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MotoGP Portugal GP

The helmet safety system slowly making its way to the MotoGP grid

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro says he is the first rider in MotoGP to be using a helmet safety feature known as MIPS that is likely to become mandatory by 2027.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is a technology developed in 1996 by specialists from the Royal Institute of Technology and brain surgeon Hans von Holst.

Helmets fitted with MIPS help to reduce the rotational motion placed on the brain during an incident where the head comes to a sudden stop.

It does so through a layer of low-friction material inside the helmet, and is a technology that is common in cycling, skiing and in road motorcycle helmets.

MIPS (and similar systems) will likely become compulsory in MotoGP helmets by 2027, with Aprilia’s Espargaro – who is a keen road cyclist and trains with tour teams – using it already beginning at last week’s Portugal test.

“I use MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) already this year,” he said. “I’m the first rider who uses MIPS. I didn’t use it in the Malaysia test, but in this one I used MIPS.

“What I heard is that Kabuto is developing with MIPS this year, but I think in three years - I don’t know if it’s in 2026 or 2027 - MIPS will be mandatory.

“It’s already mandatory on the bicycle UCI helmets, and I think it’s really a good thing because the impact for the brain is something difficult to control.

“It’s not a matter of having a very strong helmet.

“So, the MIPS helps, and I’m very happy to work with MIPS to develop the first versions.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

MotoGP’s concussion protocols – which were ostensibly strengthened for 2022 - have come under the spotlight in recent years, with former Tech3 rider and current RNF runner Raul Fernandez allowed to ride on two occasions last season despite feeling unwell after crashes.

During last week’s Portugal pre-season test, Gresini rider Fabio Di Giannantonio was knocked unconscious briefly after a crash at the end of the opening day.

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After a trip to hospital for precautionary checks, he was declared unfit to ride on the final day of the test.

The Italian later took aim at the ‘wall-like’ gravel stones lining the Algarve track as the cause of his test-ending concussion.

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