Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The end of MotoGP aero?

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.


The end of MotoGP aero?

MotoGP has only just started its second season with radical aerodynamics but most manufacturers are already against aero devices

Aerodynamics has been MotoGP’s biggest tech talking point of the past few seasons, if only because it’s easier to spot a redesigned winglet or aero surface than a rewritten traction-control map.

Perhaps not for much longer. It seems that most of the factories have had enough of MotoGP’s new-age aero – mainly because they think they are spending too much money for too little gain.

There are currently two reports being compiled: one by Dorna’s technical staff and the other by the MSMA (the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association). Both may offer the same conclusion: to ban aerodynamics in its current form and return to the conventional bodywork of a few years ago, before Ducati got clever with its winglets. The main concern is cost – a lot of money can be spent on aero development, which is still very much a nebulous science in motorcycle racing.

“There will be two concepts on the table,” says MotoGP’s director of technology Corrado Cecchinelli. “Our concept is to improve the present regulations, with better wording and less subjective criteria, so that everyone knows exactly what shapes and dimensions are allowed. We also want to stop the abuse of the modular concept, which allows the clever factories to have one design from which they can remove various parts, so in the end they have one aero design with 10 different possibilities. This is one area in which we have failed to achieve our goal of cost reduction.

“The other concept comes from the MSMA and is more radical – to return to conventional bodywork with none of the aerodynamic shapes that some teams currently use. This concept will be difficult to put into words, but my understanding is that this has the support of the majority of the manufacturers.”

Of course, there’s no need to guess which factory wants to keep aerodynamics. Ducati has always led the way: first with small winglets, then with larger winglets and then with multiple winglets. And when winglets were banned at the end of 2016, Ducati was the first factory to race with radical aero bodywork, at Brno last August. At that point it seemed like MotoGP was entering a new era, with bikes that looked like nothing we had seen before. Some people loved MotoGP’s new look, others hated it.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Total votes: 10
Total votes: 16

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Comments

MotoGP can learn nothing from F1 except what not to do.

Ali Rowland-Rouse must be out of his mind. The failure of F1's aerodynamics is extremely visible and well documented, culminating in the implementation of DRS. It is not for lack of regulation. The technical rulebook is over a hundred pages long.

That's why racing regulations should be written by racers, not tech geeks. They cannot separate their technological fascination with proper racing.

Total votes: 17

Seems pretty obvious that, if there's a straight line from crappy anti-wheelie in the software to goofy winglets, maybe improve the anti-wheelie software?

Total votes: 19

But that would be too obvious, of course. And then we get all the moaning again about 'Playstation bikes'.

Total votes: 12

Remember that Ducati started playing with winglets as an alternative anti-wheelie strategy to achive  the same results as HRC was by spending huge amounts on bespoke software & hardware, especially in an environment where the unified systems we credit with the highly competitive MotoGP series of today was far from a done deal. 

Total votes: 10

Riders have been controlling them for 100years and all of a sudden it’s a safety issue? Seriously? Use the rear brake, use less throttle, whatever but these are supposed to be the best riders in the world, not L-platers, give THEM some control.

 

Total votes: 18

Amen brother 749!

Avoid the geek fest and money race altogether. Sincerely surprised this looks a minority position. Just let them be bikes for god's sake. Or Aliens' sake.

Total votes: 13

I would not mind if they just leave the rules as they are. Moto GP has never been this close or exciting. Areodynamics (winglets) are playing a part in this. 

Total votes: 11