MotoGP: Yamaha’s new aerodynamic fairing—the controversy continues

Yamaha reveals double-walled fairing at Sepang test; other teams question legality due to the appearance of it being an "add-on"

motogp, yamaha, sepang test 2017, double wall fairing, aerodynamics, winglet ban, fim rulebook paragraph 8
Yamaha was the first to reveal its alternative to the 2017 winglet ban with its double-walled fairing containing airflow channels inside an "outer layer" to generate downforce.Photo courtesy of PecinoGP

The "aerodynamic peace" in MotoGP was short-lived. After the controversy that caused the winglet ban at the end of last season, it didn’t take long for one of the factories—Yamaha, in this case—to reveal its alternative to the wings. And just as quickly the legality of that alternative was put to question with the MotoGP Technical Director, and we have a controversy once again.

Several months ago we reported how certain factories were experimenting with double-walled fairings as an alternative to a possible ban on the winglets. And it is exactly this concept that Yamaha used on their new bikes in Sepang. After a final check with factory test riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga's and Kohta Nozane's bikes on the first day of testing, the next two days the fairings were mounted on Rossi and Viñales' bikes. Immediately the red flags went up in the other factory boxes, where the legality of these fairings being used on the M1 at the Qatar GP at the end of March was questioned.

As you can see in the photos, it is an outer fairing attached to the fairing itself. Between the two parts are a series of deflectors that channel air, supposedly to obtain a similar aerodynamic load to that generated by the now-forbidden winglets.

motogp, yamaha, sepang test 2017, double wall fairing, aerodynamics, winglet ban, fim rulebook paragraph 8
Although the double-walled section of the Yamaha fairing looks well-integrated into the bodywork in this head-on shot, some MotoGP teams were questioning the legality due to the ambiguous nature of the FIM rule that bans winglets.Photo courtesy of PecinoGP

How would one define the new fairing seen on the M1 in Sepang? Is it like the airflow channels and tunnels on a F1 racecar’s bodywork? Or is it simply an added piece bolted to the fairing? The definition is important, because depending on the interpretation given, it may be violating section, paragraph 8 of the FIM MotoGP rulebook that states: "Moving aerodynamic pieces are prohibited."

One factory team quickly brought up the issue to the IRTA officials about the validity of the fairings. Specifically if an external part that is screwed to the fairing to generate aerodynamic load is considered "a moving aerodynamic piece" or not.

"This happens by writing rules that are as ambiguous as the previous one," explained the chief technical officer of one of the factory teams. "It's a crappy rule." Be that as it may, the controversy is on the table, and as the manager of another factory team told us: "This has only begun; we will continue with this subject until Saturday night of the Qatar GP, if not later.”