Rumours where that Ducati had something special up their sleeves for the final test before the MotoGP season starts proper. Nobody was expecting this.
When the ‘aero wars‘ of 2016 ended with the rules of aerodynamic ‘additions’ to body work being refined for the 2017 MotoGP season, it was expected that teams would continue their development in the air arena; after all rules are built to be bent when it comes to prototype racing.
Yamaha were the first to show their hand early in February with their integrated aero solution, and other teams such as Suzuki, Honda and Aprilia have since followed suit with various degrees of success.
Ducati were always intending to be last to the ‘show’ however, and since their livery launch of the new team line-up (Hello, Lorenzo!) it had become an open secret that a new aero package would be added to the smooth lines of the Ducati GP17. That launch was very much for public consumption and to generate excitement surrounding their new rider.
They also didn’t want a repeat of the ‘Whiskers’ launch of the previous year which saw the majority of the fans – and many seasoned reporters – bemoaning the lack of aesthetic quality of their ‘catfish’ design. We here at Motofire however, quite liked it.
Not because we’re attracted to stalks on bodywork as a rule, but because we firmly believe that prototype racing should be exactly that, and any means by which a team can [legally] gain an advantage should be encouraged.
But even we weren’t prepared for the sight that met us during the latest Qatar, MotoGP testing.
Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Aprilia have all managed to find ways to integrate ‘internal winglets’ into the bulk of their smooth bodywork for the 2017 season, hoping to make the most of the air and force generated by it whilst still maintaining the spirit of the new law.
Honda introduced an obvious ‘bolted-on’ version in the first day of testing with Marquez and we’ve already seen Yamaha’s attempt earlier in the year. Ducati though… They’ve done something altogether more radical.
The Ducati fairing wouldn’t look out of place on the front end of a Ferrari F1 car, and with it’s huge, open nostrils and wide ‘mouth’ many have already begun searching for various sharks to find a suitable nickname for it.
But what are the benefits?
It’s our understanding that the theory behind the new ‘nose’ is that it will encourage air to be drawn in through the centre and then re-routed through the ‘side intakes’ in order to increase downforce, but without increasing the width of the motorcycle itself.
And does it work?
Well, Andrea Dovizioso seemed particularly pleased with the results speaking after his final test session yesterday,
“Yeah, It was nice to feel the effect of the new fairing”, he commented when asked about how well the new fairing was working, “because it was very difficult to create a good fairing, similar to last year’s downforce with the new rules. Our engineers did a great job”.
And how close is it to achieving the same levels of downforce as last year’s version?
“I think that it’s very close”, he replied, “not the same, but very close.”
This is the same Dovizioso that claimed during the previous test that the cornering ability of the 2017 machine had been improved with the removal of the aero package. Could it be that this new fairing – as aesthetically interesting as it may be – solves the cornering issue whilst still maintaining the downforce that helped Ducati to those ferocious topspeeds last year?
Not long until we find out now, the season opens in Qatar on the weekend of 23rd – 26th of March.