Munich. The FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) may
have been forced to take a break from racing for a few months, but
work has continued where possible at BMW Motorrad Motorsport. In the
wind tunnel, for example, engineers have been fine-tuning the
aerodynamics of the BMW S 1000 RR in the BMW Group Acustic Wind
Tunnel. An important role in this work is being played by BMW
Motorrad World SBK Team rider, Eugene Laverty (IRL) – in the form of
a 3D model.

Aerodynamics play a key role in determining the top speed of a World
Superbike. Even the smallest of details can make a big difference
here. The goal is to keep the aerodynamic drag as low as possible. The
BMW Group Acustic Wind Tunnel in Munich (GER) has everything the BMW
Motorrad Motorsport engineers need to test and develop aerodynamic
updates for the RR used in WorldSBK.

However, to simulate the flow conditions as realistically as
possible, it is not enough to simply position the bike in the wind
tunnel by itself. Out on the racetrack, there is also a rider on the
bike, creating his own air resistance, even if his riding position has
also been optimised aerodynamically. For that reason, the whole
package of motorcycle and rider is used in the airflow, which is
generated by the wind tunnel’s 2,600-hp electric motor and can reach
speeds of up to 255 km/h. To make this possible, BMW Motorrad
Motorsport has turned to an innovative method: 3D scanning.

“Eugene was here in Munich with us before the outbreak of the
coronavirus pandemic. He was trying to find the ideal sitting position
on the RR and, while he was in that position, we took detailed
measurements with a 3D scanner,” said BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director
Marc Bongers. Detailed measurements means every individual glove
finger, every contour of the helmet, every seam in the leather
overalls, every crease that affects the aerodynamic drag and with it
the airflow. “Based on the data from the 3D scan, we created a plastic
model made of two halves. It took about a week to get all the details
right, however our 3D Eugene was then ready for action,” Bongers added.

Since then, the plastic Laverty has been providing a very important
service. He has racked up over 50 test runs in the wind tunnel. “Using
a 3D model like this allows us to work more efficiently on development
of our RR,” explains Bongers. “While a real rider must travel to get
here, the plastic version is available at any time for testing in the
wind tunnel. This means that we can evaluate and implement updates
even faster.” Another major advantage of the 3D model became
particularly apparent during the coronavirus-enforced break. While
WorldSBK riders Laverty and Tom Sykes (GBR) were unable to travel to
Munich due to travel restrictions, plastic Laverty was waiting in
Munich, ready to get back on the RR in the wind tunnel.

So, what does the real Laverty make of his double? “He’s just a few
shades paler than my Irish complexion,” said a chuckling Laverty,
referring to the light plastic used to make the model. “All joking
aside, it was a little unusual to sit on the bike for so long and to
be measured from every angle with a 3D scanner. However, the result is
awesome. I can do my bit to make our RR faster without having to be in
Munich in person. It’s not every day you get to see yourself as such a
detailed model. It is fascinating what is possible with modern
technology, and the BMW Group is leading the way in many areas in this regard.”

Following the break for the coronavirus, it has now also been
possible to measure team-mate Sykes in Munich. His 3D model will soon
also see action in the wind tunnel. The next races for the optimised
RR, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the real drivers will take
place on the first weekend in August. The 2020 WorldSBK season, which
was suspended after the opening round in Australia, will resume at
Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

This content was originally published here.