MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Will Ducati and Dovi be axed from Qatar MotoGP results?
The FIM will soon make its decision about Ducati’s alleged aero device, but there is only one sensible way out of this mess
MotoGP’s Court of Appeal will sit at the end of this week to decide the fate of Ducati’s alleged swingarm aerodynamics device and the 25 points that Andrea Dovizioso scored in Qatar.
What is MotoGP’s court of appeal and how will it come to its decision, which will be announced before next week’s Argentine Grand Prix?
The court consists of three FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) judges chosen from the governing body’s international commission of judges, which consists of a dozen national federation members from Spain, Argentina, Poland and elsewhere. All of whom know very little – if anything – about aerodynamics. Presumably they will be given the facts of the case before they sit, but neither do the people who make the rules or enforce the rules know much about aerodynamics. This is a problem.
There is little doubt in my mind, having spoken to a Formula 1 aerodynamicist, that Ducati’s latest bolt-on does offer an aerodynamic benefit, but Gigi Dall’Igna can rightly claim that it cools the rear tyre. By increasing downforce on the tyre the device reduces wheelspin, which is the real enemy of tyre life. Every time the tyre breaks traction – when torque delivery exceeds grip, during gear changes and over undulations and bumps in the asphalt – it suffers deformation as the rubber stretches and shrinks multiple times. The tyre also suffers a spike in temperature. All of these incidents accelerate tyre degradation.
Ducati first used its swingarm device with Danilo Petrucci, claiming that it’s a tyre-cooling and therefore a safety device for the burly Italian, whose 78kg tend to overheat his rear tyre. The rival manufacturers accepted this, because there’s no doubt Petrucci’s weight is a handicap. However, when Ducati fitted the device to the GP19 of Dovizioso for the Qatar race all hell broke loose in rival garages.
Dall’Igna held firm, convinced of the legality of his latest gizmo, which, just like his front-end winglets and aero sets, is a reaction to MotoGP’s post-2015 technical regulations. The front aero is a consequence of less effective anti-wheelie software, while the rear aero/tyre cooler is a consequence of tyres that need more looking after. You have to hand to Dall’Igna and Riccardo Savin, Ducati’s vehicle dynamics and design manager, because they appear to be thinking harder than anyone else in pit lane.
Dall’Igna claims that his rivals (in this case led by fellow Italian marque Aprilia) are ganging up on him. Perhaps inevitably, his reaction to the Qatar protest was to counter-attack with a complaint about Honda’s latest X-Wing-style aerodynamics.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.