What the Duke!!!

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What the Duke!!!

Post by TopContender on Wed Sep 21 2011, 05:29

Well Vale tested a new version of the bike, and it looks like they are going to completely redo the bike in a few weeks. It looks like they are moving away from having the engine as a stress point.

http://motomatters.com/analysis/2011/09/20/2011_aragon_motogp_post_race_round_up_pa.html

MotoGP history was made at Aragon, and as has been the case so often throughout his career, the man making the history was Valentino Rossi. He is unlikely to be quite so proud of this piece of history, though: On Sunday, Rossi became the first rider to fall foul of MotoGP's engine durability rules, using his seventh engine during warm up, one beyond his origonal allocation of six and consequently being forced to start from pit lane. Rather ironically, Rossi was not the first rider to use a seventh engine; that dubious honor falls to Alvaro Bautista, who ended up using eight engines during 2010, after Suzuki negotiated adding three extra to their origonal allowance, when it became clear that they were unlikely to make the end of the season on their allocation.

The reason that Rossi elected to take the penalty was simple: he wanted to have two bikes with identical setups, and that included having the new, revised aluminium frame which he had tested on the 1000 at Mugello and he debuted at Aragon. The new chassis needs new mounting points, the lugs on the rear of the cylinder head having to be machined differently to accept the new frame. The 6th engine Rossi used at Misano already had the new mounting points, which fitted both the old carbon fiber and the new aluminium subframe, but the two other GP11.1 engines did not, and could not be modified. That meant taking engine number seven, and taking number seven meant starting from pit lane 10 seconds after the rest of the pack.

Rossi's crew felt that starting from pit lane at Aragon was a smarter choice than starting at Motegi (the other alternative, as Rossi wanted to have two identical bikes for the rest of the season). The pit lane exit at Aragon cuts off all of Turn 1 and much of Turn 2, joining the track on the exit of the second corner, minimizing time lost to the rest of the field. That turned out to be a good call, Rossi crossing the line at the end of lap 1 just 7.4 seconds behind the leader, Casey Stoner, and 5 seconds behind Hector Barbera, who had moved up to take Rossi's qualifying spot on the grid.

Was the penalty worth it? Well it provided some spectacle, with Rossi fighting his way forward to 9th at one point, before losing out to Cal Crutchlow to cross the line in 10th. The front felt a little better, he said after the race, but the problem had not been fixed. "I'm a little bit disappointed and a little bit worried," Rossi told the media afterwards, adding that he had expected a lot more from the change. "It looks like we don't fix the problem."

"The feeling with the front is not so bad," Rossi said. "I am quite good in braking and entry but I remain slow in the change of direction. It looks like after a lot of races we don't fix nothing so maybe we don't understand the real problem."

The experiment, brief as it was, has apparently failed. Replacing the front carbon fiber section with a different material had made a small difference, but not enough to turn around the fortunes of either the Italian rider or the Italian factory. The material, as Filippo Preziosi had told reporters at Brno and Misano, was not the problem. The problem appears to be something else.

The solution - or what Ducati hopes will be the solution - is already lined up. Ducati team boss Vitto Guareschi told Italian reporters that Ducati will test yet another chassis at Jerez on Thursday, and then again at the official MotoGP test at Valencia. This will be the Ducati's 5th chassis of the year, after the origonal CF chassis they started the year with; a revised, softer version test after Estoril; the GP11.1 chassis (though this is largely unchanged at the front) with the altered swingarm bracing and rear shock mounting; and then the longer aluminium item used here at Aragon.

What is radical about the new item is that it will finally break with Ducati's tradition of using the engine as a stressed member. The new chassis will be a standard aluminium twin spar design, as used by all the other factories, Dennis Noyes reported on Spanish TV on Sunday night, and the most obvious candidate to produce the chassis is the Buckingham-based firm FTR, who built the frame used by Rossi at Aragon.

The fact that the revised aluminium chassis is already being dismissed seems to suggest that a twin spar is what Rossi and his crew have been angling for all along - despite Rossi's continuous protestations that he is a rider, not an engineer. With every new revision, there have been small steps made, but the main problem (a lack of feedback from the front tire, and difficulty in turning the bike) remains.

Every time I have watched Rossi from trackside, his body language has been stiff, unnatural, not comfortable with the bike the way that Lorenzo is with the Yamaha and Stoner is with the Honda. At Aragon, I watched again, and though there was a visible improvement, it still looked like somebody had stolen Rossi's leathers and nipped into the Ducati garage for a go on the bike. And after the race, Rossi confirmed that he was still a long way off where he wanted to be. "I don't feel very comfortable on the bike," Rossi said on Sunday. "We already think of something to move the weight, move me, on the bike and if you look at me on the television, I don't ride like in the past, I don't have the same position on the bike. It's quite clear from all sides. So we work in some different way and hope we find the right way for improve."

That "different way" is a capitulation on Ducati's design principles and a switch to what has become standard industry design over the past twenty years. No doubt this will put another nail into the coffin of engineering innovation in motorcycle racing, but in my view, it will be a tragedy if motorcycle designers stay away from the monocoque design used by Ducati on the Desmosedici, and from next year, on Ducati's 1199 superbike, due to be introduced as the 1198R's replacement at the EICMA show in Milan in November.

For the problem is not so much the shortcomings of the design, as learning to understand the feedback which a different design generates. Whether or not Ducati's implementation of the monocoque is a good one or not - and there are reasons to believe it is still not quite there, as despite winning races on the bike, Stoner and his crew had plenty of problems in finding exactly the right setup on the bike - the difference is feel is what is crucial. At the end of the 2009 season, I spoke to Tech 3's engineering guru Guy Coulon about the lack of innovation in Moto2, especially the lack of new front suspension solutions, with everyone plumping for a traditional telescopic front end. Coulon said the explanation was simple. "You want the information to go from the asphalt to the rider's brain without any interference," Coulon told me. Hub center steering, Hossack forks, anything else would change the signal coming from the tire to such an extent that the riders would not know how to interpret it. There may be a theoretical advantage to any or all of these technologies, but if a rider could not understand them, then the advantage would disappear.

This is one of the reasons that despite MotoGP being the pinnacle of motorcycle racing technology, in engineering terms, it is still an immensely conservative world. The current breed of racing motorcycles are really just evolutions of the bikes that have been raced for the past twenty, thirty, maybe even sixty years. As one engineer put it to me rather pithily "if it wasn't used on a Matchless in 1958, then the teams think it can't be any good." Instead of innovation, MotoGP prefers evolution, preferring something which they are sure is a little bit better than what they have than something which could be a radical improvement, but with some uncertainty over whether it will work. Even a small change like FTR's stemless steering head (where the bearings fix on the top and bottom of the steering head, without a steel stem connecting he bottom and top bearings running through the head and messing up the airflow into the airbox) has met with utter resistance from the Moto2 teams, despite the advantages which the engineering clearly shows.

Yet there is also a risk in Ducati's switch to an aluminium twin spar, one which we have covered here before. Ducati has no experience in building a twin spar frame, yet is reluctant to buy in expertise from outside. The design and engineering is done in-house, Ducati's chief engineer Filippo Preziosi said, as chassis design is very much Ducati's core business. The lessons they learn and the R&D they can do in MotoGP is their reason for being in the sport, and helps them design their production bikes. Farming out the design to a third party may improve their chances, but it is the knowledge which is crucial to Ducati Corse, and therefore to Ducati as a whole. It is highly probable that FTR will be moulding and welding the aluminium on the chassis (they are among the very best in the world at doing so, after all) but the design will come from the CAD computer of Filippo Prezioso and the engineering team at Ducati Corse. Valentino Rossi, Jerry Burgess and crew will have to hope that they have listened first.
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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by Henrik on Wed Sep 21 2011, 09:26

Ducati have rally painted themselves in to a corner with their "mono-coque" chassis design. When the first MotoGP bike came out with this design the thinking was obviously that this was revolutionary, but it would help them get one big step ahead of the others. Stoner struggled, but he also won races with it, and so Ducati then figured that bringing in the talent of Rossi and his team they would be able to sort out the bike in order to exploit its full potential. A lot of money was spent on this, and at the same time they also decided to bank on applying this design on their top street bike.

It is now looking like they bet everything on this, and it is not working. They are becoming desperate, and going to a twin spar aluminium frame is a huge step backwards. If that bike turns out to improve on their results, it will essentially kill the mono coque design, and as a result kill a huge investment for Ducati.

To me it is looking more and more like Ducati made a huge gamble, and they lost. Just how much they have lost we will have to wait and see, but I would think it is a massive lost. To top things off, it may also end the career of Rossi.

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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by PLAYLIFE on Fri Sep 23 2011, 06:46

Didn't realise they'll be nothing up 5 chassis this year, that is a sure sign that they are in woeful trouble.

Thanks for the article TC, good read.
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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by H8R on Mon Sep 26 2011, 20:57

Start the stop watch on what happens when the twin spar doesn't fix the problem. Next blame will be engine config.

Rossi and Burgess et.al will get right....eventually.
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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by Henrik on Tue Sep 27 2011, 08:04

I'm seriously starting to have my doubts. Last year around this time I was sure they would have the bike winning within a few races. I knew Stoner was incredibly fast, and figured that he was probably riding around some of the problems with the bike, and that Rossi with his team would find how to set the thing up right, and make some key changes to it.

Since then nothing has moved forward! After having thrown just anything they can think of at the bike, they have not progressed at all. Basically the entire design is wrong, and since next year's bike is based on this design (as is their new superbike) they are in some very serious trouble. It seems to me like the only way to fix it is to start all over completely from scratch. But, being Ducati, they just can't build another Honda or Yamaha. The brand demands doing things differently.

Personally I think I would go back to a steel trellis frame. That they really know how to master. Then there is the engine, but I think they would more easily be able to get the 90° V 4 to work in a trellis fram than an aluminium spar frame.

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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by TopContender on Sat Apr 14 2012, 23:44

IT looks like Vale is now calling Ducati out publicly. This wont end well.


Valentino Rossi calls for Ducati to help riders

By Michele Lostia and Sam Tremayne Wednesday, April 11th 2012, 14:31 GMT

Valentino Rossi, Ducati, Qatar 2012Valentino Rossi says it is up to Ducati to rectify problems with its 2012 challenger, and that his confidence in his own abilities has not been diminished by his struggles on the Desmosedici.

Ducati made a multitude of changes to the GP12 in the wake of a first win-less season in 15 years for Rossi in 2011, but the Italian still struggled and could only finish 10th in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.

Team-mate Nicky Hayden finished sixth, while the satellite Pramac Ducati of Hector Barbera edged Rossi out late on to capture ninth.

While such a slump has led to widespread questioning in his native Italy, Rossi says he is confident he can still perform - and that his problems lie instead with the handling of the Ducati.

"Age penalises you, it's true, but a difficult year doesn't make you forget how to stay with the leading pack. In my opinion, I still know how to do it," Rossi told Motosprint.

"It's very clear who makes our bike: [Filippo] Preziosi is the boss and the thinking brain behind everything. It's up to him to help us.

"Our problems are very clear: what doesn't work at the rear, under acceleration, in my opinion comes from the front, and the cause is understeering.

"At turn-entry, because of something we don't know, the front doesn't allow you to tighten the turn. This understeering is the biggest problem.

"The incredible thing is that this characteristic is similar to all the Ducatis I've ridden since 2010: whether it's the version with no chassis, or the one with the carbon-fibre front, of the one with the aluminium front, or the one with the full chassis... it doesn't ever change, that's incredible.

"The engine is another very important problem. We need a more manageable engine: ours is very aggressive, more than Honda's and a lot more than Yamaha's.

"By looking for top performance you might end up neglecting rideability a bit. That's a mistake. What do you need all that power for if you can't take advantage of it?"

Asked about comparisons to Casey Stoner, who collected 23 wins and one championship with Ducati, Rossi said the Australian had adapted because he had evolved with the team.

"He [Stoner] has a very peculiar riding style and he was also young in 2007, so it was easier for him to adapt to Ducati," Rossi explained.

"He evolved with Ducati, so he should thank Ducati because if he has learned to ride in the way he rides today it's because he grew up with this bike, which if you don't ride it in that particular way you are screwed."

Rossi said he had hoped to stay with Ducati for two more years, but said his current form puts that ambition into question.

"I came here at the end of 2010 with the idea of racing for two years and try to win with Ducati. But it's hard. Besides, I'd like to stay two more years," he added.

"If we work well we are able to fight for fifth or sixth place. I'm not excited by that: if you must fight for fifth place then little by little you lose enthusiasm.

"By racing this way, you lose the joy of riding. Besides the ego, when you know you get on the track and you will regularly get beaten, it gets hard. And if you don't enjoy yourself on the track, everything else gets even heavier.

"We need to try, all together, to do the best we can to arrive at the end of the year with a vastly improved bike. It would be the best thing because it would solve many problems."
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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by Henrik on Sun Apr 15 2012, 00:12

Here's another good article from Dennis Noyes.

MOTOGP: Noyes’ Notebook - He Said, Red Said
Written by: Dennis Noyes
Date: 04/12/2012 - 12:51 PM
Location: Borrego Springs, CA
How much longer is the focus at every MotoGP going to be on the train wreck that is the Ducati- Valentino Rossi relationship?

Maybe that depends on how much longer we GP journalists are obsessed with the Rossi story. I’ve spent my first day back from Qatar chasing rumors and trying to get someone to go on the record. No soap. But there is a consistent story being circulated. I don’t know if it is true or not, but, if you have been trying to figure it out via Google translate, this may help. But first the background.

The highest paid, most popular motorcycle racer in Grand Prix history left Honda at the end of 2004 to join the hapless Yamaha team that had failed to win a single race in 2003. In fact, the best Yamaha could do in ’03 was a third place at Le Mans by Alex Barros. Rossi started his Yamaha career with a hard pass on Max Biaggi (Honda) for the win in Welkom, South Africa, and went on to take the title, Yamaha’s first in the four-stroke era. He followed that up by winning the crown three more times over the next five seasons before he, once again, changed colors.

When he went from Honda to Yamaha, the M1 was, in the words of then race boss Masao Furusawa, “a bad bike.” The move to Ducati, at least on the basis of results, seemed less risky. Ducati with Casey Stoner had won the championship in 2007 and had been competitive, although winning fewer races each year over the next three seasons.

When Rossi rode the Ducati for the first time (documented at 12:20, midday, at Valencia on November 9, 2010) there were several thousand fans lined up early that morning to get a glimpse of this historic moment. Apparently, we now learn from loose lips in his entourage, he knew from the first laps that he was in trouble—big trouble.

A colleague said to me that we journalists have mislead fans by placing Filippo Preziosi on a pedestal as the genius behind the Goliath-slaying Desmosedici when we should have recognized that the true genius was Australian Casey Stoner. He’s probably right. Stoner won 20 of his 67 starts on the Ducati 800cc. The only other Ducati rider to win with the Duc 800cc was the now retired Loris Capirossi and his only win was in the rain at the chaotic 2007 Japanese G.P.

Capirossi’s replacement was Marco Melandri and, while Stoner was on his way to finishing second (to Rossi) with 6 wins, 11 podium appearance, and 9 poles, Marco—who won five races on satellite Hondas during the 990cc era—was discredited and fired after placing 17th in points. I remember Marco saying, toward the end of 2008, “When I asked for changes in the bike, Ducati gave me the name of a sports psychologist.”

Ex-World Champion Nicky Hayden also struggled mightily and finished a dismal 13th. in 2009 while Stoner finished 4th with 4 wins, 8 podiums, and 2 poles. Casey missed five races that year but, after a correct diagnosis of lacteous intolerance, he came back to win two of the last four and might have won a third race if he had not crashed out on the warm-up lap in the season final at Valencia. While Stoner was out of action, Ducati made big money offers to Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Both Spaniards wanted nothing to do with the Ducati. They had the advantage of seeing it from up close.

Stoner’s last season at Ducati was overshadowed by the inter-Yamaha Lorenzo-Rossi battle. Although the Australian was still winning races, his production was down now to only three wins and his points production was now only 12.5 per race, down from 16.9 in 2009 (his peak was 20.4 in 2007).


“I Can’t Ride This Bike”

Did Valentino think that the problem at Ducati was Stoner—that he could wring better performance out of that squirming, sliding Ducati? Probably not, but he must have believed that he and the Burgess-led crew that he brought over from Yamaha could sort things out. Besides, staying in Yamaha alongside Lorenzo, who had taken his title in 2010 and had, at least arguably, been faster in 2009, was not an option.

Before signing for Yamaha back in 2004, Rossi had visited Ducati and had declined their offer, saying that their structure seemed even more rigid that Honda’s. Maybe the real reason was that he would be riding under Marlboro discipline with all the extracurricular promotional work that he would not be subjected to in a Fiat-Yamaha team. Rossi told his intimates that he would never go to Ducati.

But in 2011 he did.

After a troubled season that started badly and ended worse on the 800cc version (seventh with a single podium), there were high hopes that a new frame (and then another new frame) would see Valentino back at the top.

The tenth place in the season opener in Qatar could have been better. If Rossi had not been bullied off the track by Pramac Ducati rider Hector Barberá on lap 5 he would have been in there fighting for sixth at the end, but at that stage of the race the Spaniard was faster than the Italian and felt Rossi was holding him up.

Sixth was Hayden and the American had been faster than Rossi all weekend. Rossi’s statements after the race, especially when he said that Ducati had not built the bike he had asked for and that he was not going to “risk his life” to finish sixth, were explosive enough. But the clincher was when he told the Italian website GPone.com: “It is unrideable and it doesn’t matter what track you are on. I cannot enter the corners hard and we can’t hope the situation will change with the new Bridgestone tires. These aren’t problems that can be solved with set-up alone.”

He went on to say, “Ducati did not follow my indications. I am not an engineer and I cannot solve every problem.”

What The Italians Are Saying

Italian journalists have the reputation of being sensationalists, but I believe it’s the translations that change normal Italian journalism into unusual English that cause that impression. I have been working the GPs since the early ‘70s and the Italians are rarely wrong about what is going on in Italy. This is a hard time for them because they are infinitely respectful of Valentino and no one wants to be the first to break ranks. As one Italian colleague told me, “Most of us are here because of Valentino. No Valentino, no airplane tickets.”

And they love him even without the tickets.

But this cannot go on much longer. The stories that were circulating and the ones that have been published and posted by Italian and Spanish magazines, papers, and websites all come from a common pool of anonymous sources.

Some journalists will go on record, but only with opinions. Carlo Pernat, who wears two hats, writing columns for several publications and also managing Andrea Dovizioso, says “Rossi will not finish the season with Ducati,” but that is an opinion.


According to the Spanish website, Motocuatro.com, and in a story signed by Germán Garcia Casanova, the backstage stories are brought together in a very credible way.

Germán has his sources, all talking under condition of anonymity, some of them perhaps trying to spin the narrative favorably for Rossi, but the majority hand-wringingly sincere.

Here is the story as Germán tells it: Rossi has decided that this season is hopeless, that the Ducati is going nowhere and that he wants out. He wants to negotiate a way out of the Philip Morris deal.

If he can manage this, he will sit out the remainder of the season and either join Tech3 Yamaha next year or lease his own Yamahas and run his own team.

All of this can be read either as news from an anonymous source or as mere speculation in several other Latin stories from Italy and Spain, but the Motocuatro.com story adds one unique element in a very significant final paragraph:

“Dorna know about all this and have accepted that Valentino will not finish the season, but they trust that he will return next year with a winning project and it is good for them that it is not with Ducati, since they (Ducati) are refusing to accept the RPM limit, something that is going to be applied next season, placing in doubt the future of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer in MotoGP.”

I discussed this story with its author. He is confident that his sources are reliable.

Do I believe all this? I believe all this is part of the narrative that Rossi’s people are leaking to the press. I could probably have written the same story without the final paragraph, but my experience with Rossi stories over the years is that the nine times World Champion is very good at using the press to apply pressure upon whomever he is trying to convince.

My best guess is that nothing is completely decided yet and that there is still one last “new” Ducati to be introduced at the latest in France. I agree with Pernat that, unless there is a significant improvement, Rossi will want out, but whether he finishes the season or not will depend on how the contracts have been written, and, finally, whether, if the next evolution of the Ducati is not a big improvement, Ducati even wants to continue in an exercise that is producing a steady stream of negative publicity for the factory.

Time will tell.

By the way, in case you forgot, Lorenzo won the race from Pedrosa and Stoner.



I actually think it would be wrong for Rossi to get a satelite Yamaha bike for next year. No satelite bike has ever been winning regularly, and I don't think one ever will. In my opinion, the best thing would be for him to stay with Ducati, but move over to Superbikes. With the imposed rev limits for next year, and Ducati saying they are not willing to go along with it, I wouldn't be surpised to see them pull out of MotoGP altogether, and put their focus on WSBK. They still have enough impact there to convince the authorities to bend rules in their favour, a bit like Honda in MotoGP...

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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by H8R on Tue Apr 17 2012, 16:33

IMO...

Valentino is human. He's in his 30's, and the feats of unusual ability have seen their better days. Nothing wrong with that. He still is the most amazing racer of his time...but his time is coming to an end.

Valentino in WSBK would be amazing, but I think I'd prefer to just see him retire, bow out gracefully, and attend races with Ago.
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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by Henrik on Tue Apr 17 2012, 18:12

I fully agree he is the most amazing racer of his time, possibly of all time. He has brought a lot to motorcycle racing, and even if there are a number of haters out there I think deep down there is not a single bike fan who can't recognize his immense talent.

Seriously, I would prefer to see him continue in WSBK because I truly think he would enjoy himself there.

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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by H8R on Tue Apr 17 2012, 19:13

I'm just surprised that I haven't heard anyone asking if Vale is missing Colin Edwards...rumors were always ripe that Colin lead development on the M1 when he got to Yamaha. Of course being a Yank we could've been a bit delusional about all that.
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Re: What the Duke!!!

Post by TopContender on Thu Apr 18 2013, 03:12

Here is the latest on Ducati's bike

From Jerez To Qatar: The First Steps On Ducati's Long Road To Redemption
Submitted by David Emmett on Mon, 2013-04-15 22:05
in Ducati Andrea Dovizioso Nicky Hayden Michele Pirro MotoGP Jerez, Spain Losail, Qatar

"This is the reality," factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso told the media after finishing 7th at Qatar, some 24 seconds off the pace of the winner, Jorge Lorenzo. Hopes had been raised on Saturday night, after the Italian had qualified in fourth, posting a flying lap within half a second of polesitter Lorenzo. While Dovizioso's qualifying performance had been strong, he had at the time warned against too much optimism. The Desmosedici is good on new tires, but as they begin to wear, the chronic understeer which has plagued the Ducati since, well, probably since the beginning of the 800cc era, and maybe even well before that, rears its ugly head and makes posting competitively fast laps nigh on impossible.

The problem appears to be twofold. Firstly, a chassis issue, which is a mixture of weight distribution, gearbox output shaft layout, frame geometry and, to a lesser extent, chassis flexibility. And secondly, a problem with engine response, an issue which is down in part to electronics, and in part to Ducati still using just a single injector per throttle body. The weight distribution problem causes the bike to want to run wide at corners, making it hard to keep it on line; the throttle response issue just makes this worse, with the throttle either very harsh and aggressive, and difficult to control, or, when the revised electronics package is used to soften power delivery, makes the throttle response feel remote, and removes the connection between throttle and drive from the rear wheel.

The combination of the two means that while the bike is relatively competitive in qualifying and practice, lap times take a nosedive as the race progresses. With fresh tires, it is possible to use the power to help the bike to turn, and the extra grip new tires offer also helps mitigate the tendency to understeer. As grip levels drop off, the front starts pushing wide, and the harshness of the throttle makes it hard to control sliding at the rear, one way of helping the bike to turn.

The problem is clear from the lap times posted by the factory Ducati riders in the race. Both Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden started well, Dovizioso getting away with the leaders when the lights went out. The two men have a decent pace for the first 8 laps, running mid to high 1'56s, before suddenly slowing, losing four tenths or more a lap, as the tires start to pass their prime. Where the lap times of the Hondas and Yamahas tend to show a slow and steady decline, the Ducati times appear to suddenly fall off a cliff.

So Ducati is still in trouble, despite the work they have done. And yet the early part of this season has given more cause for hope than has been present for the past few years. With Valentino Rossi now back at Yamaha, and Audi's organizational shake up starting to have some impact on Ducati's internal organization - something made even more obvious by the apparently imminent departure of Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio - Ducati Corse has been getting on quietly with the redesign of the Desmosedici which they hope will cure the bike's biggest problems, free of the media spotlights which put so much pressure on the Italian factory.

At the Jerez test, while most of the media were milling around the factory garages of Yamaha, Honda and Ducati - in order of media interest - one garage along from the Factory Ducati box, Michele Pirro worked with the Ducati test team on the Bologna factory's new direction. The three bikes in that garage were among the most intriguing machines at Jerez. Pirro had one of the 2013 bikes which would be raced by Hayden and Dovizioso at Qatar, which included the latest weight distribution updates, moving the electronics package to the front of the tank, and the fuel further under the seat, changes which have already improved the balance of the bike. But Pirro also had a new version of the Desmosedici, with a radically different exhaust layout and a revised chassis, hinting at much bigger changes to come.

This bike is not likely to be raced by the factory riders, but it is the basis of Ducati's future direction, Ducati staff continually referring to the machine as their "lab bike". The ideas being tested in that machine will make their way into the next iteration of the bike, which according to sources close to Ducati suggest could be tested by the factory riders at the official test after the Barcelona round of MotoGP in June. If those changes win the approval of Hayden and Dovizioso, they could then filter through in the second half of 2013.

The first change is expected to be the introduction of two injectors per throttle body, to help improve throttle response, especially for the first touch of the throttle. Adding a secondary injector for low RPM allows the fuel to be more finely vaporized, something which is more critical at lower revs and therefore lower air intake speeds. Both Honda and Yamaha have been using two injectors for some time now, and this should allow better throttle control.

The next change will be a major chassis revamp, centralizing mass even more and reorganizing the basic packaging of engine, gearbox, fuel and frame. Whether this change will also include an altered gearbox layout for a better output shaft position, and to help shorten the engine, is unknown, but what is certain is that the Ducati will retain the 90° angle between its cylinder banks. The revelation that Honda's RC213V is a 90°V may have steeled Ducati in their conviction that there is nothing wrong with the choice of engine layout, and that the solution needs to be found in other directions. Redesigning the engine to use a different angle would have been a massive operation - at least two years, maybe more - but repackaging the current basic bottom end and cylinder layout is a much less costly exercise.

How quickly will this program begin to pay off? Without a working crystal ball (and all of the ones I acquire appear to be defective) it is hard to say. Audi will be expecting to see solid signs of progress by the end of the year, as will Phillip Morris, who continue to spend many millions of dollars on Ducati's MotoGP program without the return of visible promotion for their tobacco brands. A victory for Ducati in MotoGP seems improbable in 2013. But the iconic Bologna factory will need to look like a regular podium contender by the end of the year. Seen from the sidelines, they just might be on the right path again.
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