How Ducati Fixed Casey Stoner's Front End Woes

Casey Stoner's 2010 MotoGP season has been blighted by crashes. Starting at Qatar, where the Australian crashed out while leading the race after dominating throughout practice, Stoner faced a number of front end issues with his Ducati Desmosedici, adding a second crash at Le Mans to his troubles.

Things started to improve from Mugello, where Stoner's side of Marlboro Ducati garage decided to go back to the narrower forks they had used in 2009, and the crashes stopped happening. This still left Stoner struggling with front end grip though, and unable to find a setup that he felt comfortable enough with to push at the front.

That all changed at Aragon: Casey Stoner's team finally found the solution they had been chasing, and since making those changes to the bike, Stoner has gone on to win three out of four races, dominating in eerily familiar form. Only an early race crash at Sepang prevented Stoner from making it four in a row, the Australian doing penance by destroying the rest of the field at his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

So what caused this turnaround? What changed between Misano and Aragon, that allowed the Australian to shine once again? After the race at the Motorland Aragon circuit, Stoner explained to journalists what changes had been made to the setup of his Marlboro Ducati that had made the transformation possible. The team had identified Stoner's reconstructed wrist as the cause of the problems, and adjusted the bike accordingly, Stoner explained.

"Basically, I don't have the mobility in my wrist after the bone graft," Stoner told journalists. "[The bone graft has]completely locked my wrist in a lot of areas, and I can't get the same movement that I can on the other one for the inside of the corner."

The solution, Stoner explained, was to change Stoner's seating position on the bike. "We just put my weight further forward so I don't have to do it physically like I used to. I used to maybe go into a corner, get myself a little bit further forward, get the weight over it. Now we've just done this setup-wise." The change had literally made Stoner more comfortable on the bike, having reduced the stress on the Australian's shoulder, he explained. "It's actually taken a lot of weight off my shoulder. Normally, my shoulder really hurts during the end of every session. After every race, my left shoulder is just destroyed. And [Aragon] is a left-hand track with a lot of left-hand braking points, and I didn't have any problems."

The team had moved Stoner slightly further back, but stretching him out at the same time. "I've basically lengthened from the beginning of the tank to the handlebars, they're further away as well. By doing that, stretching me out a little bit, but at the same time, putting my weight forward, it's balanced me out quite well."

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This is very interesting data. Really good stuff.
Presumably this info has been available for about five weeks. Why is it coming out only now? Was there some sort of gentlemen's agreement to keep it under wraps for a while?
I'm curious.

I didn't mean to imply conspiracy.
I guess I don't read enough moto websites besides this one because I hadn't read about this anywhere else.

They stretched him out moving him farther back, yet this somehow put more weight on the front end..............sounds like a contradiction to me. I'm confused

By moving his arse further back, his torso would have had to angle downward further, to stretch for the bars, thus his Cg (which is somewhere in the middle of the torso) would have moved forward too. Ergo, his weight went forward.

Edit: obviously, the forward distance from the angle change must be > distance he moved back.

then the Duc still is a one man beast which only Stoner han tame. Can VR do it or will they build a red M1 for him?

If he is stretched out more then he will have more weight on the front by virtue of the fact that his upper body will be further forward than if he was more upright.

When you think about it, that is also the basic difference between the sitting positions on tourers and sporties. Your butt is further back on the sporty to make you lean forward more and get weight on the front. Remember that we're essentially talking a couple of centimeters, but from my own experience adjusting my bike, it can make quite a difference to comfort.

In comments CS made on a few races back he was talking about 1-2 millimeters for some of the adjustments. That is why it is so hard to find.

A patient comes in with an ill handiling italian sports bike. About to commit moto owner suicide and buy a Jap bike, he calls on Dr. Duc and his crew to sort out his problems.

After Dr. Duc makes crass jokes and demoralizes others in his office and faculty he might actually do a little work himself. Then with nay seconds to spare they figure out it was the simple widget that caused all his troubles and they fix it to save his bike.

Wait thats House.

Earlier this year, Stoner was seen at times to be carrying his left arm at the end of a session. He was generally doing it fairly unobtrusively (maybe he's started to learn that every camera, like every microphone, is always switched on..)

You have to feel a bit sorry for Lorenzo - more ammunition for the nay-sayers who will bag his championship with 'Rossi was riding injured, Stoner was riding injured, Pedrosa crashed out when he was still in the hunt'.

Initially I was confused as Scooterpunk. But upon analyzing it:

Okay.....Stoner is further away from the handlebars......which means he's not as "on top" of them as he was previously. To turn a bke......all you need to do is put pressure on the bars. NOT downward force......but push the bar forward on a horizontal plane. You can push "down" all you want....all that will actually happen is the forks will rotate on the axis of the steering head. that he's more stretched out, the force/pressure he's using is directed more on a horizontal plane than if you're more "on top"........where you DO push forward but much of the energy is actually pushing "down" (as if you''re trying to push the bars DOWN the forks).

It's a simple case of ergonomics!!

"Submitted by marc1111 on Tue, 2010-10-26 23:43.
Burgess/Rossi would have figured this out in 80 seconds!!! :)"

But they still haven't worked out how to make the M1 drive off corners like the 'other' M1?

Of course this is all really simple with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, but the problem and the solution are from right out of left field.

Rossi and Burgess WILL figure out the GP11 (big bang or screamer). For Stoner's sake, hopefully Honda will reciprocate. How odd, in a way, that Stoner's problems have been about ergonomics vs. overall suspension settings and forks! Rossi has been the KING in developing the M1 and is known to be better at feedback than Stoner (or Lorenzo, for that matter). So Ducati will likely benefit in a way that Honda and Yamaha have yet to appreciate.

Although I'm guessing most of us hope all of this will make for interesting racing in the premier class in 2011 ... with a small grid (17 bikes?) we likely won't have it until there is an expanded grid in 2012. But it will be fun to watch it all progress!

Only an early race crash at Sepang...

And that's just the problem with Stoner: solution or no solution (to e.g. front end problems), there's too often an early crash in store for him.

Personally, I think Stoner has to become more professional in his riding. For example, let the tires warm up! Then judiciously up the pace and overtake. Use all the laps in the race. To win you just have to be in front at the end of the last lap.

In this regard he could learn a lot from watching Rossi, who is really unparalleled: no matter how poorly he qualifies, or how poor his first lap is, you just know he'll be there at the end.

But when Stoner is 'on' he clearly makes every race a LOT more interesting; MotoGP was not the same when he was absent in 2009, and his early crashes this year took a LOT of the interest out of the title race. IMO.

One of the reasons there is such a gap between the FabFour and "the rest" is because they use every lap of the whole weekend to maximize their result.
Neither of them has the luxury of get it on slowly, because the other 3 will be gone in the meantime.

I believe around Indy Casey mentioned that with the 2011 fork he is faster though he has less confidence/feel.
Does anyone know why Casey and his guys didn't try out the 2011 fork with this new setting/weight distribution?

Very interesting take on the front end issues by Casey.Glad he and his crew came up with a finely balanced solution.Bear in mind this solution has been Casey Stoner specific.Ergonomically Stoner specific.Weight distribution,coupled to,probably a wider handle bar angle.Now,what about better control with more 'natural' body weight over the front ? Naturally,a minor loss of weight on the rear,slight loss of rear grip/traction.Solution.Control the front and powerslide the rear,hang onto it until it bites all in line.
Elementary !! Not so at all. Stoner and his crew found a little compromise which has worked for them of late.It is definitely not a Ducati breakthrough that JB and Rossi will inherit.
For them,it will also be a quest for balance,Valentino specific.And, well, if all you need is 80 seconds to sort out 4 DNF front end losses, the organiser's can save a pile of money by banning all winter testing and free practise sessions.A one hour qualifying session prior to the event is all you need,give or take 80 seconds.

Two thoughts.

JB is great, but he's not above a bit of gamesmanship. Whether he's right is one thing. Whether he believes it is another. How it effects the dynamic and the mind games of all concerned is another thing again.

The way I read that interview, and that particular comment, it was not directed at Stoner, and only slightly at Hayden. The people I took him to be referring to were Kallio and Espargaro, and I got the feeling he was really only talking particularly about one of them, but I couldn't quite figure out which one. He did say that the setup geometry that Hayden used was different enough to Stoner's, that it was visible, and as a result, data from one was next to meaningless for the other. The two factory boys had arrived at totally different solutions to the problem.

It has been a feature of Casey's career, going back to the days of being a dirt track racer kid in Aus, that he rides as hard as he can, and if the bike's not right, he tends to fall down a bit. Most experts will tell you, it's easier to take a fast rider and make him safe, than a safe rider and make him fast. Casey is fast, and always has been. All he needs to stay on, and win just about every race, is to nail the setup, and sometimes that isn't easy. The major issue has been that the problem stems from more than one source, and getting several variables to line up is sometimes complex. The other challenge, was that the 2010 fork is actually faster, and feels better. If it wasn't, it would have been back in the truck by the first race. What they have now is less than optimal. What they'd like is the 2010 fork, and all the speed and improved feel it offers, but with the slower fold / wash-out characteristics from the 2009 version. Give him that, and he'd be winning every race by 20 seconds.


The best pit crew can adjust parts of the equation to get the right result without anyone being able to tell except for that the rider goes faster. Most of the time the specific part is the nut behind the controls.

I think Casey just wants to divert everyone from the fact that since he turned off the stupid electronics he is now just riding the crap out of the thing.

At least I hope that is what it is.

I know it is almost impossible to know, but can we trust the people saying that Casey almost shut down his traction control for the Phillip Island race?
I doubt there would be a reliable source of information for that, but I'd really like to know!

...relevant to the convo, but it's just so effin' cool that you get to talk with them and ask questions. Like "yea guys, don't worry I'll see him tomorrow and ask"! LOL

twitter @deftjester

While I hadn't read anything in regards to the PI race, I recall an interview with Hayden were he commented that Casey ran considerably less traction control than anyone else. Considering Hayden has teamed with Pedrosa and Rossi I tend to believe it.

Just a shame he won't be on the big red machine next year! He's definitely in top form again, I just can't help but wonder how this season might have been different for him had he won Qatar. He will be missed. Good luck nex year with Honda!

How in gods name did they miss for so long that it was his rigid wrist that was causing the problems?

I'm certain that Casey makes it sound much easier than it actually was. As others have mentioned before me, the optimal setup band is/was so narrow that im sure it took quite a lot of tinkering to sort the issue out. Consider that even if they understood the problem, the correct solution took likely some time to chase down.

I can't believe that I didn't notice this before. From memory, all of Stoner's crashes were in right-hand corners. I'll need to review the crashes in question to confirm this but I can't, right now, rmember a single left-hand corner crash.

If I'm not wrong, it is very easy (in hindsight) to narrow the problem down to one of rider connection to the bike. A weakness in setup or design would most likely manifest itself as crashes on either side while a wrist issue is most likley to occur in similar circumstances.

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

...that was a left-hander (indeed, the final hairpin corner).  Searching out the rest will take Rats' investigative work.

I was making this point in 2008, before and while it was being made public that he was having a problem (when he crashed out of Brno and Misano).  Last year's problems overshadowed the wrist problem, for the most part.

With the Sepang crash (and most of the others), he said they couldn't see anything in the data, and other sets of tires had no problems at the same corner throughout the weekend.

I can remember similar comments on the variability of Bridgestones within the apparently same batch from at least Capirex, Spies and Edwards during this season. Fairly obviously, the Duc has the least tolerance to small variations and Stoner uses the thing down to the last ounce of performance so that combination is always likely to be most affected by such variations.

We also know that Ducati disdains the softer headstock construction adopted by both Honda and Yamaha. I'm willing to put a few $$ on the bar that a more compliant headstock will appear very early in the development of the Ducati next year.