MotoGP riders are always wheels up, jetting across one continent or another. After the first preseason test of the year this past month at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, Repsol Honda’s Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa found themselves once again flying high, except for this particular adventure they never left their home country of Spain. And based on their body language, they were having the time of their lives.
“Madrid Fly” is the one of eight vertical wind tunnels either currently operating or under construction in Spain and reportedly the largest in Europe. Built by Eydisa—a relative newcomer to this burgeoning international industry—the structure opened in 2016. The clear tube-like chamber is 15 feet in diameter and nearly 56 feet tall. Four fans generate wind speeds up to a claimed 186 mph, more than sufficient to keep a pair of featherweights aloft.
Repsol used the junket as an opportunity to tout the benefits of Honda’s own wind tunnel in Japan, aerodynamics being one of the few technical areas of the sport not yet entirely under lock and key. Like other Honda racers in years past, Márquez and Pedrosa have collaborated with HRC engineers to optimize downforce and wind resistance, both of which can impact acceleration and top speed.
About his first experience in a vertical wind tunnel, reigning and four-time MotoGP world champion Márquez said it forced him to constantly think about his body movements. “The moment you lose a little focus and change footing, you destabilize. It is very sensitive—something that I’m not at times. Your shoulders suffer more here than when you ride a bike because of the air and force.”
Pedrosa was all smiles, similar to those times when he is asked by reporters about one of his favorite pastimes, windsurfing. “I really enjoyed doing some spinning maneuvers,” said the 32-year-old three-time world champion. “The instructors taught us very well, and we learned very fast. I want to repeat the experience someday.”
MotoGP Aerodynamics Continue To Evolve During Sepang Preseason Testing
Understanding motorcycle stability at very high speeds
The second of three rounds of preseason MotoGP testing begins this Friday, February 16, at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.