Wednesday, March 5, 2014

'Factory' vs. 'Open'

From what I read, the other manufacturers in MotoGP are pissed that Ducati's factory team will not race under 'Factory' rules. Instead, they've opted to run in the 'Open' class. (For a detailed explanation of the difference in the two classes of machine--which will look and sound exactly the same, and which will just confuse the fans--I suggest you refer to MotoMatters.)

What I don't get is, the other manufacturers are all saying, "We race in MotoGP because it helps us to develop advanced technology that we'll apply to road bikes, later on."

That's a great story, as far as it goes, but it makes no sense. After all, the 'Factory' motors are sealed and motor development is frozen as of the first race. Teams running under Open class rules can tweak away to their hearts' content. It seems to me that that's the 'development' class.

When the organizers first proposed the two-class arrangement (they obviously learned nothing from the CRT debacle) I thought the Factory teams could run their own ECUs. It was depressing to think that we'd come to such a point; that teams forced to choose between a spec (read: frozen) ECU and free engine development on the one hand, and a free ECU and frozen engine development on the other hand, would choose the latter option. I.E., that the black box is now more important than all the reciprocating metal parts that it controls.

That was bad enough, but I only recently realized that the black box is, itself, a spec item. Everyone uses the same Magnetti Marelli ECU, but the factory teams get to write their own software. It's a sad state of affairs, if meaningful advancement over the course of the season is going to come in the form of code only.

Listen up, you punks: I'm not reminiscing about the old days just because I'm a bitter old bastard who can't get with the times*. But there was a time, not that long ago, when packages came air cargo from Japan, or when parts were even hand-carried, still dropping bits of swarf or smelling of freshly welded Ti; passengers flew directly from Saitama Prefecture, or Shizuoka, or wherever, and drove through the night in rental cars to the track, to meet mechanics in deserted pit lanes where one light burned in one garage. And when the riders arrived from the hotel in the morning, they didn't necessarily even know how many cylinders their bike would have that day. Those days are still within living memory, and lo, even though Marc Marquez leans over further today, Grands Prix are not as fabulous now as they were then.

The factories claim they're racing to develop and test new technology, but they're severely restricted in terms of test days, and their 'A' riders can't do other development work.

It's senseless, especially to fans--who won't be fussed to appreciate the nuances of such-and-such a Factory bike that's finishing behind an Open bike. The whole championship-within-a-championship has no external relevance, anyway. And the most frustrating part of it all is that Dorna's rationale is, We're trying to control costs; but no rule ever has that effect.

Gardiner's Seventh Law of Racing: Every team always spends all of its budget, in search of any possible advantage. Every team spends every cent, full stop.

When they restricted test days in Formula 1 car racing, development budgets went up, not down, because teams had to develop fantastically expensive new simulation technology.

But wait, it gets worse; now it seems, the Open class spec software is not really frozen, either. How much more will it develop over the course of the season? Will Dorna take input from the Open teams? The Factory class looks more and more like a simple handicapping system; win too much, and we'll cut your fuel load. And Dorna does seem to think that way, if what I read this morning is true; Open teams will be fuel-penalized if they actually win races.

Who the fuck is writing these last-minute rules for them? DMG?

*I am a bitter old bastard who can't get with the times, but that's not why I prefer the old days. I prefer the old days because they were better.


  1. I agree, and limiting the number of engines can't possibly save money. Any rule change that limits a resource, will raise the cost of engineering, and engineering is extremely expensive.

  2. I am having a harder and harder time getting interested in motorcycle racing each season. MX and SX are superior products in terms of TV coverage, news coverage, and spectacle. Flat track is stuck in the 70's but with a bit more TV coverage way more fun to watch. I actually plan on going to a couple flat track races but will not end up going to any road events this year. Not even sure where I am headed with this post except to whine.

    1. No snivelling!

      Dorna writes the rules on Irish stationary (bar napkins)

      Can't wait for the March 17th edition

  3. What about this?