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.
An anti-chatter jounce box?
Last year Ducati’s Gigi Dall’Igna maddened many with his wings, now he may have solved an age-old problem with Formula 1-inspired jounce-dampers
This year’s brand-new MotoGP bikes are currently on their way from Malaysia to Australia for the second preseason tests, which take place next week at Phillip Island.
If you are a motor sport fan of a James Bond bent it’s tempting to imagine an industrial-espionage agent dodging through airport security to stow away aboard Dorna’s cargo plane, where he prises open Ducati’s flight boxes to disassemble that little black box at the back of Jorge Lorenzo’s GP17.
Make no mistake, this stuff does happen. Some years ago, when Michelin dominated MotoGP, it also supplied its super-secret MotoGP tyres to Honda’s British superbike team. At the Mondello BSB round someone broke into the Honda truck under cover of darkness and removed one rear slick. No one knows who took the tyre, but how could anyone have wanted it for anything but dissecting the rubber and casing to discover its secrets?
After last week’s Sepang tests there is still plenty of speculation about what’s inside Ducati’s little black box. I guessed it might contain a chatter-damper or (more fantastically) a gyroscope that optimises the motorcycle’s dynamics during acceleration and braking.
A gyro might be illegal because MotoGP rules state that ‘electronically controlled suspension and ride-height systems are not allowed’, so a chatter-damper makes more sense, because tyre chatter is a major performance inhibitor in bike racing.
Chatter is caused by high-frequency resonances – emanating from the chassis, suspension and tyres – which can overwhelm the suspension hydraulics. The chatter vibration is thus transferred to the tyres, with a disastrous effect on grip. Particularly severe attacks defeat the suspension so completely that you can sometimes see daylight between tyre and racetrack. And daylight doesn’t grip very well.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.