COME RAIN OR SHINE

Climate control in MotoGP

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COME RAIN OR SHINE

With 19 rounds spanning the globe and covering nine months of the year, the MotoGP riders have to endure a wide range of temperatures and climactic conditions – everything from sweltering monsoons in Malaysia, to freezing France, and scorching Spain. You’ll witness team beanie hats plonked firmly on heads and rain jackets wrapped around riders at some circuits, and floor fans furiously spinning and cold towels draped over necks at others. But what happens when the riders have to park the flip flops or umbrellas and don their racing garb? After all, whatever the weather, safety is priority.

We caught up with two men who help to keep the riders as comfortable as possible as they do battle: Nolan Helmet Technician, Oberdan Tomasoni who works with Alex Rins and Dainese Racing Service Manager, Stefano Corte, who is alongside Joan Mir.


PERFORATION PERFECTION
                                   
“Usually we have two types of leather suits; perforated and non-perforated, the latter is also known as the winter suit” explains Corte “The winter suit doesn’t have any ventilation holes so there’s less air entering the leathers, and it serves two purposes because it’s also more difficult for water to pass through it can also be paired with a thicker undersuit. In case of a lot of rain there’s also a rain jacket that can be worn over the top, sometimes the riders prefer not to wear this because it can feel very tight – the reason behind this is to avoid a jacket that could flap and cause drag or interrupt the aerodynamics for the rider. Some riders have special modifications in the rain, for example Valentino Rossi used to wear latex gloves under his normal Dainese race gloves, but in 19 years he’s the only one I’ve known to do that!

For the high temperature the riders will naturally use the perforated suit with lots of tiny holes to allow better airflow, and a much more lightweight undersuit, when they’re travelling at such high speeds it can really make a difference and cool them down nicely.”

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW THE RAIN HAS GONE
 

“Normally, for the helmets, we have two different configurations for dry and for wet – for dry the difference is that inside the air flow inlets we have a different filter depending on if it’s raining or not. But one of the key differences is the visor; the rain visor has a hydrophobic film on it, and it also tends to have a lighter tint” says Tomasoni “So if it’s dry I will set-up the helmet for usual dry weather and confirm these settings with Alex. The visor choice can change though – if it’s bright he might prefer a darker tint, but when it’s cloudy he’ll use a medium tint, and finally, if it’s very cloudy he uses the smoke visor which is almost clear. Some riders don’t like this smoke visor because it’s very similar to clear, but Alex finds it easier to see - but you’ll only see this visor on if it’s really dark out there!
On a very sunny day in the summer we might get through a lot of tear-offs because some circuits have a lot of insects flying about and they, unfortunately, end up squished on the visor! In that case I change the whole visor every time Alex comes into the box, or occasionally he’ll do a run without a tear-off and I’ll just clean the visor directly.”

RACE READY REFRESHMENT
 

“When the weather is really hot we have a hydration pack which slots into the aerodynamic hump on the back of the leathers. Inside that hump we also have the D-air®

airbag system and all the electronics and sensors which control it, so we made a specially shaped water bottle which fits very neatly around all those components” Stefano explains excitedly. “From there, there’s a pipe which just clicks into the hump and attaches to the rider’s helmet so they can drink during sessions. It doesn’t hold a large volume of water, around 330ml, because it’s not really for true hydration as such, but more just to wet their mouths and stop them getting that dried out feeling that hot weather can bring. This water doesn’t stay cool, of course, but it’s just something to refresh them. But this is usually only in play when things get scorching, because it’s extra weight, so it’s not something the riders will request to have every time. But if Joan requests it we can even do it last-minute: it only takes 10 minutes for us to install it, so it’s very quick!”
 

COME RAIN OR SHINE

MASK UP OR MIST UP

“When it’s hot all the vents on Alex’s Nolan helmet will be open, but when it’s raining he’ll usually only open the air flow vent on the front of the helmet to allow the air in and prevent misting or fogging with condensation. We also have a mask system, which isn’t used during light rain or during the sessions, but during the race it can make things a lot easier, especially if he is following other riders and there is spray everywhere. During rainy races the difference between the temperature inside the helmet and the outside air temperature can be big, so the mask redirects the hot air from the mouth to the outside of the helmet and it stops fogging. For dry conditions he usually uses two tear-offs, and for rain just one tear-off or none at all. If it’s massive rain he doesn’t like to use tear-offs – it’s a preference thing because with tear-offs the water can move off the visor more quickly, but some riders are worried about droplets getting stuck between the visor and the tear-off.” Oberdan comments.

DAMAGE LIMITATION

“When we have races close together like Sachsenring and Assen, we try to have five or six leather suits per rider, which equates to 25 suits per season! It’s hard to predict because the rider might never crash, or they might crash multiple times in one weekend, and we simply don’t have time to repair the leathers. There is some maintenance that we can do here on site, such as the airbag system, which if it has deployed can be changed. But luckily, when it’s wet, if the rider is sliding they don’t tend to do too much damage to the leathers!” Corte admits: “Often the riders don’t like to change leathers because the ones they’ve been wearing are softer and more supple. Eventually we take the leathers back to the factory for repairs, but we have to have lots of spare sets at the circuits because the factory can only make so many in a short period of time. In the past we had some Dainese staff that used to repair the leathers here at the circuits, just small patches, but it became unsustainable because usually it’s not just a small part of the leathers which is damaged, and if you need to repair a large section then you also need to restitch all the sponsors’ patches and logos too. It’s a big job!”

ALL WEATHER FRIEND

For every session I will be in the pit box, because it’s something Alex has requested from me. Not every rider has their helmet technician by their side, but Alex likes it. It means I can change something very quickly if needed, because otherwise I have to run from the pit box to our service truck and he could lose precious time. I really enjoy being there to help him feel as comfortable and prepared as possible.” Smiles Oberdan. 

“We aren’t usually in the pit box unless there’s an urgent problem.” Stefano comments “Some riders come to collect their leathers from us before the session, or sometimes their assistant will come. But we love to chat with our guys whenever possible, because they help us develop new methods for the future and we love hearing their feedback. I’m proud to provide Joan with leathers that keep him safe, dry, warm and cool.”

 

COME RAIN OR SHINE
COME RAIN OR SHINE