MotoGP Descendes Into The A-hole... The Scourge Of All Motor Racing


Seeking Skill-based Meritocracy... More HP Less DF
Apr 21, 2016
Rather suddenly in 2022, MotoGP has been sucked into the aerodynamics black hole, and all players in the MotoGP circus are beginning to wonder if there is a way out, or will the racing spiral downward as F1, Nascar, and really just about every other major league form of motor racing has done. Suddenly, clean air is king and trailing bikes are seriously disadvantaged in overtaking attempts.

Aprilia A-Hole.jpg

MotoGP has dallied with aerodynamic downforce for several years, led by Ducati with all the others soon following. Wheelie control (without modulating torque) was the initial goal, but along with it came harder front bite in the braking zones. That begat greater loads on the front tires... more downforce and harder braking... and trailing riders who get less cooling air to the front tires are suffering excessive front temps and pressures and loss of braking grip. They can't overtake. And the introduction of ride height devices front and rear just multiplies the situation.

The result has been a dramatic decrease in overtaking this year, and some races have been downright processional. Things should be better at Mugello this weekend, as the circuit is more flowing, more driven by corner speed. But at the stop-and-go circuits, the show has suffered.

David Emmett at has published a brilliant analysis of the situation. He doesn't solve the problem, but he frames the issues and explains the nuances really well. What do y'all think Dorna and the FIM should do?

Thanks for bringing this up, Lew.
This development wih all those devices and aerodynamical stuff has been going on for a while but it didn't really affect the racing a lot... until this year. Just like in every other racing series, all the aero stuff hurts the racing.
To me it really became apparent during the races at Argentina and Jerez. At Termas Aleix Espargaro was clearly faster than Jorge Martin but it took him forever to finally make the pass. Same at Jerez with Aleix and Marc Marquez following Jack Miller for like 20 laps.
It's also a safety issue. Lap times and top speeds are reaching new records at almost all tracks to the point that it becomes dangerous. (Jorge Martin actually set a new world record at Mugello with 363.6 kph) At some tracks the gravel traps are becoming too small for these speeds. I don't care if the lap times are 3 seconds slower and the top speed is "only" 340 kph, that difference isn't visible with the naked eye anyway.
The front ride height device will be banned for next season but more steps have to be taken.

Nonetheless, MotoGP is still a very exciting championship and I ordered my ticket for the German GP yesterday. There weren't a lot of tickets left (at least in turn 1) so I hope the place will be packed. Less than three weeks to go!
The David Emmett article talks a lot about the politics in the paddock and how those political nuances make it difficult to implement change. But as @donthaveanickname points out, rider safety is an issue here, and that can open up additional levers for Dorna to ram through rules changes.

As for me personally, I'm 100% in favor of banning aerodynamic wings (easier said than done) and artificial ride height devices... and a host of electronic rider aids as well. I fully understand the contributions MotoGP electronics have made toward making street bikes safer, but I'm not persuaded that street bike electronics have to come from MotoGP any longer. Ban launch control. Ban computer controlled engine braking. Ban torque maps specific to what gear you're in and what lean angle. And on and on.

I can't be opposed to some form of traction control designed to prevent high-side crashes. That is too big of a safety deal, and I've had enough high-side moon launch attempts to never want to see another. But I'd favor capping electronic rider aids there and require rider skill to take over the rest of it. I realize that's a fastasy that has no chance. That horse is too far gone from the barn. But it is what I'd favor if I had a vote in the matter.
In the time since this thread was opened, Ducati introduced a rear wing and Aprilia's F1 engineers developed an "underbody" for their bike.
None of this helps the racing but if this amount of R&D spending continues Suzuki won't remain the only manufacturer to leave the championship.
MotoGP's popularity is in decline and running 42 races next year won't stop that decline, getting back to the racing of 2016-20 will. That kind of racing can still be seen in the Superbike World Championship.
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