The Dainese behind the Doctor
The MotoGP paddock operates like a well-oiled machine – not too dissimilar to the bikes which the race series features, and behind every rider are teams of professionals working to ensure the best possible results. One of those teams is Dainese.
We got a behind-the-scenes look at the Dainese race truck to discover the technology that’s featured in every race suit they make and also how they will typically operate for the duration of a race weekend.
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Stefano Corte is Dainese’s Racing Service Manager and looks after the logistics for the MotoGP, World Superbike and BSB riders. Valentino Rossi, Jack Miller, Leon Haslam, Andrea Iannone, Tom Sykes, Dan Linfoot and Stefan Bradl are just a few of the racers that are all under his control. He looks after 17 riders alone on a GP weekend. No pressure then.
We caught up with him to find out what his role involves – from the time the race suits go to the riders, what happens between race sessions and ultimately what will happen to a suit when a rider crashes.
'We want to protect as much as we can'
“Each rider has four to five suits for every GP. If they crash, then most of the time we’ll send the suits back to Italy” said Stefano. “In case where the rider crashes in wet conditions, or if the suit is not too badly damaged and can still be used, then we take off the D-Air system and replace the airbag and gas generator so it can be used again for another session.”
Airbag suits are becoming the norm on track now, with a proven record of providing the best protection to the rider in the event of a crash.
Every racer will have a suit that features Dainese’s D-Air technology, it’s been developed with the racetrack in mind. The processor that controls it can detect when the rider is having an accident – activating in a matter of milliseconds to protect them before they’ve even hit the ground.
“Our goal is to protect the rider and we want to give the best protection we can. Every single rider has the D-Air technology, it’s reliable and is a really protective system.
“For sure, it’s good for us if they win, but we want to protect as much as we can.”
How it works
The suit’s processor detects when the rider is having an accident and will activate accordingly. It won’t inadvertently just go off when the rider stops and gets off the machine, the rider will need to be travelling at least 50km/h.
With a number of sensors it records data relating to a crash, helping Dainese, the racer and his team to understand just what happened, and more importantly – how it can be prevented in the future.
“Inside of the hump houses all the electronics we need. When the rider returns from a session, we’ll download the suit’s data to a laptop equipped with 2D data-logging software, which is the same system that’s used on the bike.”
A GPS unit that’s mounted in the hump is also able to accurately locate the rider at any given time while on circuit. The gas canister that will deploy the airbag is housed in a protected housing in the upper part of the chest.
“There are many sensors inside the airbag that we can use to check the suit and see if the system is working properly. In the case of a crash we can see when it activates, at what speed and how the rider has crashed. It’s good for us to have this data so that we can improve the system as much as we can.”
“It’ll also charge the suit’s battery ready for the next session, it’ll be easy to forget to otherwise!”
Clean & maintain
Being a support truck, they also carry an assortment of spares for the suits – mostly electronic components – should they be needed – to allow the rider to remain protected throughout the course of a weekend.
When the suits are brought back to the truck the information is downloaded and the data sent to the teams to help a rider analyse their riding at any given part of the circuit.
There is a purpose-built dryer on the truck that will also dry the suit after it’s been cleaned (or if it gets wet), all in time for the rider to use again the following session.
Keep a lid on it
The far end of the truck belongs to AGV – who are owned by Dainese. This is the place where the lids of all their supported riders are taken care of.
It’s an area where the helmets can be serviced and maintained throughout the course of the weekend. Maurizio Vitali is the man charged with keeping the lids in tip-top condition. His role at AGV sees him looking after each of the riders when they come in at the end of each session.
Each helmet will be cleaned before being placed on a unit that will dry the inside by gently blowing warm air through it. The visor will be cleaned before the tear-offs are replaced.
If the visor is to be changed then each rider will have his own specific items – despite the fitment being the same across the range of helmets. The sponsor’s logos that are associated to each racer means that each has to have his own range of visors.
It’s no small job keeping this cog turning for both Dainese and AGV. The support offered plays a part in the bigger picture of making sure that the riders are properly protected before they take to the circuit, and ultimately, when accidents occur.