Grand Prix Commission Bans Winglets in MotoGP From 2017 Season

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  "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:

Technical Regulations

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.


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Replacing valve springs, under the spirit of the regulations, should probably be sanctioned....but how?  If this were the Lodi Cycle Bowl with the typical Lodi race director, the penalty would require all Hondas Moto3s to start the next race at the back of the grid and facing the wrong way. (The next to most serious penalty for a chronic start-jumper.)

I understand the need to allow these changes in ther interest of safety both for Honda and Mahindra, but it seems unfair to KTM, although KTM may end up having to make some changes later. It is clear that neither changing valve springs nor oil rings constututes a modification as long as the parts used are identical to those replaced....but if Honda is having valve spring problems in race 8 and mount the same stuff, that would suggest they might run into trouble again. Same with Mahindra, so we should probably understand that the replacement parts will be improvements. 

Still, the rules always contemplated the need for safety improvements. 

As far as the winglets are concerned. There are three basic kinds of regulations, I think:

1. Formula 1, constantly changing, now you see it, now your don´t. Bring your lawyer. Quote that best illustrates...Bill Clinton, "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is.

2. NASCAR. Secret rule book only given to insiders sworn to secrecy. Written in invisible ink...or on-line, which is the same thing, based on concept of instant compensation. Quote that best illustrates...Louis Blanc, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

3. Illinois Missouri Stock Car Association (where I raced in 1959 - 1961)  OK long as it was built in the USA. Quote that best illustrates...Hassan i Sabbah, Master of Assassins, "Nothing is True. Everything is permitted." 

Bill would have said it wasn´t really a wing if it didn´t fly. Louis Blanc would have allowed them, but only on Aprilias. Old Hassan would have liked the winglets in an eleventh century kind of way, especially if they were sharpened.

Tardozzi is on target anyway and manufacturer's will exploit the n'th degree. A simple fix would rule that no part of the motorcycle viewed head on may exceed the width of the handle bars, barring the brake lever protector.

Moto3 inlet valve springs? Well, I guess KTM caught up and its no longer an HRC cup like M2 is.

Mind you, the Yen is a safe haven for the next couple of revolutions and sundry noise reduction.

Dennis, is that ( p ) the pint sitting next to your computer? Methinks you had a few too many mate!

Winglets - no problem w the ban here. Bigger fish to fry.

"...because everything which is not forbidden will be allowed."

Smokey Yunick is reincarnated as Davide Tardozzi!

They just increase cost, and would just increase cost on a production Sportbike as well.  I ride, and the bikes have all gone up in price thanks to electronics so let's sometimes dismiss things that aren't really necessary or a necessity.  The new bikes already have anti-wheelie, anti-spin, lean sensor, geez a whole litany of software nannies.  Winglet equipped lower or upper cowls definitely means even higher plastic replacement cost.  It's always been the rider's job to keep the front wheel down, whether a start or banging gears and rpm down the straights.  

And it screws the satellite guys a little more.  Good riddance.  The mfr's don't always need to get their way.  They were making their own rules for a while and a sport is give and take, both.  

In the immortal words of William Brocius, "Well bye".

I wont miss them. Make the bikes look hideous.

Motorcycle-racing sancitoning bodies seem to fear aerodynamics. The FIM banned dustbin fairings back in the '50s. Today it's Dorna and winglets. Not sure what the fuss over either was.

Dustbin fairings would have moved production-motorcycle design forward by about thirty years, given the mid-1980s appearance of the Paso and Hurricane fairings.

Winglets might not be as revolutionary to production-bike design, so I really don't care. But the arguments against them are pretty weak. They look funny? Who cares? They might chop somebody's leg off? Maybe if Mr. Noyes' twelfth-century asssasin trainer were involved, but otherwise I don't think there's any danger of a winglet doing any more damage to a rider than a footpeg, windscreen, or whatever is already sticking out from a bike.

Wind tunnels cost a lot to rent or build, but it's not like, say, LCR has to design their own winglets to stick on their customer Honda bikes. Honda has plenty of money, and probably even their own wind tunnel or three. So just make a rule that manufacturers must supply the same frame, engine, and body used by their factory team's bikes.