Ducati were testing at Valencia with wings fitted to the GP17, even though they are banned in MotoGP next season, in order to compare chassis changes.

Or were they?

Former factory Ducati rider Cal Crutchlow, now a double race winner for LCR Honda, quipped that there may well be another motive:

"Maybe they've kept the wings on for some reason: Maybe they'll be able to use them [next year]. Maybe they'll be able to build a fairing that is exactly that wide and stuff like that. They say they are doing it [wings on 2017 bike] for back-to-back testing - but I know the way they work! They are good friends of mine in there, but they are very clever!"

The official wording of the new wing ban only makes reference to aerodynamic devices that are 'not integrated', prompting speculation teams may try and enclose wings within a larger fairing:

"Devices or shapes protruding from the fairing or bodywork and not integrated in the body streamlining (e.g. wings, fins, bulges, etc.) that may provide an aerodynamic effect (e.g. providing downforce, disrupting aerodynamic wake, etc.) are not allowed. The Technical Director will be the sole judge of whether a device or fairing design falls into the above definition".

"Furthermore, to avoid that the front of the fairing is wing-shaped, with unpredictable safety results, the front of the fairing cannot protrude more than 150mm beyond a vertical line drawn through the front wheel spindle. (It should be noted that all fairings in current use already comply with this)."

'Yamaha brought a very special fairing'

Speaking to MotoGP.com during the Valencia test, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal revealed: "The engineers of each factory have been checking [their bikes] with and without wings and clearly the wings were helping front load, front feedback, front confidence. This is easy to see on the data; it is not only riders' comments.

"I was talking to the Yamaha engineers yesterday and they were quite surprised by the difference. They could see that with wings there are a lot of things that are not possible to do without.

"I also know that following the ban of wings, there was some speculation and some fear from the technical director that the teams could play with some crazy fairings. So this is when we issued a rule about the fairing. And I can tell you that Yamaha brought here a very special fairing that was supposed to be, kind of bringing what the wings are bringing, without the wings. If you see what I mean. But that was out of the rule.

"So now you can be sure that every single factory is working hard to try to see how, being inside the rule, we can have a device that can be bringing what the wings were bringing. Because clearly that was a big bonus."

In an attempt to limit the pace of aerodynamic development next season, as teams seek to regain the lost downforce provided by wings, only one upgrade to the fairing and one upgrade of the front mudguard will be permitted during the season.

Crutchlow is due to undergo finger surgery and, like the factory Ducati riders, is not scheduled to take part in next week's private MotoGP tests at Jerez/Sepang. Crutchlow's former team-mate Andrea Dovizioso finished the Valencia test in third (+0.468s), with Jorge Lorenzo eighth (+0.769s) on his Desmosedici debut.

By Peter McLaren



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