MotorLand Aragon, the host of this weekend’s Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon, is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar to get right. Its layout is diverse, with fast sweeping bends interspersed with bus-stop chicanes and very slow 90º corners – challenging for teams and riders alike.
With the help of MotoGP™’s Facebook Tech Group, we’ve compiled some key points to unlocking performance at Aragon.
1. Low-speed corner acceleration
Aragon is a place where acceleration is needed from low-speed corners in quite a few places, the main spot being onto the almost 1km long back straight. Without a doubt, the ride-height devices will be back in action this weekend. Pretty much all riders didn’t bother with them at Silverstone as the straights lead into fast corners, so they wouldn’t be braking hard enough to disengage the system and let the rear shock extend back to its full length.
But in Aragon, they’ll be back. This picture shows Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) using it last year on board his Pramac Racing Demsosedici coming onto the back straight, a place that has so often been a happy hunting ground for Ducati as they’ve been able to use their superior acceleration and top speed to fly past other bikes. It’ll be interesting to see how much closer the Yamahas and Suzukis especially have cut the gap, thanks to their ride-height devices.
2. Front end
Getting comfortable with the front end in Aragon is going to be crucial. Perhaps that’s why home hero Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has been so dominant here in years gone by. The eight-time World Champion is often able to push the front to within a millimetre of the limit lap after lap, but still keep things under control on his RC213V.
Moreover, MotorLand Aragon has an abundance of tough braking zones. Turn 1 is heavy and flat. Turn 8 – into the ‘reverse corkscrew’ – is downhill and slightly off camber. Turn 12, again, is downhill and off-camber, and Turn 14 is the same. It’ll be fascinating to see what set ups the riders are running at the front because we suspect it could be the make or break for some of their weekends. Having a good feeling with the front is a critical factor in being able to be competitive in motorcycle racing.
Last year Ohlins brought a new shock to the party (pictured isn’t the exact specification). Notably, the Hondas of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) used the new shock at Aragon last year and liked it compared to the previous spec – Nakagami secured pole position, while Marquez claimed P2 in the race. It’s understood the new rear shock gave better support at the rear, better drive grip and even slightly better edge grip.
In Aragon, the riders spend an equal amount of time on the edge of the tyre, but also picking the bike up and getting it on the fatter part of the tyre to drive off the corner. One of the things that’s so impressive with this year’s Yamaha, in the hands of Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), is the incredible drive grip it has. Out of the corner, it’s able to pull away from the other machines that have superior horsepower, enabling it to escape them until the end of the straight, by which time they’ve closed the gap back in again.
4. The compromise between stability and agility
Finally, as we’ve already established, Aragon is a place that’s tricky to set up for. Its combination of fast and slow, tight and open corners is a nightmare for crew chiefs, as it always means you’re going to have to compromise on set up. The aim is to get the best overall feeling around the whole circuit, not the best feeling in one sector but then terrible in another.
As always, the compromise between stability and agility will be key, but it’ll be exciting to see if anyone tries a slightly different set up and dares to try and make it work for them.