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Yamaha talks next generation electronics

“Parallel development of the next generation of electronic control is ongoing. As soon as we reach good enough results we will introduce it”- Masahiko Nakajima, Yamaha.

Yamaha is planning to introduce its next generation of MotoGP electronics early in the 2012 racing season.

Masahiko Nakajima, general manager of Yamaha's Motorsport Development Division, explained that the current control system fitted to the new 1000cc M1 is an extension of technology used for the previous 800cc machine.

However, the next generation of electronics are being developed in parallel.

"We have changed the electric control - especially traction control, wheelie control and also engine braking - for the 1000. But the electric control is still not the new generation," explained Nakajima, speaking during last week's Sepang test.

"The current developments are based on the same electric control strategy as last year, but parallel development of the next generation is ongoing. As soon as we reach good enough results with the next generation we will introduce it.

"I can't say exactly when, but I hope early in the season."

Yamaha has been developing this next generation, in partnership with Magneti Marelli, since last year.

Asked to explain the advantages of the new system, Nakajima explained that it would be more suited to the complexities of real world motorcycle dynamics.

"The existing generation of computer has a motorcycle 'model' inside, so the computer knows things like 'now the bike is standing up, or banking, or braking, which corner'. This is normal. Our competitors' control systems also work like this," he began.

"For the next generation we need a more precise motorcycle model inside the computer and also how to actuate the engine or chassis more effectively. You have to reconsider these areas to make another step."

Another crucial factor will be to create a more intuitive relationship between rider and electronics.

"If a rider can believe in the bike, they can go faster," said Nakajima. "For example, the present traction control or wheelie control is sometimes disturbing the rider's control.

"They want to accelerate, but when the tyre starts to spin sometimes the ECU responds at the wrong moment, or in the wrong way. The timing and 'philosophy' of the control is very important. It is a very critical area."

A more tangible goal will be to improve acceleration, which Nakajima named as Yamaha's main focus for the 2012 M1.

"After last year we made acceleration performance our top priority - chassis wise, engine wise and electronics wise," said Nakajima, whose riders were often outgunned in a straight line during 2011.

In pursuit of that goal, and in addition to the changes made for the present electronics, Yamaha has "changed the chassis rigidity. It looks not so different from the outside, but it is quite different in terms of the balance of the rigidity."

The 1000cc engine also has "torque delivery characteristics specifically to help acceleration performance and make it more rider-friendly."

Nakajima feels the new M1 - in the hands of factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies - is currently lacking two or three tenths of consistent pace relative to Honda's reigning world champion Casey Stoner, fastest in both pre-season tests so far.

But Yamaha will not introduce any major new parts during the third and final official pre-season test, at Jerez from March 23-25, which will instead be dedicated to machine set-up for the opening round.

"In Jerez we have to concentrate on the opening race. So we won't change too much," he said. "We have been testing many items at Sepang, but at Jerez we have to concentrate on which direction to go, so the riders are not confused for the first race. We have to choose one spec, or a maximum of two, for Jerez."

Following Jerez, the first race of the 2012 season will take place at Qatar on the evening of April 8.

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