Feeling the heat…
Check out Mika Kallio’s 2014 Kalex Moto2 machine during the pre-season tests at Valencia, Jerez and Phillip Island and you won’t fail to notice that it’s sprouted six strange red protuberances around the carbon rear hugger over the winter.
These six components, arrayed across the width of the rear tyre using a carbon bridge, are infrared temperature sensors, each one measuring the surface temperature on a specific part of the Dunlop rear tyre.
While tyre temperature sensors are a common sight in MotoGP, the regulations ban their use in races for Moto2 teams, so what are they doing on Mika Kallio’s bike?
“Everyone saw the problems we had with the rear tyres in Phillip Island last year, with high temperatures causing excessive wear and rapid degradation,” explains Mika Kallio’s Chief Mechanic, Naoya Kaneko. “Dunlop will hold a pre-season test at Phillip Island in March, in which we will participate with Mika and Tito, to ensure we don’t have a repeat of the problems when we return to Australia to race in October.”
“Running tyre temperature sensors on the bike will allow us to provide Dunlop with much more detailed information on how heat builds in the tyre, but also exactly where on the circuit the most heat is induced. By doing this we’re helping Dunlop to develop a tyre that can run full race distance at Phillip Island, while still offering the level of grip that the riders demand.”
“But it’s not just Dunlop we’re helping. Obviously, if we come back to Phillip Island in October with a race tyre that can take advantage of the high grip levels there, but also last full race distance, then we’re also helping ourselves, and all the other teams in Moto2.”
“It’s very easy for the teams and riders to complain when they don’t get the performance they expect from a tyre, but if we don’t assist Dunlop with their development programme then who are we to complain? We don’t see the deal with Dunlop as a simple sponsorship or supplier arrangement; we see if as more of a partnership, and I suspect that their view is the same.”
“However, we won’t just run the tyre temperature sensors at Phillip Island. They’ll also be on Mika’s bike at Valencia and Jerez. Last year we saw with Mika that he was quite hard on the rear tyre, but when we adjusted the set-up to compensate then we lost quite a lot of rear traction as a result.”
“In Valencia and Jerez we need to find a compromise, not just with set-up but also with Mika’s riding style, to retain rear traction while not overstressing the rear tyre. With the data from the tyre temperature sensors, combined with the data from other sensors on the bike, we can see exactly how heat is being induced into the rear tyre and then accurately evaluate each potential solution. We have a good idea what we need to do, but the data, including tyre the tyre temperature readings, will show us straight away if we’re going in the right direction.”
The Marc VDS Racing Team will test at Valencia from 11-13th February and Jerez from 18-20 February, before the long trip down under to participate in the Dunlop tyre test at Phillip Island from 3-6th March.