Winglets are to be banned in all three MotoGP classes from 2017 onwards. At Assen, the Grand Prix Commission met and decided on an outright ban on aerodynamic wings, after the MSMA had failed to reach an agreement among all manufacturers on a joint proposal.
There has been much discussion of winglets over the past few months, as they have taken on an ever greater importance. With the introduction of the common ECU software, winglets were one way of reducing the amount of wheelie MotoGP bikes had. But as the factories - and especially Ducati - gained more experience with winglets, the winglets grew larger, raising safety concerns over the effect of an impact during a crash.
Action had been expected to be taken at the previous Grand Prix Commission meeting in Mugello, but the parties failed to reach an agreement. Dorna, IRTA and the FIM then presented the MSMA manufacturers with an ultimatum: if the MSMA could produce a unanimous proposal to regulate and restrict the size and extent of the winglets, they would adopt that. If they couldn't then winglets would be banned. With the manufacturers deeply split over winglets, with Honda on one side and Ducati on the other, they could not agree a unanimous proposal.
Whether the outright ban will end the focus on aerodynamics remains to be seen. The focus is likely to shift to the shape and size of fairings to achieve the same effect. The rules will need to be carefully written to define what a winglet actually is, and Ducati have already hinted that they will be searching for loopholes in the rules. "Like in Formula One, we will have to look very carefully at the future rules," Ducati boss Davide Tardozzi told the Italian site GPOne.com. "Every single word will be important, because everything which is not forbidden will be allowed."
The press release announcing the ban on winglets appears below:
Grand Prix Commission
Assen, 25th. June 2016
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 Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 25th. June at Assen, made the following decisions:
Aerodynamic Wings in the MotoGP Class
The Commission unanimously agreed that, with effect from the 2017, the use of aerodynamic wings in the MotoGP class will be banned. The actual regulation will replicate those for the Moto3 and Moto2 classes where the use of wings is already prohibited.
Wings that comply with current technical regulations may continue to be used for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Post-Race Noise Tests
Since the introduction of four-stroke machinery in all classes, no machine has ever failed the mandatory post-race noise checks. Accordingly, the requirement for the first three machines to be routinely checked after the race is cancelled with immediate effect.
The Technical Director may still decide to carry out noise tests at his discretion.
Moto3 Safety Issues
The Commission gave approval for Honda to, under the supervision of the technical staff, to replace the inlet valve springs on their Moto3 engines. The change will take place during the Sachsenring GP.
Permission was also given to Mahindra to replace the oil ring on one Moto3 engine that was resulting in oil leakage. Again, this will be carried under the supervision of the technical staff.