2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 3 Round Up: Marquez' Consistency, Lorenzo's Speed, And Ducati's Open Dilemma

On Thursday, the riders opted almost unanimously to go out first thing in the morning. It was a wise choice, conditions proving ideal to see the fastest ever lap around the circuit set, beating Casey Stoner's time from 2011. The name of the rider that took Stoner's record from him? Marc Marquez, the man brought in by Honda to replace the departing Australian.

Marquez' time was impressive, but he was not the only man to get under the two minute mark. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and the continually surprising Aleix Espargaro also cracked the barrier, though none were quite capable of getting under Stoner's old record. The first 30 minutes of testing had produced a scintillating start to the day, whetting the appetite of all in the paddock for more.

While Marquez' time is without doubt a fantastic lap, perhaps the most impressive time was set by Jorge Lorenzo. His fastest time, and the fastest time of the test up until that point, was set on his first flying lap of the day. It was, if you like, a simulation of the start of the race: firing off the line from pit lane exit, getting up to speed immediately, and then going on to set a lap record. Normal fare for Lorenzo, whose flying starts have become something of a trademark. What made it truly incredible was the fact that this was done on new tires, on his very first laps of the day. On race day, Lorenzo has the morning warm up to get up to speed, but not today. Fast straight out of the starting blocks, then following it up with another 1'59.9. If you ever needed proof of Lorenzo's metronomic ability, this was surely it.

While Lorenzo excels at starts, they were Marc Marquez' weakest point last season. Marquez spent a lot of time practicing his starts, firing out of pit lane at every opportunity. His other weak point was consistency, but that is something he appears to have conquered. Towards the end of the day, the Repsol Honda rider started a race simulation. He ran for 19 laps – one lap shy of full race distance – 16 of which were low two-minute laps, and one of which was a 1'59. To put that into perspective, he was on average over a second of a lap quicker than last year's race winner Dani Pedrosa, who took victory last October in convincing fashion.

It isn't just compared to last year that Marquez was fast. His average lap time during the run was 2'00.531, seven tenths faster than the man with the second-fastest race simulation, Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. Marquez was on average eight tenths quicker than Valentino Rossi's long run, and a second quicker than Andrea Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro, the two men who were the surprise of the last day of testing.

Was Jorge Lorenzo capable of matching Marquez' pace? We will not know after this test. Lorenzo went out to start his race simulation, but abandoned it after just five laps. A vibration in the tire and deteriorating lap times forced him to give up. His pace in the first three laps had been around 2'00.8, the only man within shouting distance of Marquez. He was disappointed not to have run a race simulation, but felt confident of being close to Marquez when it counted.

It had been a tough day all round for Lorenzo, the Spaniard encountering a series of problems all day. Lorenzo's team boss Wilco Zeelenberg joked that it had been a very good test, as they had found a bunch of problems they wouldn't have to deal with at the next test in three weeks time.

For Lorenzo's teammate Valentino Rossi, things had gone much better. He had worked well with his new crew chief Silvano Galbusera, and the atmosphere in the team was good. He told reporters he had worked on changing his riding style on the winter, and that it had paid off. The idea was not to stress the edge of the tires, he said, and having a year of experience back on the Yamaha, he was no longer at the limit and able to concentrate on adapting his style.

That had gone well in terms of the time attack, but will it be just as successful in the race? Comparing his race simulation to Marc Marquez, he is eight tenths of a second slower. He did his race run in the heat of the day, though, not in the cooler late afternoon. Whether the temperature difference is worth eight tenths of a second is hard to say.

A surprising name at the front was that of Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati. Both Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow agreed that the changes made to the bike had made a much bigger difference than they at first anticipated. Crutchlow said it was easier to push the bike into the corners without risking the front end folding. In his stints on the GP13, Crutchlow had crashed the bike twice. Despite going faster on the GP14, he had not had a single crash. Dovizioso was quick to add that the bike still has understeer and is too aggressive on corner exit, but the series of mystery front-end crashes which plagued all Ducati riders since 2009 appears to be at an end.

Dovizioso's fast lap in the morning had been noteworthy in itself. His lap of 2'00.370 is the fastest a Ducati has ever been around the Sepang circuit, and he had set the lap on his own, he told reporters. More significant is his race run, though, his pace comparable just a couple of tenths of that of Rossi. Last year, the Ducatis were three quarters of a second off the pace of the Yamahas, so cutting it to just a couple of tenths is a sign of real progress.

The star of the show – and perhaps an influence on the future direction of Ducati in MotoGP – was Aleix Espargaro. The NGM Forward rider was consistently fast, both in outright terms and in his race pace, though he did not manage to do a full run. Espargaro had expected to run into problems in the last seven laps or so of a race, but his race run had lasted only ten laps. The elder Espargaro brother feared that the softer rear Bridgestone would start to have problems towards the end of the race, though several mechanics disagreed. We will have to wait until the second Sepang test to see, where Aleix will take another shot at a race simulation.

So where is the Open class Yamaha FTR making up for the loss of the custom software which the Factory Option entries can run? The softer rear tire helps, and is probably worth three or four tenths of a second. Having more fuel also helps, as the bike can be run richer to give a better throttle response at partial openings. But clearly, a lot of the difference is in Aleix Espargaro himself. When asked whether the performance of the Open class Yamaha had changed their judgment about the category, Honda team boss Livio Suppo, Ducati Corse chief Gigi Dall'Igna and Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio all pointed to the rider. A lot of the performance comes from the talent of Aleix Espargaro himself, they agreed.

In a press briefing with Shuhei Nakamoto, Livio Suppo was quick to leap to the defense of Honda's RCV1000R Open class racer by pointing to the position of the second Yamaha FTR. Only Espargaro's bike was quicker than their machine, he emphasized, with Colin Edwards ending the day behind Nicky Hayden on the Aspar RCV1000R. This test has dramatically raised the stock of Aleix Espargaro. With contracts all up for negotiation this summer, the young Spaniard's telephone is likely to be very busy indeed.

Espargaro certainly got everyone talking about the Open class machines. Their potential is clearly much higher than expected, helped no doubt by more fuel, and especially by the soft rear tire. This is an advantage they will keep for the rest of the season, as Bridgestone confirmed directly after the test that they would continue to supply a softer option for the Open entries.

The question is, of course, will the success of Aleix influence the decisions of other factories. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna would not be drawn, saying that he needed time to go through the results of the test and analyze the data before making a decision. Though he acknowledged that the rules made it hard to make the progress needed as a Factory Option entry, he insisted no decision had been made.

The problem, he said, was that the freeze on engine development for the Factory Option bikes meant that even minor changes such as relocating engine mounting points to modify frame flex were not possible. Without first looking at the data of the tests and the first three races, he believed he would not have sufficient data to understand what he needs to change on the Desmosedici. The trouble is, there is a deadline of 28th February by which time the decision must be communicated to IRTA. Dall'Igna did say that he may consider switching just one of the factory riders to the Open category, rather than both.

He faced questioning over the core problem of the Desmosedici. Here, too, he said he needed more time to study the data. He denied the issue was the engine, saying that it was far more complex. 'It is not one problem, it is maybe twenty, thirty problems,' Dall'Igna said. Fixing them would take time, and careful analysis.

He had already got to work on the organization, he said. Sweeping changes had been made, the most significant involving improving the communication between the race team and the engineers in the factory. He would like to put a system of rotating engineers in and out of the race team in place, he said, having them spend one weekend at the race track, then a week at the factory. More changes would be coming in that respect, as he got to know the people involved. Communication, the Italian emphasized, was absolutely key, and the first step in improving the bike. No staff had been fired, and only one new engineer hired, Dall'Igna confident that the staff already in Ducati Corse were up to the task of tackling the problems, once the organization problems had been dealt with.

Will Ducati go Open? From an outside perspective, it seems like a no-brainer, but there may be other factors at play which neutral observers are not aware of. If Dall'Igna gave any hint at all, it was when he inisted that 'we need to develop the bike, this is what will influence the decision.' A decision will be made ahead of the second Sepang test at the end of February. But not before then.

Suzuki, on the other hand, have no current intention to enter the Open class. For the moment, they are testing with the Magneti Marelli hardware, and their own software. The problem was, team boss Davide Brivio explained, that the job of porting the software to the new system was only about half done, with the complete package expected to be complete by the start of the second test. That left test riders Randy De Puniet and Nobu Aoki struggling with poor engine response, making it difficult to test properly. It had been a calculated risk, the Suzuki boss said, but one worth taking nonetheless.

Clearly, the Open class is a big deal, and there will be more to come at Sepang 2. The situation is evolving fast, and news is likely to keep emerging all the way to the beginning of the season. To help explain the precise differences between the two classes, we will be publishing an analysis of the new rules package in the next few days. Keep your eyes peeled.

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I wish Yamaha would let them at least have one day on 24L and the MM software to see the difference but it doesn't look like Honda or Yamaha are keen to waste that kind of time on a test. They will analyze their Open class bikes for these things.

Rossi has done well and had better continue. Contracts will be up and Aleix on the factory Yamaha team would work and hopefully give Yamaha a rider to counter Marquez in the future. Will be the greatest silly season ever. Nakamoto has already publicly stated he'll be going after Lorenzo.....

I think an equally relevant question is how well would Aliex go on a factory M1?

I'd rather like to see Pol and Bradley on late 2013 M1s but with the spec software and extra fuel.

They'll already know what the difference in the fuelling makes. They can run the engine at the optimal level anytime the feel like it. The question mark at the end of last year was how useful, or not, the spec software inside the ECU would be.

I think Espargaro has demonstrated it works rather well. The Tech 3 guys might be curious enough now to want to test it but the satellite teams are rather restricted in what they can and can't do with their machines. So, would Yamaha let them?

It's encouraging to see some of Rossi's braking issues being alleviated and instilling some confidence after a season of frustrating results. If VR46 is able to run close with JL, I don't see how he can counter Rossi's vicious dogfight tactics if they're evenly matched. Catalunya '09 seems like ages ago, but were the playing field to be level in that fashion, and that kind of evenly matched pace to occur during any race this season, I don't doubt that Rossi would throw caution and team spirit to the wind and go for broke. It's strange that Burgess' departure corresponds with a sudden solution, though it's too early to say, or if Yamaha has realized that prepping a bike that suits VR's style may prove more effective across a wider range of available riders instead of Lorenzo's gifted and inimitable style that neither Crutchlow, Rossi, nor Spies could match. Maybe the Yams are finally pulling their eggs out of that metronomic basket.

While Livio Suppo’s defence is predictable, the argument that the difference is the Espargaro factor, and hence can be dismissed, is illogical spin.

Is he suggesting that the RCV1000R would be as fast with better riders?

Is he suggesting that the gap from Espargaro to the factory bikes would be larger if the factory riders were faster?

Is he suggesting that Colin Edwards (with all due respect to the elder statesman of the grid) is indicative of the FTR’s true potential?

This sounds suspiciously like ‘fingers-in-the-ears-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-la-la-la-look-over-there’ corporate BS.

The facts are that Espargaro is demonstrating the potential of the FTR-Open package, in the hands of a competitive rider.

Unless Honda have decided that all of the RCV1000R riders are uncompetitive, then it should be pretty clear that they have a problem with their bike.

I know people here are very fond of Nicky, but really, is there anything to indicate he is anywhere near Espargaro's level? Yes he won a championship and deservedly so, but after that he's never shown anything to suggest that championship wasn't a bit of a fluke.

Well, he was rather competitive with Dovi last year, and we know that Dovi is fast. I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean that he is or isn't competitive with Aleix, because we don't really know how Aleix compares to Dovi, but if I had make a very unscientific guess, I would put Dovi and Aleix around the same level.

The only problem with that is Nicky's basically on par with Cal and Dovi. So if what you're saying holds, Aleix would basically wax all three of them. Not saying he wouldn't, but if so, that basically means he's on par with MM JL DP and VR.

dovi/cal/hayden all seem to be about on par currently.
What I was trying to say is that Nicky has still got some pizzazz left if he was able to consistently battle with dovi all last year, so Nicky is about on par with dovi, and I was guessing that Aleix is on par with dovi as well. So (roughly) Nicky = dovi and dovi = Aleix so therefore Nicky also = Aleix.
I wasn't trying to imply that Aleix is up there with the aliens, but who knows ... Aleix hasn't been on very similar equipment to anyone we are comparing him to so it is all speculation, which is fine because speculating is exactly what we are here to do.
Pardon the run on sentences and cheers to an eventful first test!

It was a truly snide, passive aggressive jab at his own customers. Honda is getting a little too big for its britches

The only class that matters is winning the MOTOGP world championship, so you would be foolish to make any decision that made that less possible. And that covers ALL of the teams, and I think thats what Livio wants, then he can drop the factory option and just have open class racing.

I'd like to point out some people that have been a bit under the radar this test. Though clearly overshadowed by his brother, Pol Espargaro has done very well throughout the days. Shadowing his teammate and occasionally beating him is all you can expect from a rookie. He looks good on the bike too.

Stefan Bradl has always been fast but it looks like he has found some consistency too now, which he was lacking last year. Could be a more regular podium contender next year.

Also, Andrea Iannone. Pounding in the laps and also being consistent. This could be a very close year throughout the field, all things considered. I am absolutely certain Honda will improve the RCV1000R (in reality it isn't even that far off the FTR-Yamaha, just far off the man of the moment A. Espargaro).

So even if Marquez just disappears on the horizon, this year should be anything but boring.

Regardless of the few 10ths that the Open bikes can thank the softer rear, concerns that that tire is likely to not go race distance, that this is "just testing," and a half dozen other things it remains that a new Open class bike was able to RIGHT AWAY take a rider into alien territory, and that A.Espargaro was able to reach alien territory. This is wonderfully amazing to me. Little reason to discount it.
Thank you everyone for the great comments on Motomatters, best community outside of the track.

Actually, this is a really great point. Its reassuring that even if the formula changes to this Open concept, the control ECU or whatever is now proven to be bloody quick, in the right hands. Basically the argument that the manufacturers need their own stuff to be on the cutting edge of speed is bullshit, Aleix is in spitting distance of the fastest ever lap on the software that a lot of people in the paddock would like to discredit completely.

2015, and Honda leaving the series entirely can't come quick enough. Just imagine if MotoGP had the parity that Moto2 has.

To me it is obvious that the production Honda is the problem and not the rider. This same rider was usually swapping paint with Dovi all of last year and yet Dovi and the Duc which everyone acknowledges is a certified turd, is now over a full second ahead of the fastest rider on the rcv1000r. Anyone here actually think Nicky would not be up there with Dovi if he was still on the same bike?

Dovi is on the GP14, which both he and Crutchlow have said feels far better than the outgoing GP13 (which they are also testing at Sepang). To bear witness to the improvements with the GP14, Dovi has set the fastest ever Ducati lap at Sepang - yes, faster than Stoner ever rode a Duc there.

All of this is in the article.

You are omitting 3 years of ducati development. Imagine stoner on the gp14 during this test, maybe not p1, but fastest duc by far.

Nakamoto San seems to imply that the bike will get faster the more Nicky rides it!

I think Nakamoto is suggesting Nicky change the way he rides the bike. Granted, but I'm not sure the Honda test riders are fast enough to discern the difference between the two Honda bikes.

hayden > aleix using the desmo(pramac)
hayden (dog gp13) > aleix (great handling ART)

the FTR M1 > rcv1000r

aleix is good on a good bike. fact.

as a rider, nicky is still better(race) than aleix/colin

Hayden and Aleix were never teammates. Hayden was teammates with Stoner on the works Duc. Stoner dusted Hayden off. Aleix was teammates with Mika Kallio whom he beat on the non factory Pramac. He also beat RDP convincingly over the last 2 seasons in both qualifying and points. What teammate has Hayden ever beat? (beside rookie pedrosa?). Hayden is a good rider, but always slower than his teammate over a season whether its Stoner, Pedrosa, Rossi or Dovi.
Pedrosa could run close and occasionally beat Stoner. Hayden could never even come close.

Wait... what has Kallio and dePuniet done compared to Stoner, Pedrosa, Rossi, or Dovi? Not quite sure how being faster than the former is any achievment over being slower than the latter.

Someone above seems to forget Stoner was riding a 800cc Ducati. So you give Dovisiso a 1000 cc and he's faster??? You gotta be kidding me. Who'd a thought.

Dovisiso had a Factory Honda and he was SLOW. back in '11 compared to Stoner or Pedrosa. A regular mid field rider if there ever was one.

Aleix Espargaro is lucky to have survived his stay at Pramac Ducati in 2010. That bike nearly ruined his career in MOTOGP. Put him on the other Yamaha asap. Won't happen this year, but.........at least he'd give Lorenzo some competition inside the team. Definitly not a mid field rider if given a factory bike.

Dovi is faster than stoner. What was being expressed is that the current ducati is faster than previous ducatis.

I don't consider dovi slow or mid field. He has more podiums, poles and fastest laps than the average guy in motogp. He even won a race.

I will agree that aleix seems to have something special though. I wouldn't bet it is the same kind of special that the aliens have, but who knows.

He didn't do that bad in 2011 - 7 podiums, 3rd in the championship (behind Stoner and Lorenzo) and beat his team mate Pedrosa. Sure DP26 was injured for a few races mid-season, but Dovi was pretty much top 5 every race. Not what I'd call mid-table for sure. You don't win a 125cc world champ and keep on the coat-tails of Lorenzo's Aprilia 250 on an underpowered Honda if you're a slow rider...

David IMO I think it is a little early to say that the front end folds are a thing of the past. In 2009 and 10 CS27 could go all weekend without a fold until the race, and then crash when required to really push, or make a slight change to his ideal corner entry. Dovi and Cal are still too far off the pace to know what will happen in a race. Not saying the gap hasn't narrowed or that there isn't some progress. But both riders stressed understeer still present.

Having said all that, I love your work. I will pull my wallet out of my tight arse fitting jeans and put my money where my mouth is.

the spec ecu hasen't proven anything...the 24 lt fuel though has...yamaha is practically last years satelite engine with 24 lt fuel...

lack of fuel in factory bikes create tremendous problems with heat,brakes and eventually frame and set up...

the fact that they can produce these lap times and be consistent is just amazing...

Like mentioned before it remains to be seen if those softs will last the race. Now it looks like Aleix was using qualifiers while the others (factory) had regular race tires. So without knowing how good/lasting the soft tire for the Open class is it is indeed all speculation about the significance of Aleix' laptimes.
The additional 4 litres of fuel will also bother the Open class bikes at the start of the race. How much fuel was in his bike when he made those fast laps? Questions, Questions...

How can a straight comparison be made when Aleix and all his motivation come from a bike that handled much like the one he is now riding while the 69 came from the trail 90 of race bikes?

Rossi even claimed that he took a season to lose the Duc hangover but another former world champ isn't afforded similar time and scrutiny? Even if Colin and Nicky traded bike right now the results wouldn't be clear and I laugh at the Honda boss' position that he thought they (open) were bikes to sell?

That is really the only issue here and now. Will Ducati go 'open'. They may aswell.
It's not like they are going to win 'fullblown factory' within the ambit of current GP format. Hell! They may well be well placed to take Aleix's ex CRT podium revelries week in and week and out.
And yeah, shedman, 10 out of 10 re Dovi. It's amazing that this bloke garner's such few accolades given his acumen and commitment. Nevermind. Like last year coupled to a quick switch to Ducati, he will see off Iannone, Crutchlow and the rest. It would be nice for Ducati to go 'open' really.
Concerning post race. What exactly is Dorna Sports plan? The 3 winners and the winningest inferior kitted rider in the box post race? Please do tell David.
Due respect to the CRT blokes and Aleix in particular, but really. The general MGP viewing public would not know what that was all about if the visuals post race shot them in the foot.
It's much like the #1 plate. Dammit Marc. You may win many more titles but what happened ? Some 8 year old is gonna ask his 'old man' one day, 'Why do they make such a fuss about the bloke who came 93rd and the other one who came 46th. Kudos to those #1 mill stone carriers.
Just a minor rant. Look forward to Sepang 2. George to smoke 'em I guess and lay foundations for 3rd title. The rest is in Yamaha's and fate's hands. Sepang 2 probably piss down wih rain, nature of the place.

Ok, so Rossi is crediting himself for his fast times in the Sepang test - that he changed his riding style over the winter to stress the front tyre less and this has let him have better feel in the front end. Well done Vale, only it took you 2 failed years at Ducati where you refused to change riding style - as was well publicised that Jeremy Burgess himself advised you to, to help with riding the Ducati - led Ducati up a garden path of expensive development to no gain, then after quitting Ducati in a huff and pleading with Yamaha to take him back, a year later sacked Burgess after a year of coming 4th, again refusing to change riding style to adapt to what has become Jorge's M1. so *then* after screwing Ducati, and Burgess, you decide to change your riding style over the winter and credit yourself for the fast times? What does this tell you about the mindset of Rossi ?

Make up your own minds.

Yeah, sorry, I know there are a lot of Rossi fans on here. But I am not one of them :)

Nakamoto may be right, but so, probably, is Nicky. Hayden has his helmet design to confirm his understanding of that. If he says the bike is underpowered, after his years of diplomacy at Ducati, I doubt that he is that far from the truth. Set-up and the way it needs to be ridden are factors, but not the whole story.

The same sorts of issues apply to Ducati/Rossi. Being a fan of one rider or a particular manufacturer is fine. However, to say the rider is responsible for the technical direction of a bike belies the reality. Riders give feedback. Their crew chief will relay relevant suggestions to the engineers responsible for designing whatever component the rider and crew chief agree needs consideration. The engineers/team technical director decides whether to factor those observations into their current or future work. And budgets. There has been enough written here and elsewhere to confirm the known facts or educated guesses around Rossi/Burgess/Preziosi. What is clear is that the race team's suggestions were not adopted for reasons of cost, time, or credibility. The results speak for themselves. To attempt to blame Rossi or Burgess for the problems of the Ducati is to ignore the known facts and probabilities, before, during, and since the 'Rossi period'. Dall'igna's actions will speak for themselves. No-one will say that whatever results from the current reviews and trials is anything other than a Dall'igna bike. It will not be a Dovi/Crutchlow bike. The same should be said of the Preziosi machine. The results have, and will, speak for themselves.
Stoner was a great rider. The reason he left Ducati seems fairly clear - he may well have been 'mistreated', but he's a racer and if he felt the bike was so great he probably would have stayed. But he is lauded for being able to ride whatever he was given. Was that the rider or the bike that was great? It seems perverse to say that Stoner's ability is what made, or revealed, the Ducati as a 'great' bike and Preziosi as a visionary engineer, but to say that Rossi's latest times are the bike and not him. The truth is probably a combination of Nakamoto/Nicky's views, as Rossi himself said about the latest M1.
Did things really change that much, and so quickly, between Stoner's departure and Rossi's arrival? No; there are half a dozen riders who have failed to influence Ducati, and their action over Melandri, and Stoner during his illness, speaks volumes of the prevailing culture. That continued during the Rossi period. Yes, things changed, but Burgess said the difference between Ducati and the Japanese teams was the pace and rate of change and determination to find engineering solutions to riders feedback.
The departure of Preziosi was the first step in creating a racing department that builds what it needs, not runs what it brings. I hope Dall'igna's skills, both management and technical, can overcome the problems of the Ducati. He will never be allowed to say, publicly, that Burgess or Rossi were right. The results (including the technical solutions he uses) will speak for themselves. Ducati's Reset button is a lot bigger than Nicky's.
Nakamoto probably knows where the reset button on the Dorna/ECU issue is already and will use it when it suits him. That's the difference between blind faith and strategy.

Motomann asks: "Did things really change that much, and so quickly, between Stoner's departure and Rossi's arrival (at Ducati)? "

By all reports, yes they did. A great deal in fact.

In the Rossi years at Ducati, the Italian company made more chassis changes than in the preceding four years. However, while they changed the chassis design and materials, they appear to have learned nothing about correct chassis geometry - steering rake, trail, steerng head height, distance from swing-arm pivot to steering axis, swing-arm pivot height in relation to gearbox output sprocket, rear axle height in relation to swing-arm pivot height, and swing-arm length.

And clearly Rossi had no idea about that either.

knowing how to ride a Motogp bike at the sharp end for longer than anyone in recent history, plus winning more races and titles than anyone in recent history, run a global company which earns a small fortune, stay anorexic to keep weight down due to absurd rules to benefit manufacturers (one in particular). plus, plus, plus..... now Rossi needs to know how to design the Ducati as well?

I'm sure no one who isn't slightly tarnished with the Aust/Amer Rossi hate brush, expects that Rossi should have known how to implement design ideas at Ducati-I'm sure Rossi expected that his (and his teams) feedback would be correctly interpreted and the changes would have come in time to make a difference-clearly this did not happen-rules didn't help much either. The Ducati saga has and will always be the detractors focus, something which they cling to and promote as Rossi continues to prove what an extraordinary rider he is.

Personally I'm in awe that this guy can still pull off these times, his closest competitors are more than 7 years his junior--no matter how good the bike is/isn't, in this over regulated age it is true testament of his spirit and talent-something for which we will not see again for a long while-if ever.

Sorry Baron, I don't think so. Perhaps the views of certain people were and are different over what they were or needed to do, but by no means were 'all reports' saying that.

I'm also a little surprised that you seem to imply that not only does a rider now ride and design the bike, he is also expected to build it.(I'm sure you don't, but it does read a little like that.)

That list of those things you think are the Ducati's problems have definitely been adjusted, along with a few others - except the key ones that require the crankcases to be redesigned. Geometry is part one of a complex chassis design dynamic, though.

Burgess is not one to misinform or waffle, and if says that Ducati were snail-like in their development and willingness to change in comparison to the Japanese, I have some faith in that, and results support what he said (and they gave up and left). Ducati changed the geometry, yes; but the inference is that top teams would have brought several variations of material specification of that geometry to see which one the rider preferred. And within a season I suspect the crankcases would have been sorted too. I think that's the reason Rossi up and left - he could see that the rate of change just wasn't good enough for a world championship MGP team. Good; but not good enough.

As I said, we just need to wait and see what happens under Dall'Igna - it's results that count.