MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Putting the brakes on
Many years ago I asked Wayne Rainey what’s the fastest he had been on a motorcycle. He told me 201mph at Yamaha’s Fukuroi test track. How did that feel? “It felt like it needed another tooth off the rear,” he replied. In other words, the speed itself meant zilch; his only concern was gaining more speed by raising the gearing a fraction. Not even a hint of a buzz or of fear. “It doesn’t matter if you’re doing 150 or 205,” he added. “You don’t feel the sensation.”
On the correct gearing a 2014 YZR-M1 would surpass 220mph at Fukuroi, which is why many MotoGP riders are now asking for top speeds to be reduced. MotoGP bosses agree on this one because they are terrified of the consequences of a 200mph-plus accident.
“We have the first signals that something may happen on the straight, so this is what we must address now, says Dorna’s Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli. “We have to do something.”
Accidents forcing change
That first signal came last year at Mugello when Marc Márquez crashed at 209mph. The World Champion miraculously walked away from the accident, but the next man to fall at such a speed may not be so lucky, especially if more than one motorcycle is involved.
Many riders believe that the weight of the latest MotoGP bikes is also part of the problem. The bikes now weigh 160kg or more, up from 115kg in 1990, following the switch to four-strokes and a series of increases in the minimum weight limit to reduce the need for costly exotic materials. Cecchinelli doesn’t agree with the riders on this one, because the laws of physics say that weight plays only a minor role in dissipating energy while slowing from speed.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.