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MotoGP helmets: The Shark Racing Service at the heart of the race

Shark motoGP helmet preparation

How do manufacturers prepare their riders' helmets for a MotoGP race weekend? During the last French Grand Prix at Le Mans, I visited the Shark Racing Service, which pampers the Race-R Pro GP of Jorge Martín, Johann Zarco and Miguel Oliveira. Maintenance, customization, safety: spotlight on the treatment of MotoGP helmets in the Shark Motorhome!

Have you ever wondered how MotoGP riders manage their helmets during a race weekend? I do – professional deformation, no doubt! So I asked Shark , official supplier of the helmet of Jorge Martín, one of the riders sponsored by Motoblouz in the premier category this season. You may learn that it is the manufacturer who takes care of the headset to restore its youthful appearance between two sessions.

The Marseille helmet brand immediately invited me to visit the Shark Racing Service during my visit as a visitor to the French Grand Prix. An invitation that I did not fail to honor to share the experience with you!

SHark Racing Service Motorhome

The shark Racing Service motorhome. Classy, ​​right?

As luck would have it, I arrive at the Shark Racing Service truck at the same time as the Pramac team Helper, who brings Jorge Martín's helmet after FP2 (free practice on Friday afternoon). Manu, the technician responsible for pampering the helmets, explains to me in a few words the routine that awaits the helmet: “cleaning, customization and verification! »

helper ducati pramac

A “helper” from the Ducati Pramac team brings Jorge Martín’s helmet after FP2

Cleaning: Microfiber, water and elbow grease

First step: drying the helmet. Since MotoGP is very physically demanding, sweating is inevitable. Worse: abundant… “ Helmet dryers on the market are not enough to dry MotoGP riders' helmets quickly enough. We therefore use a good old hairdryer, the only truly effective technique we have found at the moment. » explains Manu. “ Please note, I do not recommend this solution for “general public” helmets, because the heat harms the integrity of the foam and the EPS (polystyrene which absorbs shocks) medium term. So this can seriously degrade the protective capabilities of the helmet. »

drying motogp helmet with hairdryer

Drying Jorge Martín's SHark Racer -R Pro GP with a hairdryer

When the helmet is completely dry, we move on to cleaning. “ I use a microfiber cloth soaked in water 99% of the time, to avoid damaging the paint and helmet materials. I limit the use of more aggressive products to possible traces of gum. »

Shark motogp helmet being cleaned

Cleaning the helmet with water and a microfiber cloth

Once clean, if the helmet is scratched, Manu could draw out permanent markers such as Posca and make touch-ups on the fly. That said, with 3 or 4 helmets available per driver each weekend, it is quicker to change the helmet.

Shark MotoGP helmet maintenance tool

Manu's tools. The toothbrush, that's all it's real!

Visibility, a security issue

The discomfort caused by the humidity of the foams is only one facet of the inconvenience caused by perspiration. The main problem concerns pilot safety, as Manu comments: “ During heavy braking, drops of perspiration running down the forehead are projected onto the screen and hinder visibility. To avoid this problem, we stick an absorbent sponge on the forehead foams, which pumps up the drops as they pass. »

absorbent sponges motogp helmet

Absorbent sponges which will be stuck to the forehead foams

Manu then moves on to tear-offs, these plastic films placed on the screen and removable when the screen is dirty. “ Some pilots prefer that I ride two, others three. Before sticking them on the screen, I reinforce the handle of each film with thick tape. It makes it easier to handle. Nothing is worse than looking for the tear-off handle to get angry! » Then he places the tear-offs on the screen, chasing out the last air bubbles with a squeegee. The outermost film is itself covered with a white film which prevents fingerprints; it will be withdrawn at the last minute.

tear-offs motogp helmet Shark Race-R Pro GP

Tear-offs in place with the anti-fingerprint film

The weather factor

When the weather is uncertain, a “rain” helmet is prepared. A rubber seal is glued to the top of the screen, which is pressed against the shell. “ This seal prevents water from running inside the screen, which is always to be feared with speed,” explains Manu. In theory, the screen should not be opened once equipped with a seal. Otherwise, when closing, it scrapes off the drops on the helmet and brings its loot along the screen... This happens when the pilot opens the screen by reflex. »

Shark screen and rain seal for motogp

A screen and its rain seal

Likewise, as on the road, the screen can be adapted to ambient light conditions: light smoke, dark, crystal, etc.

Final check-up before returning to sender

The final step before sending the helmet back to the Ducati Pramac box is the customization of the helmet at the rider's request. “Isometimes a pilot requests the fitting of a Camelbak hose if he plans to hydrate during the race, or requests a slight thickening of the foam in a specific location. It's rare, but it can happen, especially at the beginning of the partnership« .

Shark motogp helmet check-up

Final checks of Miguel Oliveira's helmet

Finally, when the helmet is ready, Manu carries out various checks. After a general examination of the helmet, he checks the correct assembly of the Shark Race-R Pro GP components. Follows a careful check of the tightening of the screws. When everything is OK, the helmet can finally find the skull of its assigned pilot for the next departure.

What is the difference between a commercial helmet and that of Johann Zarco or Jorge Martín?

From a protection point of view, the answer is very simple: they are identical! The Shark Race-R Pro of Jorge Martín or Johann Zarco in fact have the same shells, screens, EPS shell, chinstrap, etc. than those available on Motoblouz (or elsewhere). If you are the proud owner of a Shark Race-R Pro GP fIM Racing version, you can boast of wearing the same helmet as your idol!

Johann Zarco's Shark Race-R Pro GP Le Mans 2022

Johann Zarco's Shark Race-R Pro GP , Le Mans 2022 edition :-O

Beyond this common base, a multitude of details have been reviewed to improve driver comfort in the face of the constraints represented by a speed of more than 350 km/h and slowdowns of almost 2 G when braking. Some examples :

  • The internal foams are much harder than the standard ones to ensure correct support.
  • The bib disappears in favor of an extended neck guard to improve ventilation.
  • The screws are not braked with Loctite (thread lock) so that faulty elements can be easily replaced.

Add to this the customizations required by each pilot and weather management, as explained above.

MotoGP helmet neck guard

On the MotoGP helmet, the extended neck guard replaces the bib of the general public version

I hope that this little report will have interested you as much as the visit to the Shark Racing Service fascinated me. If you have additional questions, the comments are wide open!

Thanks to Manu for his availability as well as to Mathieu for organizing this visit.

Shark Replica MotoGP 2022 helmets

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Editor and tester for Motoblouz , I am an unconditional fan of roads with bends. For me, the motorcycle is a means of escape as well as a means of transport.

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