Ahead of the first MotoGP race weekend of the 2021 season, race director Mike Webb announced that brand-new track limit detection sensors were installed for the new year. This should, in theory, remove one often controversial aspect that race officials are often tasked with.
These sensors should help race officials identify if and when any racer has put a wheel off the track. In the past, officials had to rely on cameras placed around the track, and then make judgment calls about what they saw. Of course, cameras can only show you the scene from a certain angle, and humans see things and report different observations about what they’ve seen all the time. By switching to sensors, the thinking is that human error should be removed from this equation.
“Track limited regulations stay the same, but what we’ve been working on all during last year is an upgraded system to detect track limits. Dorna Timekeeping has been working on this all year, and we’ve got a new system that has pressure sensors in the track outside the curbs, so we can detect very accurately when a rider has gone out of track limits. It’s a much more accurate system,” MotoGP race director Mike Webb said in a video posted to the MotoGP website.
“So, the rule stays the same, but because the system is actuated a little differently than the cameras we used before, it means, for the riders, if they go out of track limits, there’s immediately a signal [that they’re] out of track limits,” he continued.
“In the past, we had to look at a camera image and make a judgment. Mmm, this one is in, or this one is out … now it’s just in or out, it’s very, very accurate. The difference for the riders, or for the protocol, means that now, one wheel out is out. In the past, it was “must be two wheels in the green,” and “this one is two wheels, and this one is one wheel, and how far out ….” Webb went on.
“No more of that judgment. Out is out, and it doesn’t matter of it’s one wheel or two wheels. It means it’s more accurate, and it means it’s more fair for every rider, and we have a much clearer idea of who was in and who was out. So, the rule is the same, but the judgment of the track limit is much more precise,” he concluded.