Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: Ducati’s winning secret is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Ducati’s winning secret

It’s going to be a weird weekend for Cal Crutchlow. He will be contesting the Indianapolis GP for Monster Yamaha but I suspect that journalists at his daily media debriefs will only be interested in asking him questions about the bike he’ll be riding next year.

If this was Formula 1, his team PR would probably commence each debrief with the words, “Please, ladies and gentleman, we’d appreciate it if you only asked questions relating to Cal’s performance on track this weekend. Thank you for your understanding…”

Or maybe MotoGP has already stooped to these levels and journalists will be told to do just that at Indy. I hope not. Crutchlow always likes to speak his mind and it will be a sad day if he does get muzzled. In fact I’d like to see anyone try to put a sock in his mouth because, like most top racers, he doesn’t respond very well to being told what to do.

There’s been a lot of talk over the last week or so suggesting that Crutchlow is doing the wrong thing by going to Ducati because he’s doing it for the money. Well, of course, that’s got to be a major factor in his decision. How could it not be? Back in the summer of 1992 I asked Kevin Schwantz what was most important to him: winning the world title or earning big money. He chose the money (and then he went and won the title the next year anyway).

If this attitude seems wrong, consider these wise words from three-time 500 World Champion King Kenny Roberts: “ten cents and a World Championship won’t buy you a cup of coffee”.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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"Therefore Crutchlow must have some hope that the GP14 will be a substantial improvement over the GP13 which suffers from exactly the same problems as the GP7, GP8, GP9, GP10, GP11 and GP12: crazy understeer and suspension pump on corner exits."

That is a heap of years there to have the same problems.

from his interview on motogp may be a step forward. But how far forward wont know till end of season testing.

From Cal Crutchlow's side there were no factory rides available other than Ducati and neither Yamaha nor Honda could/would come up with a pay/equipment package to make a satellite ride attractive.

And on the Ducati side they were desperate for a fast, high-profile rider and Cal was probably the best one available.

Between these two gravitational forces pulling toward each other it would have taken a miracle for the Crutchlow/Ducati deal not to have happened. As Mr. Emmett's article a few days ago noted, most of the bargaining power was on Crutchlow's side so there's a good chance he got both a good pay check and an escape clause that can set him free in one year (when more seats may be available) if the bike doesn't get better.

Now it's up to Audi's bean counters to finance the necessary R&D and Ducati's engineers to find some improvement.

I wish Crutchlow (and Dovizioso) luck with this project. Sadly, for short-term marketing purposes anything red (especially with a desmo valve train) that says DUCATI on it will be just fine IF (and only if) it can be competitive with the Japanese rivals. But if it does turn out to be little more than an Italo-German version of what's already out there, something will have been lost.
Perhaps this can be blamed on the spec tire. That would be a shame, but the rules makers in this sport have pretty much screwed up the entire MOTOGP situation at the top end of things. Making it reasonably possible for a very talented pilot to win WITHOUT a factory-ride should be the priority, but when they let the manufacturers control things - there's little hope for improvement, as that's the last thing they want.

Ducati could try running the engine backwards, as in Paul Smarts Imola winning 750 ..... and the Yamaha M1

"but when they let the manufacturers control things - there's little hope for improvement, as that's the last thing they want."

Everyone knows what it needs, stock ECU's, but everytime the words are uttered, the factories spit their dummies. It's Dornas fault ENTIRELY for giving the MSMA so much power in the first place. How did they NOT think we'd end up here?

Let's forget about him on Duck vs others on yam or Hon for next year, concentrate on him beating or got beaten by Dovi, it will make duck race much enjoyable

Still until we see something really new and a real improvement Cal is just an interchangeable part. Slot out Hayden, slot in Crutchlow. Other than maybe new guy enthusiasm I don't see him doing anything Hayden hasn't been. Hayden was battling bar to bar w/ Dovi and Dovi was besting Cal on the Tech3. Without the skill & experience of Dovi on the Tech3 this year all those potential podium spots they were fighting over he has to himself. I'm not saying Cal is better or Dovi is better or Hayden is better. They all seem relatively on the same level to me. It's what they have under them that's been the difference in results. Had Cal gone to Ducati instead of Dovi this year I've no doubt it would be Dovi in among the top 5 most of the time. Let's hope Audi do take what they learn this year so a Ducati deal doesn't come with a caveat. Otherwise we may see Cal languish for a couple years till they slot him out and someone like Redding in his place.

Was thinking about voicing like comments but thought that it would serve as bait for the sharks. And I like Cal Crutchlow. But in all fairness, at the very least Cal will getting the salary closer to what he deserves.
I would love to see Nick Hayden climb aboard a Yamaha M-1 and show what he really can do.
Pol Espargaro bashing heads with Marquez. That's a tasty thought, though on a satellite Yamaha, it's not likely to happen. Yes, Aleix is very deserving as well.

If your correspondent xlandfil is correct, then Paul Smart was racing a very different motorcycle to the bevel gear-driven SOHC Ducati that the Italian manufacturer was selling. Turning backwards?

Has Oxley just rolled out the most under stated and matter-of-fact scoop of the season?

"..this year a new engine, which is more compact than last year’s because it’s no longer big and stiff like the old engine designed to be an integral part of the chassis."

I thought 2013 was to be a year of low key upgrade's enabling the new owners/management to take stock of the mountain-pile of parts Corse built for Rossi that weren't tested properly..decide what they wanted to do and start implementing new design down the road a bit?

Are we to believe that Ducati have built a new engine while still searching for the man to replace Preziosi and are effectively rudderless?

Why haven't more accomplished technical journalist told us about this before?

Sorry..I don't buy it.

If Ducati have made a new more compact engine, it's performing worse than the old behemoth and they should call it a day.

As for Oxley..time for another biography methinks.

... a contest or competition of speed, as in running, riding, driving, or sailing. I think that Mat hit on one of the largest problems in MotoGP "Bit by bit the Ducati is turning into a Honda or a Yamaha, which might just be a factor of the control-tyre regulations which effectively require all bikes to be the same to work with the same tyre." When the control tire was put into place, the primary reason given was to save money. What do you think is probably one of, if not, the least expensive item on a MotoGP bike? Might it be the tire? I'd bet if it's not the least, it's very close. Yet, the manufacturers have to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in R&D costs to TRY to make a bike that can use that tire. Genius. I've seen a lot of ignorant things in my life but designing a completely high tech unobtanium motorcycle around a 17in ring of rubber is absurd and stupid. They should call it HoYa GP for short due to the two manufacturers that now dictate what goes on in the series.

Racing is competition, if they want to test for fuel management then do it in a series where it makes sense to do that, like World Endurance racing. What a concept, eh? With the worldwide economy in a slump they should make it easier and more beneficial for manufacturers to join the series. Not an expensive dally in how to make a motorcycle like everyone else does. Get rid of the control crap and let's have an open competition between manufacturers: motorcycle, tyres, brakes, chains, etc. Until then the series will continue to dwindle, IMO.

The 'backwards' refers to the fact that the bevel drive ducati's crankshaft rotates opposite to the direction of the wheels. A sleeve gear is used on the mainshaft so that it is also the output shaft. From the introduction of the belt driven cam models a more conventional approach was adopted.