Carmelo Ezpeleta

Ezpeleta: "The Electronics Aren't To Blame"

There are many people around the world with opinions about MotoGP - some more informed, some less - but there is one voice that is always listened to, when its owner chooses to speak. That man is, of course, Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna, the body which runs MotoGP. Ezpeleta is both admired for the huge strides in popularity and exposure that MotoGP has made under his leadership, and despised for what some see as the crippling of MotoGP, by switching from the old 990cc formula to the 800s.

Ezpeleta's critics' greatest fear is that he will continue to meddle with MotoGP rules, in the hope of achieving certain competitive outcomes. Both the new tire regulations and the switch from 990cc to 800cc were done on the pretext of safety, in the hope of slowing bikes down. But the cynics take the fact that both the 800s and the new single tires have seen lap records shattered as proof of their argument that Ezpeleta is interfering in the hope of making the racer closing.

The Spanish MotoGP chief has made no secret of his desire to limit the role of electronics in racing, but in an interview with the Spanish weekly magazine Motociclismo, translated and annotated by Speed TV's Dennis Noyes, Ezpeleta reveals some remarkable insights.

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The Thin End Of The Wedge - Electronics Next Target For Ezpeleta

One of the main arguments heard against the introduction of a single tire manufacturer was that any move to standardize tires would turn out to be just the first of a range of rule changes aimed at making the racing closer. Once Carmelo Ezpeleta got the tire rule through, ran the argument, then after that, he would try to introduce rules on traction control, electronic suspension, a standard ECU, until he finally achieved his goal of close racing, like we had in 2006, the final season of the 990s.

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Please, no more "spec" talk!

For those fans of MotoGP who aren't properly afraid of Dorna's desire to imitate Formula One, rather than maintain a superior product, perhaps this news tidbit will shed some light on the road we have feared all along.

Now that Formula One already have spec-tires and spec-ECU's, and now that Dorna are seeking to establish both in MotoGP, this haunting promise/threat was issued from the Great Fiasco Machine himself, Max Mosely (speaking of a spec-engine formula, where "manufacturers" simply "re-badge" a spec powerplant, and presumably KERS is no longer life-threatening):

"I know there are those who say this is not the right move, but I'm talking about the real world. If Volkswagen, say, can buy a {road car} engine less expensively {than to build one}, they'll undoubtedly do it. After they put a VW badge on it, it's all the same. Unless we think very seriously about cutting costs, in the next 10 years, we'll be in trouble."

Considering that I proposed something akin to this a year ago for MotoGP - as a joke - I wonder why Mr. SS thinks people will pay to see a world-wide spec series any more than they didn't to see a U.S. one. 

Please, Mr. Ezpeleta, see this path for the foolishness that it is and quit now while you are still ahead!


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Last-Minute Bailout Fails, Single Tire Rule Comes To MotoGP

After all the speculation, machinations and backroom dealing, the deed is finally done. This morning, 9am Japanese time, the Grand Prix Commission, the body in which teams, manufacturers and organizers decide on the rules which goverrn MotoGP, decided unanimously to switch the series to a single tire supplier. The Commission issued a timetable for the switch, which requires proposals from tire manufacturers to be submitted by October 3rd, the Friday of the Phillip Island Grand Prix, with a decision on those proposals from the Grand Prix Commission due on October 18th.

Michelin has already announced that they are considering submitting a proposal, and Dunlop Racing's Jeremy Ferguson told Eurosport commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder during the broadcast of the 250cc race that Dunlop was not interested in being the supplier for the MotoGP series. However, the favorite to get the contract is Bridgestone, as any other outcome would be unpalatable for the big name riders who have publicly switched to the Japanese tires in recent years.

The change will also mean the end of qualifying tires. With the FIM and Dorna effectively having control over the supply of tires, they will be able to restrict the types of tires available, and ensure that soft tires which only last a single lap will not be made available to the teams. According to Ezpeleta, the qualifying format will stay as it is, a single, hour-long session on Saturday, but qualification will be done on race tires.

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Bridgestone Likely To Be MotoGP Single Tire Supplier For 2009

The switch to a single tire in MotoGP is moving from the probable to the inevitable with some alacrity now. There had been rumors that an announcement would be made at Motegi, as discussed earlier, and now, more details are starting to emerge.

One problem with the proposed switch was that Bridgestone, the tire company that the teams and riders preferred, had professed that they weren't interested in providing tires for the entire grid in MotoGP. This would have meant that though the riders would get the single tire that 17 out of 18 of the MotoGP regulars had backed, it would most likely be provided either by Michelin or by Dunlop.

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Single Tire Rule To Be Announced At Motegi?

A year on, and the more that things change, the more they stay the same, at least in MotoGP land. Paolo Scalera is reporting that once again, Dorna are threatening to impose a single tire rule at a meeting to be held at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

The problem, according to Dorna, is one of safety. The competition between Bridgestone and Michelin has reached such a peak that corner speeds are increasing almost month by month, and with them, the speeds at which riders are crashing. The only way to reduce corner speeds, or at least stop them from increasing, is to put an end to the competition between tire brands.

The  general assumption is that any single tire contract will be awarded to Bridgestone, but Ezpeleta denied this. The contract to supply tires for the series will be opened up for general bidding, with the main stipulation being that all teams will have access to the same tires, and tires will be supplied to the teams for free.

But much to the dismay of Bridgestone's current crop of riders, Bridgestone have repeatedly stated that they have no real interest in being the single supplier for MotoGP. The Japanese tire maker see little advantage in producing tires in a series with no competition, and one which would cost them significantly more money without aiding tire development. Michelin would be the obvious candidate for the role, having currently been forced out of most other motorcycle racing series by the imposition of a single tire rule there.

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Spec ECU Again?

The renewed suggestion from Carmelo Ezpeleta, that a spec-ECU needs to be forced onto the manufacturers, has crossed over from "concerning" to insulting, disturbing, and offensive. For some background on my opinion, I'd like to refer you to my thoughts at the beginning of the year.

The pervasive or ubiquitous use of the phrase "traction control", when speaking of a problem with the quality of MotoGP racing, is a red herring, at best. Second only to the even more nebulous "electronics", it is now used as a pejorative, intended to suggest that the riders are not in control of their machines and that this is somehow the fault of everyone but the governing body for the sport. Every team is confronted with the same issue: the electronics are more intrusive in the 800cc era so that the bikes can finish the races on artificially small fuel loads.

I'll put this another way, in order to be more blunt: attempting to call this "traction control" is fraudulent. Rev-limiters and throttle-limiters functioning as fuel misers have overlapping benefits with traction control mapping, but the objectives are different. As Jorge Lorenzo has shown us, a bike can still high side while "thinking" it is saving fuel and "controlling traction". Anyone suggesting that a spec-ECU is the solution to overly paternalistic electronics, or excessive cornering speed, is (L-Y-I-N-G) not telling the truth. A rough equivalent would be to feed a child only rice and water and then begin to lament that he or she is problematically thin. Believing that a subsequent change to "homogenized rice" will solve the problem would be considered sophistry by anyone observing from the outside. This is obfuscation, and an inquiry into motive is begged...

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Dorna Chief:"A Spec ECU Would Be Better, But It's Difficult"

Eighteen months after the MotoGP class reduced its capacity from 990 to 800cc, ostensibly in the name of safety, the number of worried faces at Dorna is increasing. It's been 29 races since a race was won thanks to a pass made on the last lap, and complaints have been growing that MotoGP has lost much of its former shine.

As always, whenever there's a problem, the search starts for a culprit - or at least a scapegoat - and the current favorite explanation is the growth in scope and power of electronics, with special scorn reserved for the role of traction control in MotoGP. The increased sophistication of electronics is almost universally blamed for the dearth of close racing over the past season and a half.

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Rusty Writes - Advice For Carmelo Ezpeleta about Standardizing ECUs

As an American who has as much interest in auto racing as he does motorcycle racing, I was more than a bit nervous as the threat of a single-tire-supplier rule loomed over the Fall of '07. Now that I read of the latest seemingly similar threat of a standardized ECU, I'm begging an inquiry into motive.

Valentino Rossi is complaining about the pervasiveness of electronic traction controls. I infer this is a complaint about Dani Pedrosa, since Casey Stoner claims to be using little or none of the stuff. Riding a bike nearly identical to Pedrosa's, Nicky Hayden began to find success after (reportedly) trimming the electronic controls way back. This implies that only certain riders are benefiting from a computerized nanny, and that all of them have the option of limiting its influence. Am I to believe that Rossi - who, when he was winning everything in sight, was as sideways as anyone - believes he was being trounced by Casey Stoner's tires and Dani Pedrosa's computer engineer? Has he just defined the limits of his abilities for all of us to see? Is he really that ashamed of his bike? Or is this some back-handed mind game he thinks will fool everyone next year? Either way, I consider it a fairly remarkable retreat from the greatness he once exuded.

Back to Mr. Ezpeleta... Why grant this complaint such credence? A standardized ECU makes the sport - by default - a spec series. Until we know what goal is being pursued, why is a spec ECU the suggested - or mandated - solution? It seems to be the equivalent of brain surgery with a sledge hammer.

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