Aprilia and KTM Embroiled in Clutch Controversy: Who Has the Best Starting Device in MotoGP?
If you’re a fan of MotoGP, you know that even the smallest advantage can make a world of difference on the track. And in the world of racing, starting off strong can set the tone for the entire race. That’s why a recent controversy surrounding the clutch systems used by Aprilia and KTM has sent shockwaves through the paddock.
It all started when Maverick Vinales, rider for Aprilia, expressed his frustration with the latest starting system introduced by the Noale brand. Although he didn’t elaborate on the issue, his teammate Aleix Espargaro inadvertently spilled the beans. When asked about Vinales’ comments, Espargaro simply stated, “We can’t talk about this subject.” And it wasn’t just Espargaro, all Aprilia sources seemed to be under the same instruction – “We have been forbidden to talk about this.”
But despite the silence from Aprilia’s camp, our insider sources have confirmed that a complaint from a competing manufacturer forced Aprilia to stop using their latest clutch specification incorporated into the RS-GP since the Australian Grand Prix. This clutch system had significantly improved the team’s starting capabilities, which were in dire need of improvement earlier in the season.
Speculation runs rampant as to which manufacturer lodged the complaint, with many sources suggesting it was KTM. The Austrian brand apparently believed that the version of the clutch used by Aprilia was in violation of the technical regulations. Specifically, KTM argues that the clutch’s operation relies too heavily on the electronic control unit, which introduces an unfair advantage.
Interestingly, this issue has drawn attention to an area of the regulations that is currently under review due to its gray areas. Initially, the championship’s technical managers had approved the clutch component, deeming it not fully automatic and requiring rider input. However, a track engineer at the Sepang paddock shed some light on the matter, stating, “You only have to see the video of how the Aprilia’s come out, to understand that it is an automatic clutch, like the one used by Formula 1.”
What makes this situation even more intriguing is that KTM had already developed their own starting system on the RC16, which had propelled them to new heights this season. Jack Miller’s remarkable move from fifth to first at Mugello clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of their system. This significant improvement prompted KTM to look closely at Aprilia’s clutch and register their complaint in hopes of nullifying their competitor’s advantage.
As a result of KTM’s complaint, Aprilia had to withdraw their newly designed clutch system. The team had created a clutch that technically shouldn’t be considered automatic, but its performance resembled one. The complaint triggered a forced reassessment of the system.
Furthermore, KTM didn’t stop at merely raising concerns about Aprilia’s clutch. They also approached the technical commission seeking modifications to the current regulations to homologate their own clutch, which functioned quite similarly to Aprilia’s.
In response, KTM voluntarily removed their system from their bikes at the recent race in Thailand. They hope that by cooperating with the technical commission and awaiting possible regulation changes, they can reintroduce their system in the future.
While Aprilia and KTM find themselves unable to use their new clutches, another manufacturer is quietly benefiting from the situation. Ducati, a brand known for its innovation, had started working with carbon and electronic assistance in its friction system three years ago. As a result, they now possess the best and fastest starting device on the MotoGP grid.
It remains to be seen how this clutch controversy will unfold. Will Aprilia manage to find a workaround, or will KTM’s complaint lead to lasting changes in the technical regulations? One thing is for sure – in a sport where milliseconds matter, the starting line can make or break a race.
As the MotoGP season progresses, the battle for the best starting device continues behind the scenes. Fans eagerly await the resolution of this clutch controversy and the impacts it will have on the teams’ performance. Stay tuned for more updates on this gripping storyline in the world of MotoGP.