Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘We build our MotoGP engine so the electronics have to do as little work as possible’

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.


‘We build our MotoGP engine so the electronics have to do as little work as possible’

Kurt Trieb designed the engine of KTM’s RC16, which has won as many races as Ducati’s Desmosedici over the past season and a half. Trieb tells us about his design philosophies and reveals that the RC16 isn’t a 90-degree V4

KTM entered MotoGP four years ago and is already battling with rival manufacturers who have been racing in the premier class for decades. Only Yamaha has won more races since the start of 2020, with KTM’s five victories equalling Ducati’s win rate and bettering that of Aprilia, Honda and Suzuki.

At the heart of KTM’s RC16 is its engine, the same 1000cc 90-degree V4 configuration used in Ducati’s Desmosedici, Honda’s RC213V and Aprilia’s RS-GP. At least, that’s what we always thought. Except that our recent chat with KTM’s Head of Engine Development Road Racing Kurt Trieb revealed that the RC16 isn’t a 90-degree V4, after all.

There’s no doubt that Trieb – who also designed KTM’s Moto3 250cc single and its original 2005 MotoGP V4 (used briefly by Team Roberts) – has played a huge part in the RC16’s success, from his original concept to detail work on firing configurations, combustion and so on.

Nowadays electronics take up more time than any other aspect of machine performance in MotoGP garages, but Trieb quickly realised the importance of creating an engine that doesn’t require too much interference from the various electronic rider controls, which all slow the bike down, rather than speed it up.

You used to engineer Formula 1 car engines, which are all about maximum horsepower, whereas MotoGP bikes are mostly about part-throttle, does that make the job more interesting – chasing a friendly engine instead of big numbers?

My background is automotive and automotive motor sport – engine design in Formula 1 and touring cars. The biggest difference in motorcycles is that you have the clutch and gearbox to think about. In car racing you don’t worry about that stuff, so that’s a big difference in MotoGP.

And, yes, in MotoGP the engines are used from 8000rpm to 18,500rpm. That’s a big difference from an F1 engine, where in my time there, the engine was always working above 12,000rpm. That’s something you cannot do in motorcycles.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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