April 18, 2024

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MotoGP: technology versus tradition

MotoGP: technology versus tradition

The golden days of MotoGP, when racers such as Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Nicky Hayden attracted thousands of fans to their television screens, seem far away. At that time, races in Spain were broadcast on free television.

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Although privatization has dealt a severe blow to two-wheeled sports, technological developments in recent years have also had a significant impact. The retirement of Spanish drivers Pedrosa and Lorenzo, and the farewell of racing icon Rossi and the numerous operations that Marc Marquez underwent during the past four years also contributed to this.

The role of technology in MotoGP

Many fans miss the excitement that once existed when they watched TV every Sunday race. The choice of riders with a chance to win has been greatly reduced, and today Ducati dominates almost exclusively. Many point to one main problem: technological development, especially improved aerodynamics, is the cause.

This opinion is becoming more and more widespread, with both riders and teams emphasizing the similarities between MotoGP and Formula 1. “Aerodynamics now plays a role in performance in all areas: acceleration, high speed, braking or cornering,” explains KTM Director Piet Behrer.

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Every tenth of a second is crucial for a tournament that may have one of the most even times, but also one of the least tense due to the small number of track battles.

Desire for overtaking maneuvers

“People want to see overtaking maneuvers,” Marc Marquez explains. But this is no longer an easy task. Speed ​​and lap time records are broken year after year, but more and more riders miss the fun they once had on a motorcycle.

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Pedrosa, one of the sport's most experienced voices, knows this all too well. He rode for the Repsol Honda team until 2018 and never stopped. Since his retirement, he has been part of the KTM test team and competed in two Grands Prix in 2023 as a wildcard rider.

His experience, both in sprints and long-distance racing, made one thing clear to him: everything is different than he remembers, and the physical demands are “getting more and more with these aerodynamically improved motorcycles.”

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Find balance

The ideal solution, Pedrosa points out, is “to find a balance between aerodynamics and motorcycle handling,” although many other riders are more extreme: they want to eliminate this technology altogether. Or at least bring it down to a less professional and demanding level.

“I feel like we've reached the point where Formula 1 was a few years ago. Every little detail is focused on how it can be used aerodynamically,” adds Bearer. Marquez expressed similar sentiments after the Sepang tests, saying these new aerodynamics are similar to Formula 1. And that he “personally” doesn't like her at all.

The future of motorcycles

It's not just the more experienced drivers who pine for the past. A few weeks ago, Jorge Martin admitted how much he was looking forward to 2027, when a lot could change.

There are rumors about motorcycles with smaller displacement and aerodynamic regulation. A return to the machines of the past, which, according to Pedrosa, “were more fun.” “I prefer old motorcycles that do not have aerodynamics,” confirms the Spaniard. It remains to be seen how Liberty's takeover of the World Cup will impact this process.

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