Despite a recent meeting by the Grand Prix Commission to discuss banning wings on MotoGP bikes on safety grounds, it appears the Ducati MotoGP team has taken aerodynamic aids to the next level,
fitting them to the race suits of riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone.
This photo, captured by AMCN’s MotoGP snapper at the opening round of the championship in Qatar, first appears to be just a picture of Dovizioso sitting in his pit garage. But take a closer look at the spare race suit in the background and you will notice what look suspiciously like wings attached to the aerodynamic hump.
During early testing of the Desmo GP16, both Iannone and Dovizioso reported that the extra downforce and turbulence created by the double-element fairing wings was creating a low pressure area above the rider’s back when tucked under the screen. This low pressure system was literally sucking the riders out of their seats. As well as being dangerous, it was also increasing aerodynamic drag. It appears the plan to combat this has been to fit small, Buzz Lightyear-style winglets to the hump of the race suits to force the rider back onto the seat of the bike.
A source inside Dorna has told AMCN that the winged suit was actually meant to debut at Qatar, however a last-minute ruling based on safety grounds saw the suit “not approved for racing”. This wording alone indicates the wings could appear at the second round of the series this weekend at Argentina.
While unwilling to confirm the existence of a Buzz Lightyear-style suit, Ducati’s chief technical officer Uno Scherzo told AMCN if such a suit did exist the main safety concern would be if a rider crashed and ended up on his back. “If downforce wings were fitted to the rear hump of a racing suit they would be designed to create downforce – yes? So imagine if a rider crashed at high speed and slid onto his back. The wings would then be inverted, creating lift. At 300km/h he would probably take off like an aeroplane, and who knows where he would end up.”
It is believed Dorna has convened an urgent meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Argentina this morning to vote on the use of winged suits. A decision is expected before 12 noon.