Piero Taramasso On Tire Pressure Transgressions And Planned Changes For 2023

The role of tire pressures, and especially for the front tire, has grown in importance in recent years, as aerodynamics and ride-height devices have made the front ever more sensitive to pressure and temperature changes. It is common to hear riders complain of temperatures and pressures skyrocketing after getting stuck behind other bikes, and kept out of the cooling air.

It is therefore not surprising that factories and teams try to manage tire pressures as carefully as possible. By lowering the pressure, they can keep tire temperatures lower and allow the riders to better manage the front tires over the duration of the race.

They have to be careful not to go too low with tire pressures, however: like all motorsports series with a spec tire, MotoGP has a minimum pressure for both front and rear tires: 1.9 bar front, 1.7 bar rear. Tire pressures are monitored by sensors and recorded by the spec datalogger, and pressures have to be over the minimum for at least half of the race.

Bending the rules

It will also not come as a surprise that some teams and factories have been playing fast and loose with the permitted tire pressures. Factories are always looking for an advantage, and willing to exploit them when they find them.

What may be more surprising is that the factories and teams all know about the minimum pressure rules being disregarded, and that they all accept this when it happens, allowing those who transgress the rules to go unpunished.

This was revealed by veteran MotoGP journalist Mat Oxley in his latest blog for Motor Sport Magazine. Oxley was leaked the official tire pressure sheet issued by Michelin to all of the teams after the race at Jerez, which showed that four riders had been riding with pressures that were too low.

How low can you go?

The rear tire of Andrea Dovizioso's RNF WithU Yamaha was under the minimum pressure for one lap short of the twelve required, as was the front of Alex Rins' Suzuki GSX-RR. But the front tires of two Ducati riders were most striking: Jorge Martin's front tire was only at minimum pressure for a single lap, though the Pramac Ducati rider crashed out at the final corner on the first lap, and spent the rest of the race trying to catch up.

Race winner Pecco Bagnaia's front tire pressure was below the minimum pressure for the entire race, however. There was not one lap on which his front tire pressure was within the permitted pressures. And yet Bagnaia went unpunished, and his victory was allowed to stand.

Angered by the current state of affairs, senior members of rival factories sent Oxley the relevant data. Despite the rules stating quite clearly that tire pressures must be below a certain minimum, the MSMA – the association representing the six factories in MotoGP – have a so-called "gentlemen's agreement" not to punish any infractions of the tire pressure rules.

Closing loopholes

That, however, will change for next year. As it happens, I spoke to Michelin's head of two-wheeled motorsports, Piero Taramasso at Portimão, together with Peter Bom. We spoke to him at length about a number of issues, and one which came up was the issue of tire pressures.

The minimum tire pressures were in the rulebook, Taramasso told us, but penalties would not start to be applied until 2023. "This is in the regulations, it's written in all the documents, in the rule book," the Michelin boss said. "So this procedure is in place, but starting next season, we will still apply the procedure, but we will apply penalties for teams and riders who do not respect that."

At the moment, there are no penalties, only a system of warnings, Taramasso told us. "For the moment there's not a penalty, there's just a warning, like a yellow card and red card." The fact that all of the data is published and distributed to all the teams after every race is meant to encourage teams and factories to respect the rules. "Everybody is aware of what happens, this is what is good. We share all the results with all of the teams, all of the riders, so everybody knows who is respecting or not. So it's very open. We work with trust and with confidence with everybody. But starting next season there will be penalties for people who are not respecting it."

Transgressions are rare

Falling below the minimum pressure was not common, Taramasso told us. "I will say it's very rare." There was relatively little to be gained by dropping below the minimum on the rear tire. "For the rear pressure this season, everybody respected. In the front, it happened twice, one rider and another rider, different manufacturers. But it was just by a very very little bit," Taramasso said.

This statement was made before the first MotoGP race back in Europe, at Portimão, after riding at tracks where stable conditions have barely prevailed. But two races later, four more names had been added to those two initial transgressors.

Taramasso explained in some detail how they monitored tire pressures. The data from the sensors is written to the dataloggers, and tire pressures monitored and recorded by Michelin techs before and after each session and each race. Usually, the pressure was taken wirelessly from the sensor using a handheld unit, but when the sensors were not returning data, Michelin techs would use traditional manual pressure gauges.

Based on that data, Michelin could determine whether the pressures had been legal throughout the race. "For the moment, we measure pressures over all the race distance, and for the moment – but we are discussing whether to change or not – at least half of the race has to be at the minimum pressure," Taramasso told us. "It's exactly the same rule that they use for Moto2. It's the one we use also in MotoE."

Because tire pressures rise as the riders work the tires during the first laps of a race, it was normal for riders to start the race below the permitted pressures, he explained. "The way the tire works, you start lower and after four or five laps it goes up to the target and then it stays stable until the end." That pressure, and the temperature of the tire, could be affected by all sorts of factors, including whether a rider was following other bikes. "The rear pressure is quite stable, but then the front can do up and down, depending on the track, on the position, etc."

Fairness and reliability

The aim, as Taramasso explained, was to have an enforceable rule which all of the manufacturers agreed to and were willing to abide by. Discussions were underway about exactly how much of the race the pressures needed to be above the minimum for, but the other part of that equation was switching to a single supplier for tire pressure sensors.

"In order to have a reliable measure, we need everybody with the same sensor, and today we have three different manufacturers, so we needed to pick one for this. So that everyone has the same, because the tolerances are different," Taramasso said. Different sensors with different precision tolerances meant it was hard to compare the values recorded between the different bikes. This is particularly tricky, given the infractions being noted were so close to the permitted values.

More functions, more problems

Reliability would be key. As sensors have become more capable and had more functions added, they have also become more prone to malfunction. Pressure sensors have temperature sensors built in, but some also have infrared temperature sensors embedded as well, to measure the temperature on the inside of the carcass, a more accurate measure of the temperature of the actual tire rubber than simple air temperature sensor commonly used.

Those sensors are commonly more fragile, however. One major manufacturer has already switched from the more sophisticated sensors such as produced by McLaren to the utterly reliable and proven 2D sensors. For those who closely follow tire usage, the frailty of the sensors used is reflected in the tire data. At the moment, the sensor data is automatically recorded each time the riders enter or exit pit lane, and is shown on screen using the telemetry collected by Dorna. But sometimes that tire data is missing, and has to be added by hand to the results after a race or session is over.

Even if that data is not logged, the manual measurements can still provide enough information, Taramasso explained. "We have data because we check in the box when they go out and go in, so you can deduct how much it was."

All change in 2023

The new rules, including penalties, to be introduced from 2023 would extend beyond just the race, as the rules are currently enforced. "Next year, it will also be for practice and qualifying," Taramasso explained. Whether that data would also be shared with the teams was yet to be decided. At the moment, the only data that was shared with all of the teams was the data collected during the race.

In response to accusations made by rival teams, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna spoke to a small group of mostly Italian journalists. His response was largely just a repeat of what we were told by Michelin's Piero Taramasso at Portimão. You can read a transcript in Italian over on the GPOne.com website.

Whether any of this will lead to change in the short term is unlikely. But the wheels have already been set in motion to institute changes for the 2023 season. Riders may be racing with pressures below the permitted minimum in 2022, and going unpunished. But that will not be the case from next year.

Here to stay

Despite all of the controversy which inevitably comes with being the official supplier of arguably the most important component on a racing motorcycle, Michelin were in for the long haul, Taramasso told us at Portimão. "This is for sure," the Michelin motorsport boss told us.

Racing offered unique opportunities to develop their product, Taramasso said. "This is one of the reasons we are in MotoGP, it's to develop, to be able to do some tests, try different things, different tires, different profiles, different casings. This is what we want to do. And thanks to the teams, thanks to Dorna, we are able to do it."

The global pandemic had had a negative impact on their plans, he said, but there were big plans for the future. "The Covid-19 situation slowed down a lot, because we have a lot of ideas, but for the future we will be able to do that. One thing we want to do also is to develop the sustainable materials, the one we use in MotoE for example. We use regenerated, recycled material." That is precisely the sort of technology which will trickle down to road tires very quickly.


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Source: 
year: 
2022
round_number: 
5

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Comments

I guess that answers the question: When is a rule not a rule ?

When we don't enforce the rule and pretend it's a new rule for next year.

Opinion... The obsession with data in this regard is silly. Measure them going out and when they come back in. Do an average and call it a day. The last thing we need is more track limits line crossing BS. I would imagine depending on the bike there are teams attempting to hit a target pressure in a group, if they are not racing closely and following others the target temps and pressure will not be reached. Kinda like gearing a moto3 bike for the draft, if you don't get the draft you're gearing selection only hurts you.

Working knowledge of tires in the wild... With relatively lower pressure you get a greater amount of movement in the carcass and more heat in the rubber. Too much heat can cause tire failures. Of course too much pressure means less movement, less heat, and cold tire issues such as tearing and chunking at the extreme. The amount of energy transmitted into the tire can vary with chassis and suspension setup with stiffer settings/makeup resulting in more work by the carcass and higher heat, the opposite is also true. Michelin need to be conservative and post numbers for PR and "safety".

I remember in my club racing days the tire carcass of Bridgestone and Michelin were similar, Dunlop was hard, and Pirelli was soft (extremely so especially in the rear compared to the others). A switch from Bridgestone to Micheline didn't require much setup change. Move to Dunlop and you better stiff up the suspension to make the tire work more and get some heat into it - you also had to run lower pressures. Move to Pirelli and the rear needed mushy suspension and high pressure or you'd melt the rubber right off it and it'd turn into a greaseball within 3 laps.

Just a thought... I rode all four of the brands, won my first class championship almost 15 years ago on the Michelins and have been fond of them ever since. Its interesting, however, that the characteristics of Michelin and Pirelli seem not to have changed. Pirellis are still soft and Michelins have a great rear and a marginal (relative) front. 

Nice, makes sense. Thanks for the insight.

Also I second that shout for less data. Grab it from the sensors at the start and then as they cross the line. As long as the bikes don't have a system for changing tyre pressures on track (banned) then no issue.

^ Congrats on the class Championship Joshua! We raced at about the same time. I started Dunlop, went Pirelli (brief trial Bstone, Michelin). Interesting memories, they are getting hazy, but the awareness is still there. (Stayed Pirelli on the 675R track day bike...for now. I tend to like their "finesse over force" feel, my pace isnt very high anymore. Dunlops may yet draw me back). The current Michelins look GREAT! They get a lot of criticism, of course.

Not seeing a "bad guy" or drama here either. With you on hoping for simpler answers. No big deal, will work out. 

Think we get some significant news at LeMans? Quarty signing is happening this month. Then others follow. Mir --> Honda may precede, it got thrown on the griddle by Suzuki. 

And we have this minor matter of a MotoGP race....

;)

I am curious about weather conditions. Lots is going on eh?

for my racing adventures but since that's the only thing complaining I have no regrets! Glad to hear you're still doing track days, I had to give up the track for a long while, just the occasional supermoto fun now and again.

Always thought the Pirelli front provided good feel, of course that might have had more to do with my struggles getting the back to hook up. Seems to me that with most street bikes undersprung from the factory, a soft carcass is the way to go on most bikes with factory suspension.

Weather seems to be looking ok. Hope it holds. Would love to see a Zarco win this weekend. Factories will have big incentives to lock things up ASAP.

Big question on my mind is something I brought up before the last round... Alex Rins - return to his old form or has he figured out how to consistently put together races? Hard to tell signal from noise.

^ SUPER tough call on Rins! The bike improvement means he needn't over ride it. People grow and change. 

But MAN was that a LONG period of a LOT of the same crashing last yr. I had written him off. The arm break into a parked truck on his bicycle sealed it for me. Now I am hoping he's good to keep it upright, but skeptical. 

I was just thinking he had sealed his stay at Suzuki. Oops. He is looking good. His demeanor is different. But....?

will tell. Unfortunately, I can see bad blood being a part of the Suzuki team from here on out so that will no-doubt play a major role in outcomes within the team, possibly skewing what the new Rins is all about.

... Quartararo seemed to be one of the guys who was following the rules and suffered routinely because of it.  Now that we know that no one is enforcing rules until next season, I wonder how many factories are going to say "Screw it!  if they're going to get away with it, then we're going to do it, too!"

No doubt that in short order, Motoshrink will chime in with his typical 2000-word comment section and delight us with his insight.

Yesterday I posted a few posts on Twitter in regards why the rule wasn’t enforced, and I ended up with few likes from El Diablo himself, so maybe that says something?

playing it safe after "valve-gate" perhaps, or too long ago?

I'm sure the factories want the freedom to do what they wish with the pressures so if enforcement is up to them there will be none. Michelin, on the other hand has plenty of cause to want the rule enforced. 

This may well turn out to be DeflateGate 2.0.  For those of you not in the know, Professional (American) football quarterback Tom Brady was called out for deflating game footballs so he would have a better grip.  There was also a standard for football inflation that nobody really paid attention to until it was found that the footballs he used seemed to be a bit soft.  Since the guy has won six Super Bowls, it has called into question much of his success.  Now the inflation protocol for game footballs is strictly enforced.  

Sound familiar? 

Probably better stick to motocycle racing. TB did nothing at all with the pressure of footballs except to ask that they be at the legal minimum. When they were then taken outside they lost pressure on cold days same as tires. So did the footballs of the Indianapolis Colts who were the team the Patriots were playing that day. No footballs were ever found to be below the minimum pressure at room temperature which is when the rule says they are to be measured. This lie about Tom Brady persists to the point you are trying to make his career suspect. He has won 7 Super Bowls, several since he was incorrectly accused of cheating. He did not cheat. That wasn't a thing. Say it with me now: Tom Brady did not cheat. Thank You.

Don't I remember (in the past year or two) someone in Moto2 or 3 being penalized for tire pressure below the required minimum?

Maybe I'm wrong.

It's happened there. Pit lane to fill to minimum, back of the grid start.

….a win taken away in Moto2 because of it, Montegi if my memory serves me right. 

Unsure what to make of the situation. The manufacturers were willing participants in a gentlemen's agreement for six years. The teams are currently using 3 different tire pressure sensors. The rules cannot really be enforced, and, until recently, no one apparently cared enough about enforcement to blow the whistle. 

It's an interesting story, and having access to an official Michelin document is fascinating, but I can't identify a scandal. Big winner from this development is Suzuki who are now out of the headlines. Big loser is Ducati who are now branded as cheaters by a disgruntled competitor. 

I guess making these reports public is the only real enforcement mechanism for 2022. Shame your competitors and hope the public cares.

….scrap tyre pressure limits altogether and let teams and riders run their own risk/reward pressures?

Ducati, Redding/Baz, blowout --> added as a safety measure. Because people are dumb, so paternalistic laws are in place. Why? It isn't just them that are affected. Dorna is at risk/responsibility too. There isn't a reality in which that isn't so. 

Yesterday local news included that the nearby ski slope's Summer mountain biking program is cancelled. (Lift tickets, bike rentals etc). Why? One person on a highest difficulty trail went over the bars, slid and hit a sign post. Back injury, paralyzed below the waist. Lawyer, millions of $ awarded --> no more mountain biking there.

If you take risk and get hurt, we still pay for it. I like seat belt/helmet laws. Constant balance being struck. Just the way of things, despite idealizations of individual freedom/responsibility or the flip side of idealized parent figures managing wonderfully.

Doesn't want the bad PR when a tire lets loose because the team/factory rolled the dice on an edge.

In a look fwd to France, noting news today that French football team Lyons has dropped their star player. Why?

"Brazilian defender Marcelo was dropped from the Lyon first team due to continuous farting and laughing in the dressing room, sources have told ESPN." Seriously, this is real, you can't make this crap up.

Huh. Pressure in the rear there is a bit different. Somehow this makes me feel better about our sport?

My awareness is reaching forward to LeMans. Not concerned about tire pressures one toot. Suzuki? Kids these days call it "Ghosting." You just send a text saying "sorry, it didn't work out for me like I'd hoped...good luck to you!" and block their phone #. If they have any of your stuff at their place like grid spots or contractual obligations, good luck getting it back. You are left sorting effort vs reward. You may have to use some force. That is messy and ugly. 

What Suzuki had here is ending. I don't think we are going to get Hayatwo, but we could. There will be two more bikes and a new Team here before Valencia. Life continues. For instance, if 2 Aprilias are added, we now get an intra-Black battle for top 2 seats. If Rins is there along with Aleix, Maverick and a kid like Raul Fernandez, doesn't that look interesting? The project is on a rather steep growth rate trajectory, ripe for the boost. It would be pleasing to see it actualize. The bike may be roughly right there with the Suzuki. We have no overdog at present. Much is possible. Next episode is this Friday.

TUESDAY BEFORE A RACE WEEKEND, let's get in the groove --

LeMans! Things keep moving. Here is a video for you. 12 mins 2021 highlights (great quality NBC Sports).

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sAyNgeIDL3c

Are the pressure limits in place for safety reasons, or based on anticipated operating pressure optimal range, or some other nice to have basis?

If the lower limit is the one being deliberately breached perhaps a simple solution is to just reduce it to the prefered (lower) starting pressure as long as its safe. Smart rules are the ones that are safe and functional.

The last part brings back amusing memories, scary ones too. Everything has specs. Without actually knowing much about tyres I think it will go along these lines. Michelin provide tyres which they guarantee will fulfil the requirements of Dorna, whatever they may be ( 2 * race distance before failure ? ). Michelin know from testing and various other methods that for a given set of parameters such as pressure, excepting faults, 100% of the tyres will do this. Two tenths of a bar outside of this maybe 99.99% of the tyres will be fine etc. Bad things can happen when tyres fail. Riders, teams, track marshals, spectators...a lot of energy at 360kph. I think I would give a set of parameters inside of which I was as certain as possible that my product wasn't the failure. I guess that's the given parameters but seeing as they are 'ok' with bikes running outside of these...I guess they still have a lot of confidence in their product.

If I had a penny for every time I've seen 'entities' pat themselves on the back for diagnosing/fixing an issue by virtue of changing what constitutes an issue....I would have a few £. All praise the good factor god of safety.

News bit. Toprak has a full day test on the M1 scheduled in June. 

Jarvis says 

"What we've said to him is anyway if you're going to make the switch, do it sooner rather than later because he's going be 26 this year. So, if he's going come to MotoGP he should do it soon. So, what better than to do a serious test on the M1?"

Warning shots were just fired too, as he was also just quoted as saying both Morbidelli and Dovi "have been a disappointment" this year. He is strategic. These are breadcrumbs. 

Fabio and Toprak would be a dreamy team for factory blue. Not sure what that would mean for Franky. It's all a bit tense musical chairs suddenly(with the music from the willy Wonka boat scene) and I suspect some class rider/s will be left standing in the cold. Maverick? Pol? Morbidelli? Rins? (I'd be surprised to see Dovi in the paddock next year. A Marquez?)

I think it would be a huge gamble to pop Toprak straight into the factory team. Amazing for the optics but no guarantee that Toprak would produce. I've noticed MotoGP riders that go to other championships often have huge results for the first half a season. I think in MotoGP the riders are constantly sharpening and polishing a very fine point. It's a matter of scale, most are working to making improvements on that 'half a percent'. In the MotoGP world it's the last tenth of a percent, or hundredth etc. That's the world of their work. It seems, sometimes that after MotoGP riders continue on this way and exceed expectations before adjusting to their surroundings and finding themselves roughly where they were in the order previously. That's not to say that rider 'a' is not as good as rider 'b', it just tells a tale about the environment and the bikes. Possibly in MotoGP you lose half a second for being slightly less than optimum whereas in WSBK you lose a tenth for the same delivery. If that's right and if it took Toprak half a season or more to adjust he'd be better off on a year old bike. In some ways he can then then only exceed. Not so good...it's the bike. Not so bad...it's Toprak. Otherwise there's only a season of...not as good as Fabio with same bike. Of course could also be...winner...well b***** me !

from Pirelli's and flexi chassis to Michelins and stiff rides. Toprak is one talented son of a gun so definitely worth the gamble for both him and Yammy I'd say.

Rusty Trumpet and Morgs have asked above, but no one has provided a good answer, including Mr. Emmett in his article. Why are there tire pressure limits at all? Is it just Michelin CYA when/if something goes wrong?

What other motorcycle road racing series also have tire pressure limits?

Big picture hole in this discussion, IMHO. 

If the tire is run at a too low of a pressure then there’s a (pretty good) chance it will hand grenade - best  case scenario Michelin looks really bad, worst case scenario someone gets seriously injured or die, then Michelin, Dorna, and MotoGP looks….., well you get the picture. 
Moto3/2 I believe has pressure limits too. 

"Tire pressure sensors will be mandatory in MotoGP for the 2016 season following Loris Baz’s dramatic crash in testing at Sepang this week.

Avintia Ducati rider Baz suffered what appeared to be a rear tyre blowout at 180mph on the Malaysian Grand Prix track’s main straight. He escaped the accident with bruising and was able to resume testing later the same day.

MotoGP commercial chief Carmelo Ezpeleta said the Grand Prix Commission had “approved very fast” the tire sensor decision in its meeting in Geneva on Friday.

“The system to do this will be proposed by the MSMA members in Phillip Island and this issue is something to resolve immediately,” he said.

Baz is a big boy. And the rumor was that Redding was hammering his rear tire for fun. And out of those two blowouts emerges tire pressure limits. But logic says that not enough air pressure and the result could be catastrophic. So yeah, there has to be some kind of minimum limit enforced. Another rule. 

Whatever next ? Rev limits for engines ?

The minimum pressures are provided by the tyre supplier. This is our tyre, don't go below this pressure because we cannot guarantee that the product will work as advertised.