Mat Oxley's blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP tech: how has Suzuki found all that extra top speed?

Suzuki’s 2022 GSX-RR is much quicker than its 2021 bike, so what’s the secret: more horsepower or less drag?

MotoGP is full of surprises. Even the riders hardly know what’s going on, because lap times are so tight that a two tenths difference can have them spraying prosecco one Sunday, then sobbing quietly on the toilet inside their luxury motorhome the next.

But the biggest surprise of 2022 is the new-found straight-line speed of Suzuki’s GSX-RR.

Inline-four MotoGP bikes – the Suzuki and Yamaha – tend to make less horsepower than the V4s – the Aprilia, Ducati, Honda and KTM – but this year the Suzuki has found so much speed that it can challenge and even beat the V4s on super-fast straights.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s Dorna versus MSMA showdown on shapeshifters

Most factories want to get rid of so-called shapeshifters, but the current system doesn’t allow a ban. Yet. Here’s the latest on MotoGP’s politics of technology

MotoGP rights-holder Dorna is running out of patience with the MSMA as it tries to get a grip on controversial technologies like shapeshifters.

Shapeshifters adjust the geometry of motorcycles exiting corners to improve traction and reduce wheelies, which limit acceleration. Ducati introduced this tech a few years ago, dropping the rear of its Desmosedici via a complex mechanical/hydraulic/pneumatic system (because electronic adjustments are banned). All the other factories followed. This year Ducati has a front-end shapeshifter that further reduces wheelies

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 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?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Should MotoGP ban shapeshifters?

First it was rear-end shapeshifters, now it’s front-end shapeshifters too. Should MotoGP ban these devices? And is it possible to ban the technology?

I have a copy of MotoGP’s 1999 rulebook. It’s 43 pages long, of which six pages (SIX!) cover every single technical regulation relating to all three GP classes: 125cc, 250cc and 500cc. This year’s edition amounts to 371 pages, of which 179 [ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE!) are dedicated to technical rules.

That’s around 30 times more pages – a mind-boggling multitude of regulations written by people frantically grappling with a fast-moving, ever-more complicated four-stroke, electronic world, in which just about anything is possible, if you’ve got the money to pay for it.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Suzuki’s MotoGP project needs to take several giant leaps forward

Suzuki’s challenge for 2022: build a motorcycle that’s fast enough for Mir and Rins to drive home the GSX-RR’s advantages, rather than just compensate for its disadvantages

Joan Mir’s 2021 defence of Suzuki’s first MotoGP world in two decades was one of the worst title defences (by a fully fit rider) since, erm, Kenny Roberts Jr’s defence of Suzuki’s 2000 world championship.

Neither Mir nor KRJR won a single race as they fought to retain their crowns, for different reasons, of course.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What KTM’s RC16 needs to run at the front of MotoGP again

KTM was the hero of the 2020 MotoGP season, then struggled in 2021. Team engineers tell us they need to improve qualifying speed and corner-exit performance to get back to the front in 2022

KTM goes into the 2022 MotoGP world championship following two seasons of weirdly contrasting fortunes.

In 2020, following KTM’s first complete redesign of the RC16 since the bike’s debut, the Austrian factory had a breakthrough year, claiming its first victories and missing a podium place in the constructors championship by just two points.

KTM had arrived.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Aprilia fight for its first MotoGP victory in 2022?

Aprilia’s technical director Romano Albesiano talks openly about the factory’s fight to get to the front and the challenges of MotoGP engineering in general

Aprilia is still MotoGP’s underdog, but if the Noale factory continues climbing on the upward curve since introducing its 90-degree V4 that may no longer be the case in 2022, or at least less so.

The switch to a wider-angled V4 – basically the same configuration as used by Ducati, Honda and KTM – from the previous 72-degree unit allowed Aprilia to build a better-balanced motorcycle with improved engine performance in both corner entry and exit.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Honda be Ducati’s biggest threat in 2022?

Honda’s 2022 RC213V is the factory’s biggest MotoGP redesign in 16 years – so what’s the focus of the new bike and what does HRC technical director Takeo Yokoyama think it can achieve?

If Ducati’s Desmosedici is favourite to win the 2022 MotoGP title, who or what might stop it?

The last two MotoGP championships have been won by inline-fours – Suzuki’s GSX-RR in 2020 and Yamaha’s YZR-M1 last year. Why? Because both factories built good bikes, but also because Honda’s six-time MotoGP king Marc Márquez was out of the game and because Michelin’s new-for-2020 rear slick suited inline-fours better than V4s.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - When MotoGP riders strike!

Talk of a riders’ strike didn’t last long at crazy-bumpy COTA, so when did MotoGP riders last go on strike and how did it happen?

How close did MotoGP riders come to going on strike at COTA last weekend?

Not very. Not very, at all.

Only a few riders suggested that the grid should withhold its labour because working conditions at the Texan circuit were unacceptable. Chief among these was Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaró, who’s never afraid to speak his mind.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Factories shouldn’t have the possibility to lock young riders for five years’

Red Bull KTM’s hugely successful rider programme has got other factories worried – is that a problem or not?

The tighter and more competitive MotoGP becomes the more everything matters.

MotoGP’s current technical regulations guarantee that all the bikes have similar performance. Thus the rider becomes an ever-more important part of the equation because he or she is the surest way of making that vital difference.

So how do you find the best riders? You open your wallet, of course. But what if someone else has flashed the cash before you and locked a talented youngster into a long-term deal?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - 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.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - A tale of two 170mph crashes – 46 years apart

Marc Márquez walked away from his 170mph tumble at Silverstone, while Barry Sheene spent weeks in hospital after his 170mph accident at Daytona in 1975. The big difference? Huge advances in riding kit

In March 1975 British youngster Barry Sheene was in Florida, USA, trying to conquer the Daytona 200, at that time the biggest motorcycle race of them all.

Sheene was a factory Suzuki rider, equipped with XR11 two-stroke triples, powered by heavily tuned 115-horsepower GT750 road-bike engines. These big two-strokes represented a seismic and overnight shift in performance, from 155mph British four-stroke 750s to 175mph Japanese two-stroke 750s.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘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.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Happy 50th MotoGP birthday to Ducati and two-stroke 500s!

MotoGP has two big 50th anniversaries coming up: the first two-stroke 500cc GP win and Ducati’s MotoGP debut

This Friday, August 14, it will be 50 years since the two-stroke’s first MotoGP victory. And four weeks later, on September 12, it will be 50 years since Ducati entered its first MotoGP race.

Both these anniversaries are significant landmarks in the history of motorcycle grand prix racing, signalling a generational change in technology, just as we are currently seeing a generational change of riders in MotoGP.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s greatest paradox: why isn’t Moto2 racing closer?

Moto2 riders use the same engine, tyres, software, fuel, oil and gearbox, so why is the racing more spread out than MotoGP and Moto3?

Dorna’s big push over the past decade has been writing technical regulations that shrink the gap between the best and worst motorcycles, thereby creating thrilling racing that gets hundreds of millions of people turning on their televisions

The premier MotoGP class features many such rules – 81mm bore limit, spec tyres, spec electronics, a relatively high minimum weight limit and so on.

Moto3 is even stricter, with the same tyres, same electronics and engines randomly allocated to riders to prevent factory teams gaining an advantage.

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