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.
Suzuki’s GSX-RR: don’t touch a thing!
Suzuki won last year’s MotoGP championship with the GSX-RR, so what should the factory do to help the bike retain the crown in 2021?
Imagine you’re sat around a table with half a dozen Suzuki engineers in the factory’s race department, discussing what needs to be done to the GSX-RR MotoGP bike for 2021.
If I was there I’d be screaming: “Don’t touch a thing!”.
More than ever MotoGP engineering is a balancing act – a 220mph highwire act. The latest 1000s have too much of everything: too much horsepower, too much torque, too much braking, too much lean angle, too much electronics, too much aero. And all those elements must be transferred to the racetrack via Michelin’s very fussy front and rear slicks.
Therefore the secret to winning isn’t using any single performance element in extremis, but rather balancing them all out, so they work in harmony, without one negatively impacting the others.
Currently the GSX-RR rides that highwire better than anything else, because it gets the best out of the hard-to-please Michelins, generating more grip from lights-out to chequered flag.
“We have a way to understand the tyres and our results come from our attention to the tyres,” confirms Ken Kawauchi, Suzuki’s MotoGP technical manager.
Suzuki’s greatest challenge for the new season is to get more out of the Michelins in qualifying. Last season Joan Mir started only four of 14 races from the front two rows of the grid. MotoGP is now so tightly contested that a rider starting even from the third row of the grid usually wastes too much time and burns his tyres trying to fight his way through the pack.
No doubt Mir would’ve taken more than one victory in 2020 if he had been able to start from the front. To prove the point, the only race he did start from the front row was August’s Styrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, which he was leading by two seconds when the red flags came out.
So how do Mir and team-mate Álex Rins achieve better grid slots in 2021?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.