Common Tread

Radios silenced? MotoGP to test dashboard communications

Aug 12, 2016

So instead of radios in their ears, MotoGP riders may get a proprietary version of Twitter on their dashboards next year.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that may be a good thing.

Just like the silence of the off-season, the empty time of summer break in the MotoGP season can be filled with discussions that might rightfully be considered less than vitally important for the fate of the world. But that's what we race fans talk about, anyway. This summer, the topic was the possibility of having radio communications between teams and riders during the race.

The discussion started because of the situation at the last round in Germany, where Valentino Rossi did not heed the instructions on his pit board and stayed on the track on wet-weather tires while Marc Marquez came in, changed to slicks, and recorded a masterful win. Afterwards, Rossi said that if he had more information, such as his team telling him that Marquez was gaining several seconds a lap on slicks, he could have made a more informed decision. Radio communication, Rossi opined, might not be a bad idea.

Marquez took a different perspective. Dragging an elbow at 100 mph, he noted, was not when he wanted a voice in his ears asking him how the bike feels. Not good for concentration.

That mild difference was enough to start a discussion.

The debate was fanned in part by the latest mess in Formula One, which has imposed a long list of things the teams can and cannot tell drivers over the radio and some teams have been penalized for communications that supposedly went too far.

Now, it appears radios will not be making an appearance in MotoGP, but instead a system of displaying messages on the dash will be tested post-season at Aragon, according to Javier Alonso of Dorna. In a video posted at, Alonso said a list of 20 to 25 approved messages would be available for teams to send to riders.

For purists who want to leave everything up to the racers, this is a positive step. The messages on the dash of the bike will be the same as the ones on the pit board, anyway. Plus, some signals, such as a ride-through penalty for a rider, are already displayed on the dash in the form of lights. So this is a very incremental step forward.

Radios have been tested before, both at the world championship level and also domestically. They have also been used regularly in endurance racing. But they have never caught on in sprint races like MotoGP, World Superbike or national superbike series.

What do you think? Should racers get radio instructions from the pits? Or should we go by the old saying that once the visor goes down, it's just the rider and the bike?