MotoGP’s off-season is invariably filled with intrigue, as manufacturers try to one-up each other with new tech to give them an edge. Last year, we had all sorts of winglets on bodywork, and this year, the hot gossip says Ducati is planning to introduce a holeshot device to its factory team.
Holeshot devices aren’t new to racing—they’ve been used in motocross for years. Although designs may differ, they all basically do the same thing: they compress the bike’s front forks for the start of the race, so when the machine accelerates suddenly off the line, the energy that would otherwise result in a wheelie is spent simply extending the forks to their full length. This results in more stability, and stops the motorcycle from looping out, although it can reduce rear wheel traction.
Not all pro MX racers use holeshot devices; some still rely on body position alone to keep the front end planted, but others have used them to great success.
Now, the 2019 Ducati MotoGP bikes have been seen sporting a rider-activated knob mounted on the triple tree that’s thought to be providing a similar anti-wheelie function. Supposedly, Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller (who’s riding for Pramac Ducati) all had it on their bikes at the Sepang test. That’s no guarantee it will actually make it to a race, but it would indeed be interesting to see the results if that happened.
If the results were positive, it’s likely we’d see other teams experiment with the technology fairly quickly, just as we saw a widespread move towards aerodynamic improvements last year. Or, they’ll just complain about it to the series organizers, asking for a rule change that favors the current power structure—sadly, this isn’t an unlikely response.