Aprilia Racing’s CEO has delivered a damning assessment of the FIM's policing of new aerodynamic features on MotoGP machines, calling the procedures to check their legality “a joke”.

Massimo Rivola didn’t hold back when giving his verdict on the MotoGP Court of Appeals’ recent decision to rule in Ducati’s favour, after Aprilia, Honda, Suzuki and KTM protested the device attached to the swingarm of the GP19s in Qatar.

Along with saying the rules “aren’t clear”, Rivola claimed there was an inconsistency to their policing by MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge from the grand prix of Qatar to the appearances in the MotoGP Court of Appeals.

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As an ex-Sporting Director in Formula1, Rivola is aware of the perils of considerable aerodynamic development. This incident, he feels, has only served to anger Honda, and could accelerate an aero war between the six MotoGP factories.

“In a way I’m a bit disappointed but it’s almost what I was expecting,” said Rivola, regarding the MotoGP Court of Appeals’ decision to judge the swingarm device as legal. “I knew the FIM could not reject what one of its members declared despite the technical director changing his opinion during the hearing, going against what he wrote and then what he signed. This is something we should think about.

“I knew it was difficult, but that was not the point for me. Let me say I won for the simple reason that my point was to raise the arm and say there is something wrong here. First, the rules are not really clear. Second, the way they are policed is a joke.

“And another good point I think is that if we go in the aerodynamic direction we all lose. That is not the direction where even Dorna wants to go. That is not the way to limit the cost or the aerodynamic development mainly.”

Rivola was angered by what he feels was a change of tack from the Technical Director. During the Court of Appeals hearing, he said, it was argued Ducati’s swingarm device was legal as its “primary purpose was to cool the [rear] tyre.”

That differed, Rivola claims, to the reason provided soon after the race in Qatar. The Italian even read out an email received from the Technical Director that stated Ducati’s swingarm device was approved “solely … to aid cooling to the rear tyre.”

According to Rivola all four protesting factories – and Ducati – proved in the Court of Appeals that adding downforce to the rear tyre was a consequence of using the swingarm device. Therefore in his eyes it did not “solely” aid rear tyre cooling.

“He [the Technical Director] said that he understood that the primary purpose of that wing [spoiler] was to cool the tyre. Instead what he declared and wrote was not that one.

“When we were in Qatar he wrote [reads an email sent by Technical Director dated from the evening of the Qatar GP] ‘approval by the attachment used by Ducati riders Dovizioso, Petrucci and Miller was granted solely on the information from Ducati that the purpose of the attachment was to aid cooling to the rear tyre only.’

“So he’s saying that the only purpose was to cool the tyre, while in that room [in the Court of Appeals] we all showed, including Ducati, interestingly enough, that that device brings downforce.

“Even more interestingly we all show our numbers from Honda to Ducati to us, and the numbers of these studies are very similar. Honda was the only one that also did wind tunnel tests and the numbers of Honda were the smallest of the four.

“But Honda said ‘despite our number being the smallest, I didn’t bring that to the bike because it generates downforce and it says that [reads email] ‘It’s not to generate downforce or aerodynamic force with respect to the ground.’

“So in a way as long as you demonstrate it generates downforce, you should ban the device. I mean it’s easy. So from a rational point of view, the hearing should have stayed for two minutes. We stayed for seven hours.

“Now we’ve given Honda a motivation. Fair enough. It means we will copy that solution. We will spend money on that. We will go in that aero direction which, as I told you from my experience, is the wrong direction. We will spend money in an area that is not paying anybody.”

Rivola clarified Aprilia’s intention to develop such a device over the offseason. “On the 19th of February we asked Aldridge to study and develop something in that area. We saw the Yamaha idea on the water. It was quite cool.

“We said, ‘Can we develop something there?’ The answer was ‘Bear in mind you can develop something there only if you use a water device and for wet conditions only.’

“Then there was the test in Qatar and [Ducati] used it. It was not raining. On the 2nd of March there was a clarification that was this one [points to laptop] which still says ‘The main purpose is not to generate downforce with respect to the ground.’

“When you do a rule you need to be in a position to measure the rule and police the rule. First of all, if you know there is a grey area, when you go into a garage of Ducati and they tell you, ‘We have this wing or spoon…’ ‘What’s it for?’ “It’s for cooling the tyre.’ What should you do you? You should ask to see some data. It didn’t happen. Now they have an advantage and I think this is not fair.”

Will Aprilia now develop a similar swingarm device? “We are not Ducati. We don’t have even one person dedicated to that. In the 19th of February we thought about going in that direction or we thought about going to someone else.

“Now we stopped what we were doing and now we must concentrate on what we stopped doing. We could easily copy and put it in the bike, but you understand this is not the right approach

“But if this is the way to work here we can adapt to that. It’s just it will cost more. There is the one that can spend small things will become bigger and bigger.”

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