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MotoGP Teams Absent Tire Pressure Cheating: Report

Image for article titled MotoGP Teams Are Running Unsafely, Unlawfully Inflating Tires and Looks Like No One Needs Attention: Report

Picture: Javier Soriano / AFP

Most MotoGP paddocks may have run tire pressures below the sport’s legal minimum in at least one race this season, according to journalist Mat Oxley by Motorsport magazine. What’s more strange, Michelin, the association of teams and commercial copyright holders of MotoGP Dorna, doesn’t seem to care. In fact, they seem too happy to leave things as they are.

Here’s the thing: racers can gain a competitive edge if they run slightly lower pressure, in the interest of maximizing front-grip grip. Of course, there are risks of getting too low – games in particular – which is why there are rules that forbid pressure below a certain point. In MotoGP, that’s 27.6 psi for the front and 24.6 for the rear. The other two- and four-wheel racing categories apply similar rules, though the consequences are clearly more dire on a motorcycle than on a car.

Teams are said to have breached those regulations and walked away with little more than a slap on the wrist. Polite Motorsport magazine:

This begs the question: why weren’t Ducati and Pecco Bagnaia sanctioned for running illegally low front pressure during the trip to the Spanish Grand Prix victory on May 1?

Because there is a so-called gentleman’s agreement between MSMA (manufacturers association) and Michelin to not disclose any violations of this regulation or sanction any violations.

The deal has pretty much been in effect since Michelin became a spec tire supplier for MotoGP in 2016, but at least two manufacturers now have enough, claiming that they keep their tires. in the rules, while some competitors regularly take their riders out with illegal low-pressure tires, for better performance during the race and with impunity.

Even worse, it’s not just Francesco Bagnaia’s Ducati factory – “the vast majority of riders” have done the same throughout this 2022 campaign that we’ve only been in six races, Oxley later added. Twitter.

The official post-race tire pressure chart – which a senior engineer provided to Oxley and was included in his paper – makes it clear which bikes are operating according to the rules and which are not. Bagnaia, Jorge Martín of Pramac Ducati, Alex Rins of Suzuki and Andrea Dovizioso of WithU Yamaha are all indicated in this sheet as having run unauthorized pressures during at least part of the Spanish Grand Prix, with stats of Bagnaia is illegal for the entire 25 laps. It’s important to note, like Oxley, that this can happen without the riders’ knowledge themselves.

However, there is no penalty due to the presence of a “gentleman’s agreement” between Michelin and the MotoGP manufacturers association that prohibits either party from disclosing “any violation of this regulation or sanctioning any violation.”

If the official documents show bike cheating and nothing is resolved, you can assume that MotoGP is looking the other way too. You would think that Michelin would never be willing to agree to such a deal – if a tire fails and the outcome is dire, it will likely be the first to be thrown down by fans and the media. under the bus, who wouldn’t know any better. Shadows of Pirelli’s tire failures at British Formula 1 Grand Prix 2020 and 2005 US Grand Prix come to think.

The fix seems to be pretty obvious: enforce the rules, ideally a random pressure check before the session. It’s not even such a big deal given the prevalence of fraud; if everyone’s do it then nobody actually has the advantage, so the running order won’t change much if all choose to follow the rules. MotoGP’s next stop is Le Mans for the French Grand Prix this weekend – it will be interesting to see if the officials take action. Furthermore, we’ve reached out to Dorna for comment on this story and will update this if we learn anything.

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