In a series where the differences are so tight and every thousandth of a second counts, any help is good for a rider to improve their lap time.
A few years ago, a technique was introduced in MotoGP that has now for many riders become a vital asset. This has led to the fact that in 2024, for the first time since its introduction, all teams on the premier class grid will have a videometry technician or coach.
As one former MotoGP technical chief explains to Motorsport.com, videometry consists of recording at a certain point on the track, always in curves, the pace of previously determined riders.
These images are superimposed via software to reveal the different lines used by each rider and allow them to imitate the benchmark rider’s line.
“Once you have the images, it is very easy to analyse them and it is very effective, especially when comparing riders with the same bike,” he explains.
The first data technician to apply video to improve rider lines was Serge Andrey, who began to apply it when he worked at Ducati in 2010. He developed it for four seasons, before the Italian team, with the arrival of Andrea Dovizioso ‘closed’ that programme at the end of 2013.
Andrey began to develop his own software since there was nothing on the market at that time to superimpose the images of the moving lines.
The Belgian’s expertise did not go unnoticed and LCR Honda signed him in 2014 to try to improve the results of Stefan Bradl, who subsequently departed for Aprilia.
Cal Crutchlow landed at Lucio Cecchinello’s team for 2015 and the videometry department began to grow, to such an extent that it caught the attention of Marc Marquez – at that time the star rider of the official Honda team. The Spaniard began to visit the truck at which Andrey was based.
Photo by: Kevin Wood / Motorsport Images
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda.
At the same time, the Suzuki team began to use this same technique with another engineer, Motohiko Tono. Taking advantage of the fact that video recording software was being modernised, Tono adapted the system to do the job, apparently successfully, since Honda quickly hired him to create its own videometry department.
Things did not work out as expected, since Marquez preferred to continue using the services of LCR’s Andrey, leaving Tono to work with the second Honda rider.
Marquez’s trust in Andrey was such that he offered to take him with him to Gresini, or buy the software that he has developed over the years. But Andrey preferred to keep his ‘secret’ at LCR, where he has been treated like family for ten years.
Tono’s position at Suzuki was taken by another technician, Francesco Munzone, who worked as a performance engineer for the Hamamatsu team.
“Basically the issue consists of recording the drivers on a certain section of the track,” explains Munzone.
“Then you overlay it to see the different manoeuvres, and let the rider see for himself some of the things that he does, that he doesn’t do, and that it might help him to do.
“Originally everything was more rudimentary, but today there are software programs, free or licensed.”
This means that the teams no longer need an engineer to do that work, which is why the figure of the image recorder and editor, and the videometry coach, have been introduced.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing
In 2019 Yamaha began to employ a video expert, Daniel Bollini, to record the images and edit the videos. Later, the team leaders – at that time Wilco Zeelenberg – were in charge of analysing it together with the riders.
Quickly, the teams understood that the ‘coach’ needed to rely on images, not only on what these experts saw on the track.
VR46, which has what everyone points out as the best ‘coach’ in the paddock, Idalio Gavira, placed Roberto Locatelli as videometry ‘coach’, analysing the images with the riders.
This year the Italian has left VR46 to join Fantic in Moto2, with former rider Andrea Migno taking his place on the MotoGP team to record the videos and help Gavira.
Gresini has also been working on this technique for some time, in this case with another former Italian rider, two-time 125cc and 250cc world champion Manuel Poggiali.
Poggiali’s work has not gone unnoticed at Ducati and, starting this year, he will join the technical staff of the official team for videometry, alternating, at least this year, his work with both Gresini and Ducati.
Despite having a tight budget to make changes to his staff, Pramac has hired Max Sabbatani this year to be in charge of videometry.
KTM previously had the son of the then team director Mike Leitner in charge of recording and editing the images so that the technicians could analyse them.
However, the Austrian’s departure at the end of 2021 led KTM to hire an external company for the video and image editing service, exactly as Aprilia, Tech3 and Trackhouse will do for 2024.