Opinion: The Factory 2 Farce - How Poor Communication Made It Seem Much Worse Than It Probably Is

So, who is to blame for the three-class farce? When the 'Factory 2' regulations were first announced, fans and followers were quick to point the finger of blame at Honda. With good reason: HRC has made a series of comments about the way everyone except HRC have interpreted the Open class regulations. Honda thought it was their duty to build a production racer, so that is what they did. The fact that it is hopelessly uncompetitive against the Forward Yamahas – 2013-spec satellite Yamaha M1s running the 2013-spec Open software – led to suggestions from Honda that what Yamaha was doing was unfair. When Ducati announced that they would also be switching to the Open category, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo was quick to denounce the move, saying it would drive costs up for the Open class teams. It was easy to put two and two together, and come up with HRC putting pressure on Dorna to impose a penalty on Ducati, for fear of them exploiting the benefits of the Open class.

Those putting two and two together appear to have come up with a number which is not as close to four as they thought, however. The proposal for the new 'Factory 2' category did indeed come in response to pressure, but the pressure was not so much from Honda, as it was from the other Open class and satellite teams. They objected to Ducati coming in to the Open class at the same time as the new, radically updated and expanded version of the spec Magneti Marelli software was introduced. This version has vastly more capabilities than last year's version, as well as the mildly updated version used at the Sepang 1 test. The 2014 software was created by Magneti Marelli based in part on the input from Ducati, offered at the request of Dorna. Honda and Yamaha were also asked to contribute, but apparently refused.

The Open teams lack the experience and the staff to fully use the capabilities the 2014 software offers. If they chose to use it, they risked going slower, rather than faster. Ducati, on the other hand, has plenty of electronics engineers they can put to work optimizing every aspect of the new software. Put the complex software together with extra fuel Ducati is allowed under the Open class, and their performance is much more in line with the factory Yamaha and Honda teams than the Open teams. This was an unfair advantage, the Open teams said, and complained to Dorna.

And so Dorna came up with a compromise, an intermediate class called Factory 2. The rules for the Factory 2 category are surprisingly straightforward. If a team elects to use the 2014 spec software, they get all the benefits of the Open class – unlimited testing, no freeze on engine development – until they start scoring podiums. After one win, or two 2nd places, or three 3rd places (what the combinations are is as yet unclear), they will have only nine instead of twelve engines for the season, and 22.5 liters of fuel instead of 24 liters to last the races. The teams in the Open class – everyone except the three factory-backed Ducatis – will be using the uprated 2013 version of the Magneti Marelli software, and will not be punished for their results.

So how badly would Ducati be punished were they to win a dry race and have fuel and engines taken away? In all probability, they would barely notice. Though fans were quick to point out the gaping holes in the Factory 2 regulations – what happens if Ducati wins a race on its 9th engine, or its 10th engine? – in practice, there is zero chance of that happening. In 2013, Ducati managed the season successfully with just 5 engines, so there is no reason to expect that they would need much more than that in 2014. Even factoring in the ability to modify engines as a result of development, they are unlikely to produce more than one or two major updates of the engine. I, and many others, would be shocked if Ducati used more than eight engines all season. Six or seven is a much more likely number, given the development work to be done.

Likewise for fuel. The Ducati does not have fuel consumption problems, and has always managed comfortably on 21 liters. Ducati staff were never worried about the reduction to 20 liters – unlike Yamaha – and so managing a race on 22.5 liters, even with the spec software, is unlikely to be an issue. At the Ducati launch, Gigi Dall'Igna said that 22.5 liters could be a problem at some fuel-heavy tracks, as the spec software is not as configurable in terms of fuel economy. And of course, to even lose the 1.5 liters of fuel, first Ducati either have to win a race, or score a number of podiums. They still have some way to go before they manage that. Neither fuel nor engines are likely to pose an insurmountable problem for Ducati in 2014.

So why have the Factory 2 class, then? It is clearly a sop to the Open teams, a concession just to reassure them that their concerns are being taken seriously. In essence, it is a piece of performance balancing, to ensure that teams compete on a more or less equal basis. Should the combination of the new software and the Open class regulations prove to benefit Ducati too much, then there is a way of taking the edge off the worst excesses of Ducati's advantage.

In reality, this is almost identical to what happens in World Superbikes. The technical rules in World Superbikes have been drawn up to ensure parity between the twins, triples and fours, giving all of the manufacturers a chance to win. Results show that the theory works in practice, with both twins and fours having won races and championships in recent years. Whether the MotoGP rules work as well as the WSBK regulations remains to be seen. But it is not the novelty which it at first appeared.

So why the fan outrage? Mainly because of the way this was communicated. With no indication or warning, and just a few weeks before the season is set to commence, a new category is introduced with a new set of rules. The announcement comes out of the blue, in an interview which Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta did with the Spanish sports daily AS, when he was visiting their offices. The rule, and more especially the way in which it was announced, smacks of last-minute improvisation, of making rules up on the fly. There was no preparing the ground, no discussion, Ezpeleta presented it as a fait accompli.

That announcement made the whole process look very ad hoc. Fans had accepted the Open regulations, grown to like them, even, especially given the outstanding results of Aleix Espargaro on the Forward Yamaha. More and more fans were expressing enthusiasm for 2014 and the new rules, which were relatively simple to explain. The Factory 2 rules – as simple as they actually are – simply muddied the waters, and caused an outrage within hours of their being announced. Timing and the method chosen to communicate the rule change was extremely poorly chosen. This is not the first time Ezpeleta has made a bad communication choice, badly damaging the support which had been built in the preceding months.

It is a shame the message was delivered in this way, as the Open class, and the introduction of the 2014 version of the spec software have made a convincing case for Dorna's proposed rule package for 2017. The dismay which the Open teams showed when they saw the latest version of the software illustrates precisely just how expensive electronics have become in MotoGP. The Open teams have neither the manpower nor the experience to run the system, and cannot afford to free up the time of their existing electronics staff to allow them to play with the system and fully understand it. That is a luxury only afforded to the large factory teams; smaller, private outfits can just about manage the simpler 2013 system, but the 2014 system was a step too far.

When I asked Ducati team boss Paolo Ciabatti what he expected from switching to the Open software, Ciabatti said that he believed their electronics staff would have less to do, after an initial period of getting to grips with the new software. In the short term, costs increase, as teams work to understand the new system. However, in the long term, costs would be cut as fewer engineers would be needed.

This echoes the experience in Formula 1. F1 engineer Pat Symonds told veteran MotoGP journalist Mat Oxley that the introduction of a spec ECU in that series had cut electronics costs by 50%, after an initial period of adaptation. Once all of the teams in MotoGP are running the spec software, similar savings can be expected.

It also highlights where the difference lies between the top teams and the satellite teams. Winning a race as a satellite rider has become virtually impossible. The last time that happened was when Toni Elias won at Estoril in 2006. That victory was due in large part to the tires which Elias had, a set of tires made especially for Dani Pedrosa, which the Repsol Honda rider had rejected. They gave Elias enough of a boost for him to win the race.

In 2014, the difference is no longer in the tires, it is in the electronics. The data analysis and strategy selection among the factory teams is now so sophisticated that only the other factory teams and riders can compete. The difference with the past is that whereas previously, satellite riders stood at least a chance of being passed the spare tires from the top riders, they have zero chance of being handed the electronics strategies used by the factory teams. So specialized are those strategies that they are tailored to a specific rider, and do not offer much benefit to other riders. In other words, the best the satellite riders can hope for is an occasional podium. The playing field looks more like a ski slope than a level field of competition.

Unfortunately for the fans and the teams, the future of MotoGP – spec software enforcing a rev limit, and greatly limited traction control – will not take effect until 2017 at the earliest. Until then, the factories can continue to cling to their own software, and the advantage it brings them. From 2017, they will no longer be able to block fully spec electronics, as Ducati have acknowledged that they believe the spec ECU and spec software is the future of MotoGP, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna saying as much at the Ducati launch in Munich. The point of the Open rules, Dall'Igna told the press, was not to cut costs for the Open teams, it was to cut costs for everyone in MotoGP. This was inevitable. With Ducati onside, and Suzuki looking more and more likely to follow, the last holdouts against spec electronics will have to give up in 2017, or perhaps even earlier. At some point both Honda and Yamaha will have to make a decision on their participation.

Until then, the fans have another year or two of confusion and muddled rules to put up with. Commentators will fill gaps in on-track action with explanations of the three different categories. And writers like myself will spend more time than they would wish laying out the whys and wherefores of the three different sets of rules in the premier class. The only small mercy is that the extra bike in Parc Ferme for first CRT during qualifying and the race is gone. From 2014, there is only one championship again, though the teams may be competing under slightly different rules. It's a bit of a mess, but the mess cannot endure for long. The racing looks set to be good, and quite frankly, the different rules could turn out to be more of an irrelevance than everyone fears. Only a couple of weeks before we find out for sure.

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Well said, thanks David. Note also folks that it is only in dry races that the podiums count for the tally.
This is a great take on things. Only addition being that the greatest benefit of the extra fuel is clearly Yamaha. Greatest benefit of the electronics? Everyone but Honda and Yamaha. Quite clearly Ducati and Suzuki are going to be able to get a jump on it, think Honda is too stubborn or proud to start R&D with the championship software? Nope, they are to smart and ambitious for that, they can read the tea leaves.

Forward ho!

I am reading all the indepth comments of the Open issues and realised that I am missing a key piece of information.
Do Honda and Yamaha use MM hardware or their own?
Honda have been slagged a lot on here for their perceived role in the rule changes, but if they are currently using their own hardware and software, they have a lot of investment and development opportunities to lose with a potential change to both spec MM hardware and software.

Ducati and Yamaha have been using MM for some time now. Honda, up until last year, was using their own hardware. The rule changes for 2014 dictate that all entries use the MM hardware.

Honda has spent the offseason re-coding their honda software to be used on the MM hardware for 2014.

From the looks of testing, Honda has not lost a bit from the conversion, and has improved in multiple other areas.

They certainly no angel (historically speaking) but the Honda hatred this past week was way out of proportion and undeserved. Well done Carmello Ezpeleta, you fool !

HRC has been extremely critical of the Yamaha NGM and now the Ducati Open switch.

To claim that Ducati is going to raise costs of the open class is quite hypocritical considering they, Honda, have been raising the costs of the factory class continuously over the last decade. 4-strokes, 800 cc., corner by corner electronics, seamless gearboxes, 20L.

And while I'll vehemently back these technological advancements, the attitude the top dog continues to express is quite childish considering they win at almost everything, and if they aren't, they'll do it next year.

I believe that part of this bad communication continues unnoticed even here. While the thing most people were angry about was the perception of keeping Ducati down there's another misinformation at play. The idea that there will be 3 categories. There won't be. Only one (riders) championship: MotoGP. That's it, one championship and one champion.
Different rules for different type of machines has been done many times before in other racing championships and we the "dumb" fans have always manage to understand them.

You only need to contrast the functioning of the FIA with that of the FIM to understand why MotoGP is so full of nonsense and how manufacturers can actually write the rules for the sport. In F1, the standard ECU after a lot of protests was finally accepted due to the fact that a Max Mosley was in charge of the FIA and he knew how to bring the F1 teams on to their knees. In F1 it does not matter if you are Honda, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Ferrari, BMW, Toyota or any big name. Reading about the F1 developments always has the involvement of the FIA and the names of either Mosley or Jean Todt and their opinions and decisions are always in the spotlight. I don't know when I last read about Vito Ippolito in all the controversy of Factory, Open, Factory 2 or all the changes proposed in WSBK. It is Dorna or the MSMA. FIM, now what is that? That I think is the reason for the mess that motorcycle racing has become. I think one solution for all these problems would be to bring MotoGP and WSBK also under the control of FIA or get Max Mosley to become President of FIM. That will put a different spin on things.

Bernie Ecclestone is the ring master of F1 no doubt. But the FIA is not dancing to his tunes. I do know that BMW, Toyota and Honda are not in F1. I pointed out those names and especially Honda's to contrast the domination of Honda through the MSMA in MotoGP while in F1 they along with the mighty Ferrari accepted a controlled ECU. The changes were all ushered in by the FIA. Even the move to the new formula of turbo charged engines with a capacity of 1600 cc has come from the FIA. The teams have managed to negotiate for V6s rather the 4 cylindered engines that the FIA was suggesting. Small concession for pushing everyone to do what the FIA wanted them to do. The FIA does not dance to the tunes of teams as well. Remember what happened to Ron Dennis for his face off with Max Mosley. The FIM on the other hand also does not dance. That is because it only has one person at a desk to rubber stamp what Dorna+MSMA suggest as rules.

a while ago (2012) you wrote about the investment of a Canadian pensioners Fund in Bridgepoint to the tune of 39%. And one of the conditions was "stability". A strategy of a clear, permanent, well accepted set of rules to be applied and maintained over a period of years, so that the sport could evolve and expand and gain new audience and sponsors.
But Dorna is for years now at odds (best case) or at war (worst case) with the biggest and most successful manufacturer. They experimented with CRT, then with Open, and now with Factory2 or waterer its name. Is this third sub-class really necessary? Only in alleviating newfound tensions with the Open Teams!
And then there are the constant amendments to the rules in the course of 3 years...
If that is stability, then pendulums are devoid of movement and chameleons are b/w long distance runners.
I start to think that maybe it will come to the point where mr. Ezpeleta will not outlive mr. Nakamoto in his duties --despite the latter being already overdue for moving up or sideways in the perpetual Honda stuff gear-changes. Perhaps this is Nakamoto's strategy, for disrupting Dorna's plans to enforce spec software/hardware --as I do not see how he can avoid the tide, what with Yamaha betting already part of her money in Open and Ducati having already jumped ship.

Is David reading this correctly, and only Ducati or anyone using the Ducati-sourced software will be subject to Factory 2 penalties - or will this apply to anyone in Open who is getting on the podium?

So let's say Paul Bird Motorsport miraculously win a race, or more feasibly, FTR win a race, will they have to 'step up' to Factory 2 and lose fuel and engine allocation? This would seem more fair, especially since FTR is a backdoor Yamaha factory entry and quite a bit more competitive than Ducati!

The rules haven't been announced yet, so this kind of things aren't clear right now. I have read that only factory teams running under Open regulations can go (be sent) to Factory 2. So, basically just Cal and Dovi. I don't now about Iannone, Yonny I believe not. As for Alexis, I've read several times (on twitter) that he won't need to race under Factory 2 regulationsin any case.

It seems very believable that A. Espargaro will stand on the Podium 3 times before the Summer.  But, they appear to be running that bike with the '13 spec software.

So, will there be a "Factory 3" rules package, as well?

Not sure if it has been mentioned previously but wouldn't forcing Ducati to use the 2013 software solve the need for Factory 2? Aleix seems to be doing pretty well with the older software, no reason Ducati wouldn't either.

Apparently one of the main reasons for the Open class is to convince factory teams to accept the spec software. Offering a high level software would help with that, specially if the software is so complex that only wealthy teams can get the best off. Complexity that you could theoretically take out after the spec software has already been adopted. I know people here don't like Carmelo but I'm beginning to really do.

I would agree and say that Carmelo's long term plan is to get the Yamaha and Suzuki team to switch to the "updated" software in 2015. By 2017, Carmelo can start dumbing down the ECU's because everyone is using the MM software, and MM has a contract with DORNA, not Honda, or any other manufacturer.

You have to raise the popularity of the sport to fund the teams so that they can get a handful of electronics engineers per team. Sure the "factories" with have the most and best, but when a satellite team has 1 guy vs the repsol 20, how can we even say they are competing for the same thing?

I agree, it is very much like the scenario we saw in World SBK a few years ago. Not surprizeing I guess but it is hard to explain to friends who are not MotoGP fans. Haven't been able to explain World SBK, now this. Used to enjoy watching the best riders riding the best bikes, now not so much...

What is the need to keep the updated 2014 MM software?,Just get back to 2013 software for all entries,simple!!

Just make them all go open and be done with it.

24L, 12 engines, trimmed down TC, and be done with it.

This is MotoGP? 5 engines and 20L of fuel? LMAO. What is next at the MSMA table? 3 engines and 17 liters of fuel? How about we just have races where whomever can even finish the race on the reduced fuel allotment wins.

When the sliding returns and the bikes are crossed up entering and exiting a turn, when the tires smoke you'll see MotoGP grown in popularity and provide more competitive racing, and more passing. Why wait? Why put off to tomorrow what you can do today?

The fans, the passing, and the excitement should be more important than some mfr's R&D exercise. Once again the fans get the shaft.

Elias, Portugal, 2006. 8 years since a satellite win. That is a damn shame.

While you're scribbling the new rules on that napkin, why not get rid of those seamless gearboxes too?
In fact, why not dump every over-priced gadget that prevents a level playing field for all the entrants?

On that note why not just have Dorna contract a manufacture to produce a standardized bike. Dorna owns and maintains each one and hands them out randomly on the Thursday before each race. The teams pay a flat fee to Dorna for the use. It'll be just like when you go to your local Rental-Kart track. I'm sure that would just be lovely and get great T.V. ratings.

A 'reductio ad absurdum' contribution is always guaranteed to elevate the discourse - thanks for that.
You've probably forgotten how the factories voluntarily submitted to their own technology restrictions for a number of years until Ducati's arrival upset the balance. Now things are out of control - 80% of the field have no hope of ever finishing a race within sight of the podium. Is this how you like your racing?
If not, a brief investigation will reveal that access to exotic, expensive technology selects the same first four finishers in race after race. If competitive racing is to be restored, measures need to be taken. What are your ideas, O Wise One?

I read a translated Ezpeleta interview, from when the Factory 2 rules were let slip, and he seemed to be talking about "the driver" being targeted if they started scoring podiums.

Does this mean that if, say, Crutchlow scored three 3rd places, his side of the Ducati garage would have to adopt the fuel/engine rules, but not Dovioso? Seems a bit impractical from a team point of view.

We've heard plenty of complaining from Honda on all of the usual news outlets.
Now we are to believe that in fact it was the little Open teams who influenced
Carmelo to cook up these Factory 2 rules?

Okay, I won't dismiss that possibility out of hand, but I haven't heard or read
any complaints from the open teams. Do you have any links, David?

It states in the story they all agreed to use only the 2013 software.

Mr Emmett's conclusion is one of the saddest parts of all this: That for all the different rules this could largely be an irrelevance.

Rules for rules' sake. Just as rulemakers love.

Does anyone really think Nakamoto hasn't been scurrying round the Aspar & Gresini gargages..rallying troops and getting them to tow the corporate "It's not fair" line?

I take it they're happy with the performance and lack of parts for the RCVR now?

Poor old Aprilia. CRT champions by a racetrack mile yet reduced to just one entry, seemingly not supported by the factory. Having proven repeatedly they know how to make a bike handle saw them lose D'alligna too.

However, what are there plans in all this? We see mention of the established manufacturers, increased Kawasaki involvement and Suzuki's much publicised putative return but hear nothing about Aprilia's return, what they prefer regarding electronics or even if they remain intent on returning.

Any further information please?

Alexis and his team. Just how good is he? Spec software and a year old bike. Yes I know that because he won't be fuel limited his software isn't limiting him (unlike Lorenzo) but at the same time it doesn't look like he has the swarm of electronic engineers to help out and to keep the bike from biting him.

Agreed David, the problem is that the new rules "appear" to have come out of the blue and simply penalised a factory for towing the line. Appreciate your spin on things and the likely need to appease the "real" open rules teams. Thought you might be a bit to optimistic though suggesting 2 years to wait isn't all that long. Have you thought about being an election Campaign manager? :-)

One of the first textbooks I used for teaching interpersonal communications contained something along the following lines:

"Communication cannot solve all problems. Sometimes, all it does is clearly illustrate that there is a problem."

Communication is not the problem here. The underlying idea is. No matter how it is sold, marketed, spun, etc., Dorna has monumentally botched the execution of a fundamentally flawed idea.

(Said idea, apparently, has morphed into the concept of, in order to eliminate factory-level electronics, Dorna must first develop factory-level electronics. Maybe I am the only one who is reminded of the quote attributed to various U.S. military officials about the bombing of Ben Tre during the Vietnam conflict: "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.")

Truth or dare, David; the "spec" electronics package that you have championed - did you envision in your wildest dreams an MM electronics suite paid for by Dorna rivaling the best of the factory stuff, customized to the needs of the factory Ducati squad?

On the bright side, this whole fiasco prompted me to contact a friend who works in management at Honda. He was kind enough to provide a high-res image of that 1954 letter from Soichiro. It now hangs in my home office, an inspiration to excellence in everything I do.

I have spent the past 5 years talking to various people involved in the rule package, and feel I have a fair understanding of what Dorna's plan is (and they do have a plan, a very clear one). The near-factory electronics package being provided by Magneti Marelli is necessary to allow the teams to keep up with Honda and Yamaha's own electronics package. In 2017, when the new rules go through - and they will go through, make no mistake about it - then a number of larger changes will go through, including a rev limit and a greatly reduced electronics package, the functionality of which Dorna will be in a position to dictate. It will contain traction control as a safety feature, not a performance feature. The current package is a necessary evil on the path to the future.

I'll simply suggest this as a topic for a future article. Right now, there are lots of people building 1000cc racebikes with greatly reduced electronics compared to what you see at the MotoGP, World Superbike or even some National-level stuff. Talk to them, and you will get some insight as to what this 2017 MotoGP machine might look like.

Anyone with the resources and experience of Honda? Anyone building a V4? Or just tuning existing engines in modified frames?

Won't matter. They won't have TC or wheelie control, but will have very interesting and comprehensive data acquisition. Start there.

Not being sarcastic or anything here. The laws of physics apply to everyone equally, factory, privateer, club racer or canyon racer.

But the more money and experience you have, the more thoroughly you can explore the boundaries if those laws of physics.

True, but that's part of racing. What is interesting - very, very interesting, to me - is to start to carefully analyze what Carmelo's vision actually will look like in the metal.

Awesome. I think it will look awesome! A fistful of various bikes with varied lines and stategies moving around under riders while battling for podiums, half a dozen teams able to podium, bigger grid, two more manufacturers, and not without Honda.

I would be interested in reading the thought process that makes you believe in that vision of MotoGP racing in 2017. Start by explaining how you will get varying lines and strategies if everyone is on the same tire, same forks, same brakes, same ECU with the lack of machine controls (rider aids), same weight and same horsepower.

btw; I would also like to hear an explanation of how a TC system that is for safety but not for performance would actually function under race conditions.

A traction control system for safety rather than performance is relatively easy to address. It is the simple removable of any GPS or or corner by corner elements. A traction control that adjusts spark or ignition based solely on the breaking of adhesion, nothing more.

Every traction control system functions on the breaking of adhesion, either real or anticipated, but the event horizon is very close. Specifying a TC program that won't kick in until the tire actually spins is a marginal change, and it will perform quite nicely as a performance advantage, especially at the horsepower levels of a Superbike or MotoGP bike.

No MotoGP bike has GPS on it now, and even the most basic system available on a stock ZX-6R can perform quite well with no turn-by-turn capabilities.

Honestly, I think that Carmelo is selling another dose of snake oil. This "safety-only" TC is like so many other things that he's tried to sell in the past - sounds good, but pure bullshit that he's peddling to people who don't understand how a TC system works.

Just as an aside, no one else has a problem with the series promoter programming the level of wheelspin in a GP series? Wow ...

and the results that it has produced.

1. The highest funded team, RBR, won the last 4 championships in a row, with the same #1 driver they have had.

2. However, due to the control tire and ecu, certain teams developed certain strengths for varying tracks depending on aero and especially suspension design. Now ofcourse Aero will never have that much affect in GPs as in F1, but different physical component designs have been proven to upset the order at various tracks and situations.

3. The new F1 turbo V6 platform has slowed the cars down, similarly, the spec ECU will slow down the GP bikes when they switch in 2017. But let's no forget it was not long ago Moto 2 bikes were slower than the 250 GP bikes, and now they have surpassed that performance.

If the MSMA act poorly, and their game is regulated out of existence, they have no one to blame but themselves. If this were some sort of unjust witch hunt against the MSMA for being too successful, you might have a point. Unfortunately, the MSMA have presided over a period of steep decline after taking the rules in an unpopular direction. The MSMA members have not provided any public proposals to Dorna's simplistic technical regulations, and they've not accomplished anything with the current 1000cc compromise they reached in 2012.

The MSMA is the maker of its own demise.

So does this Factory 2 ruling apply to Aleix and NGM or not? This is critical. And if not, can we expect to see a further change to the regs somewhere around Le Mans when Aleix scores his first podium?

And at what point does the 2014 software become mandatory? When it's the basis for the 2015 software? Or do they get updates on the 2nd Tuesday of the month?

Just one more question. Honda are using their own software on the spec MM ECU. So I take it there's a sensor input for their transductor device on the output shaft then? So can we then expect software support for this in the 2014 B software when Honda contribute some code back into the spec set so that Aspar can then use it on the 2014 B customer RCV.

Which then leads on to why the customer OPEN RCV is so slow. I assume the cam is less aggressive and they're probably running lower compression. And there's probably a rev limit agreement in their contract that's applied in configuration of the spec software. But I'm not convinced that the valve spring head requires all that. The engines don't get sealed until they leave the pits in 1st practice at Qatar. So could and will Honda supply faster engines at the last possible minute? Memories come back of Randy Mamola at Philip Island picking up bits of Honda valve off the track while he's got an open mic on Eurosport.

Good points and couldn't the owners of the Honda RCV1000 modify the motors themselves for more power?

The agreement with Honda forbids modifying the bikes. The only hope for the production Honda teams is that HRC has to give the bike more power to save face.

... they own them. OK so a contract can be set in place by Honda but this would be entirely unenforceable should the team sell it on to a third party- and this, presumably, is what Dorna want and expect when they talk about teams having equity at the end of the season (as opposed to leasing).

A few days ago at the Ducati presentation, it was mentioned that one of the problems with the Open software is that it doesn’t have any provision for fuel economy. Ducati’s biggest worry about going to Factory 2 was the 22.5 liters of fuel without the proper software.

I believe that the Honda production racer has a 23 liter fuel tank. The primary complaint about the bike is a lack of power. Is the engine set up to run a little lean all the time, never having the optimum mixture for max power? The factory software is sophisticated enough to run the engine lean when max power is not needed and give it the gas when needed.

Maybe the first step to increasing the Honda production racer power is a bigger fuel tank and a new fuel injection map.

Thankfully 2017 is still quite far away. At least we'll have another three years of watching these beautiful beasts before they're neutured.

the beasts wont be neutered, the software will because the software is doing the neutering right now! We will see control of the power back where it belongs on the riders right wrist and seat of his pants.

I see the fuel limit and engine cap as quite a neutering. The electronics are cutting power for TC, that is a bit of neutering too.
I do see your point re rev limits though! We will all get to gripe and argue about this next I assume.

... article bringing clarity to those of us on the outside of the sport. I admit to initially assuming Honda was to blame for further fracturing of the premiere class, but it makes so much sense that this would infuriate the Open teams much more, especially with Ducati essentially taking no penalty (i.e. running their own software) for carrying more fuel and running softer tires.

I'm going to try and ignore the subtleties of the rules during those 45 min of each race. I'm hoping the racing is good, and if I play dumb, I'll enjoy it a lot more!

If I understand well, the 2013 MM ECU will only be used by the "true" open teams as a stopgap because of the late delivery and high complexity (thus high cost of development) of the 2014 system. Since the 2014 ECU has been accepted by Dorna for open teams (ie: Ducati's factory team), if non-factory open teams wish to remain competitive they will have to adopt it (or it's next iteration) next year and find the budget to be able to use it effectively. Isn't that all against the original purpose of a spec ECU?

The new updated software is the issue, so ban it for 2014 or at least the first half of 2014. I understand the need to make the spec software better and more appealing to the factories, but it was a last minute add for 2013 and a last minute jump to Open by Ducati that is causing the fuss, so delay its use. Or simply allow it and remove the rule where teams had to declare Factory or Open by February 28th. Then all teams can switch if it is going to be viewed as such a threat. Factory 2 is just stupid. And if Open teams are the ones truly complaining, the Factory 2 classification is NOT going to help them, they will have already been getting smacked down (except Aleix) if Factory 2 doesn't take place until podium is reached. Factory 2 will only help the Factories keep Ducati in check. Who dreams this up? Factory 2 sounds like something NASCAR would dream up and changing rules at the last second? Pure garbage. There has to be a better way.

I don’t wish to pardon Yamaha either. They still practice the leasing programs which were at the root of all the present turmoil and if the new Factory 2 punishment is applied only to Ducati their factory M1′s will dominate the open sub-class and give them an avenue of development throughout the season. All this as a result of the weak leadership of Dorna and the FIM. When financial considerations take precedence over sporting fairness it results in the chaos we see today in MotoGP.

From the tone of this article one could think that some heat has warmed David's toes on this subject?

The thing that irritates me the most is the yet again rule change at the final hours.

The constant changing of the rules has to put off any new manufacturer wanting to get involved in Moto GP. I give credit to Suzuki for sticking with their comeback this long.

Yamaha and Honda had the option to move to the open class. It obviously would not have hurt them as take a look at the open Yamaha. Not to shabby IMO.

Set the rules, leave them alone for 10 years.

David, nice write up...but i am still not convinced that Factory 2 rules are anything but Assanine.

As the adage goes, you frame the rules and then play the game not the other way around.

Whether Ducati electing to go Open is right or wrong according to the other private teams and factories, the rules have been in place for more than 10 months now and Ducati played by the rules (albeit creatively)....Now to come and change the rules in the 11th hour is patently unfair to Ducati.

Also the privateer teams have no idea what they have gotten themselves into and it is going to come and bite their backsides...Here is why...

As Wazman said before, lets say that a Forward/Aspar/Avintia/Ioda (take your pick) miraculously wins a race or get two second places...Now what?

They have to move to Factory 2 rules..As Gigi pointed out in the presser yesterday, the electronic strategies in the MM software does not have many fuel saving strategies. Adapting to Factory 2 rules will be lot more hard if not impossible for an open team than a Factory team like Ducati.

Now a privateer team like Forward has two choices, race for podiums at the start of the season and get penalized for being competitive or make a conscious decision to be just competitive enough not to make it into factory 2 rulebook i.e. stop at 1 second place / 2 third places in a season and NEVER have a shot at winning a race the entire season....

Ultimately, the privateer teams have condemned themselves to be a side show rather than ever having an opportunity of taking on the factries head to head however remote that possibility is...

If the privateer teams were so concerned about the fairness of Magneti Marelli's late software upgrade (which by the way is legitimate concern) and the advantage it gives the Ducati's, the more sensible thing to ask for would have been to place a moratorium on all open teams from using the upgraded software until a specified time (for example until the next Dorna/FIM sanctioned test day for all)....

This would have given all teams enough time to understand the software and start competing on a level footing. it would also have addressed same kind of issues in the future when Aprilia/Suzuki/Honda/Yamaha request for a huge software upgrade....

All in all, Facotry 2 is a very ASSANINE way of trying to acheve parity.

And by the way David, don't be so sure about the Spec electronics and rpm limit being introduced in 2017/ Its not a certainty.

If Carmelo can be pushed around by all the privateer team that he is helping fund, do you really think Honda and Yamaha cannot with their perpetual threat of withdrawing from the series?

Nothing is going to change about this championship until Dorna & Carmelo grow a back bone....

I still think this all looks like pretty decent Dorna back bone from where I am watching. Even the fact that so mamy here are so infuriated could also be seen as back bone, they did it anyway. I see it as forward thinking along w doing their best during a rapudly changing off season.

Please be curious how much fuel Forward Yamaha is using during a race when they have 24 L possible before we get too bent out of shape re 22.5

Thanks David for the comment in the middle, SUPER interesting that the intent will be much scaled back electronics package in 2017. My assumption was wrong, I thought we were looking at the future here w just bringing it back a step from turn-by-turn then leaving it a fixed target for teams. Hmm, very different proposition, that. I am withholding jusgement on the rev limit until seeing what it is, but tend to think more poorly of it in general.

Thanks everyone.

I think you're missing one key fact in your (understandable) rant. None of the Open teams, not even Forward Yamaha as I currently understand it will use the 2014 electronics. As such they will NEVER be able to be penalized into Factory 2 rules.

If Aleix gets on the podium at a dry race using the 2013 software, I'll expect a rule change in days that says Factory 2 applies to all Open teams regardless of software revision.

Over the last 2 or 3 weeks I've been watching many races from the 90's and early noughties. Last night it was the final round of the 2000 season at PI. On lap 18 or thereabouts no less than 6 bikes fanned out as each attempted to take lead into turn 1. Yes, you read that correctly, lap 18, with 12 to go and the lead changed dozens of times in the course of that race. 125's? No, 500's, or what we now call motogp. True, that race was something of an extreme, but by no means completely exceptional. It was commonplace to have 3 or 4 bikes chasing the win for most of a race.

I can't remember the last time I saw that kind of race. Possibly not since 01 or 02. What caused such a radical change to give what we now see every couple of weeks? My guess is that it's largely down to the loss of big tobacco. Back then we had camel, lucky strike, Marlboro and a few others. I imagine several teams had broadly similar budgets. But that's no longer the case.

If dorna can get us back to that kind of racing I don't much care how they do it; without change, and a few mistakes along the way, we'll just see a two horse race for years to come.

And yet, the race prior, at Motegi, 2000, was led flag-to-flag by Kenny Roberts, who won with more than six seconds in hand over Rossi and Biaggi, with fourth place more than 19 seconds behind the winner.

And there were only 19 bikes on the starting grid.

True, there were plenty of dreary yawn tests back then too, but I do think there were more edge-of-the-seat races per season. We just seem to be in a completely different place now. We know that barring major accidents the next few years will be a contest between mm and jl, with the occasional intervention of espargaro, especially if he gets dp's or vr's bike in a year or two. Not exactly something to hold your breath for. Maybe we'll be surprised though.

The line " Honda thought it was their duty to build a production racer, so that is what they did." needs some professional courteousy given. I am not one to call out such things but this is pretty harsh and just plain false. Please keep up the level of journalism we know is here and come to find, somthing like this can discredit the rest of a piece, even a good one that otherwise speaks the truth minus one sentence such as this. Thanks,

That is the situation as I understand it. Dorna asked for cheap bikes, citing the production racers of old as an example. So Honda built production racers. Ducati and Yamaha took Dorna's request literally, and provided bikes at a reduced price. Ducati offered to sell GP13s (nobody wanted them), and Yamaha leased engines to Forward for which FTR has built a frame, but which has yet to be supplied to Forward. And most likely, won't be supplied to Forward.

If you would care to point out where I am rewriting history, I would be happy to fix it.

What is said in your reply I wouldn't have contested as it doesn't lead astray as what is quoted from the article. Even still I would offer that Honda were the only ones to take Dornas requests literally.

It took some digging but I was able to find this interview again. It is also a good read in hind sight with all else going on too.


It is from ealry 2012 and Carmelo explains the meeting held with Honda in which he discuss production racers, price, performance and bikes for purchase not leases. He said he needed an answer by May. Honda announced their production racer to the public in June fitting Carmelos outline of the discussion in the interview. It was also same month that Dorna repealed the rookie rule allowing MM the seat vacated by Stoner. I mention this in jest as in reality these are probably coincidental but i had the sense the timing just days after was conspicuous considering Honda were the most vocal against the changes being proposed.

Back on topic, Yahmaha announced their lease motor with M1 frame concept more than a year later. Taking a look to the article Carmelo discusses ECUs, rev limits, performance balancing, production racers for sell not lease and offers could forbid lease bikes all together. Yahmaha bought extra time and worked around this last point. Staling the "deadline" by more than a year. All other points mentioned Carmelo is slowly implimenting.

Ironically the world reaction was, yahmaha doesn't have a great motor and although they can build a frame, this one would be by FTR. So no one thought it would be the hands down better choice over Honda package of a tuned down superior motor and good enough chassis.

Now I digress, but point is honda are the only ones to do what they were asked and by when they were asked to. Everyone else delayed as long as possible, then after knowing what Honda had on offer, schemed to make an entry with sole purpose of beating the production Honda racers. It's hardly a choice Honda took as their own dutifully.

Just as that interview shows Carmelo never asked for a production racer. He wanted teams to be able to get a bike for 1 million a year (he preferred selling to leasing). The 1 million mark was the only thing that mattered.
When Yamaha came up with the idea of leasing the engine Honda didn't complained. They are only now complaining about the Yamaha Open because it's much much better that the package the brought. If sold vs leased was a philosophical problem regarding what was asked of the factories, Honda would have complained last year.
On top of that I think I read somewhere that the Honda bike isn't actually sold, or at least not as we would understand it. You only own the bike two year after paying for it, and the second year you have to pay for updates. So, basically is a lease, you can't resale it to get a better bike and you can't modify the engine yourself to put pneumatic valves on it (not that a private team could do that anyway).

Even if you choose to look past the rest, which honda fullfilled, those teams who apparently took Dorna literally are saying show me where it says it has to be cheap.

You can continue to filter out or bring in as much as you like, but cannot change the fact the only people who started this endeavor faithfully are Honda. All others are out to exploit it.

Ps. When Honda turn around next year and build a mean open bike, demolishing everyone else, I can hear the complaints of mig big retaliation out to punish the little guy for straying from the concept, just like moto3.

Either way has no bearing here.. What does hold true is Factory2/open is closer to prototype specs and open means just that, open. And those teams are 100% correct nowhere does it say it has to be cheap... and it won't be.

Does anyone have an idea of what a future rev limit is likely to be?
At what sort of number does a non pneumatic/non desmo system start to be competitive?
The evidence from the Honda proddie racer is that the number is a lot lower than the limits being used by the current top engines.

Rev Limit: 15,000rpm - 16,000rpm

Spring-valve engines, including the RCV1000R engine, are probably not competitive at any race-relevant rpm range because of the engine reliability rules.

I suspect the cams are less aggressive with slower opening and closing ramps on the valve spring motors as well. There's a possibility that they also have lower compression though that's not necessarily related. All of that probably adds up to a torque curve that falls faster at high revs.

I kind of think Honda could build a faster valve spring motor if they wanted to, but that the first customer bikes are quite conservative because they don't want them to break as well as keeping them well back from the 4 Honda Factory bikes.

There was erroneous content in this comment originally. I wrote it late at night and got jumbled up and I apologize. I have edited it out in shame.

Ducati just announced their intention to SELL customer bikes "not far off the price" of the proddy Honda. I bet that ends up looking pretty good to everyone on the grid slower than, say, Edwards.
THEN in will come a rev limit of (I am w the above comment, anyone know anything?) which is likely to be a big setback for the Desmo. Then what will be the pendulum swing?
I always wondered why there were so many customer Ducatis the last handful of yrs, why we never had a customer 800 Suzuki, and other such things. Next yr I may wonder why more teams aren't on the Open Yamaha or Ducati. Or why customer Hondas are Factory. And there will be the biggest rider shuffle silly season in a good long while. The times they are a-chaaaangin.

I think most teams will be getting benefits of the software package sooner rather than later. Just ask Magneti Marelli to supply some "default" settings and a software user's manual, it's not really all that complex , it will need time and tests but it's not like the open teams will be totally lost. For instance, there will be many ports and functions that Ducati will be exploiting and using with sensors here and there,they must already have tera bytes of data taken over the last couple of years already,and there will be lots of mysterious functions for the uninitiated, but you can simply disable those functions until you either have the sensors installed and the baseline values calibrated.It's not going to make them any slower than the one they're currently using.Simply disable the functions they don't know or don't have the hardware yet and work their way up.With a little time most of the teams will be customizing their own software into a rider-specific setting, working with the rider style, preferences and strengths and working out the rider's weakness with all those parameters.I don't think you really need to have a team rocket scientists with a 6 figure salaries to calibrate all the parameters the new software has, that can be dealt by a technician experienced in mechanical sensors, resolvers, hall effect sensors, optical sensors, A to D/D to A , programing, etc etc and if that person understands motorcycle dynamics, is a racing fan and maybe even a mid-pack motorcycle racer himself,and has good communication with the lead technician, they could get some progress rather quick. Indeed, Dorna should enforce MM to come up with a good owner's manual with some basic, generic settings.

BTW my passport is valid :P just in case HAHA just kidding.

I think open teams shot themselves in the foot by protesting the new software and not embracing it.

Dorna doesn't have time to force MM to create a standardized setting. Right now, Dorna is a little busy spending money trying to help Ducati and create a finishing order more to the shareholders' liking:

"We asked, like everyone, for some modification on the software, some improvement, based on the experience. We ask to Dorna, and we ask for improvement to traction control and anti-wheelie,” said Dall’Igna, speaking at the team launch.


Is it just me or is this a deja vu? They make up new rules to lower costs, after which everyone starts working around them, after which Honda needs to tell everyone this was not the idea behingd the new rules?

That's kind of the point and that's what leads to innovations. The problem for us, the end consumer of these innovations, is that a majority of it is being done on the electronics side.

What has been the latest innovations in performance motorcycles we have seen? Traction control? Different maps for the bikes?

I may be wrong but the last mechanical difference has been the slipper clutch was it not?

I am torn on the spec ECU as I want the factories to build the fastest damn bike on the planet to circulate a race course however, putting in a spec ECU forces the teams to come up with better ideas to gain more speed without the electronic tuning. My issue with spec'ing everything out dulls innovation (IMHO).

I imagine there's almost unanimous agreement that nobody particularly wants to see VR, MM, JL and DP dicing it out on 125cc singles for the MotoGP championship. There also seems to be a general consensus that too many MotoGP 2013 races degenerated into tedious, widely-dispersed processions - and most of the time the same four factory bikes were the only serious contenders. Exotic, ridiculously expensive technology had separated them from the rest of the field - technology that is actually reducing the spectacle and unlikely to be much use on production machines.
MotoGP needs to learn lessons from NASCAR and F1. Nobody justifies all that redneck fun by pretending it's improving the breed - everybody knows it's primarily entertainment. With a similar philosophy, F1 has thrown out many inventive go-faster technologies to cut costs and preserve competition. DORNA needs to find some balls, slap HRC back into line and remind them why they're there. If nobody's watching, all the expense is wasted.
If Honda want to do R & D for their road bikes, they should do it at Suzuka, rather than ruin the premier motorcycle world championship by outspending everybody else.

Somewhere there must be a solution to level the field and prevent these lop-sided races. I hope DE is right - that DORNA have a workable plan. Moto2 showed the way - despite the basic technology and unremarkable speed of the 600/4 engine, the series was popular because the racing was close.

It's also worth remembering there's another speed issue - the bikes keep outgrowing the tracks' safety margins. It's actually a bit of a buzzkill when these guys die.

You're correct of course, however all 4 recent racing deaths I can think of have resulted from being struck by a following bike, not hitting trackside hardware. On this logic, the bikes should be made significantly lighter. What is the weight limit these days, 160kg? Maybe more? In the 80's the 500's were 110-115kg IIRC, raised to 130 in their latter years.

The death of Daijiro Kato was caused by track deficiencies at Suzuka, and MotoGP has never returned there. A number of run-offs at current tracks look dangerously short - particularly Laguna Seca, which is probably the principal reason they're not going back.
I doubt any serious race bike can be made sufficiently light so that its weight would render it harmless.
My point was this - extreme speed and technology isn't necessary for great entertainment, as Moto2 has demonstrated.

The seamless gearbox has been a pretty remarkable mechanical development I'd say. And who is to say whether it will not eventually be developed for street use? The system is far more reliable and cheaper now than it was in year one, evidenced by the fact the satellites get it now. Another 10 years of development and refinement?

Judging by the riders testimonials about the seamless gearbox, it saves a few hundredths per lap if one is riding at 110% while running up and down through the box.
Road bike applications? Great for boastful idiots to impress the peasants while leaning against a bar, perhaps - but otherwise, on today's highways . . .

You can already buy a seamless gearbox on a road bike. The Suzuki Burgman 650 has one, though it uses an entirely different technology, and a superior one. If you want fixed gears, look no further than Honda's DCT double clutches, which achieve exactly the same as a seamless gearbox, for about 0.3% of the cost.