An important landmark has been reached in the development of airbag-equipped racing suits; both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will race in Dainese D-Air suits at Donington Park this weekend. Lorenzo actually became the first MotoGP rider to race in the suit at the Sachsenring last weekend, but managed to stay on his bike for once.
Update: It turns out that rain suits preclude the wearing of the current airbag-equipped suits so neither Rossi nor Lorenza was equipped with D-Air when they crashed on Sunday.
“After my falls in Laguna Seca, I no longer had any doubt that it was
time to start wearing this new suit, which certainly offers more safety
than the standard suit,” said Lorenzo. “Dainese has taken big steps
forward in its perfection of the system, and we racers can make a
further contribution in the creation of the prototype: we can’t stop
now! Like any innovation, it takes a little time to get used to wearing
the new suit, but I feel much safer with the system on and that’s the
most important thing.”
Marco Simoncelli, who will also be wearing it this weekend, actually
became the first rider to activate an airbag during competition at
Valencia back in November, 2007, but it has yet to be worn by a MotoGP
rider. Since that time, a number of refinements have been made to the
system’s sensors, enabling them to more accurately determine when
inflation is necessary, and to the bag itself, which now inflates
inside the suit, deflating automatically after 10 seconds. There’s also
now an LED-equipped user interface on the suit’s upper right arm,
simplifying the controls.
Dainese’s D-Air system differs from the Spidi airbag and is similar to
the Alpinestars system in that it uses gyroscopes and motion sensors
programmed to determine when a crash happens as opposed to the Spidi
lanyard. As such, the suit is only appropriate for the relatively
controlled environment of a racetrack, but Dainese is working to bring
the added safety airbags offer to the road. Guy Martin wore the Dainese
D-Air suit at the Isle of Man TT last month, creating valuable non-track data to the
D-Tech R&D department.