MotoGP bikes can now be driven flat-out from third gear, or even the latter half of second, according to Marc Marquez, who also credits ride-height gadgets and improved aerodynamics.
The most recent MotoGP wings initially debuted on the Desmosedici Ducati during preseason testing in Qatar in 2015. They quickly increased in size and complexity until being constrained by tougher rules starting in 2019.
In order to assist minimize wheelies at the start of a race, the manufacturer unveiled a new technical device that lowered the rear of the bike, just as Ducati’s competitors were catching up with aerodynamics.
Ducati’s one-time “holeshot” mechanism had been upgraded into a repeatable “ride-height” device by the end of 2019. Benefits include smoother braking, decreased drag on the straightaways, and improved acceleration out of slow corners. The suspension then returns to its original position.
The front holeshot mechanism was then transformed by Ducati into a repeatable ride-height system for 2022, keeping its competitors under technical strain.
Results, however, were less definitive, and its long-term prospects were destroyed by a ban on front ride-height systems for 2023 although rear right height as well as front and rear holeshot devices, will still be permissible.
Marquez, a six-time MotoGP champion who debuted in the top division in 2013, believes that new technology is undermining the value of the rider.
“It’s easy… before everything was more manual,” Marquez said. “Before you only put full torque on the bike in 4th, 5th and 6th gears but now, with the rear device, with the aerodynamics, you can already put full torque in 3rd gear or even the last part of 2nd gear in some tracks.”
“Before we were playing with the body, with the rear brake… Everything was more manual until 4th or 5th gear.”
“Now you are already in 3rd gear and it’s like Moto3, inside the bike and this is the limit, especially on acceleration.”
“Then on the brake point the bikes are very stable with the aerodynamics… Everything is closer now in a single lap in a race, as you see, when one rider is catching another it’s so difficult to overtake.”
Marquez’s dissatisfaction with the most recent MotoGP technology may have been affected by Honda’s winless season, but Luca Marini, who raced for two seasons with VR46 Ducati in the top division, believes riders’ influence is waning.
“For me, I would like to have [MotoGP] bikes that are more difficult to ride because then riders can make more difference,” said Marini.
“Also I think in the small categories like in Supersport 300 or Moto3, the biggest problem is that the bikes are too easy and now MotoGP is going in that direction.
“The bike is very easy for everybody and if you ask all the other riders they will say the same thing because everybody here wants to be the best rider and, in my opinion, if you want to be the best rider you have to make a difference in some way.”
“If we can have something more difficult, where the rider can make a step, I will be happier because now, for example in acceleration, you can’t do anything.”
“The exit of the corner is completely the same for every bike, for every rider, so you just need to brake hard, entry fast.”