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Monday, February 20, 2012

Bosch Talks CRT MotoGP Electronics


NGM Forward Racing's Colin Edwards described electronics as the most important area of development after his debut on the new Suter-BMW CRT MotoGP bike at Jerez last November.

New to MotoGP, a class where there are few limits on electronic controls, Bosch faces a huge task in trying to catch-up with the likes of the established Magneti Marelli systems, which Edwards used as a Yamaha rider for the past seven years.

But during the team's second test, alongside the twelve manufacturer bikes earlier this month at Sepang, Edwards was able to close the gap to the top from 6.5sec to 5.1sec over the three days.

After the test Edwards, 3.5sec faster than the next best CRT rider present, said chatter had now replaced electronics as the team's biggest hurdle.

“At our first roll-out test in December at Jerez, we had some electronic issues that they solved and now I was really comfortable with how they smoothened out the power band,” said Edwards.

“What we are struggling with are the new Bridgestone tyres... At Jerez, we didn't have a chatter problem. But now, I have the worst chatter I have ever had in my life. Without that, I could go 1.5 seconds faster.”

A further 1.5sec would have put Edwards within one-second of the slowest of the manufacturer riders, ridden by Cardion AB's Karel Abraham.

Crash.net spoke to Ralf Schnee, head of the Bosch project, and development rider Michael Spahr about the company's MotoGP electronics. The first question was simple, where did they start?

“We have a lot of experience in automotive motorsports and the engine electronics work the same for motorcycles in terms of ignition, injection and some cylinder cut-off functions etc,” explained Schnee.

“I would say maybe 70-80% of the electronic functions are identical to car sport. The big difference for motorcycles is the riding dynamics. That is where we need special functions for motorbikes.

“But we had a good base to start from with our automotive race experience and so we began with a system that could be modified for use on racing cars and bikes. This ECU is actually also used in DTM this year, where Bosch is the single supplier for the championship.

“I've developed the system over the last two years and have a lot of experience with it. For the bikes, we have been working on it using a Honda Superbike at the factory, plus Michael our test rider. Then nearly a year ago we got the first call from Suter about MotoGP.

“As I've said, with motorcycles the big difference is the dynamic functions, especially the lean angle. If you have a lean angle on a car you have a problem!”

Spahr, a former German Supersport champion, added: “Also for the bikes you need some wheel-spin to steer, so the traction control works completely differently to the cars. This type of software is unique for the motorbike.”

“This is our second development step with the electronics,” continued Schnee. “The first step was at Jerez in November and now we have new software to improve the dynamics.

“A lot of what we are doing is calibrating the system to the rider's liking. Colin has given us very good feedback and we have developed the functions more and more. You can see that in the lap times also.”

The Bosch team will be seeking further lap time improvements during the second of the three official MotoGP pre-season tests, which starts at Sepang on February 28.

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