2011 Sepang MotoGP Friday Round Up: Pedrosa's Poetry In Motion, Honda Domination, Ducati's Problems

The timesheets at the end of day one at Sepang are telling. This is a track at which the teams spent six days testing back in February prior to the start of the year, much as they have done every year, and so they have enough data on the track to fill every iPod Steve Jobs ever sold. They should know how to set up a bike to go around this track, despite everyone complaining of a lack of grip, as is often the case in the hot October weather.

With that variable removed, the timesheet is a pretty good reflection of the state of MotoGP: Four factory Hondas sit at its head, the three Repsols followed by San Carlo's Marco Simoncelli; Hiroshi Aoyama on the satellite Honda follows, with the first Yamaha in 6th position, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards happy on the setting they found during the pre-season tests. Alvaro Bautista is 7th, the Suzuki thriving in the Malaysian heat as it always has done, and Randy de Puniet on a satellite Ducati is in 8th. That, in a nutshell, is a pretty good summary of the 2011 MotoGP season.

There are a couple of big gaps here, of course: Jorge Lorenzo is back at home in Barcelona, recovering from the surgery to repair the finger he damaged so badly at Phillip Island, and Ben Spies has separated muscles around his ribs, another reminder of Australia and sheer torture at one of the hardest braking circuits of the season. Under normal circumstances, Lorenzo would be in the midst of the Repsol Hondas, and Spies would be mixing it up with Dovizioso and Simoncelli. Casey Stoner was quick to point out that they - the Repsol Hondas - had no point to measure themselves against, with Lorenzo and Spies out of the equation.

So it's no surprise that there is nobody to challenge the Repsols, though the more usual state of affairs is for Casey Stoner to proceed Dani Pedrosa, instead of trailing the Spaniard by over eight tenths of a second. In interviews after the sessions, Stoner affected indifference, pointing out that Pedrosa had set his fastest lap on soft tires, while he and his crew were still working on race setup on the harder tire. Andrea Dovizioso made the same point, calling Pedrosa's fastest lap - there were actually three of them in a row in the 2'01s - "strange".

But hard tires or soft, Pedrosa looked fearsome around Sepang. Like all of the Aliens, Pedrosa is fast everywhere, but there are some tracks where all of the Fantastic Four seem to transcend themselves: Casey Stoner at Phillip Island, Valentino Rossi at Mugello, Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez. For Pedrosa, it is Sepang, and the Repsol Honda was flying around that track as if Hermann Tilke had designed the circuit with Pedrosa in mind. It was sublime, an aggressive yet delicate tango, Pedrosa seducing the bike to go around the track faster and faster. Sights like those remind even the most jaded observer of all that is great about motorcycle racing.

That Suzuki should be doing quite so well is not much of a surprise either: they have historically gone fast at the Malaysian circuit, the hot conditions compensating for the difficulty the GSV-R has traditionally had in getting heat into the tires and finding some grip. Alvaro Bautista is on a roll as well, the Spaniard putting in the best performances of his career over the past few races - if you are prepared to overlook the race crashes.

Despite the results, and despite the fact that John Hopkins has been added to the Rizla Suzuki squad as a wildcard at Sepang, there is still no word on Suzuki's plans for the future. This morning, the Crescent Suzuki team - the Rizla MotoGP squad's parent operation - announced they would be competing in the World Superbike series, and though no rider names were announced, it is widely expected that John Hopkins and Tommy Hill will take the start in 2012. There is still a deafening silence surrounding Suzuki's MotoGP plans, and with each passing hour, the outlook is growing successively worse. If Suzuki's plans do fall through, then LCR Honda is holding the seat for Alvaro Bautista, and unless Bautista hears from Suzuki before the end of Sunday night, he is odds-on favorite to take the plunge with Lucio Cecchinello. Given the pace the RC213V has shown in testing, that would not be such a bad idea.

Yesterday, I also mentioned that Scott Redding could be on the MotoGP grid next year, but it turns out that that deal is dead in the water as well. Ducati had offered the Desmosedici GP12 that would have gone to the Aspar team to Marc VDS Racing, Redding's current Moto2 team, but the conditions stipulated that Redding would have been placed inside the Pramac team as a second rider. Neither Redding nor the team had any interest in that deal, and so it too died a quiet death.

Things are not looking rosy at Ducati. Valentino Rossi is starting to express the first, tentative public criticism of the way that the GP12 is being developed. "I am no longer convinced that the road we have chosen is the right one," Rossi said to reporters at Sepang, as reported by GPOne.com. "We still haven't understood what the problem is."

At Phillip Island, Rossi had responded positively to suggestions from journalists that the problem may lie in the engine layout of the Desmosedici - an idea I discussed back in August. Rossi does not feel he has the right seating position on the bike, the tank position preventing him from positioning his body further forward and putting weight over the front wheel. Altering the tank is difficult, as the fuel has to go somewhere, and the 90 degree V used by the Ducati takes up a lot of physical space, leaving fewer options for relocating parts such as the fuel tank.

What is clear, Rossi told reporters, is that everything they have tried so far has not helped. Changing the front subframe, changing the material used to produce it from carbon fiber to aluminium, changing the rear swingarm mount, all this has made no difference to the lack of front-end feel, and Rossi is stuck down in 13th at the end of the first day of practice. He is the 5th fastest Ducati, with only Hector Barbera - still recovering from his injuries sustained at Motegi, and incapable of running more than four laps without a pain-killing injection - behind him. Even teammate Nicky Hayden is a lowly 11th, with Karel Abraham and Randy de Puniet ahead of him.

Valentino Rossi won here last year. With a shoulder that was still causing him problems. That was his last victory, with a winless season now a virtual certainty, the first of his career. There is reason to hope that things will be better next year - if not for the massive amount of work done by Ducati in the attempt to find a solution, then because of the different way the 1000s can be ridden, with much less emphasis on front-end grip - but it's been a long and very hard year on everyone at Ducati, not just on Valentino Rossi. His season is taking on shades of Marco Melandri's ill-fated season on the factory Ducati, but without the prospect of an early release from the contract.

In the Moto2 class, Marc Marquez showed the danger of remaining in Moto2, suffering a massive highside on his very first lap of the circuit. Turn 10 of the track was still soaking wet from the rain, and the marshals were not showing any flags to the riders to warn them of the danger, for which the circuit received a fine of 15,000 euros from Race Direction. Four men went down, and fortunately only Bradley Smith and Marc Marquez suffered any real injury. Smith fractured a collarbone, ruling himself out of the race on Sunday, while Marquez escaped with a bruised shoulder and a nasty knock to the head. The Spaniard was sent back to his hotel room with some painkillers to rest, in the hope he will be fit for Saturday and Sunday, and be able to continue his title chase. After losing 4 crucial points to Stefan Bradl at Phillip Island, when he was forced to start from the back of the grid and fight his way forward, Marquez was hoping to get off to a good start and pull back some points from the German, and take back the lead going into the final round at Valencia. That just got a lot more difficult.

The timesheets at the end of day one at Sepang are telling. This is a track at which the teams spent six days testing back in February prior to the start of the year, much as they have done every year, and so they have enough data on the track to fill every iPod Steve Jobs ever sold. They should know how to set up a bike to go around this track, despite everyone complaining of a lack of grip, as is often the case in the hot October weather.With that variable removed, the timesheet is a pretty good reflection of the state of MotoGP: Four factory Hondas sit at its head, the three Repsols followed by San Carlo's Marco Simoncelli; Hiroshi Aoyama on the satellite Honda follows, with the first Yamaha in 6th position, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards happy on the setting they found during the pre-season tests. Alvaro Bautista is 7th, the Suzuki thriving in the Malaysian heat as it always has done, and Randy de Puniet on a satellite Ducati is in 8th. That, in a nutshell, is a pretty good summary of the 2011 MotoGP season.

Comments

Now that it has come from the

Now that it has come from the horses mouth, perhaps the legend of Valentino's incredible development skills can finally be put to rest.

Unfortunately for the team, they have failed to achieve a solution and Rossi still appears to refuse to attempt to ride around the problems for results in the meantime. In all honesty, it may not be a lack of intent.. but in this case, a lack of ability.

Unfortunately for Valentino, his days of being gifted with a competitive and well supported bike throughout his career have turned around and bitten him hard. He obviously expects the bike to do certain things, and react in certain ways - and also expect the factory to respond when he speaks. For the first time in his career he is experiencing what *most* riders go through throughout their careers - inferior machinery, unable to compete effectively at the pointy end of the field without taking big risks, and no-one really listening to their requests.

Some riders come up through the ranks and show potential by riding around these issues and remaining competitive within the constraints of their machinery. It's not only a Stoner thing, there have been plenty of others before him.. he just seemed to do it better than most.

Valentino is at the other end of his career where he expects all of these things to be laid out for him, no doubt with a clear cut red carpet thoroughfare and grapes lining each side. Ducati can't offer what others can, and the grapes have definitely turned sour.

I used to idolise Valentino. His skill has been unmatched in recent memory (well.. not TOO recent..), and his career has definitely been a pleasure to witness it unfold.

But the last two years have also shown the egomanic side of his personality that is no doubt a by-product of being on top for so long, and having everything stacked in your favour to boot. Having that ripped out from underneath him, especially when they proclaimed to have all of the answers before throwing a leg over the bike must be truly humbling.

He has put both Lorenzo and Stoner through a lot over the last few years, and they are now paying him back in spades.

Having this much egg on your face on such a huge, public arena must be humbling to say the least. His aura has plummeted from the sky at a fast rate of knots, and just how deeply it ends up in the ground remains to be written.

My guess is that the first nails are being driven in as 2011 winds up. Sad way to go out if that's the case.

Total votes: 169

Well I think developing a

Well I think developing a bike and designing one are radically different. Throwing Rossi under the bus for a design that is showing week results and is really radically different then the framed machines with Delta Box/Spar frames isnt fair.

Hell go back to Honda or Yamaha and well see him on the rostrum. I bet he wouldnt win a race this year and IMO wont on the Ducati through the term of his contract... which is a shame

Total votes: 130

2 paragraphs and the yawns begin.

... From a person that has always slated Valentino Rossi on other sites from as early as 2008. Why are you being so polite because it is motomatters.com. Does it make it more valid?

Total votes: 157

i pity you, i stopped at the

i pity you, i stopped at the end of 1st ... :D

Total votes: 130

+1

.

Total votes: 117

I thought the yawn began with

I thought the yawn began with the first comment.Slating Valentino doesn't make you any more right.. One thing that seems to have been taken for granted is that the ducati is capable of being a great bike(needed against the honda), a prospect that has been tested way beyond the realms of normal development and been found not to be true .
Merely relying on Casey's comments that it is capable of winning every race is pure fantasy.. It's of course easy to remind everyone that Casey had more experience and time on the bike than anyone else and the frameless approach was in direct response to his requests, his team also had more experience on it and the entirety of ducatis development put solely behind one rider for 4 entire years and yet between them they couldn't muster even 30% worth of Casey's claims a rather large short fall, leading most folk to believe that perhaps they were slightly overstated.
Those claims also being in direct comparison to another ducati only.. Casey is doing the same thing on the honda that he did on the duke but has got twice the results this would also suggest that Casey's claims of a near perfect Ducati(in comparison to the honda at least) were some considerable distance from the reality....
Rossi and JB have proved countless times they have the ability to make a good bike great but always within the confines of a more conventional layout. Rather than them not making progress on the duke being seen as them having no idea the, large majority of data and results would suggest that it is actually the bike that is the problem and every other ducati rider and team apart from the fantasies of casey's will back that theory up in a heart beat most are doing so with their wallets this year...
There is one common denominator at Ducati the frameless layout, it is the only thing that hasn't been changed and the only real difference between the ducati and the bikes that work.. After all the data and results why is presiozi still refusing to even test a design that has been proven beyond all reproach to be the idea layout under the currrent regs??. I doubt we will ever see a design on the lines of presiozis ever win anything major it simply has too many weak points for it to leave the drawing board in the first place but that is a discussion for another time.
Ducati have a perfectly good engine the same brilliant suspension as every one else and the same tyres, they also know that a twin spar frame is easily the best, so what are they playing at?? For certain Presiozi refusing to even test a more conventional layout and indeed playing to the strengths of their team they are building it around is an odd one.
I reckon if they do make a more conventional layout and I'm expecting one at Valencia (anything else just seems so un-engineered), then the resultant immediate improvement that I expect will cast a lot of doubt on the actions of ducati and presiozi over the last few years and more than few riders and sponsors will be asking what the hell was Presioz playing at...
As for ducatis heritage according to presiozi they don't race a twin in motogp because it is not suited to the current regs, if that is the case why are you running a frame that isn't..??

Total votes: 152

The frameless design had

The frameless design had nothing to do with Stoner or Stoner's requests and you know it. It is ludicrous to suggest that Stoner would request such a design, or that he would request carbon fiber construction. He is a rider, not an engineer, and of course the same is true of Rossi, as he keeps reminding us.

And where did you get the idea that Preziosi is refusing to test a more conventional layout? It is widely reported that a conventional frame is being built.

As for anyone knowing that the twin spar is the best layout, well until this year they didn't did they? It wasn't until Rossi was unable to get to grips with the bike this year that some people starting pointing the finger of blame at the frameless layout.

Several years ago Ducati expressed the view that as a small company they couldn't beat the Japanese at their own game, they had to do something different. Hence the change to Bridgestones. It is Preziosi's job to be innovative. If the frameless concept and carbon fiber had worked we would all be calling Preziosi a genius. But with any new concept you don't know until you try. Sometimes when you try you fail. That's life. The trick is to pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and try again. Which is hopefully what Ducati is doing.

It is understandable that some Rossi fans want to absolve their hero of any blame, but even Burgess has recently been critical of Rossi's feedback. And the fact is that if Rossi had been able to adapt to the bike like Stoner did we wouldn't be having this discussion. It was, after all, Burgess who said that MotoGP was 20% bike and 80% rider. Of course that was easy to say when Rossi was winning. Now apparently it is all the bike's fault. Which is quite frankly complete BS.

And if the development of the Ducati has gone in the wrong direction this year, as Rossi is now suggesting, it is absurd to blame all that on Preziosi. Rossi is supposed to be the guy that provides such great feedback and direction to the team. The fact is that none of us know exactly was has gone on behind closed doors at Ducati. We can be sure there will be lots of finger pointing if this marriage ultimately fails. And we can be sure that a lot of people will want to pretend that Rossi is blameless. Which he most certainly isn't.

Total votes: 137

If Rossi had asked for a

If Rossi had asked for a stiffer chassis as sole development rider then continued to ok it as the way to go despite results going south for 3 years running you'd pretty much lay the entire blame at his feet..You have for Ducati but offer him zero credit for his long years work at both Honda and yam putting it all down to the engineers I have read the odd post till I got the jist.. You penchant for contradiction and baseless accusation is not lost on me and therefore the value of your rather aggressive and often poorly informed replies also...
Was never about blaming Casey for anything.. but it is no surprise either that you have completely missed the point, perhaps your should change your moniker to motogptitfortat.

Please delete as an when necessary David, it has to be said sometimes..

Total votes: 121

Wow, pity you can't read your

Wow, pity you can't read your own posts: "...the frameless approach was in direct response to his requests". No it wasn't, the frameless Ducati design had nothing to do with Stoner. It is a patented Ducati concept.

You are on some campaign to blame Preziosi for everything that's wrong at Ducati. The Preziosi design was a strong contender for the 2006 championship until Capirossi was taken out in an unfortunate accident, won the 2007 championship, and came second in 2008. The results on the 2009/10 version where not so good, but it wasn't until the debacle with Rossi this year that certain people suddenly decided that the Ducati was a dog. But before Rossi arrived the same people blamed Stoner for any problems with the bike. So when Stoner was there it was the rider, but now that Rossi is there it's the bike. Funny thing that!

And this also has nothing to do with what Rossi may have done in the past. This is about the situation at Ducati here and now. Burgess himself has just recently directly criticized Rossi's feedback. Rossi says that they have gone in the wrong direction. Are you really so naive as to think that it is all Preziosi's fault?

And I have stated very clearly previously, as you well know, that the fault lies with the entire Ducati team, from top management down. Your claim that I am attempting to lay the entire blame at Rossi's feet is complete nonsense. What I object to is the attempt to resolve Rossi of any blame whatsoever. Even Rossi himself has accepted some responsibility, as indeed he should. In fact, Rossi has generally dealt with the situation rather decently, considering how big a humiliation it has been for him. The problem is with some of his fans and their attempts to blame anyone and anything except their hero.

Total votes: 143

It depends if you can look at

It depends if you can look at the story without being rider biased.
This is also not "Smash.Net" or "Motorcycle-Olds" silly comments boards.

Lots of you make huge efforts (ad nauseum) to point out that Rossi is a fraud, recently or since ever, that he should be stoned to death on public square. Or that Casey should have a religion procession in its wake as some sort of recognition for his "feats" on the Ducati. Or vice-versa.
That's all unimportant, trully secondary to the matter, the brand, and the sport. The truth to be seen is that noone will ride that pig to the podium. The bike is simply not good, never was. Needs to be redesigned from scratch. Period.

Then there's this "David vs Golias" underdog thing going on which might sound epic and appealing to the punter but is worth absolutely nothing come race day.
The "doing different" is indeed very cool for a road bike. It can even make a nice romantic story for racing (Britten V1000 - another pig of a bike on the corners) but, at this moment, it's impossible to compete for victories in MotoGP without racing with a well thought, polished and trully effective engineering marvel. Like the ones the japanese have been showing in GPs through the years, and like Ducati hasn't delivered in almost a decade of participation.

Total votes: 104

Alu vs. CF?

Rossi said "What's certain is that our problem isn't related to what the chassis is built from. Aluminum or carbon fiber changes little."

Casey Stoner already told you so, you didn't listen did you?

"When we first use of carbon fiber, we already have an aluminum chassis, and it has been tested. Everyone seems to have a very bad opinion about the carbon fiber, but is actually much better than metal. We have been upgrading over the years, we encountered some problems last year, but it is the only season where we really have to fight. And, above all, even in the same season, at the end of the season we have a motor (competitive), it is my belief, has the potential to win every race. In my opinion, not a bad motor. And, somehow, the problem is not the use of carbon fiber, "said Stoner

Total votes: 113

Rossi might be getting a bit

Rossi might be getting a bit of a deserved "crossing the desert" moment after becoming filled with himself and arrogant in recent years, but to doubt of his skills/talent/cojones is a bit silly, if not underestimation.
He (and his riding style) does not fit the Ducati as it is projected at the moment, and that's it.

Troy Bayliss is one of the best riders of his generation (are there any doubts?) and he had huge problems adapting to the RCV211v during the whole 2005 season. It was clearly the best bike in every single season of the 990 era (any doubts here either?), even more so for satellite teams.
...many said it was the end of his career... Well, the rest is history.

Ducati have been in MotoGP for over 8 years and all they shown as certain, to the Ducatisti, as well as the general crowd, is that their bike, be it on 990 or 800 guise, was an absolute pig on the corners from day one, and still is to this day. Whatever engine config, chassis, or rider, and whatnot.
It's a shamefull representation of what was always one of their assets - legendary characteristic for decades - the cornering qualities and its confidence delivered to the rider!

It's up to the factories racing departments (Ducati Corse in this case) to make any changes as necessary to fit their top riders demands, even change projected paths and quit ideas that aren't working (and never will). Ducati hasn't made anything like that so far, only expensive "massage" atempts around a concept that clearly does not work for the current situation/rules of the class.
No longer the top speed makes up for the deficit of corner abilities, no longer tyres are tailored to fit each bike/rider specific demands.

Good historicall example for Ducati to follow would be of Eddie Lawson and the Cagiva 500 in the 1991/1992 seasons... the bike was pretty much remade for Lawson, then further developped. It payed up in the second season. (nostalgic strike again *sigh*)

Back to the drawing board, Ducati!

Total votes: 143

Bayliss's

And here I was thinking that Troy Bayliss's difficulty's were more akin to Tony Elias's......Tyres.
One thing I would like to see happen, but it wont, is that the Ducati is no longer available as a second tier teams bike. Too many careers have been ended prematurely.

Total votes: 131

GP12

I don't think it's enough to say that Ducati will be competitive next year, just because their front end issue *should* be alleviated in part by the engine making up for it in corner-speed grunt. That feels like it will be just a small-step towards reducing their current handicap towards the other manufacturers.

It seems like it's not taking into account that the Hondas and Yamahas (and Suzuki, as Bautista is currently showing) are going to carry-forward great bikes that can corner, into great bikes that can corner AND have 1000cc engines.

I just can't imagine that a 1000cc-engine-masked-problem of cornering will not be destroyed on track by bikes that are not limited in lean-angle and also have the same enhanced engine power as the 2012 ducati.

Part of me wishes that Hayden [I'm saying this as a fan] didn't have a 2-year contract with Ducati and would be on a satellite honda/yamaha next year, when the factory-satellite machinery difference will be at it's shallowest.

Total votes: 124

Nice if you can get it!

I must've heard and read it a thousand times and as much as my head says it can't and shouldn't happen, wouldn't it be nice if after a season of chronic mediocrity, even with a no-holds barred effort on a proven competitive machine, you had the options to walk away and worm your way into a factory honda ride?
As I see it, the GP12 is no further up the track than this years bike.

Total votes: 130

Ducati's engine layout

I'm sorry, has Preziosi not stipulated that the D16 engine is right in the middle of its adjustability range?
As for Rossi's recently declared "I've never been comfortable on the Ducati". Hell it's only 21 litres of fuel. I'm sure there's a myriad of options a clever designer could use to redistribute fuel and rider weight relatively easily.

The elephant in this room is the same that's been there all year, yet gets little mention by fawning journalists eager not to bite the hand that feeds them - the most adaptable rider in MotoGP history's inability to adapt to the Desmosedici. If he was head and shoulders the best Ducati rider then I think there would be more justification to questioning the machine. But Rossi is not. He's regularly out qualified by the other Ducati riders with his racing little better, and frankly their pedigree doesn't hold a candle to his - Hayden included.

That's not to say the Desmosedici doesn't remain a difficult machine which needs improvement, but if we're lead to believe the unguarded comment of Burgess to Beattie at P.I then Rossi is not giving the factory clarity of feedback.

This whole fiasco has been a classic Italian opera drama with lead roles and culpability of the parts of Ducati management, Corse, Burgess and primarily Rossi. There's a fat lady somewhere looking to bring down the curtain on this tragicomedy.

Total votes: 138

Pedrosa and Sepang - Nope!

Top article yet again, but I am not sure I agree with your thoughts on Pedrosa and his ability to fly at Sepang. Certainly not at the same level as Rossi/Mugello, Stoner/PI and Lorenzo/Jerez (to a lesser extent).

Dani has never won in MotoGP in Sepang unlike the complete domination Rossi and Stoner have achieved in 'their' respective territories. His only win at Sepang was in 2005 on a 250cc. His record at MotoGP/Sepang reads 2006 - 3rd, 2007 - 3rd, 2008 - 2nd, 2009 - 2nd and 2010 - Crashed in earlier race in Japan and didn't take part in Sepang.

In fact, the winners' list at Sepang since Dani came into MotoGP reads: Rossi (2010, 2008), Stoner (2009, 2007) and Capirossi (2006). Dani hasn't even been close to the ultimate winner with the worst being in a rain-filled 2009 when the entire field was handed an utter drubbing by Stoner who finished more than 14 seconds in front of Dani.

:-)

Total votes: 131

Agree with you about Pedrosa,

Agree with you about Pedrosa, there is no track that could be called a Pedrosa track, and certainly not Sepang. Pedrosa just seems to get everything right a few times each year at various tracks and blows everyone away. Unfortunately for him he just doesn't do it often enough.

Also, the Marquez crash had nothing to do with being in Moto2, despite what the article suggests ("the danger of remaining in Moto2"). A similar thing happened to the Honda MotoGP riders at Sachsenring. Marquez is more likely to hurt himself in MotoGP, especially in his first year.

Total votes: 126

Stoner is very strong at most

Stoner is very strong at most tracks, however there are two Stoner tracks I can think of: PI and Losail. Stoner took pole in Qatar his second ever MotoGP race in 2006 - Pole position for LCR against the factory might of Honda and Yamaha.

He may have won PI 5 on the trot, but he has won 4 out of the last 5 in Qatar as well - the only blemish was in 2010 where he couldn't ride around the front end problem and for the first time at Qatar - the dog box Ducati beat him (not other riders).

Total votes: 117

Pedrosa at Sepang

Pedrosa has always been unlucky at this circuit. Always been fast, but has often been riding injured here. But watching Pedrosa on Friday, he had clicked with the bike and the track, and it was a joy to watch. Whether he is this good at Sepang every year is one thing, but he was certainly stunning on Friday and Saturday.

Total votes: 114

Terrifying moment for Ducati

This has got to be a truly scary moment for Ducati, to realize (with little doubt) that they never truly had a championship-winning motorcycle during the 800 era. In 2007 The advantages of an excellent rider, massive top-speed edge and (most importantly) tires far superior to the Michelins covered up what is clearly a misguided development direction. Stoner rode incredibly in later years, but had little chance against more refined machines on the same tires with closer top speed potential. Then in 2010, Stoner's valiant attempt at conquering his rivals resulted in 5 DNF's (a TON at this level of competition) due to shoddy frontend feedback.

Now that a guy like Rossi is on board, someone who has less of a gung-ho approach and more of a "we should fix this, no?" mentality, the red machine's glaring flaws are more public than ever. Where this leaves Ducati's engineers is a not enviable, not in the slightest. They're essentially starting from scratch (or they need to), the entirety of the frameless GP7-11 program has lead down a blackhole and having to go back to the drawing board whilst facing serious, refined efforts from Honda and Yamaha has got to be the worst seat in the paddock. Good luck to them, they're gonna need it!

Total votes: 122

The Ducati "genious design"...

Not sure how many of you seen MotoGP bikes stripped, then compared them. The Ducati really looks handicapped in comparison, regarding adjustments:

- D16RR "trellis half frame": http://motoaus.com/images/stories/ducati2008/ducati-desmosedici-cad.jpg

- D16RR CF "frameless": http://www.ducatiblog.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ducati-desmosedici...

What strikes me in this recent genious "frameless" design (even more than with the old design) is, when the need comes, how can they effectively move the engine around for setup, during the race weekends, when the engine IS the frame.
The swingarm is rigidly attached to the engine cases (as always in the Ducati D16, non-adjustable), which has been considered as a pretty silly decision to embrace in GPs.
...I'm just another curious guy on the matter but, how can they change just one single parameter (for center of gravity or geometry, etc) without destroying a bunch of others?
I'm only guessing and I know very little, but I would say it's impossible.
And how can they even adjust "feel" by separating forces/vibrations of the rear wheel/swingarm from the forks?
...did they honestly expected the engine cases to do that work?

The engine is a big lump compared to all the other bikes in that grid (forever the big downside of 90º angle "V" or "L" shape engines on a bike). I can't see any space to move the tank (and other components) lower or further to the back (like all the other bikes there have now).
The old trellis "half frame" had the problem of the airbox size restrictions, but at least it had a positive role on the behaviour of the bike. I honestly don't buy the "faults in the welds between two similar bike frames" thing when we're dealing with the best trellis experts like Verlicchi and Pieorobon, that's total BS thrown at the media.

Come race weekend, the Ducatis are already beaten with the deficit of adjustment (not mentioning the rumoured problems for behaviour and rider feedback), which all the other bikes/riders have in advantage. Lack of "know-how" for such a different tech/design by the mechanics/crew can't be helping either.

Anyone wondered why the "deltabox" type frame was invented -and succeeded- in the first place? Or why the narrow "V" or inline cilinder engines are so dominant today?
...for sure it wasn't tradition or marketing reasons! :-)
The japs have vast experience in such tech, money and resources, and thought it all much better through the years afterall.

Total votes: 117

Always thus

..I'm just another curious guy on the matter but, how can they change just one single parameter (for center of gravity or geometry, etc) without destroying a bunch of others?

Ask anyone who has raced a Ducati and you get the same story : "change anything 1mm and everything has to change". How they managed to win all those WSBK titles on a bike where adjusting the chain changed the ride height, then changing the ride height changed the suspension geometry is a bit of a miracle. Partly explained by the fact they preferred changing the primary drive ratio rather than the sprockets!

It's also revealing: with the 999 they used a far more rational swingarm design, but then returned to the SSSA on the 1098 for marketing reasons...

On the other hand, I don't think the Honda has engine mount or swingarm pivot adjustment either...

Total votes: 127

Indeed, the SSSA of the

Indeed, the SSSA of the Ducati 748/916/996/998 had always that ludicrous problem for racing setup (848/1098/1198 as well?). Probably the main reason why Honda ditched their similar concept after the RVF/RC30/RC45 racebikes.

If you notice, every Ducati superbike model after the 851/888 had the swingarm (either SSSA or DSSA) attached to the trellis frame, not just to the engine (and granted, non-adjustable pivot). That's one thing that made a strange impression when the Desmosedici project was announced in '02, by having it attached to the engine only, "a-la 851/888" (still to this day).
Hopefully this old pic can ilustrate: http://download.ultradownloads.uol.com.br/wallpaper/61081_Papel-de-Pared...

I can only remember the early noughties Honda CBR 929RR and 954RR Fireblade with the swingarm like that (attached to the engine only) but that's a road bike. I don't recall any modern japanese race bike using that. ...makes one wonder, no?
Every MotoGP bike -excluding the Ducati- has had the swingarm attached to the frame (all use the twin-spar "deltabox" type) and never to the engine.
One of the considerable advantages is indeed being able to have a swingarm pivot system, itself an important extra to play around with the bike geometry (and COG) for racing setup.

- The 990cc era Honda RCV211v didn't have swingarm pivot adjustment, but (I think?) the 800cc RCV212v has that since 2007.
Some pics to digest (check third pic from top):
http://www.zeropiston.com/honda-repsol-rcv-212v-motogp-2011/#more-160

- The Yamaha M1 has swingarm pivot adjustment. Seems to me it's even horizontally adjustable (not just vertically):
http://www.ultimatemotorcycling.com/files/2009-Ben-Spies-MotoGP-Wallpape...

- The Suzuki GSVR, I'm not completely sure but I would think it too has swingarm pivot adjustment(?):
http://bikerscafeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/2011_Rizla_Suzuki_G...

- The Kawasaki ZXRR had swingarm pivot adjustment:
http://image.sportrider.com/f/10279168/146_0805_03_z+kawasaki_ZX-RR_800+...

- The old Aprilia RS3 also had swingarm pivot adjustment:
http://image.motorcyclistonline.com/f/8557607/122_0401_Apriliaexcl_12z+A...

- Most of the Moto2 racebikes seem to have it too(?):
http://www.hondaproracing.com/moto2/machines/

...which means that even the CRT bikes next year could have that advantage over the Ducati! HEH

(EDIT: added pics)

Total votes: 129

My soap-box topic...

... is the Ducati frame-swingarm connection :-D

For a modern race-bike, only one I'm aware of: the twin-crank NSR250 Honda of 1998: the one that was infamously slower than the customer RS250; it was replaced by a regular frame in 1999.

That said, IF the cases and the swingarm pivot are sufficiently strong, it should make no difference to the dynamics... but on the VTR1000, the cases were not sufficiently strong for race use. And given the leverage issues, it should be easier to be stiff enough with the external pivot.

Re swingarm pivots, I knew the NSR and the RCV211 didn't have adjustment, wasn't sure about the 212... so there you go, thanks :). However even without adjustment, if the pivot doesn't run through the cases then the rules don't stop you making a new frame. However changing the pivot position in the cases is not only a major fabrication issue, but costs you in terms of engine allocation. It also makes taking the motor out of the frame a PITA!

Total votes: 121

HEH... I saw somewhere in the

HEH... I saw somewhere in the web a (actually funny) picture taken inside one of the Ducati teams pitbox, of a dismantled Desmosedici GP11 on a bench... rear wheel attached to swing arm to one side, front wheel attached to forks to another side, then the tank, fairings and a bunch of parts dropped around those. (sadly, I can't find that picture!)
It seems the whole thing has to come completely apart if simply taking the engine out for whatever reasons(!). Couldn't help but chuckle.

I bet the mechanics/crew of Casey would slip a laugh when looking at it (or to mechanics of Rossi/Burgess). I can even imagine something along the lines of "Yeah, feel the pain, fools!" complemented with "Aaah... life is so easy now!" :-D

Total votes: 118

Even more striking

How is it that nobody came up with those questions in the past 3 or 4 seasons where the exact same concepts have been used?

For some reason, at that time these concepts were not questioned at all by the fans whereas now everyone ans their dog have an opinion on Preziosi's talent as an engineer.

For some reason, at that time it was the riders who got the blame, especially Stoner for falling so often and being unable to score more then 3 or 4 wins a year this past couple seasons and failing miserably to bring decent results by only finishing 4th in the championship.

This season Hayden is typically slower than the year before and a little bit behind compared to last year in the championship (2010 7th with 152 points, 2011 8th with 132 points).
But the biggest difference for Ducati is that last year they had a rider 62 points in front of Hayden, this year their number one rider is merely 7 points ahead of Hayden.

Total votes: 118

Hasn't this season been relegated to testing status?

Ducati should put a small tank and revised tailsection on for some practice sessions and see if that improves the situation. Real cheap test and easy to do. If it does make a positive change then concentrate on designing next year's bike with a more forward rider position. If not then find something else to test.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 121

Questions still remain ...

Why is:
Pedrosa so inconsistent?
Why has Hayden gone so far backwards?
Why did anyone think that cutting testing time for riders was ever going to be a good thing?
Why do people get so worked up over rider X vs rider Y?

Total votes: 119

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

GTranslate