The Qatar test saw Ducati unveil by far the most radical
of the new generation of MotoGP fairings, following the ban on any external wings.
MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge is the 'sole judge' of what is and isn't allowed for the new fairings.
"Technically the manufacturers don't have to show me [their 2017 fairings] until we get to the Qatar Grand Prix," Aldridge previously explained
. "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."
Aldridge hadn't been shown the Ducati fairing before it appeared on track in Qataarr, and was in Jerez for the official Moto2/Moto3 test so is yet to give a final verdict, but from the information so far received he is 'not concerned' about the design.
Before talking about the Ducati fairing, we spoke with the Englishman about how many versions of a 2017 fairing are possible within the new rules...
|Marc Marquez with new Honda fairing (pic: Gold&Goose).|
Danny, at the Qatar test Honda tried a fairing with integrated winglets fitted onto the sides and also what looked like a new 'normal' fairing, without the devices. Is it possible to race with both?
"To rewind a bit, all the manufacturers had the right to homologate a 2016 fairing - without wings - at Valencia. That fairing must be exactly the same in every other way, except the wings that might have been fitted for the grand prix. We're not including KTM in this, because as a new manufacturer they are not restricted in terms of upgrades to their aero package during 2017.
"Before the close of technical control in Qatar, which is 5pm on Thursday, the rest of the manufacturers must confirm their first 2017 fairing. Which is made up of the main body and front mudguard.
"The mudguard is straight forward, it is one unit, but the main fairing can be made up of as many parts as they wish. The rules state that you can remove parts from your fairing. So you homologate the whole fairing and can then remove parts and use the fairing with or without those parts.
MotoGP Technical Rules: "It is allowed that some parts of a homologated Aero Body component may not be mounted on the motorcycle (eg. hand guards used in wet weather only)... Material may be removed (eg. trimming, drilling of holes, etc.) from Aero Body parts without affecting the homologation, but material may not be added."
"That means if they design the 2017 fairing in such a way that they can actually remove the parts that contain the aerodynamic devices, then they can choose when they want to use them and when they do not. The same applies to normal things like hand guards.
"For example, the new aerodynamic parts added to the Honda at the Qatar test were a kind of bolt-on surround on either side of the fairing, which contained the wings. It looks like those structures could be removed quite easily."
|Suzuki fairing (pic: Gold&Goose).|
Of the five integrated winglet fairings we've seen so far, which others - like the Honda - would you say are an 'add-on' that could be removed? The Suzuki and the Yamaha?
"From what I've seen - and remember they don't officially have to declare what they want to race until 5pm on Thursday in Qatar, so things could change - the Yamaha fairing looks complete. I don't think they can take the parts that house the winglets off the fairing. But they are free to change the shape and number of internal winglets, because I only control the external shape.
"With the Suzuki, it depends how they fix it to the rest of the chassis. If they make it in one piece, then it can't be removed. The manufacturers will have to supply a sample fairing or drawings in Qatar obviously, but what I will also be doing is taking photographs.
"So if I go to Yamaha or Suzuki and the carbon fibre is integrated into one piece, they can't then make some joints in the fairing so some parts are removable - even if the exterior shape is still exactly the same. The same applies if a part is glued on in Qatar and they try to change it to being bolted on.
"In Qatar, it's a case of 'these parts are removable, these parts are not' and it's set for the season."
|Ducati fairing (pic: Gold&Goose).|
Given nothing is official until 5pm next Thursday, which of the fairings seen so far in testing have been given the green light by you?
"The Yamaha I've seen, Suzuki I've seen... Unfortunately the first Moto2 and Moto3 test, at Jerez overlapped with the Qatar MotoGP test. I always go to the first test for each class as the teams always have questions.
"I hadn't seen the Ducati fairing before it was used in Qatar. I've since been in contact with Ducati and they've sent some details, but I haven't officially confirmed that it will be okay. I don't see a concern with it, from what I have seen, and also because I asked Mike Webb (Race Director and former Technical Director) to take a look in Qatar. We have been discussing it quite a lot.
"To explain what I look for; if you took the Ducati fairing and filled-in all of the cutaways it would just look like a big, bulbous, fairing. You can say it bulges out at the top, but the fairing always used to bulge out in that area for the protection of the hands. It's just more square now.
"So I'm not overly worried about the Ducati, I think it'll be fine to be honest. It does however look like they have fixed their design; meaning they can't do like Yamaha and change any internal winglets. Or potentially do like Honda and remove the whole aero section and put it back on when they need it. The Ducati fairing looks like one complete piece."
Generally, when judging the new fairings, you have to imagine them as a complete solid surface without any holes?
"Yes, because the wording of the rule is that I only control 'the external shape, excluding the windscreen'. So from my side, as Technical Director, I can't control the ducts or holes that are made. If you took a picture of the Ducati fairing, then got a black pen and covered all the ducts in, it doesn't look nearly as radical. That's one way I have to look at it."
MotoGP Technical Rules: "Only the external shape, excluding the windscreen, is defined in this regulation, so the following parts are not considered as part of the Aero Body: windscreen, cooling ducts, fairing supports, and any other parts inside the external profile of the bodywork."
Might some satellite riders not have a 2017 fairing at Qatar?
"If we use Ducati as an example because they have the most bikes, they could chose to homologate a 2017 fairing just for the factory team and, say, the Pramac team. The other Ducati satellite teams might only start with the 2016 and if they do want to bring a 2017 after Qatar, it will be classed as their one allowed 'upgrade', even if they didn't have a 2017 at the start of the season.
"If at one-minute past 5pm on Thursday, a team hasn't declared a 2017 fairing then that opportunity is lost and they only have the option of one in-season upgrade.
"In the case of the factory teams, we can expect that they will have one 2016 fairing at Qatar and one 2017. Technically, it's set by rider not manufacturer - so Pedrosa could have one 2017 fairing design homologated, Marquez could have another design, Crutchlow another design - but personally, I don't think that will happen."
With the above information in mind, what might we see from the in-season updates, after which each manufacturer can have two different 2017 fairings to choose from (with the 2016 fairing dropped from use)?
Perhaps teams will morph towards one Ducati-type fairing as their high downforce spec, with a Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha-style design - featuring removable aero sections - as the other, medium to low downforce, fairing...
By Peter McLaren