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.
Will F1 tyre-cooling wheel rims soon feature on MotoGP bikes?
Controlling tyre temperature and pressure is vital to winning MotoGP races, so how long before F1’s special tyre-cooling wheel rims arrive in MotoGP?
Tyre temperature and pressure are everything in motor sport – and not only in MotoGP. In Formula 1, or any other category where the stakes are high and the lap times are close, half a degree here or half a psi there can make the difference between victory and defeat.
Formula 1 engineers fuss over their tyres as much as MotoGP engineers do. The only difference is they have more money to spend on fussing about with temperature and pressure.
F1 teams have been using special wheel rims for a while. These rims feature fins, ribs and ridges inside and outside that increase surface area and air flow to get rid of heat more efficiently, not so much to cool the tyre itself, but to cool the air inside the tyre, which affects tyre pressure, which determines how the tyre performs and degrades.
Now, with front tyre performance especially critical on MotoGP bikes, it’s surely only a matter of time before similar rims appear in MotoGP.
The front tyre (as I never tire of saying) is the single most important part of a race bike, and Michelin’s MotoGP front slick is very susceptible to changes in heat and pressure, which affect tyre profile, which affects the contact patch, which affects turning and grip.
In other words, front-tyre pressure has a huge impact on lap times and race times, so if you can keep your front slick in its temperature and pressure sweet spot you will have an important advantage during qualifying and the race.
The problem now is two-fold – the racing is closer than ever, so riders are packed closely together, and a 300 horsepower 1000cc engine produces a lot of heat. This is why riders find themselves in trouble when they’re stuck in traffic.
MotoGP front-tyre pressure is so critical that bikes now feature warning lights on the dash that tell the rider when the pressure has increased enough to ‘balloon’ the tyre, which most importantly reduces grip.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.