WSB: BMW use 3D rider model to optimise the BMW S 1000 RR aerodynamics

The World Superbike Championship restarts this weekend and the BMW Motorrad team have been working hard in the wind tunnel with a 3D rider model of Eugene Laverty.

Engineers have been fine-tuning the aerodynamics of the BMW S1000 RR in the BMW Group Acustic Wind Tunnel.

The goal is to keep the aerodynamic drag as low as possible, however in order to make the flow conditions as realistic as possible in the tunnel, BMW acknowledged that they needed to have the bike and the rider present in the wind tunnel.

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The whole package of motorcycle and rider is used in the airflow, which is generated by the wind tunnel’s 2,600-hp electric motor and can reach speeds of up to 255 km/h. 

“Eugene was here in Munich with us before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. He was trying to find the ideal sitting position on the RR and, while he was in that position, we took detailed measurements with a 3D scanner,” BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers explains.

“Based on the data from the 3D scan, we created a plastic model made of two halves. It took about a week to get all the details right, however our 3D Eugene was then ready for action.”

The scan was extremely detailed with every individual glove finger, every contour of Laverty’s helmet, every seam in his leathers and every crease that affects the aerodynamic drag and the airflow being taken into account.

The 3D model has been used more than 50 times in the wind tunnel so far and has become particularly useful during the strict lockdown placed throughout Europe. Laverty and Tom Sykes were unable to visit Munich during this time. 

“Using a 3D model like this allows us to work more efficiently on development of our RR,” Bongers added. “While a real rider must travel to get here, the plastic version is available at any time for testing in the wind tunnel. This means that we can evaluate and implement updates even faster.” 

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, a 3D model has now been made to replicate Sykes as well. His model will be used in the wind tunnel very soon.

Speaking about his 3D plastic model, Laverty laughed: “He’s just a few shades paler than my Irish complexion! All joking aside, it was a little unusual to sit on the bike for so long and to be measured from every angle with a 3D scanner. However, the result is awesome. I can do my bit to make our RR faster without having to be in Munich in person.

“It’s not every day you get to see yourself as such a detailed model. It is fascinating what is possible with modern technology, and the BMW Group is leading the way in many areas in this regard.”

The 2020 WSB resumes this weekend at Jerez. After round one in Australia, Laverty currently sits 15th in the standings, with Sykes in 10th spot.