MotoGP 2022: our journey through the evolution of driving style

Among the most attentive enthusiasts, many wonder how much the evolution of the driving style was dictated by the technical evolution of the motorcycles or how much, instead, it was a natural progression of the athletic gesture of the rider in the use of his "working tool. Let's see some of the most representative cases of this change

June 28, 2022

ORobserving photos of riders of the Queen Class engaged in checking their bikes when cornering, the change in their style is evident. In the 90's, the drivers of the 500 were definitely centered in the saddles of their motorcycles and held the bust very erect.

Lawson and Rainey they were perfect interpreters of this style, while Schwantz was much more acrobatic even if, compared to them, he used only move the pelvis inwards curves in a more accentuated way.

TOThe beginning of the MotoGP era, in 2003, Valentino Rossi's style wasn't all that different from that of its American predecessors.

THEthe most noticeable change was only due to the tendency to keep the torso less erect and more extended on the tank.

Rossi, however, in his long career he knew and had to adapt his style and, in recent years, we have seen him ride his Yamaha in a very different way.

The torso was much lower on the tank and much more shifted towards the inside of the curve. The head was significantly lower, completely outside the fairing protection. The elbow was low, held at knee height, in many curves to touch the asphalt first.

Rossi deserves credit for knowing constantly evolving his styleas if to chase that of the younger riders with whom, season after season, he had to measure himself and who lately have become excellent interpreters of the new style with which the current MotoGP bikes are piloted.

T.ra i pilots of 2022there are interpreters who have the tendency to lean inwards with the whole body to the extreme; among them the Spanish Martin is one of the examples that most gives the idea. The image shows how, even in a curve where the lean is not extreme, the rider leans out and crouches on the tank with the chin guard of the helmet touching the glove.

V.he said that this way of staying on the bike when cornering is not the only possible interpretation; there are pilotsnot many actually, who know how to go very fast while continuing to fly with a much more classic style. Two of these are Aleix Espargaro and Johan Zarco.

TOlex Rins drives with a much more erect torso than many other riders and is much more centered on the bike.

Lor riding style, the position in which the rider is in the saddle has certainly evolved to follow what it was the enormous technological transformation that has taken place in MotoGP; in this sense the trend, the direction followed was common to all the pilots, even if with differences of interpretation that remain evident.

The weight and inertia of the vehicle that the rider must win to bring the bike to cornering at high speed are the two technical aspects that have had the most impact on the change in style and position on the saddle.

The old 500 at two times they weighed 115-130 kg dry e they did not have fairings equipped with aerodynamic appendages. At Mugello, just to give an example, the lap record of the 500 was 1'52.4 ”. The current MotoGP bikes go 7 ”faster on the lap and this performance they get above all with the significantly higher speed they develop when cornering.

This means that the pilots had to measure yourself when cornering with ever greater forces d the best way to win them was to to lean much more from the bike towards the inside of the curvealmost as if to pull the bike towards the ideal distance line.

The increasingly incisive use of wing surfaces made work even more difficult for the riders who had already seen tire performance significantly increase in terms of grip. The wings have certainly led to one greater stability and allowed to better balance the center of aerodynamic pressure on the fairings; they also involved, however, one loss of handling and for this they require riders to increase their movements on the bike even more.

A few seasons ago it made people smile Lorenzo's request to Ducati to have a saddle and a tank of a different shape to be able to stay on the Rossa as he wanted. When then, having obtained these details, he won at Mugello, most were incredulous to hear that the Majorcan attributed the reason for the success to the evolution of these details. Lorenzo was probably exaggerating, it is certain that modern riders on the saddle work and move much more than once.

Also the notable increase in acceleration and braking performance it had its influence in dictating the evolution of the rider's position in the saddle.

If you compare the basic triangle with the saddle, the handlebars and the footpegs as its vertices, you would not be able to notice a big difference between the 500 and today's MotoGP. This means that the way the rider sits on the bike hasn't changedhow much rather you are atexpand its movements and the work area is larger that the rider covers on the bike during a lap.

In acceleration the riders literally have to hold on to the semi-handlebars, trying to move the body as far forward as possible. The supports applied to the rear part of the seats to facilitate this movement for the pilot are increasingly common.

THEn braking, on the other hand, the deceleration is so powerful that the pilot must push hard on his forearms.

No.It is not rare that the foot inside the curve loses its support on the platform and the bike covers a good part of the braking with the rear wheel raised.

Racing in MotoGP today means being really trained as a professional athlete. Just look at the photos that follow to understand what the level of athletic movement of the current riders is.

S.o photos taken at the last Catalunya GP. Already Bezzecchi shows how much you have to protrude with your torso towards the inside of the curvebut Bagnaia, Quartararo and Martin seem to have fallen!

And to think that once there were those who boasted of knowing how to touch with their knees on the ground! These here would need a single bar of soap to protect the entire area of ​​the suit exposed to abrasion between the knee and the shoulder ...

QThese photos allow one last important technical consideration.

If you were to measure it, you could see that the maximum roll angle of the bikes in cornering hasn't changed too much: the bikes reach about 60 degrees of inclination with respect to the verticalmore or less as it already happened several years ago.

What it is much changed is the position of the center of gravity of the bike / rider system when cornering: leaning in this way, the rider shifts the center of gravity of the system towards the asphalt and this is the way he can control the greater centrifugal force when cornering due to the much higher travel speed that these bikes are able to develop.

In this regard, it should be clarified that the height of the center of gravity of the motorcycle and the height of the rider's seat cannot be lowered, as the pilot takes advantage of these heights in driving to be able to be fast when changing direction. To exploit all the potential even in cornering, all he has to do is work harder and make more extensive journeys in the saddle.

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