After a spectacular championship debut, MotoGP is flying to South America for the Argentina GP that is being held from March 29 to 31 at the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo. Located in the province of Santiago del Estero in the north of Argentina, the circuit was designed by Italian Jarno Zaffelli. The brakes chosen by all of the teams and riders in the premium class are also Italian, Brembo naturally.
Every year, the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo hosts dozens of car competitions so when the MotoGP bikes land in Argentina, they are faced with a very dirty track. In the first free practice session of 2016, there was a great deal of sand on the asphalt and the lap times were recorded at 1’43’’-1’44’’. These times were reduced by more than three seconds less than 24 hours later and by another second in the Q2. According to Brembo technicians, the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo falls into the category of circuits that present a mid-level of difficulty on the brakes. On a scale of 1 to 5, it earned a 3 on the difficulty index, the same score given to nine other tracks including Losail, which hosted the season's inaugural race.
The demand on the brakes during the GP
The 14 curves on the track correspond to eight braking points, three of which are on the T4. Despite these delays, the T4 remains the fastest of the four split times that the track is divided into. Only Phillip Island, Spielberg and Buriram with seven braking sections per lap, have fewer braking sections than Termas de Rio Hondo.
Each lap, the riders use their brakes for about 30 seconds, the same amount of time spent braking in Jerez, Mugello and Assen. The total time spent braking during the entire Argentina GP is 12.5 minutes, which is 30% of the overall duration of the race. The average peak deceleration per lap is 1.2G and this statistic would be higher if it weren't for the quick braking needed on curve 11 (from 202 km/h to 156 km/h, from 125.5 mph to 97 mph), that with 0.9G lowers the average. Summing up all of the force applied by a rider on the Brembo brake lever from the starting line to the checkered flag, the result exceeds 750 Kg (1,653 lbs).
Only at Phillip Island is there less physical effort required of the drivers. MotoGP bikes are equipped with Brembo 320mm (12.6") or 340mm (13.3") carbon discs while Superbikes use steel discs, so even if the physical demand is low for MotoGP, the Argentina GP demands more force from the MotoGP riders than Superbike riders: less than 500 kg (1,102 lbs) in Round 1 in Australia and 700 kg (1,543 lbs) in Round 2 in Thailand.
The most demanding braking sections
Of the eight braking sections at the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo, only two are considered very demanding on the brakes while four are of medium difficulty and two are light. Curve 5 is the most challenging because it is preceded by a 1.076-meters straightaway where the MotoGP bikes get up to 324 km/h (201 mph). This small hairpin turn forces the riders to go down to 81 km/h (50 mph), laying on the brakes for 6 seconds and applying a load of about 5.1 kg (11.2 lbs) on the lever for the Brembo master cylinder. In that precise moment, the pressure of the Brembo HTC 64T brake fluid reaches 10.9 bar, while braking, the bikes travel just over 297 meters (974 feet). It is worth mentioning the first one after the start line because of its 243 meters (797 feet) of braking space: the MotoGP bikes go from 277 km/h (172 mph) to 108 km/h (67 mph), but the deceleration is just 1.4G compared to the 1.5G at turn 5.
TheThe last time a 500cc/MotoGP bike without Brembo brakes won the Argentina GP was in 1982. In 1987 in Buenos Aires, Eddie Lawson took first place with Team Agostini's Yamaha, which he had entrusted to Brembo brakes as of one year prior.
In the 1990s, the Argentina GP was won three times by Mick Doohan's Honda, which benefited from the thumb master cylinder conceived of and built by Brembo engineers after the rider's terrible accident at the 1992 Dutch GP.
The five editions of the Argentina GP contested at Termas de Rio Hondo were also won by MotoGP bikes equipped with Brembo brakes: two victories for Marc Marquez, one for Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow and Maverick Viñales.