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GP Week : Issue 169
CONFRONTATION LOOMS ON CONTROL ECU Honda repeats threat to pull out Dorna’s plans to introduce a control ECU and rev limiter for all competitors in the MotoGP class for the year after next are still on hold, as the factories strive to put the brakes on the notion and the temperature keeps rising. Last week’s announcement of a voluntary control ECU for next year has been welcomed by some CRT teams and tolerated by some factories. But the plan to make it compulsory in 2014, by when it will include a rev limit expected to be 15,500 rpm, faces implacable opposition from the biggest factory team in the sport. Citing the need to use racing to develop electronic strategies for street bikes, HRC vice-president Shuhei Nakamoto has stated unequivocally that if Dorna proceeds with the plan, Honda will switch factory support to World Superbikes, where electronics remain free. Nakamoto mentioned fuel conser vation strategies as well as traction control as one of the benefits acquired from MotoGP developments. Bringing this to a close would save no money, because the same development would have to continue in another way, he said. Electronic costs have spiralled in recent years, the main expense being the specialised extra staff required to monitor and assess data, and write software. The unit currently under development for next year will be supplied by leading company Magneti Marelli, which currently provides electronics for both Yamaha and Ducati, while Honda develop their package in-house. Yamaha has expressed cautious approval, likewise Ducati chief Filippo Preziosi. But Yamaha in particular is expected by tradition to vote with Honda in the MSMA (manufacturers’ association). Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta last week told a Spanish interviewer that he expected matters to be resolved at a meeting in two weeks at the Japanese GP at Motegi. Last year he had insisted that rules should be finalised by May of this year, but the deadline has kept moving as arguments intensify. Obser vers expect that the Motegi meeting is likely to be a stormy confrontation. At the same time the matter is becoming increasingly urgent, as 2014 draws closer without any finality in technical regulations. The outcome is crucial also for Suzuki, who pledged to return in 2014 and have started to develop an in-line four- cylinder racer for the come-back. Without knowing the full details of the rules, however, their target is undefined, and it might force a change of decision. World Superbikes, for years a poor relation to MotoGP, stand to benefit hugely from the confusion. Already Honda has massively increased factory support for the World Superbike team, while the announcement last week of a street bike based on the current MotoGP RC213V shows that they will have a replacement ready for their current obsolescent machine, based on the in-line four Fireblade. MOTOGP >>> NEWS Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta 10 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: