Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why the door was left Open for Ducati is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Why the door was left Open for Ducati

Dorna’s Open plan is to get all the factories using their software to make MotoGP racing closer and safer. Open this, Open that, Open the other; that was all everyone was talking about at Sepang last week.

Aleix Espargaró ended the test at the sharp end and ahead of three of the four Factory-spec Yamahas on his Open-spec YZR-M1. It will be a huge thrill to have Espargaró battling up front, putting a few factory noses out of joint.

The even bigger deal at Sepang was Ducati deciding it’s no longer a factory team but is instead an Open team. Honda and Yamaha are raging about this because the whole point of the Open regs was to give poorer privateer teams a helping hand, not to help one factory outflank the others.

That was the spirit of the Open rules, but Ducati’s new chief engineer Gigi Dall’Igna knows that racing isn’t about spirit, it’s about winning: you read the rule book, you exploit it to your advantage and who cares if your rivals hate you?

The big question, of course, is why weren’t the Open regulations written to prevent any renegade factory from exploiting them? It would have been an easy clause to include. Well, the truth is that no clause was included entirely on purpose and precisely to leave the door wide open. And somehow the Japanese never realised someone had left the door swinging in the wind.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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I personally feel that Ducati have done precisely what Dorna wanted them to do.

They want to reform MotoGP and bring the factories into line, rules which favour their chosen (Open) formula over the factory class will hopefully make Honda et al see sense?

I wish they would pay as much attention to that stupid one make class, Moto2 and get 500cc twins from multiple sources on track. Then we will have a championship series to be proud of, instead of a class for obsolete road bike engines which have no place at the top level!

but, that class produces the best racing of the day, and right now is the perfect feeder for Moto GP.

It being one make of engine presumably keeps the costs down and makes for closer racing, favouring the talent of the rider as opposed to the machine. They can use their own frame etc. Look at the size of the grid for it's popularity.

The focus needs to be a continued, staged and sensibly paced transition of Moto GP.

I applaud Ducati's deft move on this one, good article Matt thanks.

Dorna is asking factory teams to give up their fancy software for something else also very fancy. At the moment, I'm missing the point. Every team will need a very skilled technician to make it work. 12 engines, free development, will cost a lot of money. Nonetheless, exciting times, since apparently we will have 3 teams on the sharp end. Just not sure if this was Dorna objective, or more precisely, how other teams (Suzuki, Aprilia) will see this.

On the long run, if this trend continues, manufactures will have to design bikes for control tyres and software, with strict engine rules. I expect work around solutions similar to the seamless gear boxes since factories know that there is an advantage in doing so. Also not sure on how this will translate to road bikes. At least fuel efficiency and running lean have a direct translation to the real world emissions regulations. I also do not see the relevance of reverting technologies. Road bikes are becoming more advanced than prototypes. How long before BMW is putting out a road bike capable of lapping faster than a prototype?

Regarding Moto2, every rider jumping from WSS is saying that the bikes have less power, less electronics but that they are proper racing prototypes. Like you, I would prefer to see factories involved in all categories.

For the moment, I just want the racing to start! Only a few more weeks to go!

Yamaha did it, now duc does it, and suddenly Honda again is crying out loud!! Read the rules HONDA, and try to count laps to!

Yamaha did not do it. They were asked to bring 'affordable' bikes to the grid (theoretically slower than their factory machines). They did so by leasing last year's bike (apparently). The lease contract is not for 12 engines, there is no effective development for these engines and the bikes should be running less than 24 liters of fuel. Yamaha still has 4 factory bikes running on 20 liters, engine development freeze. Ducati are the only 'factory' on open.

Gigi speculated for months that Ducati may switch the factory bikes to the Open class so Honda & Yamaha were well forewarned that it may happen. It's too late to stop the horse from bolting but crying over spilt milk now makes them look like fools

Mat points out something that I think some people who are critcal of the Open class and cost-cutting in general are missing: there is more technology available than most teams/factories can ever hope to afford. That has created a severe competitive imbalance, with only Honda and Yamaha able to foot the bill.

This has always been the heart of the matter. And it's really no way to have a truly competiive racing series.

So far the Open Class strategy seems to be a stroke of brilliance.

With what may be projected is the seamless gearbox a for sure no, or a maybe w the championship software? What other important specifics are on or around the chopping block?
Thanks folks.

If the software does not allow it, then there is no straight forward manner. Speculating... there is time to be gain from this technology. Teams will not unlearn this, so I would say that they will create a work around solution to get the same behavior. Which will cost a lot of money!

There is no clear information about what the software allows to do. But MM just came up with a very trick inertia sensor, which allows for very trick software strategies. Mat was saying that Ducati are probably not using it. It's a factory, with a big budget, filled of skilled technicians. Doubt that they didn't got it working in a few days (hours even).

Hope this helps!

I really can't stand the links to MSM opening in a new window. This is 2014 and while motorcycle enthusiasts don't have the strongest reputation with computers, I'm pretty sure most of us have figured out how to middle-click a link if we want to keep the old website open. This 1995 web design tactic is long past its bed time.

P.S. I love the cross-sell to Mat Oxley - please keep them coming.

While most of us know how to open a new tab in IE or Chrome, I think it's nice that we don't have to and Mat Oxley's blog opens in another window without us having to do it.

P.S. I know more motorcyclists in IT than any other occupation!

While I agree with the need to reduce rider aids (making the safety as opposed to performance was brilliantly put), the lap times don't have to slow down that much to be the same as (or slower than) world superbikes. This would be an impossible situation for what is supposed to be the cream of motorcycle racing.

World Superbikes are also being slowed down, starting this year, and going full steam ahead next year with the EVO class (super stock engines instead of full-on superbike engines) being the only class next year. That gives Dorna even more room to slow down the GP bikes if they need/want to.

Yes, but that was well before the latest and greatest ECU software. Wasn't the new software (that Ducati helped develop) received just before the deadline of when teams had to decide between Open and Factory? If yes, that would hardly be enough time for Factory teams to analyze it and determine if it was suitable. Since Ducati helped in the development, they already knew the capabilities of the software..a bit of an unfair advantage.

WSBK is slower now, that why Ducati seems competative! not because of the progress!!