Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why MotoGP may become a drag for Suzuki and Yamaha

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.


Why MotoGP may become a drag for Suzuki and Yamaha

Downforce aerodynamics is increasingly important in MotoGP but more downforce means more drag, which is a problem for the less powerful inline-four machines used by Suzuki and Yamaha

Eagle-eyed fans may have observed something strange afoot during pre-season testing at Sepang and Mandalika…

Aprilia, Ducati, Honda and KTM all had big aero on their bikes: large top wings, plus fairing sidepods, except the Aprilia which ran without sidepods. But Suzuki didn’t and when Yamaha tried a big wing and tiny sidepods at Sepang, its world champion Fabio Quartararo complained that the increased drag made the sluggish YZR-M1 even slower on top speed.

Why is this? And does it matter?

All six manufacturers are chasing more downforce aerodynamics to improve performance, hence the bigger 2022 aero. But you can’t have downforce without drag. The more powerful V4 machines can cope with this extra drag, but it seems like the less powerful inline-fours can’t, which could be very bad news for Suzuki and Yamaha.

MotoGP’s downforce war really started in 2016, when Ducati added multiple wings to its Desmosedici. The idea was to compensate for the weak anti-wheelie programme in MotoGP’s new spec electronics, by physically keeping the front wheel down exiting corners, allowing riders to use more throttle for better acceleration.

If you think wheelies can’t affect acceleration that much, you’re wrong. Most MotoGP bikes have so much horsepower that the acceleration limit, at least in the first three gears, is determined by the wheelie limit, not by power.

Rival manufacturers quickly followed Ducati’s lead. And as engineers learned more about MotoGP aerofoils (which are basically upside-down plane wings, creating downward lift instead of upward lift) they soon realised downforce aerodynamics don’t only help with wheelies.

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

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Comments

(Not too much more here particularly if you can't access it. Just that keeping the front adhered also helps turning).

Ok, this stuff is pretty straightforward. Now how about the same consideration re the shapeshifter? Is its application on the I-4s a bit different? How? 

Of course it costs $ favoring a few that have like lots of things. And Ducati both has a brief head start for now and is well versed in gadget wizardry. But what of the different basic bike formulas and how it applies? Tech geeks plz? Jinx, you still there?

We have long/short and tall/low bikes. Higher power and lower. Seems it is best for those again w more outright power, right? Then, tall bikes such that they can get the other extreme and diversity as opposed to low bikes? So we would see more tall bikes in the future, and currently low bikes get less advantage? (Wildly guessing in hopes of churning thoughtful responses).

The attack continues ? Not really a summary of the article, not correct either. The main theme of the article is that power = grip. Best to go read it if you can.

^ Yes! And, aero = turning too. Plus drag, so hurts the I-4's more. Which I think is likely basic stuff for us here, hoping for more exploration.

I sincerely don't mind that you don't understand me, it is ok! (Not to speak of your irony that may be missed). Do you have thoughts about how the aero AND shape shifter synergize though? Or how the shapeshifter will differently affect various bikes relative to one another?

I think the shapeshifter will, just like the aero, further benefit the bikes with outright power. We have entered an era boosting Ducati and Honda. Yamaha most negatively impacted. Then, how about how the big aero gets FURTHER supported by shape-shifting? Drag reduced when that is desired? Then, how will all this relate to bike geometry? For now, and what it beckons in the future?

This smells like another pile of sheepshit left in the wolf's tracks. You've expressed the same viewpoint about Oxley's articles many times. Why keep pounding it across? 

^ If you have two plausible explanations, always go with the one that is less personal. It corrects for human neurotic and egoic error. Incl me and you, not seeing this personally!

Looks like no one is popping in to go after the same consideration re the shapeshifter, hot(ter) topic of the moment for many that is pulling further forward. Which is the answer to your question. I like Mat Oxley and completely agree with him on all in the article, been saying just that for a long time. The Red front end shape shifter is hugely interesting, the rear is still radically changing the landscape, and it looks like a rule change storm is on the horizon. 

Cheers!

I am compelled to bumble forward as the fool, Motoshrink. Thank you for the understanding, friend. Any response on this matter is welcome.

As you point out we are all susceptible and don't forget all infinitely open to suggestion, auto too. Milton was a smart cookie. I'm very aware and certain of what I know and its eternally provisional, porous, malleable nature. As you correctly point out below..."Incl me and you". You know.

The subtext of this article is the power deficit Yamaha and Suzuki suffer from compared to the V4 manufacturers. This has been going on for a while now, and the gap seems to be widening, made worse by how effective the aero is based on cylinder configuration.

What's worse is that Honda, with a dominant V4 motogp bike over the past decade (helped by Marc I know, but that's not to my point) has pretty much given up on V4 street bikes.

I have owned Honda V4's most of my adult life, but abandoned the VFR four years ago because, even though the 8th gen is a nice bike, Honda has moved on. Ducati however has jumped into the world of V4's big time on the showroom floor. C'mon Honda!

Are a pain in the ass, service-wise, as street bikes, no matter how great the configuration is for race purposes. Can anybody else imagine Dorna mandating fours or twins or triples or inline fours in the future? Me, I'd suggest a displacement limit, perhaps with an equivalency formula for two-strokes and rotaries, and let loose the factories. My favourite racing series ever (I know I'm dating myself here) was the basically unlimited early Can-Am car racing series.

Went R1 ---> CBR1000RR and then got to ride the Aprilia RSV4...wow! The compact and narrow feel, combined with that BEAUTIFUL growling beast of a motor was great! Apparently their proprietary electronics aren't nearly as good as (BMW/Yamaha) or we would be praising it more highly? As a lover of conventional bikes w less electronics, the Aprilia was an object of compelling desire and frankly more power than I can sweetly ride. 800 to 900cc Triple no electronics narrow carving tool please. 

GPs? Aprilia is coming at the I-4s. (KTM is an exception stalled of late). Duc and Honda may be walking away from Yamaha and Suzuki on the straight again. Suzuki may be keeping in the draft?

I have just replaced my Triumph Street Triple RS with a 2020 MV Agusta Dragster RR and that 800 triple is a sweet super revving unit.

^ How much interest are you experiencing about WSS lately? (Niiiiice bike!)

I am super curious about the state of tune that shows up w these motors. And ensuing parity adjustments. If it were me, before the first event even 800 RPM ish would get nixed off the Duc. No way in hell are the new spec 600cc 4's SS motors making enough power are they? How can this work? Have an estimate on their specs? I have yet to find HP/torque for 2021 nor spicier 2022 599cc 4's. 

Euro emission rules nor market tendencies away from street going 600s need to stop us if we want to race them. The R6 is now just a race special. Not necessarily bad right? These could have Factory SS performance kits avail. The wonderful folks at Ten Kate or Graves etc can too. (There can be some kind of future for 600 4's here).

The old MV was a tad more competitive than our old Triumph at the 675cc capacity. Neither QUITE had the top end to keep up with the 600cc 4's, but came off of corners SO well! The top end on the rather one off Triumph 765SS is yet to be seen. Hoping more aggressive than the "Moto2 special" bike.

2021 MV Ag F3:

415lbs wet, 798cc inline-three 148 HP and 65 lb-ft of torque

Ducati Panigale V2 955 cc V-twin, 440lbs wet, 155HP and 77 lb-ft torque.

Did you see that they just homologated the GSXR 750?! WTF are Yamaha and Kawi supposed to do here?! Suzuki should be arriving for 2023. 

2021 GSXR 750 148 HP 64 ft-lbs torque, 419 lbs wet (so very close the the F3).

What do you think of all this?

This is admittedly a hop and a stretch, but if they next allow Yamaha and Kawi to go ahead and stroke/bore their 599cc out to 749cc to match Suzuki, I will be in bloody HEAVEN. The racing, yes, but also the BIKES. Cinderella sweet spot dream! Take my money on the Yamaha now please! Or bore my 675R out to 798cc, which isn't going to happen. But then our Triples are going to need to go 900cc? 

No. Nix the GSXR 750 homologation. Rev limit the 955cc Duc Twin. Further let the reigns out on 599cc tune as needed. Lower their weight limit too. Their is more to easily come of the 600's at reasonable cost. 

Cheap and reliable and wise purchase aren't things often said about Ducatis, but running that huge Twin in Superstock form and being a potential WSS overdog may look tempting now eh? (Is a KTM 890 Duke R coming?) Not me. Triple. Just a lovely damn engine and the handling is sublime. 

I’m excited about the new format with a fascinating range of bikes. I think it’ll take a season two to get things sorted to a level playing field but it’s going to make for fun viewing. Go the MV!!!!!!

Why not just have an inlet restrictor, rev limit, weight limit and a few other cost conscious items like the ECU?

……I just don’t think it’s that easy. I think that far cleverer minds than mine will apply themselves to making the racing entertaining and ultimately that’s what we all want.