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MotoGP riders air standard ECU views

27 September 2012

MotoGP riders would welcome the introduction of a standard ECU, providing it doesn't trigger an escalation in accidents.

That was the verdict given by Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista on Thursday at Aragon, venue for this weekend's 14th round of the World Championship.

Earlier this week it was announced that Magneti Marelli has signed a four-year deal with Dorna to offer all MotoGP teams its 'highest specification' ECU, backed up by technicians, from 2013.

Magneti Marelli already collaborates with Yamaha and Ducati in MotoGP, while Honda uses its own in-house electronics.

The immediate purpose of the ECU 'offer' is to boost the competitiveness of the privateer CRT class, which is struggling with the cost and complexity of acquiring and/or developing a cutting-edge electronics system.

But the move is also viewed as the first step towards a control ECU being made mandatory throughout the MotoGP grid, possibly as early as 2014.

A one-for-all ECU, as used in F1, would in turn clear the way for restrictions to be placed on electronic rider aids - such as launch, traction and wheelie control.

The three remaining manufacturers are against such a move, stressing the significance of electronic freedom in order to develop technology for their road machines.

But the riders were much more supportive of the idea, albeit concerned that slashing the amount of electronic intervention could increase accidents.

“If everyone has the same electronics that would be positive, especially those that don't have the best system now,” began Yamaha's world championship leader Lorenzo.

“I think we have to see if we still have the same safety on the bikes, because now we avoid a lot of highside crashes - riders being thrown up in the air - and maybe with standard electronics the bikes would be more dangerous.

“The bikes are very powerful, more than 250 horsepower, so we have to take care of those things.”

Lorenzo's title rival Pedrosa was also cautious, but pointed out that the standard ECU works well in F1.

“Obviously it's a thing coming from F1 and it seems like it is working there,” said the Honda rider. “It seems like they don't complain about it, but obviously that is a car and not a bike, so there are a lot of unknowns.”

Seven time MotoGP champion Rossi has long favoured a reduction in electronic influence, but even he would want a certain level of assistance to remain.

“It is good to have everyone on the same electronics, but they need to find the right level to remain safe,” said the Italian.

“A bit less help [from the electronics] would make the races more fun. More fight. In F1 they thought it would be impossible, but it was not and now the F1 races are more fun to follow.”

Yamaha Tech 3 rider Crutchlow also likes the idea, but doesn't think it would make much difference to the order at the front of the field.

“I think it's a good idea, but I think you'll still see the same guys at the front,” he said. “The guys that are fast are fast for a reason, not just electronics.

“It's not going to make a guy at the back suddenly win, but it's good for the championship and financial situation - although maybe the leather manufacturers will need to make some parachutes in the humps!”

Gresini Honda's Bautista had a similar opinion.

“If you have the same electronics the races will be more interesting, but you have to see how safe it is,” said the Spaniard. “The most important things for the rider will be safety and confidence to ride the bike.”


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