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Dashboard messages in MotoGP: Will there be team interference like in F1?


Before this year’s German MotoGP, the go-ahead was given for teams to send messages to the dashboards of riders while on track. Called ‘virtual pit boards’, the technology's introduction soon prompt the question, will MotoGP go the way of Formula 1 in allowing team interference?

With the announcement made on 28 June, members of the MotoGP and safety commissions allowed for the new technology to be used on a trial-basis, and will officially come into effect from 2018, for the premier and Moto3 classes, and from 2019 for the intermediate Moto2 class. 

There have been mixed reactions from MotoGP riders regarding this new system with some expressing their disagreement with this new addition.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow expressed to the difficulty of checking information on the dash. “I have difficulty with our own dash because we have so many things on it. We have buttons, numbers, lap-times, I have sectors, rev counter, RPM and shift lights. I don’t need to be reading, ‘do this, do that’,” he added.

Another rider opposed to the virtual pit boards is KTM’s Bradley Smith. “I’m opposed to the fact that guys want messages that allow them to interfere with the race. The race should be natural, the race should be the rider’s decision and it shouldn’t become like Formula 1, which can be dictated by the teams and strategies,” he told

Another concern for other riders is the length of the messages and the time these messages are sent. It would be nearly impossible to read while entering and exiting a corner, so the only time a rider will be able to make sense of this message will be on the straights.

“Be careful what you display there is almost no time to check the dashboard, especially in shorter tracks like Sachsenring. The messages must be something quick and easy,” Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro said.

One way we can see these messages as being beneficial is when Race Direction and teams communicate about changes in weather conditions, when it is time to pit and when a rider or the race has been flagged.

Reigning MotoGP world champion, Marc Marquez, looked at the advantages of having this technology. “For me, it can be a help for information in case you have a penalty. I think it will be helpful when you have a flag-to-flag race, maybe you can have some inputs there,” he said at a German press conference.

The virtual pit boards pose a safety concern for the smaller Moto3 class that has more than 30 riders out on track.With many crashes during race weekends, it is hard to imagine these younger, less experienced riders having the time to check their dashboards. 

MotoGP may never see the day teams speak directly into the ears of riders, but with this new virtual pit boards, a definite concern is the influence teams will have on what riders should do. Then again, it might not be all bad as riders have not suddenly lost all of their free wills, and can still choose to ignore messages from their teams, like we’ve seen from certain F1 drivers.

As for fans, the openness of team communication will disappear as the public will not be able to see what is displayed on their dashboards.

Herve Poncharal, Monster Tech3 Yamaha boss, said the dashboard messages will be an advantage as it will help the races to be closer and more exciting - we’ll just have to wait and see. So let’s keep our assumptions to a minimum and see what happens in the 2018 season, and hope we won’t be seeing any messages about ‘let team-mate pass’ in MotoGP.


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Article written by Laykin Rudolph
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