant Marc wasn't able to ride off into the sunset. As we see all to often.

Great race !

 Marc would have liked to win the race, but he didnt have to. He did need to beat Dovi, mission acomplished!

Three excellent points M. Blair, basically what was going through my mind during and after this spectacular instalment of our favoured drug.

I have always thought Dovi was not the outright bastard or whatever it is you need to be to strike killer blows at this level. I hope he can develop it because his speed is not an issue, just that final piece that a lot of you have mentioned.

Rins is just so beautiful to watch and his passes so clinical that our viewing group are constantly oooing and aahing in a combination of joy and disbelief. Hopefully the practice and quali issues get sorted.

Ahh, Yamaha - or more specifically the works team, as I think the satellite team are doing all that could be anticipated and more given the relative inexperience of their riders. I think we have all been guilty of expecting more based Quartararo's single unimpeded lap speed, but racing is a very different matter.

What is happening in the works corner redefines the word inconsistent. The constant moaning about the lack of engine would carry some weight if both riders were constantly near the front but unable bridge a gap to the front runners. But this is not the case, they are all over the place, one race world beaters and the next an embarrassment. They seem to specialise in guessing set up strategies, Vale in particular quite often not finding his 'silver bullet' till Raceday. I can't recall both bikes being quick straight out of the truck since Jorge was there. Maybe some very senior people need to be moved around or out altogether but something is rotten. It frustrates me so I can't  imagine what devoted Tuning Fork fans are going through.

" It frustrates me so I can't  imagine what devoted Tuning Fork fans are going through" 

And what to think of all the yellow dressed people at the Tribunes in Mugello.. and the doctor himself who sees the end of his career wasted again, not so much because of his skills or age, but because of the bike... could also have stayed at Ducati

Lyn Jarvis; his job was once the best MotoGp position. What a sad face. When was the last time he smiled on camera ?

Yes mtiberio I agree it's probably time for Jarvis to move on. Perhaps Valentino Rossi will do a better job as team leader & provide inspiration to those young guns. Better times are coming for the tuning forks.

So true! I honest to God watched the Ducati team reaction 100 times. Seeing that much joy and emotion was amazing. Watching the CEO of Ducati hit his knees while screaming to the sky was fantastic. I defintitely shed a tear for Petrux too!

Petrux was a deserved winner - and anybody that can put MM93 behind them for a win has serious game


I have been following MotoGP religiously since 2012 and that was it for me.  The on track action and the context of Petrucci's win - at Mugello, on a Ducati, the contract situation, and for his 1st win... you just can't script it. I didn't know whether to yell or cry. Unbelievable. 

Dovisioso's start!
Even though he hit T1 3rd, he had holeshat.
Inch perfect.
A race for the ages. 2017 and 2018 had them. We aren't done yet folks. This one had mystery and EMOTION.

So glad for Rins, and especially Danilo. Don't worry yourself on the job offer from Ducati, it is coming. And you and Andrea will keep getting on just fine (but don't expect so much big brother help now that you can steal his lunch money!).

Jorge is coming good now on the Honda, he is just getting comfortable. HRC appreciates the Spaniard. Cool move to have him be the overnight special package flying in and out of Japan.

The Yamaha situation, much to say another time. They are getting somewhere but have a big ditch to be climbing out of. Maverick not being able to start a race isn't helping things, he had demonstrated in cooler temps in FP that he had pace to fight at the front. No single person is the cause of Yamaha's ills. Who does what how to continue their 2019 comeback is still taking shape. The whole project has been restructuring. They are being methodical and focused. It is early yet.

Bridgestone "we couldn't get heat into the front."
Michelin "we can't keep the front cool."
Such contrast!

The GP19 can go faster in the turns but it requires using to much rear tire. In Qatar it looked like Dovi was willing to use the rear tire in the turns to keep in touch with Rins the few times Rins got in the lead. Then he could use the Ducati power to blast past the Suzuki on the staright. I saw Rins just as much of a threat in Qatar as Marquez. Maybe even more of a threat. If Rins could have gotten in front by the beginning of the second sector in either Qatar or Mugello then the race could have become very interesting. When Rins got in the lead at Mugello Dovi passed him back immediately. Dovi was murmuring about tire consumption Saturday. Why didn't Marquez take off at the front and try to make a break for it during the early laps of the race while leading? Must be tires. His bike was moving around a lot at the end of the race. Dovi has to play traffic cop. It's the nature and limit of the bike. He knows from experience that going to fast will use too much tire and he'll be defenseless near the end of the race. 

MM, great ! Petrucci ,stop apologising!   Dovi ,beige ,always looks like his bag of lollies has a hole in it!   Yamahas have needed about 40 hp from two years ago !

IMO Ducati don't have a World Champion rider unless Bagnaia becomes the goods & that is quite possible. Who will they replace Miller with - Marquez or Baldassari?

What is / should be pissing Dovi off over that pass is that it showed up very clearly that he hasn't got, & his teamate does have, the hunger to do whatever it takes to win.

I have always and still think that when Vale decides to stop racing he will waltz straight into the top job and Jarvis or whoever is in that role at the time will be moved on / aside.

By far best moment of the race has to be the Pramac crewmember giving the middle finger to the Official in pitlane when they were congragulating Petrucci.  Made me laugh out loud.  Had to watch over and over, hilarious!!

MM93, AD04 and DP9 all rode great races Sunday but simply put, Petrux was faster and more appropriately and CLEANLY aggressive.  Period. If Dovi truly feels that Petrux should have backed off shame on him and Ducati. We are only in the first third of the season - too early for team orders! Maybe Ducati should have posted a position on a job board similiar to ‘in search of supplicant racer for donky work and hand holding’. 

i respect Dovi a lot - who else has taken it to Marquez as frequently as him over the past few years? But he has not won the premier class championship yet and he was beaten Sunday. All is fair in love and war.

And on Jarvis, i haven’t understood how he has his job for several years now. Who else has watched over one of the most dominate teams become a frequent target for KTM and Aprilia. He must have pictures of someone involving a german shepherd!

The problem with Yamaha in Motogp may reside higher up than Jarvis's position in the paddock. Kevin Cameron's article summarizing the Mugello race weekend at cycleworld delves into the culture of top level motorcycle racing departments. Interesting read.   

Every bit as brilliant as advertised. The quotes from Marquez should send chills down the spine of every other racer on the grid.  He was his own worst enemy before.  When he makes a conscious decision to settle for second with an eye on the championship, there's not anyone that will beat him over the course of a season.  It was also an interesting point on the acceleration of the Suzuki versus the top speed.

Yamaha - much has been said.
Brief note, what Jarvis said late Winter:

"In Japan we have seen there is a new organization, a fresh organization, headed by Kouchi Tsuji, we have two people in particular who have joined us. One is Mr Itou who is the General Manager of Motorsports Development Group, he is new this year. And we also see the group leader has changed to Mr Sumi.

“These are two key things in Japan. Another change that is very important is the interaction between Japan and Europe. So Japan is primarily responsible for the development of the bike, but now the engineering section of Yamaha Racing takes on a more significant role in the future. So we have a vehicle dynamics group there, and we have an electronics management group. We are expanding in Europe, in Italy, so that interaction between them is very important.

“We also have a test team, we’ve always had a test team in Japan in the past, in particular with Nakasuga, but we have now taken a European organised test team to bring that final piece of testing closer to the level of our Grand Prix riders. That is Jonas Folger and that test team will be organised in Europe."

Two key Ts people were moved out of leadership positions. After the uber successful and well documented revolution bringing their MotoGP project to the front there was an adherence to leaving that bike formula sacred. For several reasons. Regardless of wby, the what is that they did not evolve with the new era of Michelin and championship electronics being two steps back from their proprietary system in function possibility. (Honda transformed their bike radically). Over-dependence on electronics for tire management and getting power down on drive out was like an addiction, and a few key staff refused to alter the previous era's "golden formula" of their nearly-worshipped predecessors.

They are still trying to play catch-up to the 2016 competitors. Tire management has come back to good. But only in cooler normal grip track surfaces can they get sufficient power down w/o spin (previously) while maintaining sufficient front end adhesion/feel (right now) even though drive traction is a strength of the Michelin. The chassis is still much alike a Bridgestone stiff flex bike. A looming issue is that the 2016 Yamaha they are working towards returning to was down on usable horsepower to that of competitors. A VERY big and impressive gain was made by Honda and Ducati there. Suzuki came and passed the Yamaha in ALL the areas we are discussing, now the best Yamaha on the track is under Rins (albeit with a very workable Q concern).

The changes in Yamaha have been made. The changes in the bike are underway. The changes in riders is going on as well. All of this a bit late for Zarco but right on time for Quartararo. The bike is coming good.

Jarvis isn't likeable. But he isn't the villain here. He is a part of a bigger complex structural dynamic that was VERY negligently late in making important changes. Nor should we be blaming Vinales or Rossi for lacking development vision/skills, for attitude problems, ego/power struggles et al. They are nearly losing their minds in there. And careers. And maybe a body that functions better than a crippled one.

I appreciate your comments and insight and appreciate your quoting from that article; i remember it well. And i agree that Jarvis is not likeable! I met him on a plane once and he was pompus.  That all said, my opinion is that a manager’s role, or in this case, a racing director, is multi-foldfold: managing up through corporate structures effectively (and of course, managing down); anticipating problems; sourcing revenue and development. I believe that Jarvis has made a lot of mistakes here. He may well be the tail waging the dog in Japan, but he has not been able to provide for his team effectively. The team was also out-gunned with the adoption of the spec ecu which indicates to me he did not foresee the problems the unifed system would prevent. I also believe he was watching innovation & development take place all around him but did not change direction. Ducati has been running multiple spec bikes to increase feedback as Honda has done. Yet Yamaha continued to run only two factory bikes and two customer bikes. You can’t develop / iterate with old customer machinery. In all, i feel that Jarvis was plain outplayed by his competitors.

thank you to the others for the article 


^ Agreed on all counts re his shortcomings! Just hedging causality given the context.

He underfunctioned and enabled. It pleases me to see the Petronas team, good for Yamaha! It pleases even more to see them best the factory with less, and point out some nonsense.

(My favorite guy is Davide. Yet, I wonder if he might be underfunctioning a bit w managing up and out at Suzuki as well?)

A reorganise in Japan is all well and good.

Using Team 46 as an example, how does that help when they appear to have the tools at the track but can't put their finger on even a base setting after being very rapid last year in both quali and race? Yes the chassis may be slightly different and tyres also but everyone else seems to arrive near their maximum level quite rapidly using a combination of inputs then just fine tune or maybe an experiment or two. The works team seem to be starting from scratch every meeting and generally looking lost whereas Petronas seem to be on it straight away.

Btw the happiest by far I have seen Jarvis this year is in the Petronas pit.

I can’t help wondering whether Quartararo, Morbidelli, Rins etc are showing something about the factory Yamaha team that is counter to what we might expect. It’s always been an article of faith that the very best riders get the factory rides and the satellites are, to some extent at least, ridden by lesser riders. A couple of years ago it was taken as writ that Viñales was the next big thing, the new alien, who would set the world alight once he was astride the factory Yamaha. But after the first few races on the yam he faded and has always, since then, been outperformed by Vale in the round. Which means Vale is the best Yamaha have got on a factory ride. But is he now being out ridden by the new young guns, and if so, doesn’t that mean they are also more than able to out-perform maverick? All of which suggests Q & M (and some others - Petrucci, anyone? Zarco?) might be doing better on the factory bike than VR and MV, and that despite some obvious shortcomings in the bike itself, this may only be half the problem.

Im saying this because I feel sure the younger Vale would have found a way to stop Rins winning at Cota, despite being on an inferior machine. Like Márquez, he has always been able to win in any number of ways, a complete package, but the numbers don’t lie and each year now he slips down the ranking just a fraction more. As a fanboy it would be a treat to see him win one race this year, but I wouldn’t put money on that happening. And Viñales wouldn’t be the first superstar whose light faded after quite a short time - I may be mis-remembering but didn’t Freddie spencer only have one year at the top before disappearing, same thing for KR junior. I guess the point I’m making is that it may be a mistake to think that because both Vale and Viñales are struggling, it’s all about the bike - it may be that neither are now able to get the best out of the bike, for slightly different reasons, age on the one hand, talent on the other, whereas others might be more able to ride around the problems within the bike.

Of course I would be delighted to see Vale prove me wrong (again), he remains an extraordinary rider by any standards, who on the right day and right track still has the ability to win, but I don’t have much confidence this will happen again this year.

No better place to put this, so plunking it here.

There has been zero consideration of the 2018 Secondary Duc/Honda piggyback electronics going away. They had been using their own to optimize further. We expected a noticeable loss for them this season. Remember?

Is this a part of Suzuki's relative gains? Is Yamaha so adrift that it isn't relevant? Was there so much as a noticeable blip anywhere on any measure?

It went POOF

The Honda/Ducati piggyback electronics were never confirmed, only rumored.  A just as convincing argument could be made that it was Yamaha that was using the extra electronics.  The argument would be that in previous years they wasted too much time and effort trying to hack the spec electronics and made their lives too complicated to be effective.  This year they are starting over and are even more lost.  I think that story better explains the situation of the last few years.

Yamaha was using one of the most advanced IMUs available on the market. There is an oft-repeated shibboleth that Honda and Ducati were gaining a gigantic advantage from using the IMU as a piggyback ECU. I have never seen any corroboration for this. As far as I know, Yamaha and Ducati were using the same IMU, and yet Yamaha had massive problems with tire wear and Ducati didn't. 


We are into way insider knowledge and contentious shadowy bits here, eh?
The consensus in published pieces with a name on them indicated that Honda and Ducati had advanced IMU's, and that Yamaha did not. Market?! They weren't made in house and treated like Area 51 secrets?! Someone sold them to them?

I follow this stuff like some people follow their own stock portfolio. David, have you been keeping some of the good stuff in reserve in the back for special guests?! Are we sorting tribes?

"In the story, two Semitic tribes, the Ephraimites and the Gileadites, have a great battle. The Gileadites defeat the Ephraimites, and set up a blockade across the Jordan River to catch the fleeing Ephraimites who were trying to get back to their territory. The sentries asked each person who wanted to cross the river to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimites, who had no sh sound in their language, pronounced the word with an s and were thereby unmasked as the enemy and slaughtered."

Okay, I will start. TURN BY TURN. When electronics started knowing where a bike was on track, it crossed a threshold into darkness. No need to retreat into 2 stroke "discovering fire" regression. Nor let things go into "anything goes prototype" madness.

There was a sin. Turn by turn, they took a bite of the apple. The secondary piggyback IMU? Apple. Four Honda/Yamaha factory bikes can win races? Sin. Honda manipulation of the MotoGP rulebook to further their own dominance? Fascism. Yamaha signing off on it? Adam's apple. Honda threatening pulling out of the series if they don't get the engineering challenge of such electronics? Abusive manipulation via apple.

Wee Ducati coming through this duopoly standoff and having the best bike on the 2018 grid? David slay TWO Goliaths? Orange. Er, Red.

You have some explaining to do mister.

Back when I was an IT consultant, I would sometimes have to attend extremely tedious meetings with clients. When I just wanted them to shut up so I could go home, I would start throwing in jargon, knowing that it would intimidate them into silence. They would know that if they asked questions about what I just said, their lack of knowledge would be exposed. So they nodded their heads sagely and shut up. I never gave incorrect or inaccurate information, I just passed on correct information in the least comprehensible form.

The secret I had discovered is that for most people software is voodoo, a dark art which functions with no visible or obviously comprehensible way of explaining it. It must be the work of Belial, as that was an easier explanation to accept than the simple application of structured logic through a formalized language. The latter allowed even an idiot like me to create software which magically transformed inputs into useful outputs.

This ascribing magical properties to electronics in motorcycles is similar. Fans hear buzzwords and are led to believe that electronics can convey a 50% performance advantage. That is not the case, in any number of aspects. 

Firstly, motorcycle performance is simple: the bike moves in 3 dimensions, and is capable of producing acceleration or deceleration in all three of those axes via different processes. Forward motion is managed through the engine, the performance of which is managed by controlling the mixture and quantity of fuel injected at any point and the ignition of that fuel mixture. Tires provide the grip which allows a motorcycle to move in any particular direction. Tires wear out, and the object is to arrive with just enough tire to cross the line.

Of course, as anyone who has played pool can tell you, when you have more than 1 input factor, things become exponentially complex in a very short time. Motorcycle vehicle dynamics is arguably even more complicated than aircraft dynamics, because of the specific constraints on propulsion, braking, and turning demanded by the fact the bike is racing on a flat surface, while operating in three dimensions. Controlling vehicle dynamics is done in large part (but by no means exclusively) by the ECU, managing power delivery by controlling fuel mixture and ignition timing.

The IMU is a small computer, which talks to the main computer of the ECU. It merely passes on the attitude of the bike. Clever IMUs allow clever programmers to anticipate what the bike might do next, and pass on a message to the ECU, fooling it to do something later than the ECU would do of its own accord. But the intelligence is in the heads of the engineers, not the IMU itself. 

But again, like all things, we are not talking about huge advantages. We are talking about small fractions of a percentage point. Like Pol Espargaro's carbon swingarm, the advantage is not a tenth of a second over a lap. It is giving the rider the ability to be nearly as fast at the end of the race as he was at the end.

There are no silver bullets in motorcycle racing. Just fractionally more accurate pistols. 

(Looks like I was wrong that Yamaha didn't have the piggyback IMU. I can see why they didn't want to talk about them for obvious reasons. Surprised I missed that I guess).

And...riding a 2010 CBR1000RR vs a BMW S1000RR? The latter certainly had a silver bullet. A mortal could give it a bunch of throttle at lean and end up with an oddly well managed bit of slide.

And, there can be a quantity of functionality reached that is qualitatively different relatively. An IMU is fractional, sure. But the previous era's Suzuki Mitsubishi relative to the Honda or Yamaha? Silver bullet.

I sincerely care a great deal that we maintain a rulebook electronics threshold at which 1) riders are making the difference, and 2) a couple of exorbitant factory budgets can't make an electronics package that is untouchable by the rest. 3) Particular functions are just generally unsavory to a panel of peers sort of review. Turn by turn? Should have gotten taken out behind the shed and given a lead bullet upon arrival. The Honda rulebook dictatorship era was BAD unless you think the race takes place on a computer. (My Grandfather was an aeronautical engineer, father aerospace engineer, and neither could hardly ride a bicycle nor be endured for conversation btw. And obscuration tech babble gets them out of our conversation rather than the other way around).

As the ever demure reticent Scott Redding said a couple of days ago:

“To be fair, I fucking hate electronics… I mean, I fucking hate it! So, having a bike with no electronics on it the first day, back then they wanted to add them [to help transition] and I said, ‘mate, fucking take them off!”

“I know I've got experience, I know I've got more electronics and it's going to be different and I came up and said ‘fuck that’, it's all in the hands every turn is different and it brings purity out of a rider,

“That for me is racing, it makes more real for everybody. What you’re doing with your hand is what's happening at the rear wheel and the front wheel, you can't slack at all. The thing is with electronics is you get a bit fucking lazy and you know you've got a routine. You are doing 125 laps and you can do that 10 laps in a row, give or take three tenths because you know you can do that.

“But when you don't have electronics you need a little more you've got nothing that's going to save that slide, if you don't do it correctly. You’re going to lose speed, so you have to be very on what you actually do on the bike."

Your work David, it is WONDERFUL. Thank you SO much. Motomatters is a fantastic site. Glad you are finding sustainable work flow practices. You never get to retire you know. Take your vitamins, drink some carrot juice, move in with Dovisioso for Winter, whatever you have to do!

I think Dovi is taking exactly the right approach: you can’t out-Marquez Marquez.
People have short memories, by this time last year Dovi’s championship was already in tatters after a string of early DNF’s. He knows the only way to beat the Honda/Marquez machine is to STAY ON THE BIKE.
The alternative is to be the MotoGP equivalent of Chaz Davies battling Rea in WSB: wins get you nowhere if they are littered with DNF’s, and completely relieve any possible pressure.
The methodical approach is what got them so close in the past, the do or die approach is what previously destroyed his chances, to suggest he needs to throw caution to the winds at this stage of the championship just befuddles me.
Marquez is the ultimate apex predator, you aren’t going to win fighting him tooth and nail, but if you are smart and put yourself in the right position at the end of the season anything can happen. To do that YOU MUST STAY ON THE BIKE. A DNF from Dovi (or any close challenger) is like blood in the water to a Great White: game over.