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.
MotoGP’s aerodynamic advances: wings are creating more wings
What’s the story behind the fuel-tank wings appearing on MotoGP bikes? It’s all about the extra grip offered by the latest aerodynamics
MotoGP riders pull 1.7g on the brakes, which sounds like nothing when Formula 1 cars pull 5g. But an F1 driver is strapped into his car with a seven-point harness, similar to those used in fighter jets. A MotoGP rider holds on by curling his hands and fingers around the handlebar grips.
In fact, this isn’t enough, so riders use their thighs, feet and backsides to help grip the bike, by gripping the tank like a vice with their knees, digging their feet into the footpegs, (at least until they dangle a leg) and jamming their backside against the seat hump; basically trying to wedge themselves into the bike.
It’s a precarious grip, however, because the rider’s only proper grip is with his (or her) hands, which can work like a pivot, so if he’s not careful he will get catapulted over the handlebars when he hits the brakes.
I know this because I’ve been that idiot, launching myself over the screen when I tested Mick Doohan’s Honda NSR500 at Catalunya, after the 1995 Grand Prix of Europe. Usually teams equipped their bikes with steel discs for journalists unaccustomed to the brick-wall-effect of carbon brakes. But sometimes they left the carbons in place.
That day Doohan’s crew chief Jeremy Burgess and his mechanics fitted carbons. I’m sure I could hear their sniggers as Alex Briggs pushed me off down pit lane.
Riding 500s was always a brain-frazzling experience – your brain literally struggling to keep up as you arrived at the next corner seemingly before you’d left the last.
After a few laps – tyres warmish, brakes warmish – I arrived at Turn Nine, the corner before the site of Sunday’s Catalan GP disaster. I braked hard, the front forks compressed, the rear shock extended and my backside came off the seat like I’d hit the ejector button. Then my feet came off the footpegs. To my horror I was being hurled forward, over the handlebars, pivoting over my wrists. I was totally out of control, doing maybe 120mph.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.