Starting this season, it will be mandatory for GP riders (Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP) to wear an approved airbag system within their leather racing suits.
The move has been a long one coming, and aims to bring increased safety to the Grand Prix classes.
The rule applies to all permanent racers in the GP paddock, as well as replacement riders who participate for more than two rounds, but it does not apply to wildcard riders.
Along with the mandate, the new rule sets a number of conditions that the airbag systems must conform to, and their specificities are eyebrow-raising to say the least.
For instance, the new rule stipulates that the airbag, at the very least, should cover and protect the collarbone and shoulder, while back protection is optional. However, if a manufacturer chooses to have back protection, it must cover the entire spine.
Dorna and the FIM will allow for some variance in this regard, depending on the system design and the rider’s body type.
Going on, the notice of this rule mentions, but does not specify, that each system will have to conform to a set of specifications that regulate battery type, electronics, deployment times, accidental deployment, and deflation times.
Additionally, the airbag suits must be self-contained and not require any modification to the motorcycles. In other words, the rules have been obviously been drafted with the help from the two brands already in this space: Alpinestars and Dainese.
Lastly, there is an obvious but purposeful stipulation that the airbag must be functional when on the track.
There might be precedent for this very obvious rule, as there were strong rumors in the GP paddock that Jorge Lorenzo would ride with the airbag removed from his Alpinestars suit, despite it being labeled “Tech-Air” and having the activation light.
Lorenzo’s choice is an interesting one, as for many years now, racers who were sponsored by Alpinestars or Dainese have been wearing airbag suits with very positive results during crashes.
With airbag technologies proving their worth on both the race track and streets, this is an important safety step for Grand Prix racing.
Though there are only two major players in the space right now, there is chatter of several other brands working on their own airbag suit designs. It is also worth mentioning that Dainese has begun licensing its airbag technology to other brands, as a sort of insertable inner suit.
It seems likely that this push from the GP rule-makers will benefit street riders as well, with more brands and resources being put to task on improving airbag technology, which is surely to trickle down to consumers. Good stuff…we approve.