Unlike Formula One (F1), MotoGP doesn’t allow radio communications between riders and teams during practice sessions or races. While that allows the racers to focus on the task at hand, audio notifications can also alert competitors to track hazards and downed riders. As the series continues to improve its safety standards, Race Direction is testing one-way radio systems at the 2023 Jerez Test.
The one-day test not only allows teams to fine-tune their package before the mid-season push but also presents organizers with an opportunity to evaluate the communication system with Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo, Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro, and GASGAS fill-in Jonas Folger. According to sources, the system relays pre-recorded messages to the riders warning of incidents ahead.
The series originally tested radio communications during the 2020 season with Repsol Honda test rider Stefan Bradl at Italy’s Misano World Circuit. However, organizers didn’t widely implement the system following the initial test. Instead, MotoGP incorporated trackside LED panels to supplement marshal-delivered flag signals.
For the latest rendition of the radio system, Dorna collaborated with gear makers Alpinestars and Ixon along with helmet suppliers HJC and Kabuto to integrate the communication apparatus into the rider’s kit. Instead of intrusively inserting an earpiece into the user’s ear, MotoGP opted to install a speaker within each lid with the signal receiver housed inside the rider’s leathers.
Though the system’s setup is an open secret, MotoGP is keeping the results under wraps for the time being, even restricting participating riders from disclosing their first impressions of the radio comms.
“I can’t say absolutely anything,” admitted Espargaro.
Should Dorna’s research and data conclude that the system improves rider communications and safety, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the radio system distributed throughout the rider ranks in future seasons.