Years of dedicated airbag research and development will finally reach fruition at England's Donington Park circuit this weekend, where two Dainese-clad racers will use the D-air® Racing system in actual MotoGP competition for the first time.
Jorge Lorenzo was the first Dainese-sponsored MotoGP rider to use the suit with the D-air® Racing system at last week's Grand Prix race on the Sachsenring after taking an ugly spill in Laguna Seca: "I'm very proud to participate in the D-air® Racing system development project," he said. "I believe this to be an extremely important innovation. 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. 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. I'd like to thank the entire Dainese team for all the precious work they've done to make motorcycle riding safer."
After the general fitting tests were completed, Valentino Rossi also decided to wear the suit with a D-air® for the upcoming race at Donington Park. The champ from Tavullia has been following the development of the project closely for some time now, and in the last year has worked constantly with the D-Tec® (Dainese Technology Center) technicians to acquire the data required for its perfection.
MotoGP 250 riders Marco Simoncelli and Thomas Luthi, and and 125cc rider Michi Ranseder will also use the D-air® Racing system during the weekend's racing.
Ever since November 2007, when the D-air® Racing airbag worn by Simoncelli deployed for the first time during competition in the season's final Grand Prix race in Valencia, D-Tec® - together with its partners - has constantly pursued the objective of perfecting the system through important modifications that improve performance and the wearer's comfort. With contributions from Dainese racers, the 2008 season provided a continuous and indispensable data acquisition process that led to equally constant and important refinement of the D-air® Racing electronic system that has resulted in the current 2009 version, which has improved in regard to comfort and the greater integration of the system into the suit.
The volume of the "air sac" was reduced, the protective areas were redistributed, and the system's inflation pressure was increased. When opened, the areas protected are primarily the shoulders and the collarbone; furthermore, the airbag sac creates a surface for the resting and support of the helmet that limits the movement of the neck. The airbag deflates all by itself and the suit returns to its original form.
The new device is housed completely inside the suit and therefore does not require removal after opening because it is the suit itself that expands to permit the inflation of the sac. Also, total weight has been further reduced by around 20%. User interface represented by a three-color LED display positioned on the suit's upper right arm was introduced in order to improve system feasibility and simplified control.
Along parallel lines with design and development of the Dainese D-air® Racing system, D-Tec® registered a series of patents, particular regarding the electronic opening system, the air bag sac, and the ways that the system is integrated into the suit. These patents assume fundamental importance for the protection of the know-how and innovation rendered possible by the substantial investments made by Dainese in the continuous implementation of the protective effectiveness of its products and the motorcycle rider's safety as a result.