MotoGP to continue radio communication development

MotoGP radio

MotoGP tested a radio communication system at Jerez

MotoGP will continue to work on a radio communication system for race control to provide information to riders after testing two options at Jerez.

The post-race Official Test at the Spanish Grand Prix venue saw a number of riders trial the one-way radio concept, whereby race control can deliver pre-recorded safety messages to warn of hazards on the track and changes in conditions.

After an initial trial at Misano in 2020, two systems were used at Jerez, one which goes around a rider’s earplugs and another directly into the ear.

Dorna Sports Chief Sporting Officer Carlos Ezpeleta explained, “We work very closely with the riders and the teams, and communication with the riders from race control has been a priority over the last few years.

“In 2020, the riders were complaining about the visibility of the flags, them knowing what’s happening on track and being warned about flags, rain or incidents, so we did a radio test at Misano in 2020.

“But, the riders weren’t very happy with the first system, they felt uncomfortable with it and the level of noise.

“So, we decided to go down the route of LED panels and imposing them as a must for all circuits from last year, which has been very successful.

“The riders are very happy and I think we’ve made strong progress and development in terms of yellow flags, and flags in general, and getting information to the riders during races and sessions.

“So, we’re very happy with the LED panels, which are now throughout the whole calendar.

“Still, it was important for us to continue helping and communicating with the riders when they’re on the bikes and the next phase for us was to re-engage with the project of the radio and audio communication.

“It’s a challenging one for us because as opposed to cars, the helmets for motorbikes are tight, especially in the face, and bikes are much noisier. There’s much more movement – riders need to be free to move on the bike, so it’s much more challenging.

“There also has to be communication with the rider themselves, not the bike, from race control. So there are things we have to work on but we’re very happy.”

Ezpeleta ruled out introducing radio communications at the very start of the 2024 season, at Qatar’s Lusail in March, because of software development.

The concept relies on GPS in order to send the messages only in particular locations, on the straight leading into the hazardous sector, and hence needs refinement.

However, use of GPS could have additional safety benefits given it will enable better understanding of crashes, and Ezpeleta foreshadowed that the radio could evolve to a two-way system one day.

“It’s a one-way system at the moment, and all the riders agree it’s positive in principle,” he added.

“At a later stage if the teams agree, and once they’re more comfortable with the system, in terms of two-way communication via radio from riders to race control or teams to riders as well, I think it’s something that will probably happen in the future.

“The riders already have a lot of work on the bikes with ride height devices and so on, so let’s see what happens with the technical regulations! But definitely, a lot of innovation is coming in the following seasons.

“It’s also very interesting for us to study crash dynamics and have GPS systems on the riders, to see how they slide, where they end up, to further work to improve safety.”

The 2023 MotoGP season continues with the French Grand Prix at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit on May 12-14.

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