Just how clever has Honda been with their fairings? At Assen, Cal Crutchlow spent Friday going back and forth between bikes with and without the addition of aerodynamic side pods on the outside of the fairing. That led to some confusion among the media. Had Honda homologated the aerodynamic fairing already? Or was this something new?
I went to see Danny Aldridge to ask what the situation was, and the MotoGP technical director explained the situation. The fairing Crutchlow used at Assen is exactly the same one he has been using all year. But because the side pods are detachable, only connected using rivets, the fairing counts as a single, homologated unit both with and without the side pods.
The rules are somewhat ambiguous, and it is this ambiguity which Honda have exploited with the fairing. The relevant part of the regulations reads as follows:
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).
What the LCR Honda team have done is homologate the aerodynamic fairing with detachable side pods as a single fairing, and then remove the side pods for the first part of the season. That means they have only homologated one of the two possible fairing designs they are allowed to homologate in a season. If Honda comes with a new fairing later in the season, they can homologate that one as well.
In effect, the rules, and the way in which Honda have interpreted them, allow for them to use four different fairing configurations each season. If they homologate two different fairings, both with detachable aerodynamic parts, they could run fairing A with and without aero parts, and fairing B with and without aero parts.
Crutchlow's fairing raises questions about what exactly the Repsol Honda riders have homologated as their fairing packages. So far, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez have only used a standard fairing without any aerodynamic side pods or appendages. That does not necessarily mean that the fairing they have homologated does not allow them to use some form of side pod. The aerodynamic regulations allow each rider to homologate an individual package, meaning that riders can use fairings tailored to their individual needs. So the fact that Crutchlow has used one style of aerodynamic package does not mean that any of the other Honda riders have to use something similar.
So far, however, Crutchlow is the only Honda rider to have used aerodynamic side pods this year. With only the Sachsenring left to come before the summer break, it seems unlikely the Repsol Honda riders will try anything before then. The next official test is to be held on the Monday after Brno, and that would be the most likely place to see new aerodynamics be tested. There are already indications that Ducati will be testing a new aerodynamic package there, to replace their failed "hammerhead" fairing. Honda could possibly join them.
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