These are the words of one of Motul’s chief engineers, Dieter Michels. Dieter is responsible for the technical lubricant support for all riders who have their oil analysed in the Motul Racing Lab. In between his work at the Motul headquarters, he supports riders at events such as the Dakar Rally and EWC. A few weeks ago at the International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE), we sat down to have a technical talk.
“IF YOU WANT TO HAVE THE BEST OIL ON THE MARKET, YOU CAN NEVER STOP IMPROVING IT”
Dieter, can you please introduce yourself? What’s your job at Motul headquarters?
I studied mechanical engineering and became a precision toolmaker before I started working at Motul. I’m a real petrolhead as I was born and raised a stone's throw from the legendary Nürburgring in Germany. When I’m not working, I’m a passionate bike builder, restorer, collector and car enthusiast with a weakness for everything related to the eighties. For the last ten years, I’ve had the pleasure to work at Motul, nine years of which as a product manager for industrial machinery lubrication in the MotulTech department. Recently I changed position and became a technical expert for Motul consumer products. Apart from some administrative tasks such as approval and licence management, I’m in charge of all technical information and our training center ‘Motul School’. But most importantly, I’m in charge of liaison and support for our motorsports partners as well as the onsite expert. We support all riders at race events such as here at the ISDE rally.
What is the concept of the Motul racing lab during the ISDE?
The Motul Racing Lab is a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory capable of analysing the oil lubricating the riders’ engines. The concept is as follows: the riders pick up a sample kit that consists of a 100ml sample bottle, a set of stickers and a questionnaire they must fill in with vital information about the engine. Samples can be taken from the engine or, in the case of a two-stroke engine, from the gearbox.
Our laboratory chemist needs approximately 30 minutes to run the analysis and issue the final report. Once this has been done, we discuss the results with the rider or his team in order to take the appropriate measures, if needed of course. All in all, Motul supports the rider until they cross the finish line by understanding the vital health of their engine. Motul offers this service to all participating riders from the first to the last stage at no cost.
What was it like to collaborate so closely with the best riders from all over the world?
For Motul and me, it is simply a fantastic opportunity. As we want to be the best brand out there, the only possible way to do so is by collaborating and learning from the best riders and teams. To date MotoGP, Superbike, EWC, Supersport 300, MXGP, Dakar and many other champions use Motul in their engines. Their driving style and, certainly, the way they push their bikes and engines to their limits and beyond is the ultimate stress test for a premium oil lubricant. The analysis afterwards from the Motul Racing Lab provides priceless information for us that we in turn use to continuously improve our consumer products.
What can you learn from the used engine oil? What does an analysis tell you?
An oil analysis is similar to a blood analysis of the human body. It reveals many details about the health and condition of an engine. We search for metal elements present in the lubricant to detect premature or accelerated engine wear. Therefore, we know if it’s necessary to change the oil, or to replace certain engine parts, and so on. We can also detect coolant leaks or fuel dilution that might damage the engine and limit its performance. We have seen a lot of fuel dilution and, as the ISDE was a very dusty affair this year, we also noticed an increased amount of silicon. That’s when we tell the rider to change the oil, maybe even to opt for a higher viscosity and change the air filter. It is always a tailor-made decision depending on the bike’s individual parameters.
What are future developments you are working on? How can you keep improving an oil which basically is already very good and so well developed?
There are basically two parameters that determine our actions: performance and sustainability. First, one of our current developments is the 300V² 0W-30 which is a direct evolution from the legendary 300V. Like the already existing 300V² 10W-50, it is formulated using our unique EsterCore Technology and renewable bases. It’s composed of less fossil raw material and offers a lower carbon footprint during the manufacturing process. Since this oil has a lower viscosity, it provides lower friction losses. However, all this goes hand in hand with the same level of protection and performance as any other oil from our 300V range.
And since we are talking off road, we are also working on new packaging for the 800 2T Factory Off Road Line which will soon be available in a handy, supple standing pouch. This new pack is perfect for the rider to stash in his toolkit or backpack – small enough to store, but big enough for an extensive ride. The EsterCore formulation is based on 55% renewable base materials and the new pack saves 60-70% plastic compared to a conventional bottle.
But there is always room for improvement and next-level development. It’s in our racing pedigree. We want to stay on top of the playing field because the competition never sleeps! [Laughs].