Barcelona MotoGP Subscriber Notes: A Champion Arises, A New Mr Consistency, Yamaha Speed, And Maverick's Misery

It turns out there is someone who wants to win the 2020 MotoGP championship after all. A couple of people in fact, and they are now starting to make an effort to actually win this thing. After last week at Misano, when the top four in the championship were separated by just 4 points, it was hard to discern a shape to the 2020 title chase. Unseasonably cold weather, a punishing track for tires, and the usual run of random racing incidents events shook up the championship at Montmelo. Now, a pattern seems to be emerging from the fog of racing war.

After Misano, just 4 points separated the top four. A week later, there are 24 points covering the first four places, and 8 points – twice what covered last week's top four – the gap from first to second place. The points spread between the top ten has nearly doubled, from 27 to 50 points.

At Misano, Takaaki Nakagami was highlighted as a rider still in with a shot of the championship, not least by Repsol Honda boss Albert Puig, in defense of the job Honda have done in 2020. The LCR Honda rider was seventh, but trailed the leader Andrea Dovizioso by 21 points. With 7 races still left to contest, Nakagami had a shot at the title which was anything but theoretical.

A week later, and Nakagami is still seventh in the championship. But his chances of actually lifting the 2020 title have gone from vaguely plausible to a very long shot indeed. Now, Nakagami is 36 points behind the leader, with only 6 races left. A 36-point deficit would require help from other riders to become champion, and to take points off Fabio Quartararo at two races at least. And if Dorna and the FIM are forced to cancel races once again if the second wave of Covid-19 currently gaining steam across Europe forces governments to impose new restrictions, then a 36-point deficit becomes pretty much insurmountable.

Shakeout at the top

At the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, two clear championship favorites emerged, and two others let their title chances slip away. Fabio Quartararo seized control of the 2020 title chase, while Joan Mir established himself as the chief challenger.

Former championship leader Andrea Dovizioso was taken out of contention by another Ducati rider, Avintia's Johann Zarco (who in the same motion, also lost any lingering chance of a seat in the factory team once Ducati announce their 2021 MotoGP line up on Wednesday. Maverick Viñales needed no help taking himself out of contention, swallowed up without a trace in the first lap of the race, and never reemerging to mount a challenge.

What happened? There are a number of issues to cover in these subscriber notes if we are to describe how we got to where we are now, and where we go from here. So here is what we will be discussing:

  •  how a war of attrition ended up with Fabio Quartararo (almost) cruising to victory
  •  Fabio Quartararo's championship worthy rider
  •  the strength of the Suzuki, and especially Joan Mir
  •  the real favorite for the championship
  •  why tire options were so limited, and how different tire strategies created an intriguing race
  •  how disaster struck for Andrea Dovizioso
  •  is Franco Morbidelli's speed deficit as bad as he claims
  •  how Takaaki Nakagami is flying under the radar, and is in line for a podium soon
  •  why Maverick Viñales had a terrible race, and whether this is a permanent feature of his racing

But first, it feels right to pay tribute to the winner. Here is how Fabio Quartararo took victory in Montmelo, and what it means in the championship.

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Good article!

Taka may be getting a podium soon, indeed! He also may be getting a clinica mobile visit soon. At the end of last year I posted here "Cal and Marc are at the top of my list for concern that they will get hurt next season. Sincerely concerned about them!" Nakagami too. He is doing GREAT and deserves much respect and praise. And concern. 

We are likely to see wee Suzuki win this Championship! With "snuck in the side door while we weren't looking" Mir. How great is that?! 

Now we head to Le Mans. Decent grip, rather stop and go. Ducati and perhaps KTM could have some advantage? Can Suzuki repeat strength? Might Quartararo get some home round bolstering?

Last year in Asphalt and Rubber, some guy named Emmett wrote up a nice pre-Le Man's piece that captures the track well. An update re 2020's bikes and note of temps can be added to a cut and paste for next article?


*Credited to  Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, though I would nominate Bibendum as the real inspiration.

Great stuff, as always David, thanks!

Kevin Cameron made some interesting observations (as always) about how the lads at Michelin have reacted in the past when one end of the bike or the other was getting a bit too grabby and upsetting the pilot. After digesting all the howls of anguish from the paddock in earlier times, they carefully replied; "you need to move some weight from the grippy tire to the non-grippy one". Except they said it in French and were probably a bit insufferable about it. Of course, since I view all French tire engineers as young Yves Montands, that description is probably just my own personal problem, and I am sure they were actually quite professional and helpful, and do not really look on this current dilemma as just a chance to re-shoot Le salaire de la peur.  

But steeped in Yves Montand ennui or not, they have a bloody good point. The Suzuki, in Q-Form, has too great of a rear weight bias. The rear grabs, the front pushes, and the Q-Times are mid-pack. And evidently this is also the case with fresh tires and a full fuel load at the start of a race. When some fuel burns off and the rear begins to lose a bit of traction, their bikes come into front/rear harmony and are the mutt's nuts for the last 1/3 of the race. Interestingly, this is exactly how Jeremy Burgess would set up Rossi's bikes back in their glory days. They were not always on pole, but nobody was quicker for the last ten laps. However, we also should note that "not on pole" back then meant starting on the front row from 3rd, not the fourth row from 10th as is common today.

Yamaha seems overly infatuated with rear traction these days. Of course, having spent the better part of the last 40 months polishing racing surfaces around the globe with their rear Michelins, this is a bit understandable. But their weight balance appears to now be pretty damn good for Q-Sessions, and in race trim maybe fully optimized at 1/3 to 1/2 race distance. After that they have to hope they did the first bit sweetly, because Michelins have another great Gallic trait...they remember all insults** and will repay each affront to their thermal health in kind over the closing laps.

This situation would seem to be a very ripe plum for some bright lads in Hamamatsu or Iwata to pluck by controlling the fuel load delta over race distance (to be better harmonized with the Michelin performance delta). Now, electric or hydraulic pumps for fuel transfer (if used strictly for weight re-distribution purposes) are verboten, but the swingarm pivot can easily power a mechanical pump which would not only be allowed, but is not even a new concept. There may have been others, but I seem to recall the great Peter Williams incorporated such a feature on his monocoque Norton. Light aircraft move fuel around all the time to maintain trim, and even the heavies take advantage of optimum fuel mass distribution.

Might not help HRC as-much, because they seem to have an issue with the rate of load transfer, as opposed to the total at each end. KTM seems to be also afflicted by load transfer rates, but less so than Honda. I put this down to two reasons: KTM has been paying far more attention to actual (as opposed to computer predicted) results for the last two years, and KTM's MotoGP effort is not managed by a bottled spider.

Aprilia has no such issues since their engines won't pull the skin off a rice pudding in their current tune, let alone rip the tread off a MotoGP Michelin.

From the Mouths of Manic-Depressive Babes

Maverick Vinales has reached the stage where he now fits the comments once applied to a hopeful young boxer by his own Trainer: "He has spasms of lucidity".

But one such spasm (which sadly may have been Top Gun's entire monthly quota) was pure genius; Sod chasing traction at the back (just like we have done at the last race , and the one before that, and the one...) and instead focus on optimizing the performance at the front. Which I think is dead-on correct. Let's face it, the Teams have been chewing on the rear Michelin squish-o-matic for ten months now, there are no demon tweaks or magic potions in the toolbox left to apply...if there ever were. The rear tire is the rear tire, and your motorbike is your motorbike. And Winter is Coming.

How to be Cool

Make the front your weapon of choice. For all the gravel naps this last weekend, how many were front end washouts? Exactly. There is not much of a future chasing additional rear grip solutions when 10X the computing power we used to get to the Moon and back is already deciding exactly how much force can be applied. Want to know how the back of a MotoGP bike really works? Ask the new guys. Brad Binder said it best, and to summarize: "it's amazing, as soon as you pick the bike up a little you just pin the throttle and the electronics sort it all out for you". So, unless there is a throttle setting past "pinned" that the riders have not yet used, they are already pretty much all-in. Pinning it to eleven will just insult the rear Michelin's sense of grandeur, and you will then be trying to sleep with Petrucci's short blanket, leaving only which part of the race do you want your feet to get cold to be decided.

But the front still has some meat on the bones for the better tuners to pick on. Yes, even in braking the rear Michelin will have its say, but optimizing the front for better braking and turn in, and living with the rear for the next six rounds, may be the path to the championship. Because racing on colder circuits will not make the rear Michelin Teddy Bear cuddly all of a sudden. And if you continue to sacrifice front end performance in a vain attempt to make a Teddy Bear out of an ill-tempered Badger, please remember that the rear might make you unhappy. But a neglected front will put you in the kitty litter faster than you can say "oh, merde".

And that is my one and only prediction for the rest of the year. Bet the house and a grand on whoever gets the front end working the best in semi-arctic conditions. Cheers.

Have we Forgotten?

Last I checked, Suzuki still has their mechanically controlled variable valve timing. And this still matters. I ran a very basic analysis of this a few years ago for a single cylinder on Lotus Engineering's freeware analyzer. I limited the cam position change (relative to the crank) to about eight degrees (or four degrees at the cam, which is what it appears a racing version would be in the general range of). I was not expecting any top-end miracles, and didn't find any (as this is primarily controlled by gas velocity). What I did find was far more attractive...a whole bunch of power between the torque peak and the bhp peak. VVT gave a really sweet powerband for a GP bike. 


We are all aware that the efficient MotoGP chassis flex laterally (i.e., parallel to the axles) in corners. Controlling this flex determines which bikes are happy leaned over when traversing bumps, and which are actively trying to kill the pilot. Scribes such as David, Mat Oxley, and KC have even described the "U" shape that the chassis assumes front to back, with the front tire pointed a bit more inwards in the turn, and the rear pointed a bit to the outside (which is a big advantage when turning). But I had always wondered "how much?". Well, I will have to go find the video again and share the appropriate link and time stamp, but in either Saturday Practice or Q sessions, one of the Yamaha's or Suzuki's popped both tires loose for a split second while well and truly stressed and immediately sprang back from U to straight. And the amount of deflection revealed staggered me. 20-30mm was my initial impression. No, I didn't scale it or attempt any hi-rez analysis...I just used a very old pair of Mk-20 eyeballs. But I think 20-30mm is a good ballpark estimate. To which I concluded; "Holy fucking yikes...that's a lot!". I will have another look for that vid (on MotoGP) when I can and share it. Cheers.

Stupid is as Stupid Does

I understand the thinking behind the 2020/2021 engine freeze. I don't like it, but I understand. What I do not understand is not allowing each manufacturer to supply as many copies of their "best" 2020 homologated engine to as many damn pilots as they please. What are they thinking? That giving Morbidelli (or a few of the B-Team Duck Pilots) a fully competitive engine will lead to...what...more competitive and exciting racing? God forbid. Besides, once KTM rolls out their next generation engine for 2021, and proceeds to absolutely gut the field from a motor standpoint (which I fully expect), the MotoGP Brahmins may suddenly find themselves wishing a few more pilots had a few more beans in the pot to offset this.

As to a situation where Petronas/SIC doesn't want to cough up the coins to upgrade Frankie, well, I am always here to help. Iwata just needs to say that if this is the case, they are taking Vale back and sending them Maverick instead. At which point Petronas will hock the family jewels if need be to get Frankie what he absolutely deserves. Cheers.


**I don't remember where I read this (KC again?), but it really doesn't matter, because I am stealing it. "Remembers all insults" is just too good of a ribbon not to be tied in a bow and hung on a rear Michelin to allow respect of authorship to interfere. Cheers.


As always a fantastic read!

I really don't understand giving Morbidelli the old bike when it's quite clear across the field that having a satellite team with the factory goodies is good for their results. For such a massive and professional effort, Yamaha does leave you scratching your head sometimes. He's a rider that can win races but are purposely holding him back. All the engines used this year will have hit their lifespan by the end of the season so why manuafacture an old version (assuming they aren't just telling Petronas to head past their storage shed and pull a few out to use in 2021...). Once they have fired the tooling up, making a new design vs an old design costs the same - right?

I read that Rossi will get the same bike as the factory boys at the start of 2021 but will not get the new parts as quickly as the season progresses. I agree - give the Petronas team full factory kit - there is no reason to penalise them when you have a factory team with an old bloke at the limits and another one who goes from hero to zero on a regular basis.

Isn't that the reason? What factory team wants to wilfully enable the country cousin to do better than them? Never mind the corporate blushes, losing to the satellite team week after week makes everyone in the team look a little less worth their salary than the folk on satellite side. Morbidelli is a serious threat. And Vale, if he can stop day-dreaming mid-race, can still be a serious nuisance. Especially on this years winning-est bike. As cousins, you want them to do well, that's always nice, but not THAT well.

Jinx, you need to stop doing this, my sides are hurting from laughing so much.

Ducati seem to have given into their Pramac 'country cousin' team. Time was when a Pramac ride was about getting a castoff bike from the previous year - now its full spec same year. 

...Ducati has spent 13 years trying to rediscover the magic ingredient. They've thrown everything at it, and a good few people under the bus along the way. Maybe they think Pramac can figure it out.

I didn't know/had forgotten Yamaha saying Petronas can have whatever they want. I can't believe that will continue beyond the point that Yamaha feel they've overcome their problems over the last few years. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, just think it's human nature to want to hang on to at least a little something to have an edge.

Great comments all!

But we can't forget the 200 meter tall nuclear powered lizard in the room, AKA Marc Marquez. Marc will be back next season (we all sincerely hope), and that will be like Godzilla booking another Holiday in Tokyo. That is not the time to start worrying about whether the volunteer fire department deserves hoses and nozzles as large as the professionals. Its Godzilla, mates, so pass out the biggest hose and nozzle combinations you have on the shelf to anyone willing to shoulder them.

Because when Marc starts incinerating the grid with his radiated exhalations next year, the issue will not be whether a satellite team might nudge the works lads off the podium and embarrass everyone in front of the Big Bosses. It will be about...well... what it has been all about for the last several years; who is going to be the least burned-up lad finishing well behind him at season's end?

If I were standing in the soon to be crispy bits of Tokyo, and someone offered me a second Mothra, I would jump on that offer like a Dickensian urchin on a second bowl of gruel. And, after offering my undying gratitude, I might also ask; "Say, mate, any more of those Mothra things back at the shop? We'll take all you got". It takes a Paddock to beat MM...Bumble and Mr. Limbkins are just not the men for the task. Cheers.

PS, If they are fresh out of Mothras, my next move would be to see if they could maybe send Godzilla a few more bottled spiders for company.


With caveat that if Godzilla keeps nailing P1 and P2 belly sashimi, but the four Mothras share equally in the rice and salmon collar one comes in second. 

The Marc returns at the end of the season. He hits the ground running, reaches the pace on his second run. We see that the others have indeed made a step forward, there IS a challenge. But four riders, for second.

UNTIL we see yet again the front end at turn in toss even Marc off this Honda. He leaves Round three or four with zero points but isn't badly injured. Something roughly like this?

So a next thought is, will there be one rider emerging from our 2020 front group to take him on in battle? To force him into pushing the Honda off line? 

Yamaha has a rider, but not sufficient engine. KTM isn't yet there but IS coming and quick. Ducati MAY if the 2021 evolution and Bagnaia both take a step. 

Suzuki. Mir. 2021 Hopes pinned on that already here. Trajectory extrapolated. Oh please do! 

It was widely published by Yamaha before last season that Petronus can have whatever they want. They just have to pay for it. Giving Rossi a factory spec bike on the Petronas team was probably more of a thank you from Yamaha, rather than a bigger check from Petronas. 

Last I checked, Suzuki still has their mechanically controlled variable valve timing. And this still matters. I ran a very basic analysis of this a few years ago for a single cylinder on Lotus Engineering's freeware analyzer. I limited the cam position change (relative to the crank) to about eight degrees (or four degrees at the cam, which is what it appears a racing version would be in the general range of). I was not expecting any top-end miracles, and didn't find any (as this is primarily controlled by gas velocity). What I did find was far more attractive...a whole bunch of power between the torque peak and the bhp peak. VVT gave a really sweet powerband for a GP bike. 


I read that and had several questions.  Can you explain a bit more about this analysis? a phrase whose etymology is as fascinating as it is voluminous. Beginning with the first cuneiform examples found in Mesopotamia..."

Er, hang on a minute, mate. Maybe we should start with your questions first. That way I am not scribbling out the entire history of watchmaking when all you want to know is what time it is. I will answer what I can when I can.

Getting Started

But you (or anyone else) who want to have a go can access the freeware version directly from Lotus Engineering (look towards the bottom of the page). The latest version is V6.01A, Jan 2020. Single cylinder version only is free. If you ride old Moto Guzzis, like I do, this is not an issue.

For basic parameters of Moto GP engines, there are, of course, the FIM Technical Regulations (the restriction on maximum bore, and by inference minimum stroke when spread over four cylinders, having the major design impact). For detailed parameters I would recommend starting with Honda R&D's spectacular technical document on the development of their last NA F1 Engines. If you want to know what a MotoGP motor is like, well, they are trying to be like this. The parameters are all there, but need to be modified to work with MotoGP's more conservative stroke/rpm limits. And also allow that since we have, by F1 standards, pretty much fuck-all for downforce, our rotational inertia values will need to be a lot higher. The 2.4 V8's are where to start, but my heart still sings for the 3.0 V10's.

For exhaust ideas, have a look...of all the FIM Moto2 Technical regulations for the new triumph engines. They provide same very detailed data for pipe diameter, length, and wall thickness...all of which will have to be adjusted to MotoGP values. But it will get you in the hunt as far as understanding basic exhaust system parameters. Cheers.

Extra Bonus Question (Philosophical).

If we accept that the NA 2.4 V8's were the last proper F1 engines, and everything after has been KERS dreck, then here is today's question.

We have before us a pair of 2.4L Honda F1 V8's, but the new regulations say we need to make it a 1.2L four, either as a V or an I configuration. Before shoving it at the band saw, which way do we cut? Do we make two V-4's...or two I-4's. And, with crankshaft proportions and bearing areas adjusted for the new configurations, which pair makes more power?

This to me is the crux of the V4 vs I4 power argument. Because if we then take either our two V-4's or two I-4's, and reassemble them into the original V8...would the resulting V8's now be exactly the same as they were before? But is that possible if we accept the current argument that a MotoGP I4 makes about 94% of the power of the equivalent V4...wouldn't the new V8 made from two 94% I4's also result in a 94% V8 when compared to one made from two 100% V4's?

OK, there are answers to this paradox, but they are not the obvious and simplistic ones often bandied about (but our own Mr. Emmett, Mat Oxley, and of course Kevin Cameron, do have the correct answers already. But none of them bandy worth a damn). Cheers.

PS, To see if you are on the right track converting Honda F1 specs to MotoGP specs, you should arrive at a BHP peak about where Ducati is...320 plus or minus a few. To understand this, spend a lot of time reading Honda R&D's fanatical search for better valve control at truly terrifying acceleration values. Then feel sorry for Yamaha again. Cheers.

PPS, Be warned, you can spend a shit-ton of your life on this nonsense and not add a single copper to your purse. But you may understand things, albeit things that don't really matter anymore, ...and will matter even less in the near future...just a little bit better. But also understand that this is all you are getting back. A lot of people are bothered by this. I always reckoned it a bargain. Cheers.

I don't much like having these conversations in public and online.  I'm perpetually afraid of saying something stupid and then having it recorded for posterity.  That said, here are the specific quotes and the reasons - 

I'm assuming this is cam-phasing VVT and the lift was left unchanged.  If I understand your test correctly,  the cam movement  (intake or exhaust? advance or retardation?)  was limited to 8 degrees and then there was wide midrange powerband. Why limit the movement?  The entire point of VVT is to create a dynamic environment where ideal timing is achieved across a wider range.  Limiting the movement is counterproductive, at least in a race engine.  

I was not expecting any top-end miracles, and didn't find any (as this is primarily controlled by gas velocity).

It's not surprising that limiting the cam didn't help the top end; it would've nuked any overlap.   It's the gas velocity comment that is puzzling.  What kind of air/fuel mixing is happening in this hypothetical single-cylinder motor?  Injection would be controlled by pressure... that can be manipulated for power (I hear Ferrari has a hypothesis on how this could allegedly be accomplished).  Air velocity helps keep the gas suspended, but gas velocity is fuzzy to me.  Is this velocity into the cylinder?  In the port? 

What I did find was far more attractive...a whole bunch of power between the torque peak and the bhp peak

The "whole bunch of power" that came after the torque peak... what was that? (since hp is a function of torque, I'm assuming we aren't talking about it.  a flat hp curve is a problem).  It sounds like the engine held its torque output relatively well throughout the power band.  But single-cylinder engines don't like revs and aren't efficient with combustion, so holding the output would be a real challenge.

I had to write "I'm assuming" quite a few times, so I may be completely out in left field. I did download the Lotus Freeware, but this is a FOSS-forward company, and it won't run on Linux.  I'll try again with my Windows machine in a bit. 

...that I have little fear of appearing stupid. My years in Eng/Mfg/R&D slapped any ego I once possessed out of me decades ago. So I will answer what I can.

The Analysis was based on the Suzuki Patent Application for their mechanical VVT system, as well as a horde of online photos and descriptions of the production version. My takeaways (and all this is from memory of some simulations a few years back):

  1. The basic system is ingeniously simple. A series of metallic balls are trapped between two discs, one disc attached via the cam drive to the crankshaft (and driven at 1:2), the other is attached to the cam itself. Relative motion between these two discs is what imparts variation in cam timing. And you are correct, the lift or total duration of the cam does not vary, but the position of the Lobe Centers is allowed to shift. This is a clever but basic inertial system. As engine RPM increases, the mass of the balls will cause them to appear to want to migrate outwards (of course, they are actually just trying to not be accelerated inwards). The path of this migration is controlled by grooves machined into each disc where the balls are constrained, approximately half a groove being on each disc. The angularity of the grooves is different between the cam side and the crank side, so they have to rotate relative to each other to allow any radial movement of the balls. The grooves are also ramped so that any radial migration of the balls along their machined tracks will cause the two discs to separate. This separation is then restrained by a spring (a few bellevile washers for the sake of simplicity) that pushes the two discs towards each other. This allows two controls: The pre-load on the spring establishes the point where the cam side can begin to move relative to the crank side. And the spring rate then determines the rate of change.
  2. The restriction to eight degrees (relative to the crank) appears to be the physical limits of the system given the dimensional constraints imposed by the engine architecture.
  3. While modern auto engines employ VVT's with much greater ranges of relative motion (as well as lift changes), this does not appear to be necessary to get the 90-95% benefits we are looking for from a simple, reliable, mechanical-only system in a racing engine. A lot of what the auto folks are doing is based on controlling emissions and maximizing fuel efficiency in less than full throttle situations. These do not seem to be a consideration of the Suzuki design.
  4. Nor are they required in a racing application. In fact, my own limited analysis showed that there was really not much benefit going from six degrees to eight or 6-8 degrees is sufficient...and reliable.

I tested variations (which the Lotus System is very good at) with the IC only, the EC only, and with both IC and EC. In order of performance value, the results were IC and EC, then EC only, and last was IC only. This surprised me a bit, but it appears that one of the real benefits was controlling the Exhaust LC to allow an optimum ex valve closing after TDC, with more ex overlap at higher RPM (or less near the torque peak, your choice) being a bit of a Godsend. In general, the intake LC's increased with RPM, but the Ex LC's decreased.

Valve Lift, Valve Acceleration, and Valve Seat Diameter are far more influential than a few degrees of cam timing at almost all relevant RPM, as is compression ratio. But one assumes these are already optimized at the MotoGP level.

Yes, the term "a bunch more power" is pretty lame on my part. What I generally test for is volumetric efficiency or BMEP (near enough the same thing when converted), and I was testing parameters to optimize the total "under the curve" BMEP numbers from the torque peak to just past the peak BHP. The actual peak BHP and torque values didn't really interest me except as a reality check.

You are correct that single cylinder engines are not great physical models for high RPM analytics. but this can be overlooked due to the nature of the Lotus Analytics software. We can start with this: The LE software is not a mechanical design tool. It will not define the shape of a combustion chamber, nor piston crown characteristics, nor the short-side radius of the intake port. These are instead defined in the LE suite by flow numbers and combustion models. The LE software assumes the designer understands the combustion characteristics defined by the physical features, so the combustion characteristics are what are imported as variables, not the features themselves. Same with the ports. You establish the port size via valve seat ID's, and then plug in the values for flow from your data. Or you can select one of the pre-packaged port flow parameters. Same with cam profiles. You can input a whole array of this lift at this duration values, or just select such standard options as "fast polynomial, slow polynomial" or so forth. The LE software provides, in the included help guides, explanations of how their standard default values and options were arrived at (but not as clearly as one would hope). Of course, bore, stroke, rod length, CR, and a whole bunch of inertial options are always available, as are a host of combustion and fueling models. But it is not the place to look for comparisons of two different TB brands. If there were inertial considerations exclusive to a single cylinder design I am pretty sure I would have either damped them or filtered them out.

For port velocity, certain parameters are fairly well described, but what I was looking for with a "high velocity" port was that segment, slightly upstream of the bowl, where the flow should be very close to its sonic limitations. Of course, flow is neither homogonous in cross-section nor laminar in the direction of flow in an intake or exhaust port, so we are dealing with "averages". But that small segment of high velocity, which should be limited to somewhere around 70% of the cylinder volume, is what allows inertial charging after BDC on the intake side. So, when deciding where the IC should close...VVT or not...the question is always where is the crossover where the inertial energy of the intake flow is no longer sufficient to overcome rising cylinder pressures? And of course, we want this high velocity  section (the flywheel of the intake system, as KC so wonderfully describes it) to be relatively short so we don't kill ourselves with pumping loses. The TB's are huge compared to this area that is further downstream.

I like the LE kit because it was very good with wave propagation and had a sophisticated combustion model (head and shoulders by freeware standards, and very good at all levels). You can design all sorts of pipe runs for both intake and exhaust (with plenums!) to see what works and what doesn't. As I recall I spent a lot of time on intake lengths, diameters, tapers (very slight tapers were best) and intake plenum volumes (a mini plenum volume for each cylinder, and a combined volume for the airbox proper. I think the minis were about 3X the cylinder volume, and the main, much bigger) so wound up with a series of helmholtz resonators that were working in conjunction with the VVT. I would not even contemplate trying to work out these plenum sums individually without a tool like the LE package. How much of the improvement I saw was valid without the plenums is not something I concerned myself with, since there is no such thing as a proper intake system without the plenums being defined.

As far as getting the parameters optimized, the LE software has some great tools for that. You can set your runs to have multiple variables, but of course then the reported results increase exponentially. Testing six lobe centers for both the IC and EX at each pre-selected RPM test-point (TP) means 36 variations at each TP, and with 16 TP's that means 576 data outputs (each consisting of a unique package of multiple individual data points) even a quickish computer system can take a bit to churn through that if you have pre-selected a lot of combustion variable options as-well. At some point you will hit "run" before you crawl off to bed and look at the data...sometimes still the morning.

So I used the old naval artillery method and started with big deltas, and then by watching where the shell splashes were, further adjusted the input values. At the end I was running some very tight deltas. I also simplified the effort by selecting things like a fixed orifice option instead of using the LE tools to model a TB butterfly and shaft arrangement. Do I really care if my TB shaft is the optimum diameter for a simple test of VVT? I do not. But I might later if I took this examination further. As an example; Defined TB's are a necessity when looking at a wider RPM range (than peak torque to peak BHP on a GP engine) as at some point the engine will not run at all well without throttling, and you will have to specify a butterfly opening value for the lower RPM cases.

Lastly, I used this to scratch an itch, nothing more. I rarely looked at any RPM jumps less that 250, and more usually specified every 500 rpm for test points. I tried to keep all the noise to a minimum by specifying standard values that are easily repeated, and leaving the variables to only those items I was investigating. I really don't care if there was another 0.5% jump in BMEP available by tweaking everything under the sun, because that would take several hundred hours and internet engine that will never make a rear wheel go round? I have a very old and reliable SF-600 flow bench out in the shed for the Guzzis and other flotsam, but the LE suite was really helpful in designing airboxes and intake systems, as well as allowing a more efficient selection of exhaust pipe diameters, wall thicknesses, lengths, and so forth. And the LE is a very good slap in the face for anyone who thinks an old pushrod twin with 70 Deg included valve angle heads and dodgy rocker geometry is ever going to do much more than very gently pull the skin off a rice pudding. There is a lot to be said for learning what not to waste our time on. Cheers.

PS, I am sure there are forums where people who have more knowledge of the LE package than I do (which would be all of them) share that with each other. I never looked into it. Cheers.



I like that Variable Valve Timing is fairly simple and mechanical rather than electronics. The power band it produces is smart. I am enamored with this Suzuki particularly for its conventionality, a superb "normal" bike rather than Space Oddessy. Cool to get to learn a bit here with you. Thought of the CVT transmission of a scooter I have while reading (which got LOTS faster with a mod/tuning btw). 

Like research, great to be a thoughtful consumer of it and not be someone who does it. Appreciating those that do. Hope you folks enjoy that process. Oof, the hours. 


Some of the VVT systems in cars are doing incredible things, albeit with different goals, as you noted.  I owned a dyno and have pulled everything from a Ninja 250 on race gas to nitrous-fed Corvettes. Testing for volumetric efficiency versus power to the ground are two different exercises.  Since torque = acceleration, tuning the area under the curve would make for the highest performance.  That said, you answered several other questions I had but didn't type - specifically, how the software treated intake plenums and rotating inertia.  It wasn't clear how many variables were actually being controlled.  Sooner or later, I'll finally get to the windows box to give it a try. 

Suzuki's straight-line top speed makes more sense considering their VVT system.  At different points this season (Austria maybe?), the Ducatis would lunge away from the Zooks off the corner, but then wouldn't gap them any further.  Their trap speeds shocked me, but they make more sense now.

I understand the thinking behind the 2020/2021 engine freeze. I don't like it, but I understand. What I do not understand is not allowing each manufacturer to supply as many copies of their "best" 2020 homologated engine to as many damn pilots as they please.

That part actually does makes sense if you keep in mind the fact that the FIM can't actually police the design of the engines beyond a point. Right now, they seal the engines up and retain possession of engines between the rounds - so the factories can't upgrade or modify them mid-season.

They could allow the factories to manufacture new engines for Avintia/Petronas/LCR but they have no way of ensuring that new-build units are exactly 2020-spec. Even if the design appears near-identical, there could be material/metallurgical upgrades violating the spirit if not the letter of the law (think Yamaha's valves).

Given how the difference between factories & satellites is fading away, and how the grid is separated by hundredths of a second, there is a real incentive for factories to do an extra bit of tinkering around in production (for data-gathering, if nothing else).

On balance, the only option the FIM/Dorna has is to keep the engines sealed and locked in the off-season, save for reliability refits under supervision.

Le Mans in October could be a nightmare for low track temps and therefore crashes, especially if it's as cold as Valencia was last year (I was there and I still have the emergency Suzuki merch bought for warmth to prove it!).

I notice the MotoGP race is a 1pm local time start as well. One hour less for the sunshine (if there is any) to warm things up. Definitely going to be a race of attrition IMO.

And that's assuming the race is dry...

Northern France in early October is a bit bizarre when Motogp could have simply stayed at Barcelona for a second week. 

Having said that - British Superbikes race in October too 


It is out there to be found if you look. Bike balance basically. Nothing nails all areas, there is give here and take there because as tires lose grip and fuel load comes down you have a different bike. Also how one is strategizing for a race to fit a rider, or situation. 

A basic primary bit: The fresh softer rear pushes the front a bit until settling in (if it does), so handling balance and front feel is better on race pace and standard tires. They have the bike SO so good and optimized for the race! This Q lap is sitting there as an outlier.

Makes me wonder if they don't need to establish a dedicated Qualifying bike. Base Q setup focus, maybe even different swingarm? This is way out of my depth. But usually it is not so terribly different a bike for chasing a fast lap. It could be on Saturday?

Andrea should turn that horseshoe on his backside upside-down. He has got to be the unluckiest rider in motogp. Is it me or do you think every rider in the premier class past and present taken Dovi out at one time or another? I feel for the guy.

Perhaps he should change his bum-patch to "UNHORSED"? Well, that would be my second choice, but my first..."This Truck Makes Wide Turns"...probably wouldn't fit and besides, nobody wants to see how well Gigi can throw tools at someone's head. OK, that's a lie. We would all enjoy that. But I am trying to be responsible about these things. UNHORSED will do for now. Cheers.

He does seem to be taken out more than his fair share, but as often in these cases: if he was in front his chances of survival would improve dramatically.

The one factor that may be playing a role in the downturn in Dovizioso's results this year that has yet to be mentioned is something the he alluded to after Friday's free practice sessions. Dovi mentioned how the fast times set on Friday represented how much risk riders were willing to take. What cannot be discounted is the cumulative psychological effect on the mind of a rider that the collective thumps incurred from a career of motorcycle crashing has had. Hard knocks take a toll on the psyche. If one were to listen to the body with complete honesty, one would retire immediately after the first hard crash. Instead, in order to continue racing, the rider's mind has to be in conflict with the body. One way to rationalize this conflict is to try to control the situation and limit the crashes to the bare minimum. This is a statistic that Dovizioso excells at - he is one of the riders with the least number of crashes per season during recent years. This is one way a rider can control the body/mind conflict situation.

But this year, with the introduction of Michelin's new rear tire, Dovizioso finds himself no longer in control. He has openly stated as much. His current understanding of how to ride with the new rear tire goes against his instinctual riding style. And what the reality is asking Dovizioso to do is give up on what has brought him thus far, and to venture off into the unknown of a completely different riding style. The reality is asking him to take a risk. And this can be uncomfortable because what comes instinctually defines who one is. The reality is asking Dovizioso to lose himself, then he can reinvent himself. And this created 'self', or identity as a rider, is partly his riding style. Maybe the risk that Dovizioso finds himself unwilling to take is that last 0.1 or 0.2% that he is missing in lap times. 

In the same way, results can condition the mind of a rider. Joan Mir mentioned how a 'click' happened in the brain when he got his first podium. Experience precedes belief - once a rider gets a podium or win they know they can do it and they can draw upon that experience and belief in future battles. In the same way, a lack of results can condition the mind and sow doubt which can have a detrimental effect on performance. Rossi's results have been on a downslope since his last title bid in 2015. His last win came at Assen in 2017 just a couple of races after crashing out of the lead of the last lap, last corner battle with Viñales at Le Mans. Rossi has followed that up with near wins at Sepang 2018, COTA 2019 and Catalunya 2020. Just how competitive Rossi will be in the twilight of his career will only be clear in hindsight.

When we are young we are motivated by our fears, or lack of understanding. As we age we try to control our fears. Unless one has made a lifetime of having an open mind and constantly welcoming the unknown, it can be hard to reinvent yourself. And maybe that is what the old guys in Motogp are going through right now. As much as we try, time waits for no one.


As far as I'm concerned, JINX head the nail right on the head! Godzilla is coming.....SOON! You'd better get that W/C while you can, because we all know who it belongs too. Granted, he crashed/broke his arm the first race of the year, BUT....his 'off track' come back, he made ALL the riders in MGP look like they were on M2 bikes! That had to be humilating and demoralizing! They ALL know who the fastest guy is, look at last year, and they ALL know he'll be back.  I'm just surprised that no one has really stepped up and become the Alpha while Godzilla is gone.  

^ Yet. We are halfway through. I think we may yet see something. And a trajectory with momentum. At least for 2021 w the freeze on new stuff for all but Aprilia. 

2021 will be another odd year in that respect. Yamaha and Honda have a hitch in their step. Red, Orange and Zook have an opportunity. 

The Petronas Yamaha satellite squad is possibly on course to rack up as many wins (currently 4) during this shortened 2020 motogp season as the factory Yamaha team recorded in the three previous full seasons (7). That would be a mind blowing statistic if it materializes. Yamaha has five wins in eight races with six races left on the calendar barring any cancellations. It is conceivable that a Petronas Yamaha could win half of those races. The Yamaha may be the slowest bike through the speed traps, but their win ratio is currently dominating. The engine reliability problem is said to be down to a material supplier, not due to a design flaw. So Yamaha will continue next year with the slow speed trap, fast cornering inline four bike. As long as the Yamaha riders don't get stuck behind the red/orange impassable brick walls in 2020, they can continue to be competitive. I wonder how well Quartararo will gel in the factory team next year. Maybe the grass he has right now is the greenest for his success.   

a great read none the less.

Head over to to read "The Rider"

Thanks, Dean.

Also, thanks mr.emmitt for allowing us to direct readers to other sites for interesting articles.


In the second picture, the podium is lined up in the correct order, as they approach turn 1.