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Ducati’s Aero Swingarm | MOTOGP | SPORT

With the mass protest against Ducati’s swing-arm aero device comprehensively defeated at the Court of Appeal, and the protesters – Aprilia, Honda, KTM and Suzuki – left with egg on their faces, the race is on for imitation devices on their bikes.

The role of the under-suspension chin-piece has now been revealed. It is there to cool the rear tyre – with Ducati chief Gigi Dall’Igna telling press that it can make a difference of as much as seven degrees.

He added that the idea had come to him in imitation of Yamaha, who last year introduced a “water diffuser” at the bottom rear of their fairing – significantly, Yamaha declined to join the mass protest.

The air scoop was first seen at pre-season tests, and used by race winner Andrea Dovizioso as well as factory team-mate Danilo Petrucci and satellite rider Jack Miller at Qatar.

It had been approved by technical director Danny Aldridge, who ruled that its primary purpose was to cool the tyre. His decision was vindicated by the stewards at Qatar, and by the ruling of the Appeal Court, which was released on the Tuesday before the race.

But Dall’Igna, who had kept the purpose of the scoop secret, was angered by the protest, not only because there was the chance that Dovi would be stripped of a hard-fought win, but because of the need to reveal his secrets in full at the appeal hearing.

As well as the seven-degree lower tyre temperature, data provided by Ducati’s simulation (“we did not do any wind-tunnel testing”) revealed that there was a secondary effect of downforce, but so little as to be virtually negligible. It was, said Dall’Igna, “more or less 300 grams at 180 km/h”.

Ducati’s evidence included a report by academic technicians from MegaRide, a company that works with the factory.

A statement from company CEO Claudio Domenicali stated: “It is a shame that to get this result we had to spend our time and money with lawyers, and reveal to the competitors our understanding about tyre cooling.

In spite of denials by the protestors, whose mantra was that they were simply seeking clarification, Dall’Igna was convinced that had the appeal been successful, Dovizioso would have been disqualified, and likewise Petrucci, who had finished sixth.

Now rivals are expected to find their own ways of copying Ducati, with Honda’s Alberto Puig one to confirm that the company was working on its own tyre-cooling solution. Said Marc Marquez: “I don’t know what, but I know Honda, and they are trying to analyse the function, and how you can improve.”

Aprilia’s new ex-F1 (Ferrari) team manager Massimo Rivola, believed to be the architect of the mass protest, asserted that Aprilia had submitted proposals for a similar device, but been turned down by the FIM.

A stinging interview in Argentina smacked of being a poor loser, in spite of his assertions that development in this area could lead to runaway costs. He accused technical director Aldridge of inconsistency, in a largely semantic argument, and added: “First, the rules are not really clear. Second, they way they are policed is a joke.”

Australian rider Jack Miller had a personal tribute to the victims of the one-man mosque massacre in neighbouring New Zealand, in which the death toll had risen to more than 50. His number “43” on the front of his Pramac Ducati was rendered with a fern leaf. Although not the nation’s official flag (not yet, anyway), the silver fern is an important traditional symbol of New Zealand.

Miller’s Ducati, Alma sponsor sticker covered up, Argentine MotoGP 2019

by Michael Scott