Formula 1000 Motec Conversion Project

The Project -

The Formula 1000 race car uses a motorcycle engine, 1000cc to be exact and 1000 lbs. min weight.  The race car and class has been around now since 2006 and raced in SCCA's FB class until the end of 2018.  Once SCCA shutdown the FB class they allowed the remaining FB racers to compete in the FA class which continues as of today in the US Majors.

As of Dec 2018, SCCA FB rules remain in place now that they race in the FA class with two changes, (1) the Throttle Bodies are Open and (2) the ECU is open.

My winter project started end of 2020 by rethinking how I may be able to gain more performance and if possible at a higher level of reliability.  I decided to replace my engines OEM ECU with Motec so I have 100% control over the engines tune.  Yes, the OEM ECU can be flashed and it works for the most part but there are trim tables and functions which are black-box.  Motec eliminates that problem.  I use ZX10R 2019 and newer engines for reference.


Once I decided to switch to Motec ECU the rest of the system design started.  First was a focus on the ECU, I decided to move to closed-loop lambda control for fuel management.  Drive-by-wire was another plan but this was the first time as previously the ability to shift using Geartronics was a deciding factor keeping me away from DBW.  While I was at it, I wanted to add knock sensors.  Not that it was going to help engine performance but it added another safety factor in my mind when pushing the race engine hard in extreme conditions.  I also looked into upgrading the engines trigger wheel as it was only 24 minus 2 teeth and the lack of camshaft position sensor for sync was odd.

#1 ECU - I selected Motec M150 ECU.  It had fair more channels than I would need but having the extra channel headroom seems like a good move.

#2 Drive-By-Wire - that added a problem to solve.  In working with Geartronics they convinced me that I should consider their GPRP (Motec package) own package vs. using Motec's M1 series package.  So, I took a leap of faith and decided to do that but as a safety factor I purchased both Motec and Geartronics package.  Ideally, if removing the Geartronics GCU from the car and integrating that functions into the M1 ECU it make sense.  Throttle blip, ignition cuts all within the ECU.

#3 Injectors, my approach was to use the engines OEM throttle bodies and injectors (2 per cylinder). 

#4 Closed-loop lambda, this was straight forward with Motec as a standard supported option.  I went with dual CAN NDK sensors for redundancy.

#5 Timing wheel, Sync-Ref - As I mentioned earlier I was looking into building a larger tooth trigger wheel and fitting the engine with a conventual camshaft sensor.  After a lot of thought, I decided to use the OEM approach.

#6 Knock sensors, I added two sensors between cylinder 1-2 an 3-4.

Logging - 

While Motec ECU's provide their own channels and logging capabilities they do not have a display and fail to have many of the features of a high end data logger.  I decided to use Motec L180 embedded data logger for this purpose.  It allows the ECU to only have engine management responsibility and the Logger does the rest.

The L180 controls all of the chassis and other sensors, gathers the data feeds from the ECU and provides a centralized data logging for Motec i2 Pro analysis software.   The L180 has many features such as 1000hz logging with 250MB of internal storage.  Also supports 4 CAN buses, telemetry and many more features.

In addition, I selected a super high end GPS from RaceGrade - 20Hz and 60cm position accuracy is superb.

Dash - 

You need to have a way to see what is going on from inside the car.  I did not have any room for a car based dash so I decided to use the small Motec D153 module.  A completely programmable display allows me to display just want I want.  Fitting this dash with the Motec SLM, provides another programmable shift light module directly on the steering wheel.

Power Management - 

Down the path of replacing the entire car's wire harness and rethinking of improving everything I ended up deciding to replace all of the old mechanical power relays in the car.  Move to 100% solid state seems light the right approach and I selected the Motec PDM15.  It has more than enough I/O and flexibility for my needs.  Now I have a programmable power module to drive and monitor every specific think in the car such as Fuel pump, water pumps and so on.

Telemetry - 

Motec makes a fantastic real time telemetry 4G solution for race cars.  I had to jump on this so I can provide such data directly to the pit wall. 

Wifi - 

If you do not know, Motec new systems all have ethernet so I decided to add a dedicated hotspot to the car with its own 4-channel Ethernet hub and 4G access.  This provides direct access to the car around the garage with ease.


To wrap up, the project was large.  Engine performance exceeded my expectations a lot.  We saw 233 HP as you can see below.  George Dean racing engines is where we did all of our tuning with the addition of experienced Motec engineers.


I hope you find this interesting, if you want to talk about this give me a ring.

If you are interested in converting your race car to Motec I can help.  Specifically for ZX10R GEN5 or newer using my work, I can save you many thousands of dollars and time.  I spent 6 months resolving these issues.

cheers, Mark Nixon