By Stephen English
Casey Stoner's arm-pump problems in the Qatar Grand Prix highlighted how different the new breed of 1000cc MotoGP bikes are compared to the 800s of last year.
While the regulation changes have increased the spectacle on track, they have also created a new set of physical challenges for the riders.
Since the new bikes weigh more than the 800s, have 25% more engine capacity and produce higher top speeds, simple physics dictate that they will require more energy to accelerate, stop and turn.
With the rider playing a key element in weight distribution these forces are felt through his body with the arms and shoulders the most impacted areas. The riders all, by and large, weigh the same as last year.
“I think I'm having a little bit more trouble,” said Stoner. “Because the braking points are a little longer coming from a higher speed so we're having to be on the brakes a little bit longer and with a little bit more brake pressure.
“Under acceleration when we have grip there is also a little bit more g-force on the body so you have to keep yourself over the front a little more to try and stop the wheelie and in that way it's a little more physical.”
With testing limited in the winter it was only in Qatar that a true picture of the physical differences emerged.
Anytime that the physical requirements of riding in the premier-class is discussed, Dani Pedrosa
is a focus of attention because of his diminutive frame but the Spaniard clearly enjoyed his first race aboard the 1000cc bike.
“It's always demanding [whether riding the 800 or 1000],” commented the 26 year old. “It is just the way you ride them. The 800 you had to be very precise, instead here you can sometimes be more aggressive on the brakes or in the entry to the corner.”
The change from the precise requirements of the 800 era, where riders were forced to hit the same braking and turn-in points with metronomic consistency, caused races to become processional.