The costs of certain race kit ECU’s and associated electronics packages have been a hot topic this year as teams prepare for ASBK season 2021.
You might have read the piece I wrote recently that detailed the costs of the approved electronics packages for each motorcycle model competing in the 2021 Australian Superbike Championship. If not, we suggest you click back through to that as a backgrounder, before heading into this deep dive with Maxima Racing Oils BMW Crew Chief, Shane Kinderis.
Shane Kinderis Interview
Maxima Racing Oils BMW
How much is your BMW wiring loom and ECU kit?
Shane: “The whole kit, complete is €4600 Euro, one arrived this morning in a box. With the exchange rate at the moment it’s probably close to $8000 AUD. That includes left switch-block, right switch-block, full wiring harness, the MoTeC dashboard, data-logging system and the race ECU, everything.
“BMW produces a race kit for all championships, BMW is the only manufacturer that does this, whatever they produce for the WorldSBK team, I can buy. There’s no secrets, no special parts. They make a new part, they make it available to everybody, because they believe racing is for everyone. You can even buy a full factory World Superbike for €90,000 euro.
“When the electronics package came out, they complied with the current FIM specifications of the time for ECU pricing, there was a World Superbike Championship and World Superstock 1000 Championship price cap on everything. BMW take a financial hit on every one they sell (like most manufacturers do), they obviously sell them for cheap, and that’s their thing. They’ve kept that pricing, and it is the same ECU as on the World Superbike. There’s no difference whatsoever. Ducati still list a superstock ECU but the part number is no longer available.
“The M calibration Kit is the same as the WSBK .The MoTeC dashboard alone (that comes in the BMW kit), with all the logging system in it, costs four-grand AUD. So now work that in, or work backwards… If you crash a road BMW and you damage the dashboard and the wiring harness and the ECU, you will spend more than that. So it’s fractionally cheaper than the standard OE replacement parts.
“We’ve had the same electronics now, or virtually the same electronics for four years. It’s great. Now we have the whole Marelli thing, I started jumping up and down about this and complained to M.A. about it and about the lack of transparency.”
You talking last year?
Shane: “No, this was when they come out with this Marelli ECU for this year, and I said there is no way should this be allowed to happen. I made it very clear to M.A. that I wasn’t happy about it. I rang around the other teams, John Redding (YRT), Kelvin Reilly (BCperformance Kawasaki), I spoke to Craig McMartin (Boost Mobile Ducati), I spoke to a lot of people about it. Nobody is happy about it. And it’s not the fact that it is a Marelli ECU… none of us think they are going to win just because of the Marelli ECU, that’s not the issue. The issue is the price. It basically means if you’re a privateer it is virtually impossible for you to competitively race a Ducati.
“For M.A. to sit there and to allow them to homologate an ECU that is unobtainable for most and to say the ECU is only €5000 Euro is wrong. I’ve have seen all the official pricing for everything, you can’t just use the ECU. You have to buy the kit. The kit is near enough to €14,000 and somthing Euro. Nearly $25 grand by the time you get it. I’ve got all the pricing from Craig McMartin, we have been having open conversations with most of the team managers.”
Not the Honda guys?
Shane: That’s the other thing, it’s not just Ducati that’s over the top. The Honda ECU itself is actually dearer than the Ducati one.
And ship to shore capabilities on the Honda?
“Well I don’t know exactly what it’s (Fireblade) got, but it’s certainly fairly well specced, it is just over €5000 Euro. So that makes that a $68,000 motorcycle, with the $15,000 electronics package on it. It’s just getting out of hand. When I started talking to John Redding about it, I said, ‘well everyone’s on a Yamaha now because it’s the cheapest motorcycle to race.’ All the privateers are on Yamahas. You can buy a Yamaha kit ECU which is pretty basic and you can go racing. I think Yamaha will have maybe nine bikes on the grid this year.
“So we all went together to M.A. and we told them we wanted to homologate an ASBK approved MoTeC ECU as a third option, because at the moment you only have two options. The manufacturer kit ECU, or the road ECU, that’s it. That’s the only choice now.
“I wanted a third option put in there, which takes nothing for them to do. They could go, yes that’s a good idea, done. They’ve been talking about putting a control ECU in the bikes for years like British Superbike. But they won’t do it, ‘because it’s too hard, they can’t get pricing…’ according to them, where they could ring MoTeC tomorrow and get pricing.
“It has kind of unified us to some extent. We’ve (NextGen Motorsports) have got absolutely nothing to gain from all of this, because the MoTeC cannot run the shift-cam BMW. In British Superbike all BMWs have two ECUs in them, one MoTeC spec one and the BMW one to run the cams. I have a MoTeC ECU sitting here on the floor next to me from BSB, which belongs to of the privateer teams. Now they have been forced to basically block off the shift-cam mechanism.”
MoTeC can’t work that out?
Shane: “It’s not that they can’t work it out, because the bike has two RbW throttle-bodies, it’s just used up all the pins, all the outputs on that ECU are done. There’s just too much going on for it. Then they just can’t get the shift-cam to work, but I’m sure I could get it to work if I had the time to sit down and do it, but I just don’t have the time. And some of my German engineer mates are the same, they know they could get it to work, but MoTeC won’t, you can’t mess too much with the standard MoTeC stuff. That’s what you get and that’s all they are giving you.
“So they keep the standard ECU to run the Shift-cam, it’s dumb. So I seem to gain nothing about this and that’s fine. That’s why I want a manufacturer nominated kit, or MoTeC. That pleases everybody. Everybody is on board, both Kelvin and John Redding would run MoTeC if they could. They said their customers will still use the kit stuff, because it’s cheaper, but race bikes for sure they’ll put MoTeC on them.
“They’ve been using the base ECU on the Kawasaki and Yamaha, which are similar, it’s the same ECU structure, etc. We had a BMW that one of our team members was riding at the recent test for fun, that had a full road ECU, road electronics, but I’ve modified the internal structure of the ECU, with audible traction control, it drops a cylinder, it does all the things our superbike does, and that’s what I said, you guys forget that at the end of the day, no matter what you do people will choose the one that makes the difference
“At the end of the day I’d be happy if we went to road ECUs, because that’s the ECU I’ve got in my race bike now. They’d go well you aren’t allowed to flash em, but there’s nothing in the rules and tech who’s smart enough to even work that out on these bikes anymore. The only way you get any sort of control over the electronic side of this game is by putting someone like myself or Justin Woolich in rules and tech that use these ECU’s day in and day out, that is the only way anyone would be able to stay on top of it. It’s just gotten out of hand.”
So ok it’s out of hand, lets go back to MoTeC, everyone could run the MoTeC?
“If we have to run the MoTeC with standard ECU so be it. Or you allow us to run a MoTeC that is a little higher spec than BSB use. That was the first thing I argued with , they said ‘if we go BSB’, and I said no, turning the traction control off does not help new riders. Why do you think there’s no one in BSB that’s a brand new kid. They are all late 30s that are the fast guys. Why, because they’ve never ridden with traction control. You need to leave the wheel speed sensors and IMU’s in there.
“We are all agreed that yes MoTeC is dearer than what Kawasaki and Yamaha are using now, but it’s not that much dearer. Lets do it. Lets put MoTeC ECUs in everything as an option. We’re not making it mandatory we’re giving you an option.
“Speak to Craig McMartin (Boost Mobile Ducati), he can put another four bikes on the grid if we can use MoTeC ECUs, privateers. “
And a Team’s Association being formed here…
“That’s where it all started, our lack of representation, but we’ve been talking about this for ten years, but you never get everybody together. Everybody already has their own agenda, and it does my head in. So yes we’ve all got our own machine and want to win, but at the same token, we’re all going to go racing regardless, and spend bucketfulls of money, why don’t we have some control over where our bucketfulls of money go is beyond me.”
Essentially on the back of this ECU furore we could see the rules change again in 2022 and bring in a control ECU, after people have made all huge new investments for this season…
“It should be a third ECU option, so you can have manufacturer nominated kit, road ECU with flash, which as I said would suit me fine, or an M.A .approved MoTeC unit. If they were smart they’d go to MoTeC who are based in Croydon in Melbourne, and go ‘alright we’re going to buy 30 ECUs what sort of deal can you do‘, as a supplier, and they would probably make some money themselves.
“It’s not rocket science, the costs are spiraling out of control, there’s no logic to it, but it’s the same as us not racing at Eastern Creek… I’m going to Eastern Creek on Saturday night, to night race, they are only allowed to have 1000 spectators, that’s the limit with COVID and those tickets will sell out. They will sell out tonight, as soon as they release them. The crowds up there have been great with the night racing.It’s the future and it’s exciting. Saint George Motorcycle club and in particular Mick O’Brien have done an incredible job up there, they fill two 42 bike superbike grids at every event. Racing in Sydney is on the up, but we don’t go there…?
“But anyway that’s me done unloading for now, I’m just frustrated with the lack of transparency, that is my biggest issue with it all. Making decisions and making big decisions, without any consultation, to the competitors involved, especially when Craig Mcmartin, jumped through a million hoops already trying to get the motec approved is very disappointing.
“Hopefully the teams can all get together and get someone in the door at M.A. that supports us the competitors, and crazy decisions like this will not happen in the future.”
2021 Australian Superbike Championship Calendar
Australian All Wheels Race Fest (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC)
Phillip Island, VIC
Feb 19-21, 2021
Winton Motor Raceway (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC, Sidecar)
Mar 12-14, 2021
Wakefield Park Raceway (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC, Sidecar)
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