The third day of Ducati's traditional MotoGP team launch saw several events of real note. The most prominent but probably least significant was the official unveiling of Ducati's 2010 Desmosedici GP10, the machine that Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner will be campaigning in the upcoming season. The bike had been unofficially "unveiled" some three weeks ago, when Nicky Hayden put some photos he'd taken with his iPhone on his personal website without first obtaining permission from Ducati. "It probably got me in the doghouse a bit," Hayden admitted, but as the bike had already made its debut at the Valencia post-race tests, no real harm was done.
The more important events were the interviews given by some of the key men in Ducati's racing program, including the head of racing Claudio Domenicali and the company's CEO Gabriele del Torchio. Del Torchio admitted that the Bologna factory has a keen interest in Valentino Rossi, and will be talking to the reigning World Champion in the run up to MotoGP's silly season in June of this year. "We would love to win a world championship with an Italian rider, as part of our ambition to be an ambassador for the idea of 'Made in Italy'," Del Torchio told GPOne.com.
Domenicali spent a lot of time talking about the GP10 Desmosedici, explaining some of the difficulties which faced the engineers when working to the new engine limits for 2010. Speaking to the press, Domenicali talked about what they had done. "The main changes to the bike are based on the rule changes," Domenicali said, "So the major part of the work was done precisely to make it perform better using only six engines for the entire championship. It's a very important difference, because we were used to using more-or-less one engine per race, so to switch from eighteen engines to six is a very important adjustment. To go 1,600 kilometres with an engine that goes over 19,000 rpm isn't a simple assignment. All of the main parts were redesigned — pistons, rods, crankshaft, the basics. It's an engine with which our main objective was to minimize the loss of power to increase durability."
"It was a change that will be very useful and interesting, also because normally in racing, durability isn't the principal objective. Perhaps this new objective has enabled us to perform a series of experiments that will also be interesting for the new production engines that we're developing because at this point they become almost comparable. For a production engine, 2,000 kilometres of track use is a severe challenge so we start to think that the race engine durability is comparable with production engines."
"The second big news isn't related to the rules, but to our attempt to make the bike more rideable. This has to do with the firing order. We have a motor that, since the switch to 800s, utilized a screamer setup. This has permitted us to have maximum power, which was very important and was probably fundamental with the results that we've had in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but at a certain point, we began to wonder whether it could be worthwhile to re-test a way that we'd already followed in the past. The last 1000cc motors that we made in 2005 and 2006 used a big-bang firing order, and this gave us important rideability.We re-tested that way, first trying it on the dyno, then with Vittoriano Guareschi in his previous role as test rider and then with Nicky and Casey. We think we have a bike for 2010 with better traction, and that therefore makes it easier for us to find a good setup."
"Another part of the work was dedicated to the chassis. In the pursuit of ease of use, we've worked to eliminate the bike's squatting, which is why the entire rear portion of the bike was redesigned. This bike has a rear structure that carries the rider — which we call the seat support — and that also supports the swingarm. That part was redesigned to have six mounting points instead of four; this makes the bike more rigid in a way and it guarantees better rideability and improved rigidity. With respect to the bike we introduced last year, this bike is also aesthetically different because of the redesigned fairing but we already saw that at Estoril."
All these changes did not come for free, of course. Domenicali told GPOne.com that the factory had spent more money to make the engines reliable. "Development is expensive," the Italian boss said. "Our costs have gone up by 15 percent, but the costs per season will be less. We will make significant savings from the second season onwards." Whether these savings will filter down to the satellite teams remains to be seen. "Whether the cost price will reduce or not is another question, because the commercial policies of the manufacturers will have an effect." The satellite teams would start the season with the same spec engines as the factory, however.
One strange effect of the new rules is that the engines in MotoGP must now last longer than the production engines used in World Superbikes. And the question of crash damage remains unanswered, though Domenicali expected that solutions would be found. "With so few engines, crashes will increase the complications," Domenicali said. "But it's up to the manufacturers to take technical measures to avoid mechanical disaster."
Here's the video of the GP10 being unveiled, and the interview with Claudio Domenicali:
And more photos of the bike and the launch:
Video and photos courtesy of Ducati Corse