Austin, Texas

Tom's Tech Treasures: Aero And Frames From The Barcelona Test, Part 1

Valentino Rossi's finger-operated rear brake
Peter Bom: To be able to apply the rear brake deep into right-hand turns (where space to operate the foot pedal runs out), some riders are experimenting with the idea of operating the brake with one or two fingers of the left hand. Valentino Rossi is one of those riders, trying the system at the Monday test after the Barcelona race. The current state of technology in MotoGP, and especially the type of tires being used, makes using the rear brake crucial at various points around a circuit. The rear brake is used particularly to help the bike turn mid-corner. The question is now whether we will see more riders use finger brakes, and at more points in the track.

Spirit level on Dani Pedrosa's rear wheel
Peter Bom: A spirit level in the rear wheel, at a right angle to the direction of travel. Never seen one before or heard of one being used outside of endurance racing, where the wheel stand is asymmetric to be able to stand the bike up horizontally in a pit lane which is not horizontal. I would take an educated guess that the MotoGP teams use a spirit level to ensure the rear wheel is horizontal to be able to zero out the accelerometer sensors, especially the lateral sensor.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Ducati’s double-barrelled MotoGP strategy

How Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci are working together to give Ducati the edge in wheel-to-wheel battles. And why this new strategy might add fuel to the aerodynamics fire

Team-mates have always been a big deal in motorcycle racing. Or team-hates, as some people call them.

The old saying goes that your team-mate is the first guy you have to beat because he’s the only rider on the grid with the exact same equipment. So, if he beats you, you’re in as much trouble as your ongoing contract negotiations.

Back to top

Tom's Tech Treasures: A Close Look At MotoGP Updates At Austin

Ducati GP19 swingarm attachment
Peter Bom: The now (in)famous aerodynamic modification on the Ducati, which they claim channels extra air onto the rear tire, which keeps it cooler and improves performance. Since its introduction, we have also seen a similar device on the Honda RC213V, and we expect to see more at Jerez.

Honda RC213V swingarm attachment, side view

Back to top

Santi Hernandez On Marc Marquez, Part 2: On What Makes Marc Marquez Special, And How He Prepared For That

In part one of my interview with Santi Hernandez, crew chief to Marc Márquez, Hernandez talked about how the team come up with the strategies which have given them a competitive advantage in MotoGP. In this second part, Hernandez moves on to talk about what makes Marc Márquez so special.

Hernandez discusses how Márquez pairs exceptional talent with absolute effort, and about Márquez attitude to risk, and how he balances the risk with the need to find the limit. This is a crew chief's view of what exactly makes a rider special.

Q: What about Marc is special? Is there something special in his riding – throttle, braking, balance? Anything like that?

Santi Hernandez: Yeah, he changed a lot from 2013 and now. He has more experience. He knows the bike much more, but also he learned about the championship. He learned how if you want to win the title you have to… At the beginning, he was all or nothing. Now he understands.

Q: Last year he won the championship on all the days when he didn't win the race.

SH: This is what I am saying. Of course, he learned, but for me the most key point for him is he always gives 100%, 120%, from FP1 until the race. It is good to work with a rider like this, because all the data you have is very good. It's not like one lap slower, one faster, two slower. Then it's so difficult, even for the rider, to choose the tire, the setup. So it's better that the rider always goes out, and even if the bike is not the best, he does 120%.

Back to top

Santi Hernandez On Marc Marquez, Part 1: On Strategy, Taking Risks, And Learning From Mistakes

Motorcycle racing is a team sport. Even when exceptional talents come along, they need help to succeed, from mechanics, from crew chiefs, from the people around them. Freddie Spencer had Erv Kanemoto, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi had Jeremy Burgess, Casey Stoner had Cristian Gabarrini. And now, Marc Márquez has Santi Hernandez.

The Spaniard has been with Márquez since he moved up to the Moto2 class in 2011. Since then, he has been Márquez' crew chief for the Monlau Repsol team, and the Repsol Honda team in MotoGP. In their eight years together, the pair have won six of Márquez' seven Grand Prix titles, proving the success of the partnership.

But Hernandez is not just a vital part of the engineering side of Márquez' success, he has also been instrumental in the other ways in which the reigning world champion has changed the face of racing. Márquez and his crew are renowned for understanding strategy better than anyone else in the paddock. It was Márquez who first went for a two-stop strategy during qualifying. It was Márquez who gambled on coming in early when the track was drying at Brno in 2017, going on to win by 12 seconds. It is Márquez who finds advantages in places other riders and their teams fear to look.

Santi Hernandez is a key part of that decision making. I sat down with Marc Márquez' crew chief in Austin, to talk about how they identify and choose new strategies, why they can afford to gamble, and what happens when it goes wrong. In the second part of this interview, published on Saturday, we go on to discuss what makes Marc Márquez such a special rider, and how he manages himself under such extreme pressure.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Álex Rins

Three days before he rode to his first MotoGP victory at COTA we sat down with Álex Rins to find out how he extracts the maximum from Suzuki’s GSX-RR

Would you say you are a very smooth rider?


Does this come from you working out that this is now the best way to ride a MotoGP bike or does it come naturally?

Back to top

Austin MotoGP Race Round Up: Making History, Yamaha's Revival, And The Future Of The US GP

There are only three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and Marc Márquez winning any MotoGP race organized in the United States of America. That has been true since the Spaniard moved up to MotoGP, and for both years he spent in Moto2 as well. There is something about America which makes Márquez nigh on invincible. Is it the anticlockwise tracks? Is it the low grip and tricky surfaces found at the circuits? Or is high fructose corn syrup Márquez' equivalent of Popeye's spinach?

MotoGP went to Austin hoping this might be the year when things changed. With good reason: the racing in the series has been getting closer and closer almost on a race-by-race basis. Valentino Rossi finished just 0.6 seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso at Qatar, but he crossed the line in fifth place. In Argentina, the seven riders fighting for second place were separated by 3 seconds on the penultimate lap. The Ducati Desmosedici GP19 is faster and better than ever, the Yamaha M1 has made a huge step forward since 2018, and the Suzuki has consistently been in the hunt for podiums since the middle of last year.

That is all very well and good, but the margin of Marc Márquez' victory in Termas de Rio Hondo suggested that ending Márquez' reign in the US would require something extraordinary to happen. The Repsol Honda rider had a 12 second lead going into the last lap in Argentina. The Honda RC213V had the highest top speed in both Qatar and Argentina, the bike having both more horsepower and better acceleration. Then, during qualifying, Márquez took pole – his seventh in a row at the Circuit of the Americas – with an advantage of more than a quarter of a second over Valentino Rossi. Normal service had been resumed.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The man who mistook his aero device for a hat

MotoGP’s aero war is raging, with Aprilia the latest to fit a swingarm device, so what’s next for the rules? Should aero stay or should it go?

These words you are reading are not part of a MotoGP article, they are the opening sentences of the first chapter of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

Back to top


Subscribe to Austin, Texas