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MotoGP France: Pedrosa: 'We work on safety, then put ‘knives’ on bike'

“It does not make so much sense, to work so hard in one way, and destroy it in the other” – Dani Pedrosa.
Updated with quotes from Bradley Smith.

With the long term future of winglets in MotoGP still unclear, Dani Pedrosa admits he has difficulty balancing the ongoing quest for safety with use of the aerodynamic devices.

“Personally I don't like them, because of the safety thing,” said the Repsol Honda star.

“The rider is very exposed in general, so we are making [requests to] the Safety Commissions to change the kerbs, to change the grass, the sand of the gravel trap, to increase the air fence etc and then we put these kind of 'knives' on the bike.

“So it does not make so much sense, to work so hard in one way, and destroy it in the other.”

Pedrosa - who used the 'small' Honda wings and not the larger or multiple versions seen on team-mate Marc Marquez's machine - confirmed his concerns are mainly about the risk of injury should a rider be hit by a winglet during an accident.

Meanwhile the likes of Bradley Smith consider the downstream turbulence the winglets create to be of greatest concern.

"I think [winglets] have very minimal effect on performance, especially our ones at Yamaha. I don't even think that it gives you 0.1 a lap," Smith began.

"I think that Ducati are a bit smarter and have a bit more time under their program so that they have developed theirs. I believe that they have designed their bike using the wing, so that it would affect their bike a little bit more.

"But for me, it's just the danger factor, we saw collisions with them on, and for me, the number one issue is turbulence, the fact that bikes become unstable behind other motorcycles at 350 km/h, and the front starts to shake and blows the brake pads apart, that's where my issue with them comes from.

"Also, the idea of MotoGP is to bring costs down, and adding these aerodynamic advantages and disadvantages is just going in the direction of spending thousands of pounds within the wind tunnel. It's a bit like the seamless gearbox, it's another massive add on for not a massive gain, but everybody has one, so they force everyone to do it.

"I think we need to nip it in the bud before it goes too crazy and everyone's in wind tunnels and trying to design these things even more."

But Smith made clear he will keep using the winglets as long as they are legal and offer even the smallest of advantages.

"I could ride without them, but what's the point in giving away 0.1? It's 2.7 seconds at the end of a race, that's the difference between sometimes fifth or tenth. So while you have those tools available to you, you're going to use them at 100%. But do I think that we should allow them inside the category? No I don't."

However Ducati, which began the new winglet era in 2015 and remains at the forefront of the technology - including larger designs this weekend at Le Mans (pictured) - has defended the devices.

“There are several reasons why we think winglets should stay,” commented sporting director Paolo Ciabatti. “First safety, we think they are safe and there are ways to make them even safer in terms of material etc.

“They also make MotoGP look different from other motorcycle racing and in terms of cost, for us, it is not more than time we would spent in the wind tunnel trying different fairings. So there is no real reason why we think they should be forbidden.”

Also speaking on day one of the French MotoGP, LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow declared: “We all want [the wings] off, except for a couple of riders.

“I had dinner with Dovi last Saturday. Me, Lucy, Jack [Miller] and a friend of Dovi's who works with me. And we spent the whole night hammering him about how stupid those [wings] are, how dangerous they are... So we stirred the pot a little!

"But they already know, because we do it in the Safety Commission with the other riders also. Fair play, that's [Ducati's] advantage, they are clever enough to be able to use them and do it. They are within the rules.”

The MSMA have been asked to submit a proposal about the safety and future of winglets, but reaching a unanimous agreement between the manufacturers seems unlikely.

If such deadlock continues, a proposal could instead be submitted by another member of the Grand Prix Commission, which is comprised of Dorna, IRTA, FIM and MSMA.

By Peter McLaren

Tagged as: Honda , Dani Pedrosa

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May 06, 2016 8:00 PM

So speaks the elder statesman,voice of reason and all round nice guy of Moto GP.When Dani speaks,others should listen. He was never a fan of the wings but is probably even less so when he considers the damage he could have inflicted on Dovi in Texas had he been running them. Ironic that a Ducati rider could've been on the receiving end of their creation.

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