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.
Does MotoGP need a combined bike/rider weight limit?
Some say current technical regulations are unfair for bigger riders like Petrucci and Rossi, so is it time to even things up a bit? Michelin and Ducati think so
Some years ago I thought MotoGP needed a combined rider/machine minimum weight. After all, I reasoned, if Formula 1 (where the car weighs around nine times more than the driver) has a combined limit, surely it would make sense in MotoGP (where the bike is a bit more than twice the weight of the rider).
So I talked with several MotoGP engineers and technical director (now race director) Mike Webb. They were all convinced this wasn’t the way to go. They said it’s swings and roundabouts, especially in the case of soon-to-retire Dani Pedrosa whose advantages on the swings (the straights) are easily outweighed by his disadvantages on the roundabouts (the corners).
Fair enough. The engineers know a hundred times more than me about the science of bike racing, so I forgot all about it. Moto2 and Moto3 both have combined minimum weights, but they have a fraction of a MotoGP bike’s horsepower, so they are very different cases.
But now the subject is back on the agenda, because in recent years everything has been done to equalise the performance of all the bikes on the MotoGP grid: same-for all basic engine specs (four cylinders, 81mm bore), same-for-all tyres, same-for-all electronics and so on.
Which is why it’s more difficult than ever for engineers to adapt bikes to suit riders who aren’t of average build and it’s more difficult than ever for those riders to ride the bikes, especially with the current Michelin tyres.
It might be coincidence, but statistics seem to bear this out: the average weight of the back half of the MotoGP grid is 71.4kg, against an average 68.5kg for the current top 10 and an average 66kg for the podium finishers at the last 10 races. Imagine what it’s like being Pedrosa (160cm/51kg), Danilo Petrucci (above, 181cm/78kg) or Scott Redding (185cm/78kg). And can it be mere coincidence that the giant of the grid, Redding, is to lose his ride at the same time as MotoGP’s teeniest rider Pedrosa (160cm/51kg)?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.