Marc Marquez has urged fellow MotoGP riders to lobby the Safety Commission to ban the controversial ‘ride height/holeshot’ device, fearing it could push top speeds to dangerous levels.
Pioneered by Ducati, the device – which is activated by the rider to push the suspension down to improve ride and stability – was originally intended to work on the rear at the start of a race to improve jaunts , hence the term “holeshot”.
However, as rivals caught up with the technology, Ducati extended it for use on the move, allowing riders to use it to push the rear suspension out of corners to help slingshot on a straight line. Now, with the 2022 MotoGP season approaching, he has also developed it for use on the front suspension.
Although the Ducati device did not break the rules from the outside, rival teams indicated that they were unhappy that they had to create their own systems so as not to be left behind in the race for development.
At the heart of the concerns are fears that the device will allow top speeds to reach unwieldy levels, with Suzuki’s Joan Mir predicting that a bike will exceed 370 km/h (230 mph) for the first time this weekend at the Losail International Circuit, where most record speeds have been recorded previously.
“For me it’s starting to be too much,” said the 2020 MotoGP World Champion. sure it’s more efficient.
“Also on the acceleration side it’s harder to tell the difference. If you use everything it’s more performance but it’s not the best thing for safety.”
Marquez, a six-time MotoGP world champion, believes it should be banned altogether as it is an added complication while riding, is irrelevant to road bike technology and could affect the safety of sites that do not have such long clearances.
“For me, it’s something they have to take away for the future. I said that already last year when I arrived after my injury.
“I think all the drivers have to go together (safety commission). The manufacturers are always going to go more and more, but now with more rear travel, more speed, more front travel, c It is difficult to initiate the procedure at the outset.
“For the show, we don’t win anything. Okay, these are prototypes, but for street bikes, you don’t need the holeshot. The aero I’m okay with because it’s nice and new, but the hole system; always the clearance zones try to increase, you get to the braking points faster and brake later, so for the future it makes no sense.”
While Fabio Quartararo joined Mir and Marquez in describing the device as “too much”, others are more in favor with Brad Binder saying it’s “just the reality now”, while Pecco Bagnaia says he doesn’t. have “no problem” using it.
The case for and against the MotoGP ride height device
It was fairly inevitable that the ride height device debate would reach a boiling point.
Ducati has often been at the peak of developing new technologies in MotoGP, such as aerodynamic fenders and the electronic ‘salad box’, but the ride height device is an innovation that has left rivals wondering ‘why didn’t we think of that first? ‘.
Indeed, Ducati dismisses concerns as sour grapes from their rivals and one could argue against top speeds in part because other teams don’t want to see the Italian firm – which is already known for its superior edge. at top speed – benefit from an even more linear rhythm.
Plus, the bikes already exceed 370 km/h in race conditions anyway with the benefit of a wake, although the question arises of where to draw the line.
Without a major change in regulations, MotoGP bikes will only get faster, but the gains are often incremental.
Applying the ride height device is a significant – and visible – boost in a straight line, but does a few more km/h make it less safe? After all, an accident at 320 km/h can be as serious as an accident at 370 km/h… or even at 70 km/h.
MotoGP Qatar, however, will be the ultimate test of those speeds and the application of safety, albeit the venue most likely to deliver record breaking.
If the riders keep it clean, there’s no reason for the FIM to clamp down on what’s already there…although they may need to take a hard look at where the teams (or Ducati) might push the limits further so to preempt more loophole by capitalizing, rather than reacting to it as he has done so far.