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MotoGP Interview: Danny Aldridge (Tech Director) - EXCLUSIVE

"The rules were written so that [inside the fairing] the manufacturers could do broadly what they like with the aerodynamics... the kind of thing we've seen from Yamaha is what we knew would happen."
The full exclusive interview with MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge at the Sepang test - covering the new Yamaha 'winglet' fairing, change from buying to renting Moto3 engines and future Moto2 electronics...

Crash.net:
Danny, we've seen the first of the new generation of MotoGP fairings, from Yamaha. It obviously fits within the rules because they've checked it with you, but what is your criteria for deciding if a fairing is legal or not?

Danny Aldridge:
When we discussed the new rules for this year, we had two main options. The first was to be really strict, really confined, with set fairing dimensions. And what we probably would have ended up with is every bike looking the same. Which we didn't want and the manufacturers didn't want. So instead we chose the second option, which was to word the rules very loosely, but give me the opportunity to decide what's correct and what's not.

To use the Yamaha example, for me it's allowed because - although the rules say 'no bulges' - the reason I don't class it as a 'budge' is because it's a continuous curve, with a similar radius from the top to the bottom. There's no real variation in the angle of the curve. Safety wise, it's perfect. There's no issue at all. What we don't want is things coming out of the fairing at 90-degree angles or with any sudden changes in radius.

What you can see at Yamaha is what we expected to happen. The rules obviously have to be agreed with the MSMA and between us we decide what it's going to be. The rules were written so that internally [inside the fairing] the manufacturers could do broadly what they like with the aerodynamics. That allows them some scope and the kind of thing we've seen from Yamaha is what we knew would happen.

Crash.net:
To be clear, the intention was never to completely ban winglets, or downforce devices, in MotoGP?

Danny Aldridge:
No. This is the pinnacle of motorbike racing and it's a development sport, so we can't become too restrictive. Aerodynamics are obviously significant for anything that moves at 350km/h and we didn't want to try and ban everything.

Crash.net:
Meanwhile, some teams are still testing with the old wings...

Danny Aldridge:
Yes, as this is a test they can still run with their old wings here if they want to. The safety side would be the only reason why I would say 'please don't try that'. But from the technical side, they can run what they like at these tests. They are running the old wings for comparison tests and I understand that.

I'm surprised Yamaha have shown their hand so early [with the new fairing]. Obviously, I've been talking to all the manufacturers, from Valencia and before, so I know what's going on. I've known about this fairing for a while; that's why it's all painted up. We've discussed it, I'm happy with the design and it fits within the wording of the rules.

I'm just personally surprised they 'unveiled' it so early, but of course they need to test these things and can get more data than the others by being the first.


Crash.net:
Have the other manufacturers already had fairings cleared by you?

Danny Aldridge:
Not all, no. Some have, some haven't. Some are still in the process of showing me the designs and it's their choice when they do it - technically they don't have to show me until we get to the Qatar Grand Prix.

But I strongly recommended that all the manufacturers show me before, because if they turn up in Qatar and it's illegal in my eyes they've got problems. So I've always said, it's their choice when they show it - the official deadline is not until 5pm on Thursday in Qatar - but I advise them to do it before then.

Crash.net:
In terms of the single update to the fairing and front fender allowed during the season, do they have to have the design cleared a certain time before it is used, or can they basically show it to you and put it straight on track?

Danny Aldridge:
Precisely. They can show me and, if I can say yes, go straight on track. As long as I've approved it and I've got the information with respect to the technical side - dimensions, drawings and so forth.

There are two ways they can do that; either supply me with technical drawings or an actual sample. The sample version is 'sealed', in that we put a sticker over it and it can't be used on track. It's purely for comparison. I prefer drawings so we don't have samples everywhere, but it's their choice.

So once I've confirmed that the design is correct they can use it on track, but in the case of the in-season upgrade they must then remove a previous version. Either the '16 or the first '17 version of the fairing or fender.

Crash.net:
So they can only have two different fairings/fenders available at any one time?

Danny Aldridge:
Correct.

Crash.net:
Do you think it'll be aerodynamics that keep you most busy this year? It looks like the rest of the MotoGP rules are stable...

Danny Aldridge:
Yes, the engines and electronics are continuing as they are. There are a few tweaks to the wording of certain rules, but in general they are stable. The aerodynamics is the biggest technical change. It doesn't seem much, but it is a big change. They've all got to go back to the drawing board to a certain extent and start designing their aerodynamics again.

Crash.net:
In Moto3, a change has been made from buying to renting engines, why is that?

Danny Aldridge:
For the last two years, what happened is that teams were able to purchase their six engines per rider for a set price. And they would literally keep those engines. The philosophy behind it was that teams could then either use the old engines as test engines, or sell them on to local championships.

It worked to a certain degree, because we had some wild-cards turn up that had engines which had been used by full-time teams the previous year. We could tell because they still had our seals on them.

Unfortunately, from the manufacturer side, it wasn't cost efficient and they were also rightly concerned with protecting their technology. We've now changed the situation, so that the teams have to give all their engines back, to address those concerns.

There is now a 'Moto3 Engine Rental Package' that costs 60,000 euros per rider, which is the same price as before. For that the team will get six engines, two throttle bodies and two complete gearboxes. Previously the gearboxes had to be purchased separately.

This [same price, 60,000 euros] might seem unfair to the teams as they will no longer have their old engines to sell or use as test engines, but Dorna and IRTA now heavy subsidise the cost of the engine packages for each team. Meaning, they will not be any worse off.

The manufacturers are also helping with the budget because, whereas before they had to build all six engines for each rider - because they were keeping them - now they can re-condition engines.

Each manufacturer must give at least two engines to each rider for the first race. Then there is schedule - approved by me as the Technical Director - for the replacement of engines during the season.

The important thing is that each manufacturer must take away an old engine, or supply a new engine, to all of its riders at exactly the same time.

Crash.net:
And will you still allocate the engines to each rider?

Danny Aldridge:
Yes, it's still a random allocation by us, a lottery, exactly the same as is used in Moto2. The rules are very strict. So even in the case of reconditioned engines, a manufacturer cannot say 'this engine was previously allocated to a certain rider, give it back to him'.

Everything will go back into the random engine allocation system, so it's completely fair.

Crash.net:
We've had a follow-up question from Twitter, about how the new rules will affect machinery for wild-card entries.

Presumably manufacturers will still be offering Moto3 machinery for national championships, and those machines can also be used for wild-cards. But were there any concerns that by ending the second-hand market for Moto3 GP engines, some wild-cards might struggle to find engines?

Danny Aldridge:
I honestly don't think a current Moto3 Manufacturer would offer a wild-card the €60K rental deal. But you are correct in that the engines are still for sale - most likely at a slightly lesser specification - as both the CEV (Spanish) and CIV (Italian) Championships run their own Moto3 classes.

My understanding from the manufacturers is that they are happy to continue to supply these championships, as they are a great feeder for up and coming teams and riders.

Wild-cards also have the possibility to rent the engines for a single GP from the manufacturers. For example, Geo Technology, the company that built the first Moto2 engines for us, are the official supplier for Honda wild-card engines.

We have also opened the rules to allow a manufacturer that is not in the Moto3 championship, but is competing in the CEV, the right to enter as a wild-card during the season. So someone can showcase their bike to teams for a possible full entry the following year.

Crash.net:
For Moto2, there will be a change in the electronics with Magneti Marelli named as supplier from 2019, can you tell us more about that?

Danny Aldridge:
Yes, it's been officially announced that from 2019 Magneti Marelli have the contract to supply the ECU. At the moment, Moto2 basically uses the standard Honda ECU and the data logger is supplied by 2D. When Magneti Marelli take over, it will be a combined ECU/data logger in one. Just like in MotoGP and Moto3.

Crash.net:
Could the change be described as moving to more of a bespoke 'racing' ECU?

Danny Aldridge:
Precisely.

Crash.net:
With traction control, wheelie control, launch control etc?

Danny Aldridge:
We're still defining which particular characteristics we want. We realise that electronics-wise there is a big jump from Moto2 to MotoGP. In some respects, Moto3 is more advanced than Moto2 at the moment, so we are trying to rearrange that.

We don't want to make Moto2 vastly different to how it is now, but we do want to give more scope to the riders, teams and data guys to adjust the electronics and learn more of the skills they'll need in MotoGP.

Crash.net:
To confirm, the current standard Honda ECU will be used up until the end of 2018, no transition period?

Danny Aldridge:
The plan is to continue with the Honda ECU until the end of the 2018 season, as this when the current contract with Honda ends to supply the Moto2 engine. We will then start the 2019 season with the Magneti Marelli ECU and whichever engine manufacturer is the official supplier. This of course could still be Honda or a new supplier, depending on whoever Dorna reach an agreement with.

By Peter McLaren







Tagged as: moto2 , Moto3 , winglets , aldridge

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Vinales` Yamaha Aerodynamic fairing with internal winglets, Sepang MotoGP tests, 2017
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Isaac Vinales, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
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Isaac Vinales, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
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Kent, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Luthi, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Morbidelli, Luthi, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Morbidelli leads start, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Vinales overtakes Dovizioso, Qatar MotoGP Race 2017
Rossi, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Smith, Qatar MotoGP 2017

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