For the past few years, Ducati have been the manufacturer pioneering the direction of development in MotoGP. Ducati will come up with a new idea, which the other manufacturers will hastily copy, with a greater or lesser degree of success. Holeshot devices, ride-height devices, winglets. The latest example of this are the tail fins, the four winglets sticking up from the tail of the Desmosedici, which have suddenly also sprouted from the tail of the Honda RC213V and the Yamaha M1.
(As an aside, what do these tail winglets do? Riders report they give better stability, especially under braking. They are too tall to be purely vortex generators – which would reduce drag by smoothing the boundary layer of air on the tail. A possible explanation is that they are directing the airflow coming off the rider, the least aerodynamic part of the motorcycle. But they could also be helping to keep the tail of the bike straight under braking once the load disappears from the rear wheel and shifts to the front. But I digress.)
At Valencia, we saw something new. Instead of everyone copying Ducati, Ducati and KTM were suddenly copying Aprilia. The fairing lowers of the Ducati and KTM were suddenly sporting the wide, flaring bulge which the bikes of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales have had since the Barcelona test. Ducati and KTM were merely following the example of Honda, who tried such a fairing at the Misano test in September.
What is the purpose of these lowers? And how do the versions used by Ducati and KTM compare? Here's a deeper dive into what we saw at Valencia, based on photos taken by Niki Kovács and Cormac Ryan Meenan.
To start off with, a comparison between a standard Ducati – in this case, the GP21 of Marco Bezzecchi during FP3 before the Valencia race – and the version of the fairing tested by Enea Bastianini at the test on Tuesday.
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