The ECU saga in ASBK
By Trevor Hedge
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.
The subject of homologated ECU’s was also the cause of much consternation last season, 2020.
Boost Mobile Ducati, this year known as McMartin Racing, had worked with NF Importers, the now previous importer for Ducati Motorcycles in Australia, to put MoTeC forward as the nominated ECU. A MoTeC ECU costs under 3k but by the time it has been set-up to run the motorcycle, with a dash and loom etc, generally you are up for more than double that.
The MoTeC was listed as the nominated ECU just prior to the start of ASBK season 2020, but that approval was subsequently withdrawn by M.A. The reason stated by Motorcycling Australia for that approval being rescinded was that Ducati themselves were not the ones that had put forward the request for MoTeC homologation. The change over from NF Importers to Ducati Australia now being a wholly owned subsidiary of Ducati no doubt didn’t help matters in regards to potential confusion. Rightly or wrongly, this caused much ill will between McMartin/Maxwell and Motorcycling Australia last year.
For season 2021 Ducati Australia have nominated the Italian Magneti Marelli electronics kit, as supplied by Ducati Corse. The ECU itself ‘only’ costs around $7000 AUD. But with all the associated harnesses, logging sensors and switches the total price blows out to just over $25,000 AUD. Put that on both your race bike and your spare bike and that’s 50k you’ve just dropped. We sought a statement from Ducati Australia on the subject.
Ducati Australia Statement regarding ASBK ECU
“We at Ducati are incredibly proud of the success and the championships that have been won in Australia in 2019 and 2020 on the standard Panigale 1299 FE and the Panigale V4 R. As per the current Australian Superbike Championship rules any ECU changes have to be nominated by the motorcycle manufacture. Consistent with our commitment to support racing and Ducati teams in Australia and with the help of Ducati Corse, we have nominated and homologated the genuine Ducati ECU following the request of one of the Ducati teams. The ECU forms part of a kit and is currently being used in other national championships globally. Now this Ducati ECU is available to any Ducati team in Australia who wish to implement.”
So how do those Ducati costs compare to other brands?
At 50k Honda’s CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is the second most expensive bike on the ASBK Superbike grid and it’s also not cheap to go racing with. We believe the cost of the HRC kit ECU is around $7000 AUD, then the associated wiring is around another $2500 AUD. If you want extensive data logging capabilities you will need to spring for a separate system such as MoTeC or the like, but that can be had for well under $3000. So, essentially, we are still getting up over 12k to spend on electronics to bring out the best of the Fireblade, and that is at racer pricing.
We are led to believe the set-up homologated for use by BMW in ASBK 2021 is around $8000 AUD, inclusive of switch-blocks, wiring harness, race ECU and MoTeC dash/data-logging system.
Over at Yamaha, YRD supported riders pay just over $3000 AUD for the GYTR ECU, wiring harness and download cable. What they cost a punter over the counter I am not sure, but pretty much everyone racing an R1 in ASBK is a YRD supported rider in some way thus this is what they pay. The system has some basic data logging capabilities but a front runner will invest in a separate dedicated data logging set-up from the likes of MoTeC or AIM which can cost anywhere between $1000 and $3000 AUD, depending on how far you want to go down that rabbit hole.
It is a similar story over at Kawasaki with the ECU, wiring harness and data cables coming in at around $4.5k (2020 pricing), and if you want to run a separate data logging system you are up for another $1000 to $3000 AUD. Some do, such as the BC Performance squad, while leading privateer Matt Walters just runs the kit ECU and has no real data logging capability.
Suzuki homologated the Yoshimura EM-Pro which complete with wiring harness costs under $3000 AUD. Again, like most of the others, a separate data logging system is required to fully kit out the bike for high level ASBK Superbike competition, which effectively could double that price, depending on how far you want to go.
Is a control ECU on the horizon?
There are certainly plenty of people pulling in this direction. A locked down control MoTeC ECU seems to make perfect sense, and has been a proven option in British Superbike.
But with some massive investments being made this year in different electronic set-ups, both in financial terms and man-hours, those teams certainly won’t be too keen writing off those investments after a single season. Thus, while many are in favour of an across the board standard ECU, that unfortunately may be unlikely for some time yet, unless the likes of the Ducati and Honda teams are willing to write off some big losses on the back of the investments they have made for this season.
And at the end of the day, we also have to remember that the 2020 Australian Superbike Chamiponship was run by a Ducati V4 R running a completely standard ECU….