Well, that didn’t take long.
As soon as Andrea Dovizioso piloted the Ducati factory machine to victory at the Qatar GP, the opponents quickly started complaining about the bike’s aerodynamic bodywork installed on the swingarm. Although Ducati riders had used the aerodynamic swingarm parts in practice, they hadn’t been used in a race yet, as this was the first race of the year.
Ducati’s justification for the aerodynamic bodywork was a claim that its function was not, in fact aerodynamics, but to provide cooling airflow for the rear tire, which means it would not fall afoul of MotoGP rules, in their belief.
Once the race was over, four other factory teams (KTM, Aprilia, Honda, Suzuki) complained to the FIM commissioners that the swingarm bodywork was illegal. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em on the track, beat ’em with the rulebook, right? The four protesting teams had their protest denied, as MotoGP’s technical director Danny Aldridge seemed to think the new bodywork didn’t break any regulations.
The unhappy factory squads were ready for this eventuality as well, having prepared a formal complaint beforehand (they warned Ducati they’d protest the bodywork if it was used in a race). After the FIM commissioners shot down the first protest, KTM/Aprilia/Honda/Suzuki then moved their grievance on to the MotoGP Court of Appeals. If the Court of Appeals agrees with the FIM commissioners, that will be the end of the protest, and we’ll see everyone else jump on the bandwagon, trying to find sneaky loopholes that allow them to bolt on aerodynamic bits to the bike.
If the Court of Appeals disagrees with the FIM commissioners, we’ll be stuck in back-and-forth arguing about the rulebook for days, weeks, maybe even months. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, as there’s already far, far too much silliness over the rulebook in MotoGP, and far too much restriction on technical innovation—and that’s been Ducati’s response to this whole situation, saying it’s not only legal, but Yamaha ran a similar device last year as well, to protect the rear tire from rain in wet racing conditions. Maybe that’s why Yamaha didn’t join in the protest?