Ducati and Aprilia bosses undecided on WorldSBK control ECU

Aprilia use their own APX electronics in WorldSBK
Aprilia use their own APX electronics in WorldSBK Picture: Jamie Morris@GeeBee Images

Bosses at Aprilia and Ducati’s WorldSBK teams are undecided on the idea of a control ECU in the championship as it may prove to be an intially-expensive undertaking and also impact on roadbike electronic development.

Ducati’s Superbike chief Ernesto Marinelli doesn’t believe a spec-ECU has done very much to level the MotoGP playing field and is worried that moving away from the current electronic regulations will mean a slowdown in progress for roadbike safety and performance.

“There is no agreement yet between the manufacturers but in any case a control ECU in MotoGP has been applied over the last couple of years and it doesn’t really change much on the performance of the bikes or the diversity of the manufacturer,” said Marinelli, speaking to bikesportnews.com.

“Of course, if you put the same platform on every team, you have the guarantee everyone has the same potential but in the end the performance on the track is not only the electronics but the dynamics of the bike, the performance of the engine, the ability to set up the bike and having the best rider.

“Honestly, I think little bit levelling the potential of the electronics will not be that effective on downgrading the high-performing teams or upgrade the lesser-performing ones, so it will be something to be discussed and see if it brings any advantage.

“As a manufacturer, racing is used to develop technology for the production bike and electronics is a very important aspect for safety and performance on the road. If you use the same electronic software, then this is cut completely and the development will have to be done on just the production side.”

Milwaukee Aprilia’s Mick Shanley doesn’t have to concern himself with the factory’s road operation but he does have to work out how to win inside a budget and with in the rules. Shanley is concerned that the short-term costs may equal or be greater than the long-term benefits.

“We don’t know any details about any prospective system at the moment but I don’t think it is a cure-all because it’s only part of the package. Sure, Kawasaki and Ducati run a strong system and are doing a fantastic job,” Shanley told BSN.

“The main points for us would be understanding the system and what it comprises, but also knowing what the financial impact would be. At the moment, electronics are very accessible as you can have the same ECU as Rea with the same capabilities for €8000.

“There will be re-adjustment as it won’t be the Aprilia APX system that is used, so we will have to have extra testing, software mapping for instance and that will apply to everyone. However they control the software – the hardware doesn’t really matter – it needs to be manageable and easy-to-understand, as that will cost the money. When you have thousands and thousands of tables to re-adjust and people to bring their own ideas it gets expensive.”

Dorna currently has an agreement with Magneti Marelli to supply the electronics for MotoGP. Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha currently use that system with Honda using Cosworth, and Aprilia and BMW using their own. Having Marelli as a spec-ECU platform would end up being a little pointless as it would give the teams that Dorna is trying to disadvantage an immediate advantage. Shanley agrees:

“It does seem pointless because for instance Kawasaki already have intimate knowledge of the system and what it works or doesn’t. It’s like having a book and they already know the whole story while the rest are on page one. You’d be miles behind straightaway. However, most manufacturers do have knowledge of Marelli in MotoGP.”

BMW are opposed to a spec-ECU for the some of the same reasons as Marinelli while Honda are not averse to it but have yet to make a decision on whether they will support it the idea or not. Yamaha declined to comment while Kawasaki were strangely quiet.

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