There has been much debate over the past two months over the use of front ride-height devices, hydraulic-mechanical systems which lower the front of a MotoGP bike on corner exit. Ever since Ducati turned up with the device at the Sepang test, the other motorcycle manufacturers have complained about it as a waste of money, an expensive way of finding small performance gains.
That prompted an internal discussion inside the MSMA, the association of motorcycle manufacturers racing in MotoGP. Five factories were opposed to the use of front ride-height devices, while Ducati felt they were being punished for their innovation. If the devices were to be banned, then Ducati had wanted to postpone such a ban from going into force until 2024.
Ducat has lost out on both counts, however. Two proposals were put to the Grand Prix Commission, and the GPC decided to adopt the proposal banning front ride-height devices from next season.
The proposal will not ban front holeshot devices, meaning any device which can be used once, at the start of the race, to help get the bike off the line when the lights go out. Interpretation of the rules will be left to the MotoGP Technical Director, Danny Aldridge.
The ban raises the question of whether Ducati will continue to develop it's front holeshot device. At Mandalika, the Italian factory had already removed the device from most of the Ducati GP22s, after all of the GP22s got off to a bad start at the first race in Qatar. If the device is to be banned from 2023, and needs further development before it offers any gains, it might prove more productive to drop the device now, and focus on other areas. Ducati's track record of coming up with new and innovative ideas to circumvent existing regulations suggests they will find other areas soon enough.
Notably, the ban adopted by the FIM only affects ride-height devices on the front. Rear ride-height devices will continue to be legal.
The press release from the FIM appears below:
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decisions of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Biense Bierma (MSMA), assisted by Jorge Viegas (FIM President), Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting) and Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), in an electronic held on 18 March 2022, made the following decision:
EFFECTIVE SEASON 2023
RIDE HEIGHT DEVICES
During the meeting of the Commission held in Lusail on 4 March 2022 the Grand Prix Commission delegates were asked to consider two alternative proposals on this matter. Both had the objective of preventing further performance improvements and development cost increases. After consideration of the proposals the following regulation was approved unanimously.
The use of any device that modifies or adjusts the motorcycle’s front ride height while it is moving is forbidden.
The decision of the Technical Director will be final when determining what constitutes a front ride height device; devices that only operate one-shot at the race start (i.e. “holeshot” devices) are allowed.