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Wings or Aero Fairings: the aerodynamic war of MotoGP

Repsol Honda tested three different types of fairings around the Circuito de Jerez. Is it a sign of MotoGP going under an aero war?

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Wings or Aero Fairings: the aerodynamic war of MotoGP
Fuente imagen: MotoGP

Ducati was one of the first team to introduce F1 style wings on the front end of their bike. When Ducati first added these winglets their MotoGP Desmosedici, it was mocked with terms like “hammerhead sharks”. But ever since, they have been proved to be vital aerodynamic part now  in the shape of newly introduced ‘Aero Fairings’ the MotoGP bikes and adapted by all the teams in different ways.

Wings which later in 2017 rules were replaced by fairings (on safety grounds) have been criticized since first day of introduction around the paddock and some even said that “they take away the true spirit of MotoGP bikes” and MotoGP should only be about  “man and raw pace of machine under him”, not some wing dominated F1 styled, where all depends upon how good engineers and aerodynamicist can exploit rules and make the machine go faster rather than rider pushing and exploring the limits, over the distance of a race.

Different riders have a mix opinion towards the aerodynamic winglet fairings, some are fond of it and some are disgusted about the fact that they even exist. When asked during winter testing this year Cal Crutclow of LCR Honda grinned “Waste of money!” according to him “All our fastest times were set without them” for smaller teams it’s a big challenge to invest budget on something which might not have that much of difference on pace with or without. Ducati has spent huge amount of budget on its aero project so far.

Even the legend of MotoGP the Doctor isn’t fond of wings: I don’t like the wings in general because they are quite ugly,” Rossi said. “But especially because for me, from the bike I don't feel the difference. It is also true that a lot of the time, especially at high speed, it causes a lot of turbulence; when you follow the bike with big wings your bike loses stability (Qatar 2016).

In early year there were wings which were eventually replaced by the aero fairings which are safer aerodynamics feature. Rules were changed about the wings in order to make them safe and wings were totally banned by FIA, as the have sharp edges, which can cause injuries during side collisions. But Andrea Dovizioso of Team Ducati have a different view about the banning of wings and he believes “The decision to ban wings was made only as way to limit Ducati, that had worked hard to develop the wings.’’ He might be just right about it as well causing taking off those wing put that Ducati on a back foot, as the bike has the lowest of agility and maneuverability around the slow corners, those wings no doubt were helping them with some extra down force. But many riders including Rossi feared following that Ducati with those aggressive wings on it. According to Pedrosa “wings are basically knives glued to side of the bike”

 But after the ban, teams were quick to come out with clever solution of ‘aero fairings’ which are totally under the rules and are much safer. According to MotoGP technical director Danny Aldrige the new aero fairings are not classified as wings rather they are more of Formula 1 sidepod like. He stated “what I look for is safety and it’s not classified in our opinion as a wing. To me a wing is a single entity and it goes straight out.”

So, question arise over what these new aero fairings are. And do their technical benefits outweigh the cost to spend on them? Fairings basically have no sharp end and both ends of aero components are attached to the body and are considered as part of a body work. Fairings are pretty clever solution to wings as they comply all the rules i.e they have rounded edges and are within 600mm of bike. For modern day MotoGP bikes they are very important for generating extra downforce and also bend the air towards the radiator making its efficient cooling possible. Fairing play a vital role in slow speed corners like those Le Mans, where we saw riders going much linear while taking the corners and carrying every ounce of speed they can. The latest fairing Repsol Honda has recently tested is also good in improving the top speed and reduced the wheelie coming out corners as well. These new rules have definitely started an aero race for manufacturers just like Formula 1, where we see teams bringing aero upgrades every other weekend. But draw back these aero components can produce is just like of those in F1 they create massive amounts of dirty air and might make over taking difficult even now when fairings are in their early stages riders complained about bike slide behind the other due to air turbulence.




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