Respected European journalist Paolo Scalera has reported that Ducati will accept the use of Dorna’s spec ECU, with which goes the right to use 24 rather than 20 liters of fuel per race and 12 rather than five engines per rider per season. In the past, this has defined the resulting racing motorcycle as a CRT (Claiming Rule Teams). That leaves only Honda and Yamaha making entries in the “MotoGP factory prototype” category.
This change looks like a benefit to Ducati in every respect but one. The right to use 24 liters of fuel will allow Ducati to use the high rpm that it has so long used as a means of making class-leading power, and the right to use more engines in the process goes a long way toward solving any reliability issue arising from such high rpm.
The one negative is only a matter of perception: Will leaving the once-prestigious prototype category appear to outsiders an admission of defeat? Or is it just intelligent use of the rules to better a competitive position that has a long way to go? For some time, pundits have speculated that the spec ECU, 24 liters, and 12 engines could eventually look advantageous to all teams.
Ducati recently replaced its racing manager, Bernhard Gobmeier, with Gigi Dall’Igna, hired from the same position at Aprilia. Now the question is, has Dall’Igna himself made this spec ECU decision, based on his experience with it at Aprilia? Or did Ducati make the decision and then hire Dall’Igna for his unique ability to implement it?
More fuel and more engines will not compromise Ducati’s efforts to solve the handling problems that have so long kept it winless in MotoGP. It has been said that the spec ECU has to an extent limited Aprilia’s ability to implement technologies, such as an exhaust throttle. But that wanders off the point into realms of pure speculation.
Now the obvious question is, how long will Honda and Yamaha remain prototype entrants? Insiders are clear in stating that Honda put through the fuel limit. With the largest R&D capability in the industry, Honda has, in effect, burdened prototype competitors with the expense of finishing races on so little fuel. Whatever R&D budget is left after that can be used to go racing. Those who see this as not quite proper are free to comfort themselves with the old homily, “Life’s not fair.”