The ban on wings in MotoGP means manufacturers will now be forced to incorporate any such aerodynamics into the actual fairing of their machines.

The first such design was publicly debuted by Yamaha at last week's Sepang test, with similar innovations expected to be rolled out by the other brands before the new season begins in Qatar on March 26th.

MotoGP technical director Danny Aldridge is the sole judge of whether a fairing fits within the new rules, which prohibit: "Devices or shapes protruding from the fairing or bodywork and not integrated in the body streamlining (eg. wings, fins, bulges, etc.) that may provide an aerodynamic effect."

At Sepang, Crash.net spoke to the Englishman to find out more about what he is looking for when deciding if a fairing is legal or not under the 2017 regulations...

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 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.

By Peter McLaren

 

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