Moto3, one rung on the ladder to international MotoGP competition, has a problem. Massive starting grids, inexperienced riders, and disparate packs have contributed to a dangerous sport that has resulted in the deaths of young riders like Jason Dupasquier and Hugo Millán. But how do we fix the problem?
Mat Oxley pondered this question over on Motorsport Magazine this past week, turning to former rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh for further solutions.
Oxley argues that there are two issues facing Moto3 riders today: technical regulations that are designed to make for close racing, and the slipstream effect that makes it difficult for riders to break away from one another. Pair these two things together, and you’re in for what some MotoGP officials have called “nigh-on unwatchable” racing because of the ever-present threat of danger that could befall any rider who falls from their bike.
He also posits van den Goorbergh’s solution:
The issue regards the spacing of the upper gears in the six-speed gearbox of a Moto3 bike, which makes slipstreaming absolutely vital for good lap times in practice, qualifying and the race.
Gear ratios should be spaced out like a pyramid, with the speed gap between each ratio reducing as you go through the gears, as the engine’s effective torque reduces.
Therefore an ideal gearbox in a Moto3 bike might go something like this: the gap between first and second could be 20mph/32kmh, then 15mph/25kmh from second to third, 13mph/21kmh from third to fourth, 10mph/16kmh from fourth to fifth and from fifth to sixth.
Right now, the first four gears of a Moto3 bike are designed for cornering while the final two are designed for long straights — which means there’s a huge bump in speed between one gear to the next. That top gear usually only works if they’re in someone else’s slipstream, which means riders are counting on sticking close to someone’s tail to make the most of the gear change.
I’ll let you read the rest of the article to check out some of the other solutions that have been proposed, especially for qualifying, where riders are pulling off risky maneuvers to secure a higher place on the grid.