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Is a perfect MotoGP really necessary? Simple solutions to complex problems

More incidents, more rider replacements during the year, overtaking increasingly difficult. How to intervene with solutions that reduce the risk and improve the spectacle without forgetting that we must always safeguard the sporting aspect of motorcycle racing

Is a perfect MotoGP really necessary? Simple solutions to complex problems

On the eve of the penultimate European event - after which there will only be the showdown in Valencia - MotoGP arrives at Misano with several questions remaining to be answered.

Some regard the rider market, with important doubts still to be resolved: which of the five KTM riders will end up out of the team? Who will take Zarco's place in Pramac? Will Gresini replace Di Giannantonio or not? And again: with whom? Today there are no other riders if Morbidelli goes to Pramac. Unless they take Mir or Marquez.

We know that each of these questions has already had many answers, but nothing certain, nothing confirmed and the overseas trips - 7 to India, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Qatar - are looming.

Then there are the doubts about the regulations: while it is true that the technical norms will remain frozen until the end of 2026, the new ones will have to be defined much earlier, to allow the manufacturers to prepare the new prototypes.

Without changing the regulations immediately, neither Honda nor Yamaha will close the gap

 

It must be said that it is almost impossible to expect Honda and Yamaha to be able to make up the gap accumulated with the European manufacturers, with the same technical rules. Modifying them while things are going on would require investments that certainly no one wants to face.

But something must be done to slow down the bikes and ‘level out’ performance. Moreover, already with the prohibition of the front lowering system, Dorna has demonstrated that it can intervene on devices that are perfectly in order but frowned upon by some manufacturers.

So, with unanimity or not, we need to intervene here, also because this plaything called MotoGP, revamped this year with the doubling of the number of races thanks to the introduction of the Sprint and the revolution of the testing system, has proven not to be sustainable.

Too many incidents, star performers like Marquez and Quartararo reduced to the role of supporting players, are alarm bells that have been ringing since the beginning of the season so much so that now there are those who are talking about the introduction of a greater number of wildcards to justify the arrival of top-class reserve riders to fill in the gaps.

What's the point? To maintain the number of bikes on the grid? But if top riders get hurt, as was the case of Bastianini, and it might even have been that of Pecco Bagnaia, it is the spectacle that suffers. And no reserves will make up for that.

The expected duel between Enea and Pecco, in fact, has not taken place due to the Portimao incident with Luca Marini and this alone changed the championship, because we did not have what might have been like a Senna-Prost battle when they were in McLaren. Pity.

Liberalize the use of MotoGP bikes from a few years earlier for training purposes

 

So, what's the point of having a reserve rider? No point whatsoever if we're talking about a substitute in case of (too many) incidents. The response, to a situation of this type, should only be to realize that the new format is excessive, and as a result modify it so that the riders do not have to risk so much (double the races equals double the accidents, it's maths). Certainly not putting foot soldiers in line, in a hypothetical 'second line' of support. Cannon fodder. It would be a different matter if you want to develop young riders and then possibly promote them, but MotoGP is NOT Formula 1 and never will be. Let's get this straight. There is a lack of resources, especially economic ones. And then with testing limited, what do we allow these guys to ride on the track? The Ducati V4S, the R1 or the CBR RR-R.? Let’s be serious, please. If we really want to continue with this line of reasoning, then at the very least we will have to liberalize the use of the MotoGP bikes from a couple of years earlier, in order to familiarize young riders with the current complexity of the premier class bikes.

A brilliant idea? Not at all, it's logical. But there are those who think they are a genius; they might even be, but it's not logical.

But let's talk about the regulations. We always think of complex solutions, whereas some interventions would be extremely simple. Even with immediate effect. Because the job of those who write the laws must be to interpret the changes, to prevent problems.

Starting line-up: a simple and effective modification

 

Let's talk about the starts, for example. Today no one would ever think of starting MotoGP races like the 500s of the 70s or 80s in rows of five or even seven. In those days, a push start minimized the difficulty of the engine which was already at a minimum due to the power delivery of the two-strokes and the wheelie during acceleration.

Today with launch control and the various lowering devices, they all start like rocket-ships (well, apart from Maverick), so you could think of rows of two, rather than three. At this point, however, it would also be necessary to modify the quest for pole, because the current system that rewards a do-or-die lap for both the Sprint and the GP is unfair because it favours, or penalizes, twice.

And what can we do about the lack of overtaking, thanks to increasingly delayed braking or aerodynamic disruption?

Michele Pirro has been speaking about the phenomenon and, as he races in various categories, has a clear idea of the problem, which in two words is this: "the MotoGP bikes go really fast, riding them is a thrill, but today that delicate phase of the race is disturbed by the effect of the aerodynamics, which is not very predictable because you normally ride alone."

We can add something else: to slow down the quest for aerodynamics, the surface area must be reduced. A method that is certainly easier and more effective than inserting the fairing inside a template, as happens today. It is also possible to delimit the surfaces where aerodynamic appendages can be inserted. Lines are drawn and the game is done. Like when the 'dolphin' fairings that covered the front wheel were banned.

Extend braking distance to make overtaking easier

 

The result, with the current aerodynamics, and you can ask Bezzecchi for confirmation, is to find ourselves being sucked into the slipstream of the rider in front and arrive too fast without being able to stop. Result: overshooting at best, a crash at worst. But to lengthen the braking distances, or to make it less complicated, you would not only slow down the bikes by decreasing the power, but also by setting limits to the braking power.

Michele also admitted to us that he had tried ABS systems to minimize the risks of blocking but designed to reduce the diameter of the rotors (the discs), perhaps increasing their thickness for heat dissipation and safety reasons. If you know that with those brakes 100 meters are no longer enough to slow down but 120 are needed, it increases the braking distance length, making overtaking easier.

If we reduce the power and leave everything else unchanged, to slow down instead of 100 meters we will only need 80, and the problem will not decrease, but increase.

In short, there are also simple solutions to complex problems. Of course, we need to think about the show, but without forgetting that ours is a sport, and it must remain so. Therefore, not only technological research, but development applied to the human element which, unlike the mechanical one, has limits.

And let's remember one fact: the more perfect a vehicle is, the more it will level up the talent of those who ride it. The phenomenon will always have a small initial advantage due to its extreme sensitivity, but with experience and attempts it will be achieved more easily. Let's ask ourselves if this is what we want.

 

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