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An exclusive two-year deal with a mob that can simulate and predict tyre behaviour might be giving Ducati an edge

MotoGP world title leader Andrea Dovizioso has been consistently getting his race strategy so spot on lately, it’s almost like he can predict the future. Turns out, that’s not so far from the truth, because the Ducati squad recently inked an exclusive two-year deal with vehicle dynamics modelling mob MegaRide. 

What MegaRide is particularly good at, and what piqued Ducati’s interest, is tyre modelling software that can simulate in real time and predict both tyre grip and degradation during a race. So, while other teams use the 165min of practice to assess and decide which tyre will provide them with the best chance of winning, it seems the crafty Ducati crew has a computational advantage.

A handy one, too, when tyres play such a critical role. So often this season the difference between winning a race or being off the podium has come down to tyre choice, life, wear and who can manage the black rubber rings best. What MegaRide’s clever real-time simulation software does is accurately predict two very important things even the most experienced riders in the world struggle with: grip and wear.

Individually, they are enormously important, and when you can marry the two into a perfect harmony, that’s when races become easier to win. And that could be the very thing that is dramatically changing Dovizioso’s MotoGP fortunes.   

GRIP LEVELS

Grip levels can be predicted through a product MegaRide has developed called adheRIDE, which assesses an enormous range of contributing factors and forecasts how the grip will perform during the race. So instead of the rider using practice sessions to calculate confidence, feedback and feel, adheRIDE uses them to measure the coarseness of the surface, the temperatures in various sections of the tyre, the power transferred through the contact patch and the knock-on effects to viscosity. It measures internal and external stresses, analyses in real-time the tyre’s viscoelastic characteristics (the nerdy term for grip) and gives scientific-based evidence on race strategy. MegaRide can produce the same information, in real-time, on the open and hugely unpredictable road, so in MotoGP’s racing environment, where the rider rarely deviates off the same few centimetres of racing line every lap, it’s feasible that this technology could produce accurate friction maps to give teams an upper hand. In Dovizioso’s case, it seems to be working.

RATE OF DEGRADATION

Just as the adheRIDE software predicts grip, thermoRIDE predicts thermal behaviours of a tyre across a race distance – the key factor in degradation. The company claims that, while engineers can accurately measure the temperatures of a tyre’s external surface, and within its outer layers, its software can accurately predict the behaviours of the deep layers within the rubber compound where, due to thermal exchanges with the external environment, deformation and degradation can occur. It also measures thermal conduction between the tyre and the track, the convection of the surface of the tyre with the outside air and, similarly, how the inner layer of the tyre is reacting to the temperature of the internal air. It monitors changes in temperature caused by tyre spin and its effects, the knock-on effects of camber forces, of good drive, of rear-end slides…

For Ducati, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of set-up and race strategy.

Kel Buckley