Grand Prix Commission Bans Winglets in Moto2 & Moto3

The War on Wings continues. At Qatar, the Grand Prix Commission agreed to ban winglets in the Moto2 and Moto3. The aerodynamic devices are banned immediately in Moto2, while they will be banned in Moto3 from 2017, as Mahindra have already fitted small winglets to their Moto3 machine to be used at some races this season. However, the ban on winglets for 2017 should stop development of them immediately.

The ban has no effect on MotoGP, however. There are powerful moves to try to ban the winglets in MotoGP, but they face resistance from the manufacturers. One of the conditions under which the factories accepted the switch to the common software was that the technical regulations would remain stable for the coming five years, the usual time period for technical regulations to last. However, the appearance of winglets and strakes on the MotoGP bikes has triggered fears of a spending war on aerodynamics between the factories.

Aerodynamics is particularly feared, as it is a field in which you can always obtain marginal gains by spending increasing amounts of money on CFD (computational fluid dynamics) modeling and wind tunnel work. Aerodynamics in motorcycle racing is relatively poorly developed, in part due to the regulations, but mainly because the dynamic nature of a motorcycle makes finding improvements that work in the many very different physical attitudes a bike can take on (leaned over for a corner, with the front wheel in the air while accelerating, with the nose dipping and the rear sliding under braking, etc) can be extremely difficult.

Any move to ban winglets must come from the manufacturers themselves. Sources have indicated to that Dorna, IRTA and the FIM would all welcome a ban, but are waiting for a proposal from the MSMA, the manufacturers association. The MSMA is reportedly split on on the use of winglets, according to veteran journalist Mat Oxley. Some factories favor them, some oppose them, with the names of the two sides easy to fill in.

Normally, the MSMA must reach a unanimous decision before submitting a proposal to the Grand Prix Commission, which the GPC is then obliged to accept. However, some members of the MSMA may choose to submit their own proposal to the GPC, which would then be subject to a free vote. That would go very much against the ethos of the MSMA, which has tried as much as possible to create a consensus on technical rules. Should some members of the MSMA decide that winglets should be banned, against the will of, say, Ducati and Yamaha, then such a ban would have a long lead time.

There is one opening for banning winglets in MotoGP, and that is through safety concerns. So far, MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge has not expressed a concern about safety, as the winglets are designed to break off before injuring someone. However, no testing procedure for this exists at the moment, something which will surely need to be addressed in the very near future. If the winglets are proven to be dangerous, then Dorna have the right to impose a ban immediately.

Below is the press release from the FIM with the decision of the GPC:

FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Vito Ipollito (President FIM), Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 19th. March 2016 in Losail, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Moto2 Class Quickshifter – Effective 01 May 2016

To reduce the incidence of missed gears it will be mandatory to use one of two approved brands of quickshifter. (Not one brand as previously agreed). It will also be compulsory to fit and use a load cell with data being supplied to the technical control data export.

Aerodynamic Wings in Moto3 and Moto2 Classes

The use of aerodynamic wings in these classes will be banned. For the Moto2 class the ban is effective immediately. For the Moto3 class, where some aerodynamic wings are currently being used, the ban is effective from 2017.

The Technical Director will continue to permit the use of fairing designs used to deflect water displaced by the front wheel that do not have an aerodynamic purpose.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

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When I first became aware of MotoGP, about 2 years ago (yes, I apparently was living under a rock), I immediately thought the distinction between WSBK and MotoGP was that MotoGP was where the innovation was at. I thought WSBK is where we are today, and MotoGP is where technology is taking us. The fact that the bikes had to be built form the ground up and everything was basically a prototype.

But, since I have started watching MotoGP, all i see is the stifling of innovation in the pursuit of lower costs and parity between teams. Maybe I am overreaching but the constraints on tires, electronics, and winglets just makes me ask "what's the point?" If the goal now is just cost-effective racing then why do we need both WSBK and MotoGP?

I realize that there are areas where manufacturers can innovate, but the space in which they can do so does seem to be shrinking quite drastically. I am ok with that - no problems whatsoever. But what then significantly distinguishes MotoGP from WSBK?

I'm sure I am just missing something critical. Hoping someone can educate me.

For MotoGP, yes it's good to see innovation, though i feel the wings could be at the cost of entertainment. Are we going to see an effective faring floor soon for squashing the bikes down in the fast corners, creating almost a spring pivot, not sure, and it's a lot harder to gauge than on four wheels. Also i'm a fan of the basic electronics but would have preferred a non geographical setting for them, not corner by corner as they've gone for.

But for Moto3 the championship should be relatively cheap (i think it's still than Moto2 to run a bike, David will have a sense of the figures) so that riders can showcase themselves, innovation becomes exponentially more expensive for every tenth gained.

Great point. Motogp i love because of the horsepower difference. The innovation and elite expertise involved.

That's a fair observation.

WSBK is the pinnacle of production based road-racing motorcycles.
Imagine the old BPR and FIA-GT series, that's basically what WSBK is for motorcycles.

MotoGP is the pinnacle of road-racing motorcycles, period.
Its the Formula 1 of motorcycles.

It's been said that, laptime wise, with just two or three seconds (on average) separating the two different classes, that it doesn't make sense to have two different series (that they could merged in one), when economically it's too hard already for both series.
But we need MotoGP to keep happening, be it for the prestige of the sport and history of this class, be it for advancements.

The problem is costs, and the lack of sponsorship (no more visible alcohol or tobacco brands in fairings).
I do agree that, with the pursuit of parity and lower costs, the series end up becoming a tad castrated, a bit like defeating its purpose.
But then recent history shows that a couple of the manufacturers will outmatche and outspend every other competitor, making it unbalanced (more than it already has been).
So that makes restrictions necessary. But then, it seems, everyone has a different idea of what those should be (and that opens another can of worms).

MotoGP is a prototype spec series, WSBK is a production spec series.

MotoGP bikes are one of a kind (prototype)... built to a spec, and the spec had been there in some form or another for almost as long as the series has been around.

The most constraining rules have been around for a long time... no slipstream fairings, less than 6 cylinders, no turbos or superchargers, and since 2003 (I may be off a year) no 2-strokes.

Prototype doesn't mean open rules.

Without rules and boundaries we would end up with manufacturers deciding that tyres and internal combustion engines are old hat as they set about developing scram jet powered hover bikes.

So for a legitimate competition to take place Dorna have loosely defined some parameters for Manufacturers to work within. Loosely? If you think MotoGP is restrictive you need to check out the minutiae detailed in the F1 rules! MotoGP is open slather in comparison.

The trouble is everyone has a different idea of what those parameters should be......

The small difference between WSBK and MotoGP is problematic because too much has been allowed in WSBK. They have recently made some changes in the right direction but not enough. Underseat fuel tanks, cut 'n shut headstock, fabricated swingarms etc have no place in a production category. They have lost the essence of the class, which to my mind, was to showcase production oriented bikes, not NASA-spec engineering.

Sorry, rant over...

kisertn, I believe your sentiments are shared by more than a few MotoGP enthusiasts that the veneer of technological innovation has thinned quite a bit. It has but nevertheless, Motogp is still plus 30-40hp and 2-4 seconds per lap over WSBK so something must be better, right? Dorna has a very difficult balancing act to perform season to season in keeping the grid full of competitive bikes and riders. Too much innovation and the costs soar and manufacturers drop out as history has shown. Look at the late 60's when Yamaha's V-4 250 rotary valved, eight speed, 72hp bikes were replaced in 1969 by piston ported 2 cylinder, 5 speed, 44hp bikes when the factories dropped out. Luckily Yamaha kept on supplying over the counter racers until the factories jumped back in during the 70's but the technology was stalled for several years. So, to keep that from happening again Dorna has to weigh the cost benefits and listen to the manufacturers when they complain. Having two championships so close in performance really isn't so bad either when you consider that it provides that many more seats to develop future talent on. The show(s) must go on.

I think Vale is right about the aero fins too. They make the bikes look bad. I also hope no rider gets his leg or arm sliced by one of those carbon fiber blades in and accident.

I do understand that the winglets are supposed to "break before they do any harm" still a carbon blade at 300km/h I don't think it's gonna break when bumping into an arm or a leg. I fear rather it's gonna slice through like knife in butter. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

There are already concerns from riders about dirty air and difficulty following other racers. If they are banned it's cheaper for MotoGP teams and a more level playing field, something that Dorna champions but in this case they have shown weakness in letting the factories dictate the rules.
This is an area that the private teams can not afford to develop and the factories want to take advantage of this just as they have done with armies of software engineers to make an end-run around the spec ECU. Grow some balls Dorna and nip this line of development in the bud.

This is supremely boring and I find it very disappointing that the journalism in our sport can't seem to get their head of their collective behinds. Why are we all acting surprised?

Of course restricting development in one area is going to accelerate development in another. It's a tale as old as time. I imagine once the winglets get banned for 2017 the journalists, Dorna and the FIM will pat each other on the back saying 'job well done' and then be supremely surprised yet again when one of the manufacturers turns up with laser guided missiles on their bikes or something.

I know it's hard to look outside one's comfort zone but take a few looks at what's happening in F1 to understand what this road will lead us to. A farce, simply put. No more kneejerk reactions, please. Just let the manufactures play with the wings and maybe they'll even disappear on their own.

So opinions are no longer allowed? We just have to settle for the world according to Firefly?

Sorry, the children in the sandpit actually need some supervision and guidance on correct behaviour lest many of the toys get voluntarily or forcibly ejected from said sandpit. Manufacturers, like children need boundaries such that all the children, I mean manufacturers, contonue to play nicely together.

The flip-side of your comfort zone comment: If you make it uncomfortable for people to watch and manufacturers to participate then they simply won't.

What's that old saying? Something about "all it takes for evil (winglets!) to prosper is for good men to stand by and do nothing". Ok, calling Dorna "good" is a bit of stretch but I think they have this right.

I'm sorry but you're completely misrepresenting my post and don't seem to have actually read what I typed. I'm not going to engage in discussion with someone like that.

If you can't come up with a decent argument it's better to just not say anything at all. I make a point about the discussion on the winglets themselves, not taking part in that discussion. Please keep that distinction in mind.

so your contribution to the discussion around winglets is that we, expert analysts and amateur enthusiasts alike, should NOT be discussing them. This is a forum, a web construct created for the purpose of informed discussion, but if you'd like to supply David with a range of ACCEPTABLE topics in their place I'm sure he'll take your advisement under consideration.....

actually 2-3 seconds a lap quicker?

Unless you use the same tyres on the same day/track/rider then I'm guessing we can't say for sure. Given the tyres seem to be frequently the limiting factor in both series it would be great to see a true comparison. Honda, Ducati and Yamaha should have a fair idea but it would be a very brave team that pinched a set of tyres from one series and stuck them on a bike from the other just to have a look see. Doesn't stop me dreaming about it though :-)

If i recall correctly, at the recent PI tests, on the same weekend the pointy end of SBK were within a second or so of the pointy end of MotoGP.

Sure the GP boys were dealign with sorting out new electronics and tyres, but the SBK guys were making do with steel discs and say 30-40 less horsepower...

1) they work. In MotoGP
2) they are inexpensive relative to many other bits (seamless trans comes to mind) and easily copied tech
3) safety? One can imagine that "just wrong" angle of approach of bike coming directly at a rider and the winglet getting a less protected area. Put some careful thought into that please Dorna, we don't need to figure that out on track do we? Ugh.
4) ugly. Yeah, sorta. But not horribly. Bugs me less than the Aprilia livery apparently bugs some other people. Kawasaki green, Suzuki livery, Alberto Puig, turn-by-turn electronics, fans that dislike what Stoner or Crutchlow say to the media, Gigi's seamless eyebrow, HRC'S influence on the rulebook for 10-15 yrs, the Illmore project, WCM, tows in Moto3, Stoner quitting racing, et al. Ugly. Winglets? Not so bad.

They are primarily for keeping the front down in upper gears approaching the Rev limiter. Do we need that in Moto2 and 3?

Iannone ran the side-mounted strakes/winglets in the race where Dovi did not. Could the extra pressure of the downforce on the front tyre have caused him to lose the front? "I don't know, it's strange. Really strange," said AI post race. And even if these aero devices indeed were a contributing factor, would it even be disclosed by the factories that want them? Doubtful.

All riders who try the strakes/winglets claim to notice zero if any difference - not on the bike, nor in the data. Do you think Rossi would discard them just because he thinks they're ugly if there was a tangible difference that showed up in the telemetry and data logging indicating an advantage? No way.

This lends credence to my belief that the real reason they want them in GP bike racing is to provide another surface upon which to place logos for the sponsors. While not utilized for this purpose yet (although Ducati is painting them in the team's colour-scheme now, looking more and more like packs of Marlboros stuck to the side of the bike than ever) one can easily see how a logo placed here would stand out in the sea-wash of the entire livery, making it a very attractive (and lucrative) place for sponsors to place their images/messages. This also is somewhere messages/images would really be noticed even at high speed. They would be like Super Bowl ads.

After all, the real reason they will never ban wings in Formula 1 (which is universally agreed as the best way to make the racing tighter, with the cars able to follow each other nose-to-tail close through high speed corners and making the spectacle truly thrilling, while also eliminating the "fake" DRS passing that few people appreciate or respect) is that the wings on F1 cars act as billboards.

Can't be banning the method in which the hand feeds you. I doubt they are going anywhere in MotoGP. If anything, they will just get bigger.

Seemed to me that ianonne lost the front due to an earlier turn in point than Dovi who was infront, which means to maintain the same corner speed, ianonne spends more time on the leant on angle from the apex to exit and also a steeper angle, for a given bend.

And since I'm a spectator viewing the sport I hope they do away with them all together. Big black ones or ones that are blended to the colour scheme of the fairing theyre all hideous. Do away with them all.

... if you ban one thing it forces innovation in another area. innovation doesn't stop, and one could argue that banning the "obvious" things actually encourages more innovation by engineers with a lot of time on their hands trying to think outside the box.

Nascar is a prime example of this kind of thing. Haven't seen it for a while, but for the longest time it was pushrod V8, carb, spool rear axle, etc.

Yet some of the technology in their motors was (within the bounds of the rules) pretty amazing. Yes, they are/were pushrod v8s, but they were the most high tech pushrod v8s you could build.

The only proven benefit of wings on racing motorcycles is that it opens a never-ending field of research which greatly benefits the bank accounts of aero engineers! Logically, the downforce generated by wings is applied in a direction perpendicular to the wing's surface. That means when a bike is leaning at 50° from vertical the downforce is pushing the bike at the same angle. This would cause the bike to run wide toward the outside of the turn and if the downforce is great enough cause the tire to lose traction. It's evident that the amount of downforce generated by the currect wings in MotoGP is small and while this may contribute toward keeping the front tire in contact with the track the benefit at low speeds when acceleration is greatest can be only minimal.
Another problem area? A Moto2 team has already tested an aero device meant to create dirty air behind the motorcycle with the purpose of making it difficult for other racers to follow closely. Is this what we want in Grand Prix racing?

I don't think you grasp how complicated fluid dynamics is. Stating that the downforce is only applied perpendicular to the surface ignores all the more interesting aspects. Look at ground effects for a start.

The more I look at the Ducati aero devices the more I am convinced that their primary purpose is to create turbulence (dirty air) behind them.

The shape of the winglets just seems wrong to create downforce. The cross-section shape make the winglet look like it needs to be tilted more. The leading edge is higher than the trailing edge. If this shape and orientation was efficient in generating downforce I'm sure it would have shown up on F1 cars before now.

I think Ducati feel they have a power advantage and don't want others to get towed along in their slipstream. So, they will waste a little of their power, but make it very difficult for anyone to get a tow.

Of course, Ducati will say it's about downforce, but deception is part of the game.

I'm not saying that they might not get a tiny bit of downforce, but due to the shape I think they are getting separation and a lot of turbulence across the top.

Dirty air is an issue in F1 where trailing vehicles lose downforce on their wings. MotoGP bikes don't require downforce so "dirty air" just makes a bigger "hole" in the air for a bike to gain advantage via a tow..

The idea that you'd also restrict your own top speed (by increasing drag) to impede a following bike doesn't quite make sense. Surely you'd just allow your own bike to go faster?

I have no issues with the aesthetics or cost of winglets, however safety considerations are the most important thing. I guess this boils down to the material used in the first instance?
It would be tragic for of bikes to tangle and a rider get speared by a shard of carbon fibre, causing serious injuries.
For a regulatory body to be aware of a risk and not minimise it, they could be criminally culpable?
Perhaps a more innocuous material could be used?
As far as the dirty air issue is concerned, this is merely a change in the sport's technology and therefore riding techniques need to change to suit it?
Failing the above, it seems that teams will be looking more seriously at aerodynamics, perhaps similar results can be achieved with advanced fairing design?

I'm of the opinion that the winglets are not about downforce, at least the ones which first appeared on the ducati's. These are mounted mid fairing, and forward of the fairing vents. Ducati were the first to use them, they have the most power but also struggle with the heat power entails.

The wing being used to assist cooling by creating low pressure zone over the vent, to assist in hot air escaping from behind radiator/oil cooler?