Brembo reveals which of the 2017 World Superbike circuits are hardest on the brakes

2/27/2017

Each circuit's level of difficulty on the brakes and a comparison with MotoGP

​One might be quick to say that all of the World Superbike circuits are alike. What they have in common is the length of the races, which according to regulation falls between 85 km and 110 km. Everything else is unique to each track: number of curves, mean and maximum slope, length of straightaways, undulations and type of asphalt used.

As if that isn't enough, there are other variables that influence the efficiency of the riders and the bikes: temperature of the air and asphalt, weather conditions, and the time the race takes place. All of these factors also influence the extent to which the braking systems function. Indeed, there are tracks where the brakes are under greater stress and others where they experience very little.

However, singling out the tracks that belong to one category rather than another is not child's play: it would be a big mistake to think that this could be based exclusively on speed.


 

 

In 2016, the best lap time in Race 1 at Phillip Island averaged almost the same as the one at Chang: 174.990 km/h in Australia, 174.527 km/h in Thailand. Even so, the first track puts the brakes under very little strain, while the second is very stressful on the braking system.

The number of times the bikes brake on each track is another factor that isn't very reliable for evaluating how much stress the braking system experiences. At Losail for example, the Superbike riders hit their brakes 13 times on the track's 16 curves, while at Donington they brake only seven times per lap. Contrary to every prediction however, the British circuit proves much more trying on the brakes compared to the Qatar track.

Assen and Aragon, on the other hand, both require riders to brake ten times per lap but the first track is easy on the brakes while the second track falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. One of the reasons for this difference is the intensity of the braking. In Holland, there is only one braking section and it lasts at least four seconds, while at the Spanish track there are three that last just as long.

Obviously, the force in play in a braking section taken at 300 km/h is not the same as braking at 200 km/h. Although we are not dealing with tracks like Mugello and Barcelona where the MotoGP bikes surpass 345 km/h, World Superbike still has circuits where the riders go over 300 km/h.

If however, a track has only one braking section taken at very high speeds and others that are more contained, the stress on the braking system is decidedly less than on a track with numerous high-speed braking sections. Once again, this is best demonstrated by Phillip Island: curve number 1, which is right after the start line, is approached going 312 km/h, a record in World Superbike. Yet, this is the only braking section at the Australian track which is taken at least at 230 km/h.


 

​At Imola, the bikes arrive at the Variante del Tamburello going 289 km/h, the fastest for any curve on the track. Added to this section are five others that require braking from more than 235 km/h. That explains why the circuit named for Enzo Ferrari and his son Dino out-classes almost all the other World Superbike tracks as far as difficulty.

Besides speed therefore, braking for a few dozen metres is one thing, and braking for much longer distances is another. On curve 9 at Donington, curve 6 at Assen and curve 8 at Misano, the Superbikes begin braking at approximately the same speed: 270-273 km/h. But in this first case, the braking distance is 183 metres, on the second track it measures 65 metres and on the third it totals 224 metres. As a result, the braking systems reach very different operating temperatures.

But even braking sections that are of the same length can strain the braking system differently if the operating load on the lever is not the same. On curve 8 at Jerez and curve 10 at Portimao, the Superbikes brake for 108 metres, but in the former the pressure put on the system measures 11.1 bar while in the later it is 8.9 bar.

Brembo technicians have kept track of all these variables, and others that are even more difficult to quantify, in order to classify the amount of stress the 13 World Superbike circuits in the 2017 season place on the braking systems. The circuits were assessed on a scale of 1 to 5. Phillip Island and Assen scored the lowest, which translates into moderate strain on the brakes. The stress is decidedly more at Chang, Imola and Donington, which is why these tracks earned the highest score possible.

 

 

COMPARISON WITH MOTOGP

Superbike and MotoGP are two worlds that appear to be wildly different as regards the type of materials used and the difference in weight: 157 kg for the premium class prototypes, 168 kg for the production-based bikes.

Nonetheless, the lap times are quite similar and the margins continue to close in: at Assen, the best time ever registered by a MotoGP bike (1’32’’627 by Valentino Rossi) is lower by just over one and seven tenths of a second than the best Superbike performance (1’34’’357 by Loris Baz). At Phillip Island, MotoGP has a 2-second advantage, at Misano and Jerez it comes to 2 and two tenths of a second, at Losail it is 2 and four tenths of a second, and at Aragon 2 and seven tenths of a second.

The MotoGP bikes have more horsepower so they can accelerate faster, which means they arrive at the subsequent curve at a higher speed: on curve 7 at Losail, the MotoGP riders hit the brakes going 218 km/h, which is 25 km/h faster than the Superbikes (193 km/h). This explains the 43 more metres of braking (157 metres compared to 114 metres) done by the MotoGP bikes.

Since the Superbikes are prohibited from using carbon brakes, they are further penalised in braking times: on the first curve at Misano, the MotoGP bikes arrive at a faster speed (271 km/h v. 256 km/h) and after using their brakes, they head into the curve at the same speed as the Superbikes (115-116 km/h). In spite of a greater loss in speed however, the MotoGP bikes activate their brakes for 3.9 seconds, which is almost half a second less than the Superbikes.

Much less significant is the gap in deceleration that the riders experience: on curve 9 at Losail, the value is identical, but on the remaining four braking sections, the difference doesn't ever go over 0.2 g.


 

Brembo S.p.A. | P.IVA 00222620163

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