In the aftermath of the Ducati swingarm spoiler protest, MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge has explained why he issues guidelines alongside the official rules decided by the MSMA (Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers’ Association).

The FIM Stewards’ decision to reject the protests of Honda, Suzuki, KTM and Aprilia regarding the swingarm device used by three Ducati riders during the Grand Prix of Qatar came under intense scrutiny, as the issue was taken to the MotoGP Court of Appeals.

And while Aldridge has been on the receiving end of criticism from Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola in particular, he told journalists on Thursday that it is not his job to write the rules; he can only offer guidelines when the rulebook is not 100% clear.

"In MotoGP we have the aerodynamic rules and also the guidelines, written by me, that are updated when we feel necessary," said Aldridge.

"The guidelines are there so the manufacturers understand what they can and cannot do, that are not specific in the rulebook.

“The reason the manufacturers wanted these guidelines is because, if they come to me and say, ‘We want to do this’ and I say ‘No’ it goes in the guidelines so everyone is aware of it, rather than six manufacturers coming to me with the same question. So we make it clear.

“If they’re doing something that’s legal or in the rules, I say nothing. That’s normal procedure. This [a guideline] is more a case of ‘I’ve said something to someone, you can’t do this’ everybody is aware so they don’t start the development and have the same problem.

“With the situation with the Ducati device, I had noticed it at the Qatar test. It was discussed between myself, Mike Webb the race Director, and Corrado Cecchinelli, the Director of Technology. It’s like a little working group that we have. The final decision is mine but I use their expertise.

“When we saw this, we thought we had to clarify what it can be used for. This is why the guidelines were written. In them it was said, ‘You can have a water spoiler, you can use it for [rear tyre] cooling, or debris protection.’

“This is what was upgraded just before the Grand Prix. They are updated as and when it’s felt necessary. There are no specific dates.”

“In Qatar I was approached by Ducati. They explained the principle behind the system of their device. They informed me it was for cooling of the rear tyre. From the information I received and what I looked at, I respected their decision and granted permission for it to be used.

“The other manufacturers – and I understand why – felt this was not correct. They protested because they felt the main reason for the device was for downforce.

“The rules are actually written by the MSMA – the manufacturers. Every single word in there has to be approved by them. It was their choice, their decision to have this wording. The Technical Director then decides what is legal and what is not. This is how it works.

“I understand it [anger from other factories] is directed towards me. This is not a problem for me. This is my job. I accept this everyday. We’re always trying to improve the championship. Nothing’s perfect.

“Once it’s been settled and calmed down, we will make changes to the regulations to make it clearer for us and for the manufacturers. It would be silly not to.

“Day in and day out we work with the manufacturers. If we need to clarify something we will do it. If they agree we will change. But we can’t change the rules without their permission.

“The only thing I can change is the guidelines. That’s all. And the guidelines cannot stop something that is currently approved. It’s about future developments. I can’t put something in these guidelines that will stop the current aero package.

“It’s about future development, what they are allowed to do, and what they aren’t allowed to do. All the manufacturers have the right to agree or disagree with my opinion and whether it’s correct or not. This is normal life. They disagreed with my opinion.

“The only thing is the FIM agreed with me. From that respect I’m happy for me and for the championship because I don’t like the situation, it isn’t good. I don’t take it personally.”

Some of Aprilia’s recent dismay at the outcome of the MotoGP Court of Appeals hearing has been directed at Aldridge’s apparent advice against pursuing development of a similar swingarm device in February.

“I’ve heard about this,” Aldridge said. “I received an email from Aprilia and they were asking about the process to homologate a water spoiler. In the email I have, there is no wording from Aprilia saying they wanted to use an aero device.

“In my email or my reply to Aprilia I said, it cannot be used for aero, which is exactly the same as in the guidelines. I understand they believe it stopped them in development. I don’t honestly agree with that.

“The wording I said to them was they were not allowed to fit it in dry conditions. The only difference is when we made the clarification in the guidelines, we said it was to be a water spoiler, [tyre] cooling and also debris protection.

“They’re initial email to me mentioned nothing about using it in dry conditions. It was purely they were asking, ‘If we make a water spoiler like Yamaha, do we need to homologate it?’ That was it.”

Rumours on Thursday pointed toward Honda bringing a similar swingarm device to the one used by Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller in Qatar, only for it to be rejected by Aldridge.

The Englishman refused to comment on any new technical development, feeling it is not appropriate to do so until “it’s approved and used.”

“Because I don’t comment on other people’s devices until it’s approved and used. Honestly, now that there has been a clarification on what has been allowed, I expect other manufacturers to go down the same route as Ducati. If it happens here, you have to wait and see.

“Before something is used on track, I will never say, ‘Look out for something from Honda or Aprilia.’ It wouldn’t be correct to say they’ve approved something, or they’re going to use it. It’s down to them. Everything is down to them. Once it’s on track, then I can speak about it.”

 

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