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.
MotoGP and the secret life of asphalt
MotoGP teams are starting to take a lot more interest in the track surface. Mat Oxley explains why - along with the reason some riders use kerbs for traction control
It’s an old racing truism that the most important part of a racing motorcycle is its tyres. Why? Because the tyres are the interface between motorcycle and race track, so whatever engineers do to the engine, chassis and electronics is for nothing if it can’t be transferred to the track.
And yet it’s an often overlooked fact that the tyres are only 50 per cent of this interface; the other half being the race track itself. This is why engineers and riders are starting to think a lot more about how increased knowledge of the track surface can help them go faster.
Inevitably, this has been a thing in Formula 1 for a while. F1 teams spend huge amounts, using companies like Dromo to help them analyse the asphalt.
“Tyres and tyre management are the key to a good race performance,” says Jarno Zaffelli, founder of Dromo, which has designed and remodelled circuits from Silverstone to Termas de Rio Honda and from Sepang to Misano. “F1 teams measure the grip optically or electronically, then we help them understand what’s important and what isn’t.
“In F1 they spend millions on this, but in MotoGP they’re still not really doing this, at least not all the teams. For sure the match between tyres and asphalt is an important relationship for riders and teams to understand.”
Dromo has worked for a couple of factory teams at MotoGP events and there’s little doubt that its expertise will be more in demand as the racing becomes closer, making even the tiniest advantage worth paying for.
Zaffelli’s focus on asphalt chemistry and track design makes him more knowledgeable than most in these areas, right down the tiniest details most people wouldn’t even consider.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.