MotoGP – extreme physical sport Part 1 / MotoGP

MotoGP – extreme physical sport Part 1 / MotoGP

The extreme discipline of the World Motorcycle Championship has grown into an extreme sport. In the series we look at the MotoGP format. The first part of the conversation with the gymnast Erwin Göllner.

Even outsiders realized that motorcycle racing is more than a crazy activity, but rather a serious physical sport, when the random driving style was introduced as the best control option for modern racing equipment.

“Knees down” – it looks interesting and reminds of yoga on two wheels, but above all it is a struggle with the laws of physics. Added to this is the basic hunched position which is essential for a sports motorcycle. Straight up is “butt up – toes on pegs – chin in tank”. Once the pilot is brought out of the flat position on the brake hold, it is important to prepare the body well but firmly for extreme cornering. At the top, only the arms, legs and one thigh are attached to the running device.

An artistic act of physical tension – which, in the sense of experimentation, should be done without tension. In the acceleration phase then it is important to manage the incredible power, to get the motorcycle on the course without tension and to feel the existing traction with your whole body.

As in many other sports, fitness in MotoGP has grown rapidly. The constant development of technology in all Grand Prix machine disciplines is partly responsible. An engine power of 300 hp means a power increase of 30 percent in 20 years.
The brakes were also improved. Although carbon discs are not a MotoGP innovation, the entire deceleration cock has nevertheless increased significantly.
Added to this are new chassis concepts designed for greater traction on the brakes as well as under load. In addition, of course, as an important translator of grip – racing tires, which are also developed for an incredible level of grip.

All this means that drivers are faced with speeds approaching 370 km / h on straight lines. Greater support forces, ie more muscle, are required in the brakes. In curves, the entire body is challenged in a maximum hang position to exert mechanical grip at maximum cornering speed.
What is required is a combination of extreme physical flexibility and, in some cases, above average muscle reserve.

Not to mention the “perseverance” factor. MotoGP races last a good 40 minutes over a length of around 120 km. Practice and qualifying sessions are added to this. At the end of the GP weekend, the driver stays in the race machine for around 250 minutes. There are no longer any walk or orientation phases. Every minute means full physical exertion, which is reinforced by intense physical and mental exertion in short succession like the final laps in Q2.

It is already clear to everyone by this time: the MotoGP machine cannot be tested without special physical preparation. MotoGP racing is another matter entirely. Neither talent nor simple laps on the fitness course are enough for the MotoGP test job description.

To better understand what is behind the unique combination of technical racing equipment and pure athletics, we asked physiotherapist Erwin Göllner for an interview.
A native of Salzburg, who was once a motorcyclist himself, he has been working as a physiotherapist for 35 years. Erwin Göllner established himself in professional sports as a fitness coach with new techniques. Formula 1 in particular was developed into a major business. Göllner had been with the Williams team for three years and was fully responsible for Jacques Villeneuve’s fitness for 11 years.

The training simulators developed by Erwin Göllner and still in use today are popular, where all the important intermediate strength training can be done under controlled conditions. Despite specializing in the four-wheel industry, Göllner also has a passion for motorcycling and has also been working here as a specialist, trainer and consultant.

While Martin Bauer’s return to the handlebars of his KTM Superbike in record time was considered a medical miracle, Erwin Göllner was behind the Austrian’s attention. In 2011, Bauer was in contention for the title. Bauer was eliminated from the Sachsenring. The side effects were broken bones, torn capsules and ligaments, and concussion. But at the next race, Bauer was on the bike at the Salzburgring, scored points in both races and became the champion at the end of the season.

An unusual phase with Martin Bauer and the KTM team also led Göllner to transfer his special philosophy of high individual preparation to the racing motorcycle. The idea of ​​a training simulator was born and also implemented as a prototype by KTM engineer Wolfgang Felber.

Mr. Göllner, in your opinion, what are the special physical challenges of a MotoGP driver?
Erwin Göllner: “Despite the stress of sports, time management is often an overlooked aspect. The racing season lasts almost the entire year. Stress during GP requires constant training, but also frequent rest periods of around one to two days. Added to this is a brutal full calendar with all the other appointments that professional sport brings with it; coordinating that alone is a challenge.

Does that mean you really need a professional to take care of it?
“It needs that. And not only in terms of fitness. The level of extreme stress and the total concentration of all activities has brought the profession of mental trainer in MotoGP. Each pilot in the first class works with instructors who are also responsible for planning. It is a lot about behavior and processes that must be linked together as much as possible. Fitness training, cycling training, winter trials, racing. If something goes wrong, nothing will work again. Example: Franco Morbidelli. A training accident in the winter completely sidelined him. In the worst case scenario, something like this at this level could mean the end of your career.

What is your opinion on the topic of “training with a motorcycle?”
“Of course it has advantages and disadvantages. But in general I would consider permanent training on a motorcycle to be very good. Many examples show that it is good for pilots to train as “normally” as possible, and the best example is Rossi’s VR46 Academy. It really is a kind different from stress, but natural for drivers. And since daily training with a MotoGP bike does not work, regular sessions on supermoto or off-road bikes make sense.».

…and on a bike? How do you rate Aleix Espargaro’s advanced cycling training?
«Basically, the bicycle is a very good training tool for motorcyclists. Important muscles, like those of the legs, are trained and the endurance factor is also important here. I don’t know Aleix’s fitness level in detail, but one thing is clear: he loves cycling and really enjoys exercise. And it is very important to enjoy training. If you have to force yourself to train at that level, it becomes very difficult.”

The second part of the conversation with Erwin Göllner, in which the expert also talks about the benefits of simulators, will appear tomorrow on SPEEDWEEK.