Second round of the season for MotoGP, which will take place at Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina. A circuit that is demanding for the brakes, as illustrated by Brembo in its usual preview.
(In the opening photo, Dovizioso and Marquez. Last year in Argentina they both ended up falling, but this year they seem to be much more focused)
MotoGP teams already arrived in South America for the Argentina GP, which is held from 6 to 8 of April at the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo.
Located in the province of Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, the circuit was designed by Italian Jarno Zaffelli in 2008. But it was expanded and improved considerably as early as 2012.
Every year the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo hosts dozens of car competitions, so when MotoGPs land in Argentina they may find themselves on a dirty track: in the first free practice session of 2016 the sand present in great quantity on the asphalt produced lap times in the order of 1’43”-1’44”, a value lowered by more than 3 seconds in little less than 24 hours and by a further second in Q2. In short, the times will have to wait until the end of the tests, probably.
The 4.8 km long Termas de Rio Hondo circuit has a total of 14 bends, 5 left and 9 right. The track is 16 metres wide and the longest straight is 1076 metres.
According to Brembo engineers, the Argentine circuit is one of the most demanding circuits for brakes. On a scale from 1 to 5, he deserved a difficulty index of 3, identical to those obtained on 8 other tracks, including Losail, which hosted the inaugural race of the season
Brakes stress during GP
The 14 curves of the track correspond to 8 braking points, 3 of which in T4, which despite these slowdowns is the fastest intermediate time of the four in which the track is divided.
Only Phillip Island with 6 braking points per lap, and Spielberg and Sachsenring with 7, have fewer braking points than Termas de Rio Hondo. On each lap the drivers use the brakes for about 30 seconds, a value equalled by Barcelona and Misano. The total for the entire GP Argentina is 12 and a half minutes, equal to 30 percent of the total duration of the race.
The maximum decelerations average is 1.11 g but this value would be higher without touching the brakes on curve 11 (194 km/h to 160 km/h), which at 0.6 g lowers the average. If all the forces exerted by a driver on the brake lever are added up from start to finish, the value is almost 900 kilograms: only at Phillip Island the physical effort required from the drivers is less.
The most demanding braking points
Of the 8 braking points of the Autódromo de Termas de Rio Hondo, only one is considered to be highly demanding for the brakes, 4 are medium difficulty and 3 are light.
Curve 5 is the most difficult to tackle, because it is preceded by a straight 1,076 metres long that allows MotoGPs to reach 324 km/h: the hairpin bend forces riders to go down to 78 km/h using brakes for 6.1 seconds, with a load on the lever of 6.3 kg and a deceleration of 1.5 g.
At that moment the brake fluid pressure peaks at 10.9 bar and the bikes run for 316 metres. Among the medium difficulty curves, the first after the finishing line deserves a mention. The stopping distance here is 240 metres: from 271 km/h to 106 km/h with a deceleration of 1.2 g. And if you think they are few, consider that most road supercars do not exceed 0.9 g.
As for records, the fastest lap belongs officially to Valentino Rossi, who in 2015 stopped the chronometer at 1’39″019, at an average speed of 174.7 km/h. However, Marc Marquez, who scored 4 consecutive pole positions here, dropped to 1’37″683 during test sessions in 2013 (average 177.1 km/h).
The highest top speed was marked by Hector Barbera’s Ducati Avintia in 2017: 334.4 km/h.
Last year Maverick Viñales won, ahead of Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow. Marquez, Lorenzo and Dovizioso fell instead.
Brembo admits the problem with Lorenzo’s brakes in Qatar
Many of you will probably remember the fall of Jorge Lorenzo at Losail. The Spaniard fell after being left without the front brake. It seems to have lost a pad.
On 4 April, Brembo issued a very short press release in which it admitted the problem and reassured that it had been resolved. This is the text:
“In relation to what happened to Jorge Lorenzo of Team Ducati during the Qatar MotoGP Grand Prix, Brembo is really disappointed that the rider’s retirement on lap 12 was caused by a braking system problem.
After careful analysis by our engineers, we confirm that the problem has been identified and solved so that this anomaly cannot reoccur.