MotoGP: Are Ducati testing regenerative braking?

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At the last round of the 2016 MotoGP championship, Ducati test rider and wildcard Michele Pirro drew stares during Saturday morning’s free practice session three when he rolled out onto track sorting a new addition to the rear wheel of his GP16 machine.

Looking like the sort of disc wheel used in cycling by time triallists and velodrome riders, the Italian manufacturer refused to be drawn on exactly what the unusual wheel was all about, simply commenting afterwards that they were instead ‘studying aerodynamic effect,’ the latest continuation of their work in that area this year.

However, exclusive sources within the paddock have in fact revealed what could be the real reason for the unusual covers – not for an aerodynamic advantage, but to hide what was underneath.

Kinetic energy recovers systems are mechanical systems that allow vehicles to take the energy wasted as braking force and convert it into something much more useful – like extra engine power.

However, with both weight and centre of gravity a constant battle for engineers on motorbikes, it’s unlikely that Ducati have experimented with an electrical system, instead electing to go with a mechanical version of the system.

This would use a system similar in appearance to a drum brake to collect energy from the rear wheel under braking and then use that energy to wind a flywheel. This flywheel, connected to a small continuously variable transmission gearbox, can then be used to give an added power boost to the engine.

And while this is unlikely to be a huge boost given the already massive horsepower produced by Ducati’s MotoGP machines, it could in theory allow for a not-unsubstantial boost for overtaking or for race starts.

For the full story, see today Wednesday 21st September’s Motorcycle News.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer