If you’re one who enjoys watching the MotoGP, then I’m sure it can be all too easy to get lost in the adrenaline of the high intensity racing, as well as the glitz, glamor, and fame that accompanies the racing series’s champions such as Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo. However, did you ever wonder just how much goes on behind the scenes to make sure the entire event runs like a well-oiled machine?
As much as the exhilarating racing and dynamic among MotoGP racers (see Maverick Viñales’s fiasco in the Dutch TT) excites me, I’ve always been curious about what goes on behind the scenes. What exactly does it take to make sure that a MotoGP race bike runs its best for the entire duration of the race? Luckily, Japanese motorsports publication Ride Hi got the chance to speak to HRC test rider Stefan Bradl about what goes on behind the scenes, particularly when it comes to fine tuning the highly coveted racing machines.
Stefan Bradl is a German motorcycle racer who served as test rider for the Repsol Honda Team, and has, on multiple occasions, substituted for Marc Marquez, particularly in the latter half of the 2020 season and the earlier stages of the 2021 season, as Marquez was recuperating from the injury he sustained in July of last year. In the article published by Ride Hi, Bradl highlights some key differences between MotoGP racers and test riders.
As it would turn out, a MotoGP test rider’s role can all too easily be drowned out by the sheer excitement brought about by race day. However, days and even weeks prior to the actual race, a MotoGP test rider such as Stefan Bradl is already hard at work, setting in hot laps, not just to determine the overall performance of the bike, but to scrutinize each and every aspect of the motorcycle which can be adjusted come race day.
In Ride Hi’s article, Bradl states that being a test rider is more about ensuring that the bike is perfectly setup—from the tires, to the suspension, to the brakes—for the upcoming race week. "Because we are more focused on parts and test items. Of course, lap time is just as important. We are doing two things at the same time, but in Race Week it is even more important to be completely focused on lap time. It's important. You just have to make a few tweaks to the setup, test items, and hardware."
MotoGP racers, who sit at the center stage of the world’s most prestigious motorcycle racing event tend to get most of the credit. The casual MotoGP viewer can all too easily take for granted the countless hours which are put into the preparation of the bikes prior to the actual racing. Of course, I am in no way discounting the amazing talents and skills of MotoGP racers.