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For many, video games might just seem like a good way to waste an hour. But you should take note, as video games are roughly a $100 billion industry worldwide. With that much money on the line, the gaming industry has had to evolve much more rapidly than our two-wheeled world, with video game companies not only looking for the latest trends and technologies, but also needing to be keenly more aware of their consumers’ traits and desires. Because of this, the video game industry has made some interesting progress on understanding its users, and catering to their wants and needs. One of these frameworks has always struck me as being highly salient to the motorcycle industry (among others), and the idea has come back to me as something we should talk about here on Asphalt & Rubber.

Jorge Lorenzo ran a perfect race at Barcelona. Well, not quite perfect — he told veteran US journalist Dennis Noyes that he made just a single mistake. “Luckily nobody saw it, and you cannot see it on the data,” Lorenzo said.

After a difficult qualifying session, Lorenzo put the hammer down from the start, attacking Dani Pedrosa aggressively into Turn 1 once again, just like in Mugello, and then pushing hard all race long, despite a front tire that kept threatening to let go.

So how did he do it? How did he pull off a win when most people were convinced that Pedrosa had the win in the bag? Two factors: his own mental strength, and a radical and inspired set up change during warm-up, in preparation for a hot race with no grip.

Wilco Zeelenberg, Lorenzo’s team manager, explained to me exactly what they had done. “We created a lot less pressure on the front of the bike,” the Dutchman explained. “That’s not what you would normally do, but because you know you won’t be able to do 1:42’s all race, you know you don’t need the best set up.”

In the past few years I’ve come to believe that, while superior physical differences (their reflexes and fine motor skills) are significant, it’s the mental differences that are the most interesting. I suppose anyone who has ridden a motorcycle even a bit beyond one’s comfort zone can appreciate some part of the physical aspect of riding a racing bike. For most of us, even the speed of racers in local events is impressive compared to our street riding. While the skills with throttle, brakes, and balance are on a level similar to the best athletes in other sports, I think that what really sets motorcycle racers apart is their ability to overcome fear.

While normally, MotoGP fans never get enough of seeing Valentino Rossi on TV, there is one shot they would (for the most part) gladly be spared. As he leaves the pits, Rossi stands on the footpegs, and pulls his leathers from between his buttocks, before sitting back down again and leaving. These rituals – part useful limbering up, part invocation of Lady Luck – are something many riders perform, in their attempt to exert control over themselves, and over their environment. In a fascinating press release – by far the most interesting we have received in many months – the Aspar team today provided a discussion and explanation of what riders are trying to achieve through the use of these rituals.