It's no secret that 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden's favorite era of MotoGP was the first chapter--when 990cc Monsters ruled the earth, when horsepower was king and electronics was not one of the overwhelmingly important factors in MotoGP racing. After that several phrases were embedded in the racer lexicon: Colin Edwards' "You're only as good as your programmer" and one fan's Jeff Spicoli-like summation "Traction control is a buzz kill".
For 2014, Hayden is back on a Honda MotoGP bike for the Aspar Honda GP team. Hayden's RCV1000R is a "customer" version of the RC213V prototype and runs under the "Open" section of the MotoGP rulebook. Meaning his bike will use the Dorna supplied electronics package, and the software that comes with it. In some ways that bike has more in common with its 990cc MotoGP predecessors than it does the RC213V. At least in terms of limited electronics.
Philosophically, Hayden has issues with the Factory and Open rules of MotoGP. "If I'm honest, I don't love the two bike, Open bike/Factory bike running together. I would prefer everybody on the exact same spec bikes, same rules. But you know, with the economy situation and rules now, that's not possible.
"Plus, having two sets of rules for one class, I think, is hugely confusing to the casual fans of MotoGP," Hayden added.
This Dorna-supplied software package was designed to have limited capability in terms of data streams and engine management. "We basically only have one wheelie control," Hayden says, "so if you change it, say, for turn two, it also is going to affect the wheelie in turn eight. So it's not as easy just to tell the engineer, 'Hey, I need more wheelie control here, less there, more there.' You've got one wheelie control setting. A lot of the system is like that. So you've got to find a compromise for the complete track."
Because of the horsepower levels in MotoGP and also the spec tire rule, among other factors, fans will probably never again see MotoGP bikes racing with non-existent or minimal electronic rider aides again. But what if the entire MotoGP grid raced with what we know now as the "open" electronics system?
|"Plus, having two sets of rules for one class, I think, is hugely confusing to the casual fans of MotoGP," Hayden added.|
"Dorna can make the electronics as sophisticated as they want, or they can make them as basic as they want," Hayden says of the Dorna-supplied "Open" system. "So I think the riders want it, the fans want it. The manufacturers are the problem, because they obviously use the racing as a testing ground for them, to make the bikes better, and to develop the electronics. But once everybody is using what Dorna owns, I think it's a real possibility."
Hayden continues, "In the long run, I think definitely, I would much rather the fans watch bikes that smoke the tire and wheelie, and on corner entry hop, and wheels come off the ground. I think it would be much more exciting. For a rider like myself, obviously it would probably suit my style a little bit better than a guy that comes from a 250 background. I want it so the guy sitting on his couch watches the race and says, "Oh my god, there's no way I could ever do that."
"Now, because of the electronics, the guy sitting on the couch looks at it and thinks, "Aw, y'know, I could do that with a little time. We know he's wrong, but ..."