The truth? What truth? I am aware, and have written, that the wings have been banned starting in 2017 through a decision made by the GP Commission after the lack of consensus within the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association (MSMA) about how to regulate the aerodynamic appendages.
“Yes, that’s correct, but the impression has been left that the wings have been banned because Honda is opposed to them, and that’s not true. If there won’t be wings next year it’s because it’s what Ducati wanted,” claims the Japanese engineer, who also accuses Ducati of manipulating reality.
“The impression has been left that the wings have been banned because Honda is opposed to them, and that’s not true. If there won’t be wings next year it’s because it’s what Ducati wanted”
A reality that went through discussions within the MSMA when the FIM denounced the appendices attached to the MotoGP fairings as dangerous, after seeing images of Andrea Iannone’s spoiler hitting Marc Márquez’ back at the Argentina GP.
“I went to the Ducati box to verify the rigidity of the spoiler,” explained Loris Capirossi, rider representative, in front of race direction. “And indeed, it is impossible to break one of those wings. This means that if there is contact, it can do harm. They might not be banned immediately, but it should be something to talk about in the future. In a collision they could be dangerous.”
That was the detonator for the ban, following several rider complaints regarding the turbulence that a motorcycle equipped with the deflectors produces, which made the bikes too large to follow closely, both on the straights and fast zones. “There are those who like them and those who don’t, but for me the best bikes are wingless. If we start to go down the path of complex aerodynamics, it will be more difficult to follow other riders and more difficult to overtake,” denounced Marc Márquez…And the FIM responded.
“As Ducati we are clearly ahead in streamlining aspects of bikes, and our feeling is that they are looking penalize us with a ridiculous argument regarding safety.”
As the responsible party for the championship’s technical regulations, the MSMA set out to find a way to avoid the ban. At that time, it was clearly factory Ducati that was the most committed to the winglets, and thus felt especially attacked. “As Ducati we are clearly ahead in streamlining aspects of bikes, and our feeling is that they are looking penalize us with a ridiculous argument regarding safety,” reported Ducati.
“In addition, for us the wings make the bikes safer because they keep the front wheel on the ground, which has an impact on bike control. Since the incorporation of winglets on our bikes there have been several incidents between riders and no one has ever complained about any negative consequences. ‘Safety’ is just an excuse to penalize us.”
As you can imagine, Ducati is opposed any change in the rules. So, within the MSMA it was proposed that each manufacturer conduct their own tests and a produce a subsequent report with the conclusions reached; and they did. They released well-conducted studies that were carried out over months. Honda produced their own, as did Yamaha and Suzuki. In them they analyzed less aggressive shapes for winglets, systems that would flex in the case of contact, and different types of materials.
“Ducati has implied that Honda was behind this ban, that we have been led a campaign against the winglets to punish Ducati’s alleged aerodynamic advantage, and this is just a flat lie,” Shuhei Nakamoto
“But Ducati said no to everything,” complained Nakamoto. “It just was no and no and no. All the Japanese factories agreed and Aprilia in some respects did too, but Ducati did not want to discuss the matter. It was their way or nothing”… and so it was nothing. The legislation requires unanimity in technical regulations, and that did not occur. While Aprilia was on Ducati’s side, they had agreed to be on the side of the majority when voting. So this blockade, led by the GP Commission composed of representatives of the FIM, MSMA, IRTA and Dorna, plus the casting vote of Carmelo Ezpeleta, made the decision to ban.
“The instability of the winglets is difficult to prove. It is not possible to say whether they are unsafe or not, but when in doubt, it is better not to wait for someone to get hurt and then complain,” Nakamoto expressed with some intensity. “But there will be no wings from 2017 solely because of Ducati. They have implied that Honda was behind this ban, that we have been led a campaign against the winglets to punish Ducati’s alleged aerodynamic advantage, and this is just a flat lie.”
“Nor is it true what they say about this being a brake in the development for future road bikes. Or do you perhaps know of any street Ducati with winglets? In addition, Ducati was the one who asked for 22 liter tanks when we were using 20 liters, as well as the standard ECU software. Fuel consumption and electronic management – These two things do have an impact on the bikes when they reach the consumer!”
Honda also complained about how Ducati manages its competition since the arrival of Gigi Dall’Igna to the racing department of the Bologna based brand. “It’s clear that to compensate for the difference in resources from Japanese factories, Ducati has to be bold and take risky decisions and unexplored paths, but since the arrival of Gigi, the spirit with which they work is different.” The person speaking now is Livio Suppo, referring to the difference in ways of working which, according to him, exist between Ducati under Filippo Preziosi and the current head of the Reparto Corse.
He knows the department well, as he was with Ducati during their entry into the World Championship. “Being a small factory with limited resources compared with the Japanese manufacturers, it’s obvious that Ducati has to explore different pads, to try alternatives. Filippo did it, he took a risky decision when choosing to use Bridgestone when everyone else was using Michelin, as he also risked a lot making an ultra-powerful 800cc engine that was difficult to carry in the frame, but managed to win the World Championship with Casey. This was risking, this was exploring alternative ways! But since arriving Dall’Igna, is different. Gigi is always looking for a hole in the rules and how to take advantage of it.”