A week after the first test of the 2018 preseason, Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa enjoyed a unique experience in Madrid, as they felt what it is like to fly in the biggest wind tunnel in Europe. The Repsol Honda team riders floated in the air, as if they had jumped from a plane without a parachute. Later, in a horizontal wind tunnel, they explained the importance of aerodynamics in many sports, including motorcycle racing.
Accustomed to reaching speeds of over 300 km/h and something akin to flying at race tracks, Márquez and Pedrosa put on their skydiving overalls in the Madrid facility. In a chamber measuring 4.6 metres wide and 17 metres high, and thanks to four powerful engines that generate a vertical current of adjustable speed between 180 and 300 km/h, the Repsol Honda Team riders were able to feel the effect of a wind capable of making them float in the air.
Wind, and more specifically how it affects the behaviour of a MotoGP bike, is one of the key elements in the sport, where aerodynamics has become a very important aspect in bike development. Honda have had their own wind tunnel in Japan since the 1970s, and Márquez and Pedrosa have worked there together with HRC engineers to optimise parameters such as wind resistance and downforce –which affect both top speed as acceleration.
In the first test of the year at in Sepang (Malaysia), Márquez and Pedrosa were able to try out Honda’s latest developments in that regard, a job that will continue in eight days’ time in Thailand, in the second official test of the 2018 preseason.
“It was my first experience in a vertical wind tunnel and it's completely unique.”
“When you are there inside it is quite high up, and it gives you the feeling that you are rising very quickly.”