‘From our side, the evidence is clear. The main target is only optimal tyre temperature’ – MegaRide forms part of Ducati evidence at MotoGP Court of Appeal.
“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.”
Those were the words of Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali after the MotoGP Court of Appeal rejected a protest by four of its rivals over a swingarm-mounted spoiler used by Qatar winner Andrea Dovizioso, team-mate Danilo Petrucci and Pramac’s Jack Miller.
Ducati’s successful evidence included a technical report by MegaRide, an Italian start-up company that works with the factory on real-time tyre thermodynamics and – in the words of CEO & co-founder Flavio Farroni – modelling of the “complex phenomena arising at the tyre-road interface”.
“We’re technicians and academics, working on lab and modelling activities,” Farroni told Crash.net. “It has been interesting being called as a witness [for the Court of Appeal] by our partners, but we don’t care too much about ‘motorsport politics’.”
The crux of the matter was whether the swingarm spoiler was primarily designed to cool the rear tyre, as Ducati claimed, rather than being a downforce-generating aerodynamic aid, as its rivals suggested.
Farroni said they were able to show that the device “was developed… to create a cooling flux that allows the tyre to work in the optimal range.”
In simple terms, the device is used to “direct fresh air flow onto the tyre’s external surface.”
Quizzed on the theory that Ducati might be able to show a lower tyre temperature due to extra downforce created by the device, Farroni replied that it would have the opposite effect:
“I don’t think that would make sense… An increase in downforce means a larger tyre contact patch, increasing tangential forces and [higher] thermal friction powers.
“From our side, the evidence is clear. I cannot quantify the effect the device has [for confidential reasons], but from our point of view the main target is only the optimal tyre temperature.”
What about those who say the cool Qatar weather (19 degrees track) negated the need for any such tyre cooling device?
“If your vehicle generates high energy, you could have overheating tyres at the north pole!”
Following the verdict, Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna commented: “We were convinced we fully complied with the technical regulations and therefore we were confident about the ruling by the FIM Court of Appeal, so we can only express our satisfaction for the decision made, which further underlies the regularity of our endeavours.”
By mounting the device on the swingarm, rather than fairing, Ducati can modify or remove it at will since it is not covered by the MotoGP Aero Body rules, which allow only one update during the season.
Meanwhile Farroni echoed the words of Domenicali regarding how, in order to make its defence, the factory had to reveal some of its tyre cooling secrets.
“Such a wide disclosure of confidential topics is never a good thing,” Farroni said. “On the other side, it was quite interesting that the court case allowed us to talk about the research activities we carry out in Naples.”
Although MegaRide also works with four-wheel manufacturers – “especially for driving simulators, both for vehicle manufacturers and motorsport teams like AUDI Sport in Formula E and DTM” – it has an exclusive two-wheel contract with Ducati Corse, the extension of which is due to be announced imminently.
“It’s a great synergy [with Ducati]. We found in our partners the same curiosity and interest in engineering challenges,” Farroni said. “It’s been an incredible adventure, we’re happy that the start-up project is growing.
“Our role in MotoGP is mainly in the vehicle development phase. We provide software and tools useful to get more information to make the right choices, but the final decision is in the customer’s hands.”
In the future, MegaRide hopes to implement its motorsport technology in autonomous road vehicles.