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Revolutionising the Motorsports Industry with Data

A winning bike makes all the difference in the world of motorsports. Some say it’s all about bike control. Some say it’s all about rider experience. But one thing is certain, technology’s role in winning races cannot be denied, as it provides riders with the opportunity to shave pivotal milliseconds off lap times to cinch victory.

In March 2018, legendary Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati began a collaboration with NetApp, the data authority for hybrid cloud to drive digital transformation in its business. As the official sponsor of the Ducati Team in the 2018 – 2019 MotoGP World Championship, NetApp has been helping the Ducati team accelerate its performance, stability, and reliability, both on and off the track.

With the proliferation of data in many industries worldwide, digital transformation now also sees the motorsports industry evolve, with data playing an increasingly important role in winning races. Teams now work to have powerful racing machines, highly-capable drivers attuned to their bikes, and large data sets pertinent to the drivers’ and motorbikes’ performances so that incremental improvements are possible during practice sessions, improving overall lap times. Now, in its second year as the official sponsor for the Ducati Corse team, the power of data is bearing fruit, with Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso clinching first place in the Qatar Grand Prix, beating rival Marc Márquez by just 0.023 seconds at the finish line.

Through its partnership with NetApp, every MotoGP bike is equipped with over 60 sensors that constantly log different parameters. With every free practice, each of the 4 bikes available at the Ducati Team box, on average, collects more than 8GB of data.

This is then downloaded at every garage stop through a cable connected to the Engine Control Unit’s (ECU) setup software. Riders describe how the bike felt as they raced through the circuit, and a new setup is deployed in minutes and uploaded in the bike, tweaking parameters related to the mapping of the engine, enabling riding through wire, traction control, engine brake engagement, and more for greater race performance.

Unlike Formula 1 and according to the MotoGP Regulation, for security reasons during practices, qualifying, and races, bikes cannot be connected and communication with the box is not allowed. And so, once the bike leaves the garage it is all in the rider’s hands. As such, the synergy between the driver’s feeling and the deployed setup achieved through data analysis is crucial to success.

“At the heart of this evolving racing landscape, telemetry and data analysis allow teams to ‘build’ and ‘customise’ their bikes around the riders preference, while managing electronic parameters within the bike to allow for a more intuitive riding experience. This lets the riders push stronger at every turn, across this season as we participate in 19 races in 15 countries as part of the MotoGP Championship around the globe,” said Telemetry and Race Analytics Engineer, Gabriele Conti.

As a data-driven company, Ducati’s partnership with NetApp also looks to take advantage of the full potential of data in racing within the Ducati Corse division. Over two years, Ducati has expanded the partnership to analyse data across its business including logistics, marketing, and customer relationship management. With tools from NetApp, the motorcycle manufacturer can better manage approximately 200 applications and more than 300TB of data to grant reliable real-time access to the world’s fastest enterprise all-flash storage. The data can then be retrieved from anywhere in the world, across multiple clouds, with full GDPR compliance, with a quick implementation of a disaster recovery strategy where necessary.

Staying true to the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” motorbike adage, Ducati also incorporates the findings acquired from their racing bikes into their road bikes, bringing with it the quality and reliability that many Ducati riders and enthusiasts have come to recognise.

“Our technology allows Ducati to flawlessly manage and transfer data in real time, helping them strategise on the track while innovating on the road. Our mobile data center has to be robust, able to withstand transport and a wide-range of environmental conditions to effectively work with a brand that travels across the globe. More than that, we also provide a platform for data analytics and race simulations; Ducati can analyse and simulate races to aid its drivers in making faster, better, and safer decisions on the track,” said NetApp Country Manager for Malaysia, Azrin Shukor.

“Beyond that, NetApp also offers the peace of mind to Ducati through strong data security and recovery solutions. This ensures that they do not experience any down time at the most critical periods; allowing them to focus on improving bike and rider performance with every lap,” Azrin concluded.

From left to right: NetApp Senior Technical Consultant, Oon Chew Boon; Telemetry and Race Analytics Engineer, Gabriele Conti; and NetApp Country Manager for Malaysia, Azrin Shukor

NetApp and Ducati have changed the world of motorsports as we know it through this partnership. As the data authority for the hybrid cloud, Netapp looks to continue assisting Ducati in leveraging the power of data to improve performance, speed, reliability and most importantly, safety. Through this continued partnership, NetApp and Ducati are on the way to setting the gold standard in the way bikes are designed, regardless of whether it is for the road or for the track.

About NetApp

NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. We provide a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with our partners, we empower global organizations to unleash the full potential of their data to expand customer touchpoints, foster greater innovation, and optimize their operations. For more information, visit #DataDriven