MotoGP Helmet and Suit Winglets
Breaking news coming from the Argentinian MotoGP Grand Prix this weekend: Dorna Sports SL (owners of the MotoGP series) have announced that the current rules for aerodynamic winglets on premier class machines (that aid in stability and cornering grip) will be “from immediate effect, extended to helmets and race suits.”
Apparently ballooning suits due to the extremely high airflow into the neck opening of the suit at speed is causing several riders problems, provoking Team LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow to vent “I know we’re now riding on Michelin tires but surely they don’t expect us to look like the bloody Michelin man riding down the straights?”
Team Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa–one of the shorter stature riders on the grid–concurred with Crutchlow, and admitted to being openly concerned about being ‘blown off the back of the bike’ when at full throttle.
Several riders have also been very vocal about helmet lift, again caused by rogue airflow vortices as they make their way from the front of the machine to the rear of the rider when at maximum velocity.
The solution to both problems as decided by an emergency closed door meeting between Dorna and IRTA (the rider safety group) has been to add aerodynamic winglets to the sides of the rider’s helmet, as well as to the shoulders and hips of each rider’s race suit. This is currently a voluntary situation, however an IRTA representative suggested that if it proves effective the rule will become compulsory for the 2017 season on.
The solution has been embraced by most riders with the exception of Team Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who insists the aero treatment on his helmet has to be in the shape of a shark’s fin, and placed vertically on the the top of his helmet. Dorna are said to be considering his request, although it is unlikely to be seen this weekend in Argentina.
Valentino Rossi who has so far eschewed any winglets at all on his machine because “they look frikkin daft” has further condemned the new apparel aero treatments as “completely ridiculous–what the fack do you think this is… April Fool’s Day?”
Clearly MotoGP fans will have to watch carefully to see exactly how each team and rider will handle the new regulations.