MotoGP Valencia Day 2 Notes

To get one important question out of the way first (I'll come to The Big Question later), Ducati will be running a big bang engine next year. Nicky Hayden said he preferred the feel of it, Filippo Preziosi said that the Screamer had "good potential" - code, in case you haven't guessed, for being very rough around the edges - but the big bang does what it is supposed to do: give the rider great feedback.

The Screamer vs Big Bang decision was what the Valencia tests were ostensibly about before Valentino Rossi turned a wheel on the track, but with the Italian legend ending day one in 10th, and day two in 15th, all that changed. While the man who had left Ducati to ride for Honda was scorching around on day one, then setting the fastest time on day two, Valentino Rossi, who had taken Casey Stoner's place in Ducati, was wobbling around at the rear.

And precisely this is the Ducati's problem. Ducati's MotoGP project director, and the genius behind the Bologna factory's MotoGP bike Filippo Preziosi told the press that Rossi's problem was with feeling in the front end. It was the typical Ducati quandary: To go fast on the Desmosedici, you have to get heat into the tires. To get heat into the tires on the Desmosedici, you have to go fast. Without heat in the tires, the bike feels terrible, giving no feedback and feeling like it is about to wash out the front. Just like the first attempts at breaking the sound barrier, where the planes felt like they were about to shake themselves to bits until they had passed through the barrier and the airflow smoothed out once again, you have to get the Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP through that frightening section, where it feels like you might crash at any moment, before the front starts to grip and you can push, further than you had ever dreamed of just a few seconds previously.

Ironically, the task of adjustment was easier for less experienced riders, Preziosi said. The fact that Karel Abraham - MotoGP rookie and within a couple of hundredths of The Doctor on his first official test on the Ducati - could go so fast was down to the rider's expectations, according to Preziosi. Abraham had no preconceived notion of what a MotoGP bike should feel like, and so just dealt with the situation as it came, riding what he had been given. Rossi, on the other hand, had long experience of MotoGP bikes, and expected the bike to react a certain way, and when it didn't he struggled to understand.

Randy de Puniet was the other rider Preziosi mentioned, praising the speed of the Frenchman on the Pramac Ducati. And De Puniet bears a remarkable resemblance to Casey Stoner, the man he had replaced at LCR Honda, and who had suffered a spate of front-end crashes while still on the Michelins which miraculously disappeared once the team switched to Bridgestones. De Puniet just pushes without worrying, apparently finding out where the limit is by the simple expedient of checking whether he had gravel between this teeth or not. On a Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP bike, this is a recipe for success.

Valentino Rossi, on the other hand, comes from a bike that worked for everybody, a bike that everybody who has ridden it has ended up in the top 6 with in recent years. Jorge Lorenzo's modus operandi illustrates the nature of the Yamaha YZR-M1 perfectly: The 2010 World Champion starts a session slowly, setting lap times well down the running order, before ratcheting up the speed each lap until the pace is simply breathtaking. Try that on a Ducati and you scare yourself stupid, never breaking through into the smooth air of a grippy front tire and a faster lap time.

What had surprised Preziosi most on the second day of the test was Rossi's incredible calmness and positive attitude, the Italian remaining calm despite such a "bad test" as the Ducati MotoGP boss put it. At least Rossi was providing a lot of feedback, Preziosi said, and giving them a lot of work to do. Back in Bologna, the design team would have a meeting with Rossi's long-time crew chief Jerry Burgess, and run some models to help improve the front-end feel. The list of changes would be long indeed, altering rider position, weight distribution, chassis stiffness and geometry before the next test at Sepang. "Now we need to adapt the bike to Valentino," Preziosi explained.

It was not all negative, however. Rossi liked the rear grip - a problem he has suffered with all year on the Yamaha, and he liked the engine and the feel of the electronics which held it in check. Mostly, though, Ducati had a lot of work to do over the winter, to get ready for the Sepang test at the start of February. "We have a lot of information," Preziosi said, "now we need some answers."

The man who had left to make way for Rossi told the press he was surprised by Rossi's difficulty, that he hadn't expected the Italian to struggle so much. But he knew that Rossi needs time to get to understand a machine, before moving on to exploit its potential. "It takes time to get used to the Ducati," Stoner acknowledged.

The Australian had no such problems, setting a blistering pace from the moment he took to the track on his (mostly) 2010-spec Honda RC212V. Stoner had not spent too much time testing, focusing mainly on getting comfortable and familiar with the bike, work which consisted mainly of cutting back the electronics to restore the Australian's feel with the throttle. When asked whether he was running a race mapping on the engine when he set his fastest time, Stoner said there was little point doing anything else, and that using a fire-breathing, fuel-swigging opened up fuel map left nothing to be learned about the bike.

One man was faster than Stoner at the test, though, Jorge Lorenzo setting the quickest time on the first day of the test on Tuesday. Lorenzo had spent most of his time doing back-to-back runs between the 2010 Yamaha YZR-M1, and the revised 2011 bike, which featured a new chassis, the new 2011 Ohlins suspension and a slightly modified engine. The difference was not much, Lorenzo avowed, but the new bike just did everything a little better.

Dani Pedrosa had also been testing a new chassis on his Repsol Honda, which gave some improvement in braking. But Pedrosa's main concern was his health, his left arm showing symptoms of nerve damage after working too hard, losing strength and feeling after working the arm too hard. The problem could be something as minor as a screw in his plated collarbone being fractionally too long, and blocking a nerve just enough to have an effect. Previous scans on the injured collarbone had shown no problems, Pedrosa told the press, but he was to undergo a CAT scan, an MRI and a vascular test on Thursday, as soon as he returned to Barcelona.

The most worrying prospect of all for the Repsol Honda rider is the prospect of permanent damage to his left arm. If Pedrosa does not recover full strength after this injury, it could potentially threaten the Spaniard's career. Given what was known at the time he was speaking to the press, the team was not expecting to find much in the way of nerve damage to Pedrosa's arm.

Perhaps the most impressive and surprising showing of the test, though, was Alvaro Bautista's 7th fastest time overall. The Suzuki is known to be fast, but only when the weather cooperates. With air temps in the range of 18 degrees, and track temps only a couple of degrees higher, things were far from what had previously been thought of as the Suzuki's natural habitat. Whether the revised parts the Hamamatsu factory had brought were good enough to make the difference remains to be seen, but a 7th time overall during the test is extremely impressive, no matter which yardstick you use.

The MotoGP circus packs up now, heading home to their respective boltholes for the remainder of the season. The circus reconvenes again at the start of February, at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Expect Ducati to bring a whole heap of modified parts for Rossi to test: if they got away with a poor result by the Italian at Valencia, having a similarly miserable test in Malaysia would put the final nail in the coffin of the Italian. It is hard to believe that Valentino Rossi would willing lie down quietly while they nail the lid in place. Rossi has shown an uncanny ability to ride whatever he is given - at least eventually - and the Italian is not dead yet.

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Comments

If we could put your notes into a 30 min segment television show or even a video Podcast with clips/images from your photographers, I believe you would have something truly amazing...Your journalism skills continue to amaze me. I feel like I'm reading a story every time and less of a news reel. Keep up the excellent work!

Total votes: 150

Your comments on RdP are exactly what I had in mind. His aggressive style is frighteningly similar to Casey's. One might wonder, depending on his success on the Pramac, how long it will be till he gets a shot at the factory ride.

Total votes: 137

As i've said before the Duc's problems are all chassis related, a great engine and good electronics but suspect chassis. Casey made it work for him by riding around the problems and just pushing hard.

valentino's problem is that he needs smooth pwer, with wheels in line and good front end, things which the Duc does not have right now. So its reinventing the wheel once again like 2004.

I feel confident that Ducati will get the flexibility in the chassis right and might even have to resort to a metal chassis because the carbon fibre can be suspect when it gets hot. i'm confident that Jerry and Ducati engineers will sort it out.

Total votes: 154

Rossi survived riding the NSR500 with wheels out of line, and the 990 Honda with wheels out of line. However, in the days of fantastic electronics and inch perfect lines, too much sideways is not always the best way around the track.

Total votes: 158

Thanks for the great articles.
Can anyone outline the details of the testing that is allowed before Sepang?
Is it a blanket ban on anything even vaguely a MotoGP bike or is testing new parts/bikes etc allowed if non MotoGP test riders are used?
If there are still test riders who are they for each factory and particularly who is the man for Ducati - might have a bit to do.
What enforcement regime is in place for the test restrictions?

Chris

Total votes: 171

Of course Rossi will ride whatever Ducati eventually brings out for 2011 far better than this test has shown, that's a given.

However, I suggest that the test has given us one result already - that Stoner's ability to ride a difficult bike to its limits is now pretty much cemented fact rather than merely a well-supported theory. The GP9 and GP 10, at least, passes into history I believe as amongst the most idiosynchratic and difficult of bikes on which to achieve success. There are others, perhaps most noticeably the dreaded Honda 500/4 - 'the beast' - that Hailwood rode, plus at least several Suzukis.

Race wins and WC statistics do not lie about the ability of riders, but to keen followers of the sport there are other interesting sub-plots along the way. Ducati, Stoner and now Rossi will be one of those eternal stories.

Total votes: 150

If Nicky can slowly work his way toward the front with the Ducati, I have to believe Rossi will be able to do the same. I also must believe that Rossi could adapt his style to smashing the gas from the off, but is tentative in doing so for fear of worsening that shoulder with an unproductive crash pushing the limit. Its too bad they dont get more test time. An extra session would pay huge dividends for everyone.

Total votes: 173

The Suzuki is known to be fast...

Uhm, I don't get the joke. Am I lacking any background knowledge to ROTFL?

Surely none would seriously use the 2 words "Suzuki" and "fast" in 1 sentence.

:)

Total votes: 133

Capirossi and Denning say time and again that the Suzuki is fast.......on a salt flat. The problem is making that bike turn. It also turns somewhat kinda ok when the OAT is 19.1365 degrees Celsius. In other words a very narrow outside air temp band. They always complain that the bike turns like crap in the cold. The team has either not figured out how to fix it or Suzuki is unwilling to spend the money to fix it, or both, most likely. With Shenton gone that issue probably will remain until a good development rider with another crack engineer show up and work for peanuts. Well, unlikely then. IMO the only way Suzuki will become competitive again is if Schwantz takes over the team. Only his legend status will push Suzuki forward. Even he is backing away from Suzuki lately and moving towards Hondas in his business endeavors. No joke I'm afraid. With Suzuki pulling out of competition, slowly, the grids only get smaller.

Total votes: 147

"De Puniet just pushes without worrying, apparently finding out where the limit is by the simple expedient of checking whether he had gravel between this teeth or not."

Total votes: 138

Very enjoyable read, David! I fear a little for Dani, though. I hope he gets away with this one...

Total votes: 164

I won't say no one thought it possible, but at the outside it seemed inconceivable that Rossi would depart this test as far down the order as he did. Hopefully Ducati doesn't "throw the baby out with the bathwater" reinventing the Desmo around Vale. Nicky has been showing great progress all season on it and it would be a great disservice to him to scrap it all. But it might just be the very thing that is needed???

Stoner has, as expected, fulfilled what Ben Spies already "prophesized", that he would be brutally fast from the off. He has to be a happy guy going into the off season!

It is indeed going to be a long winter.

Total votes: 132

Great article, good comparison of the Desmosedici with a plane about to break the sound barrier - that makes sense to me and I can better understand what those riders are feeling as they're trying to ride faster. And De Puniet - checking if he has gravel between his teeth. Haha, very good.

Total votes: 159

I knew this reminded me of an earlier comment I made on Stoner. Felt it might be worth repeating.

My 2-cents worth
Submitted by jgrc30 on Thu, 2010-05-27 03:05.

As a long time observer of racing, I have a theory about Casey. Notice that he always hits the track running hard in practice and qualifying, sets fast times and does only a few laps. It looks like a long time ago he accidentally, or on purpose, pushed the Ducati through a handling barrier and rides with very high loading on the front tire, and the tire works for him. His crashes seem to be when he is backing off the pace. He has mentioned several times that he wasn't going that hard when he loses the front, like when he is following a slower rider or leading by a long way and backs off his pace. This would explain why other good riders could not come to terms with the Ducati using a progressively faster lapping approach. They hit the handling barrier and can't push through. It's sort of like breaking the sound barrier, if you cautiously ease into it, you get a nasty ride. If you blow through it gets very smooth. If Casey starts getting conservative, he will be in big trouble.

Total votes: 148

This would certainly seem to be the case.

Total votes: 177

Stoner is obviously fast, but doesn't seem to be able to do any development work. Then again, why would he?

Total votes: 152

So he won more races than anyone else in the last 4 years without even being able to carry development work?
Then he must be incredibly talented, even more than I thought!

Total votes: 154

Let's just suppose, for Casey, that once he pushes past the barrier and enters "magic land", the bike feels perfect and the riders confidence is high, and your the fastest time on the track.
What do you tell the engineers to change? This could be the development problem that has been facing Ducati for so long. Just armchair guessing.

Total votes: 140

Because i was watching "after the flag",and Nick Harris and Ian Wheeler think the opposite ;)

Total votes: 154

I found his comments really interesting - he's been one of rossi's "staff" mechanics for the last decade.... I am a pretty shameless Rossi fan which I hope leads to great racing next year... Sounds as if they're humbled but not daunted.. 2011 will be an interesting year... (I hope). FYI Alex is great to follow on Twitter... the only reason I have an account there.

On Wednesday 10th November 2010, @Alex__Briggs said:

H guys. I'm compleatly smashed, I have not worked that hard @ a test for a few years. Accomplished a lot. Result was crap but not representative of what we have learnt. The poor old rider was compleatly stuffed also. Big part of the time was just the riders body letting him down. But we kept lapping & testing. End result is the engineers have a long 2 do list courtesy of us! But they r the best guys. Its going 2 be fun. At yamaha I guess in the end I felt like we just were tuning. At Ducati I feel we are really working. Its going 2 be great 2 see the end result. May the force be with us

Total votes: 161

Thanks sparky as Mr. Brigg's adds to my perception that Rossi is being Rossi. #46 is not competing with anyone to get Ducati's attention so he can develop the bike to his needs in a manner that suits him. #46 has found alot about the GP10 (as can the telemetry) without pushing for an entire lap, so why push for *lap*times now? The glory of being up the list now is not the prize #46 seeks.

#27 and #26 are (just as Suppo and Puig are) competing for HRC's development attention and priorities on how to make the 2011 bike work for them first and then the others. If I recall correctly #26 & #27 set the bike up differently with their preferred weigh bias (ref. needed), making this an important battle. Stoner had to set laps *now* to show he is worthy of getting HRC to make the bike fit him. He had to show HRC, Repsol, and the press he is the guy now. Repsol & Dorna like the idea of Spain on top...#69 won the World Championship and Repsol/HRC made the next bike for #26. I believe Suppo&Stoner had to climb to the top of the priority list at this test - which I think they did. #27 gave HRC weapons, in the form of his laptimes & media coverage, to push back on Puig&Repsol's influence to keep #26 as the development target.

The slow lap times from Val will be used to add to his legend. His legend will grow when he is able to lap so much faster in Feb. This speed may then be attributed to Rossi's skill as a developer instead of the speed of the bike alone. Booth Val's ability to develop and lap fast are able to be amplified by posting slower laptimes at this first test. This point of development will not be able to made by Jorge until he moves to Suzuki, or some other factory that Valentino has not marked as his own.

Total votes: 133

Interesting twitter quote from Briggs, great find.

As rick650, I'd also like to know what they can and cannot test during the off season.
Can Rossi ride the GP9 for instance? Do they even have tires they are allowed to use? What if they spoon a GP11 engine in a WSB chassis, is that considered breaking the testing ban?

Is it correct that a factory testrider is allowed to ride the bike all winter, just not the racers.

I agree that the Ducati has mostly chassis problems, the engine seems strong enough and Stoner proofed that the the bike is fast without much electronics. As long as it doesn't fall over, it's a fast bike.
Maybe designing a whole new chassis more like Yamaha's is not such a bad idea... I'm sure Jerry has a few idea's on this.

Total votes: 133

I really enjoyed reading it.

Thank you.

A long winter, indeed.

But come the 2011 season ... it will be worth it. :)

Cheers!
Eddie

Total votes: 151

Imaginative and great use of an analogy! It's worth pointing out that at least some of the problems early aircraft had with trans and super sonic flight was down to the geometry of the aircraft, i.e. turbulence or shock waves forming over where the control surfaces happened and so buffeting them or (worse) making it impossible to move the surface. So it wasn't just that the pilots had to grit their teeth and fly through that zone (even if Yeager may have done so in the X-1) but the actual design of aircraft had to change in order to avoid these potentially lethal problems...

To take the analogy to its conclusion, even if Casey is Yeager and could get the bike to >Mach 1.0, the bike still has a problem and needs fixing if its not to kill a lot of pilots. ;)

Total votes: 150

Thanks for writing up your impressions of the test. Great read this Thursday morning. Question: How did you draw your conclusions about the handling problems of the Ducati? Specifically the front end issue.

I know what Preziosi said to the media, but your whole sound barrier explanation? Do crew people tell you these things or are you left to interpret what you see on the track and hear from other reporters.

Thanks

Total votes: 145

During the debrief on Wednesday, Preziosi basically said something along the lines of "Valentino does not have a good feel with the front end. We know that to get this good feeling, you have to push hard to get heat in the tire." I have the audio somewhere, which I may type up and put online sometime over the next few days.

The sound barrier comparison is my own. And given that everyone, from Melandri to Hayden and now to Rossi, has said that the only way of going  fast on the Ducati is to push hard, it seems like a viable analogy. When I went out to watch on the track, Rossi looked frankly awful on the bike, stiff, uncomfortable, not the way he would want to ride the bike at all. If he can wrap his head around what is needed, he should do better at Sepang - helped by warmer temperatures putting more heat into the tires. And this is Valentino Rossi, you can never, ever count him out.

Total votes: 141

Thanks for responding - I must admit, your Chuck Yeager/Bell X-1 comparison generated a lot of imagery for your notes column. The breaking of the sound barrier chapters in "The Right Stuff" were pretty riveting, what with all the bad theory Yeager faced before he pushed it through. I sure hope the mysteries those riders face trying to get the front tire to work isn't quite that dramatic!

Total votes: 160

I cannot understand the logic or the processes Ducati operate under. Ducati will have to do this that and the other re-design the front etc etc. for Rossi.

Why didn't they do it for Casey Stoner, didn't they realise what a major talent he is wouldn't they accept what he was saying for the last four years.

Now it's to late. No matter how they change the bike the combination of Rossi and Ducati will not beat Casey on the Honda. Ducati had there chance and blew it.

Youth is wasted on the under fifties

Total votes: 136

It's exactly what i'm thinking,Casey said that there was no serious developement in the past 2 years during the season,they finished with what they have begun.

Now he's gone,and Honda will do all they can to keep him.

Total votes: 158

One would hope that with the amount of extra money coming in from the new super-pairing of Ducati/Rossi, they will be more able to throw money at their development and problems. Also, the stronger collective bargaining power of the old super-pairing of Rossi/Burgess on issues that the engineers need to work on could push them to move more in the direction the rider wants. I do wish there was more testing so we could truly watch this process come about. Not only would it be a good show in itself, but it would make for much more interesting racing for everyone next year.

The comments about changing the Ducati to suit Rossi being a disadvantage to Nicky I think are unfounded. I think Rossi has shown time and again that he will bring the bike back to the center and create a machine that is easier for anyone to ride. I imagine Nicky could only benefit and I hope he does.

I also loved the comparison you created in my head, David, between Stoner and Yeager. If Stoner can go on with that kind of legacy when he retires, not just the size of the legacy, but the legend of flying/riding what no one else did, he will have to think of his career as a success. This and the comment about how RdP finds the limit were both gold!

As for the previous comment about this test proving Rossi will never be able to handle it like Stoner, Alex Briggs comments may point to a more prominent underlying issue to the results. After the race on BBC, Rossi claimed he could not keep up due to losing strength (one would assume, in his shoulder). If this is anything more than just trying to cover up getting trounced by two other riders after 2/3rds race distance, then a further two days of testing will have done that shoulder no good at all, which Alex seems to confirm. Having followed Alex on Twitter, it is never a machine for Rossi's talking points, so his supporting comments seem genuine. Valencia is a very small and tight track so it may be one that has affected him more than usual.

Finally, GO AB19!

Total votes: 148

Good listening skills at Ducati?
Perhaps Casey could not provide the feedback needed to fix the front end issue, other than, go back to the old fork... which they did. I think Ducati did listen to Casey, hence their success together. Where "they blew it" may have been with Casey's illness and it may be the pressure to make Casey leave was from Marlboro, the dudes with the money, not Ducati. I think Ducati did listen to Casey, but perhaps the damaged relationship made it harder for the partners to hear what was meant, and not said.

Total votes: 145

I doubt Ducati is deaf. They are putting up 6 bikes on the grid to get to the front. With the many years that CS was at Duc they were able to build a bike for one guy to go fast on. The others just had to suffer with the developed mess they were given. That developer happened to be CS. NH was able to do reasonably well once the entire development was not left up to CS on his 'sick' year, they got the 'big bang' and softened it up that year. VR has built a bike that all can ride and is the 'benchmark' in the paddock by everyones assessment that I have read since. Elsewhere on Motomatters.com comments of....Team Casey is fighting for control of development with Team Pedrosa....God help the rest of the Honda riders if HRC leaves it to CS.

I believe they recognized CS talent and gave him what he wanted. He just could not express what that was or there truly is an engineering vacuum at Duc. Unlikely. It was CS who moved not Ducati pushing him out. Casey moved BEFORE the first race of the year. Ducati was very gracious towards him if you ask me. I think they would have paid to have VR and CS in the garage if they could have arranged that.

As you say CS is a very talented rider. That is evident in the test times. He just is not a developer. That is also evident in the test times with him riding someone else development and someone else riding his. VR is a developer that is evidenced by history.

IMO there are three reasons Ducati wanted VR. They want and need the GOAT's image to brand their product. Of the MGP players image and brand affects Ducati the most. They want and need the development of their bike. Who better than VR. He and his team have proven themselves. The other 5 riders will benefit and likewise Duc. And simply, he is Italian. Italy is very nationalistic when it comes to sport. Stoner by his own admission did not like to do off track 'work' for his sponsors.

It is a bold statement that Rossi/Ducati will not beat Stoner/Honda. I doubt you will find many MGP insiders to support you with that. The Ducati CEO down to the Ducati floor sweeper don't think so either. They have a lot to lose if this doesn't work. I am sure they gave it some thought. Don't break out the 2003-2004 drums already, Rossi quite frankly is.....exceptional.

Total votes: 137

To say Casey Stoner cannot develop a machine or provide usable feedback isn't really on the mark. From the day Stoner started racing he has been both rider and mechanic and has an extraordinary knowledge of the mechanics and physics of how a motorcycle works.

Rossi wasn't the only one to develop the M1. Colin Edwards had a VERY big hand in it.

What you have failed to understand is Casey was able to make the best of what Ducati had built. The Ducati factory has always had a vision of how they want the bike to be and Casey has has to make what development decisions he can under the circumstances.

The most important part of developing anything is the communication chain. If that is broken of skewed by bias or agenda, then you don't develop what you need.

Look at it like Chinese whispers.........

(VR) more adjustable stiffness in the chassis --> (Prez) Let's make a whole new chassis --> (Duc. Eng.Department) Let's make a hybrid chassis --> (Ducati Management) Let's paint it red white and green --> (Ducati Marketing) Let's paint it Red and put carbon in it --> (Duc. Eng.Department) We made the new part, it's red and has carbon in it --> (Prez) He's what you asked for --> (Burgess & VR) ..........it's a pencil?

Total votes: 158

Edwards is a very good test rider as evidenced by his tire work. However, Rossi didn't need Edwards' help. Preziosi's comments about Rossi, "impressive technical details," should hint at what they may have lacked from Stoner.

Total votes: 139

Rossi won the WC in 2004 on a yamaha
Colin joined in 2005

Colin helped with the setup, but Yamaha were already onto a winner before then...

Total votes: 154

Henny Ray Abrams penned a great article and extremely insightful interview with CS, post Laguna. I'll quote a telling paragraph ;

> " I guess they think that because we're young, we don't know what were talking about," Stoner theorized. " Why do you think these teams keep going for old, experienced riders ? But they don't realize that I've been racing for 17 years. I know what I'm doing, and all it takes is for a team to get behind you and believe in you and the job [will get done]." <

I hope Ducati weren't guilty of ignoring his input. They deserve kudos for introducing a design that was refreshingly forward thinking but now appear to have lost their greatest asset to develop and refine it to its potential.What will we learn when the Stoner "gag" order is lifted ? I wonder if they will stay with their current concept or go "retro" with the steel chassis.The GP 8 was no slouch though....................

As an aside, another negative from the ridiculous test restrictions is the " gun to head " development schedules. If a test rider is allowed to test, why not the rider ? The teams would actually save money by not going down blind alleys and would reduce the chance of arriving at a sanctioned test/race with a less than optimum machine.

Whatever, Casey deserves another "2007" next year and hopefully, free of any internal team political BS.

Thank you David for a great article and to the many posters also.

Total votes: 154

Great piece of journalism David. Thanks.
It does appear that the only direction Valentino has given Ducati is to stick with the Big Bang configuration. I guess his 80 seconds on the Screamer convinced him that if he pushed the Big Bang too hard,he may break a leg. With the Screamer he stood to break his neck. No matter how nonchalant they appear to be,they have to be worried.
Outstanding performance by 'gravel in his teeth' Randy.Ben and Casey were pretty much as expected.
Also, a very encouraging start for Alvaro,Cal and Karel.
Hard to believe Casey won 21 races on that Screamer.
Test pilot Battaini said on Monday that Vale would love the Sreamer as it was like the old 2 strokes. Turns out the Screamer loved him back like a lead pipe to the cranium. Misses her partner, I guess. Ducati's do have a 'soul'. Woman scorned etc.
Nevertheless,I hope they get something sorted out, otherwise this 2 year deal will turn out as farcical as Melandri's,with them agreeing to part company after 6 months, leaving their future riderless and rudderless.

Total votes: 154

Well spotted nozzle,I couldn't agree more. Casey is probably not the ideal Marlboro Man. That would be Ben Spies in my book !!!

Total votes: 133

it's my first time.... posting. ;-)

I've stalked the site for years now, but this was the first time I was compelled enough to post.

on Mr Speez: It will be interesting to watch Spies first win. The lack of capes, props, fireworks, popcorn, and laser shows reflected in his shades.

Total votes: 161

There have been a couple of questions regarding what tests can be done during the off season.

Until the Sepang tests in February, no MotoGP rider can test a MotoGP bike. Test riders can ride them as much as they want - but not at a track on the regular schedule except for 2 circuits they have designated as testing circuits..

Each manufacturer is allocated 240 tires to test with.

---------------------------------------------
MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Total votes: 150

Been around for some time. Keep the info coming

Total votes: 156

This is a question for all: I religiously follow Moto GP/WSBK/F1 + college footbal and the NFL Yes, I live in the USA). Moto GP could learn ALOT from the marketing department of the NFL!!!! What I'm so SUPIFIED at is the 'marketing' section of Moto GP/DORNA/MSMA! All the HYPE/EXCITMENT/ANTICIPATION of the changes, Rossi-Ducati, Stoner-Honda, Spies-Yamaha, Cruch-Yamaha + everything else and these pinheads shut down ALL TESTING DOWN FOR 3 MONTHS? Are these marketing idiots/sponsors/advertisers/etc NOT looking at the internet hits on this site/Moto GP, and all the other sites concentrating on this sport and saying, "HEH, wait a minute, we can make some $$$$$ here . . . if we can do a test or two . . sell tickets/TV rights to the testing/etc/etc/etc". AM I missing something here?

These 'experts' trying to tell us that there is NO $$$$ to be made in Europe/Asia/USA/etc by running a test or two every 6 weeks?

Please, can someone shed some LIGHT on this point?

Total votes: 153

MotoGP is a series owned by Dorna, and the show could generate revenue for them. Dorna would love to have more "shows" if they are profitable. Could the tracks cover their costs in ticket sales, or would Dorna need to pay for testing and take the risk themselves?

Motorcycle Manufacturers that participate would gain some insights from more testing but at a huge cost. The engineering cycle to test-design-develop-test only happens so fast. every loop through that cycle costs money to pay for the engineers and each prototype part. So more tests favor the largest best capitalized factories. Honda would likely favor more tests, but would it benefit the smaller manufacturers like Suzuki, Ducati, or Kawasaki - oh, yeah, they already quit. More testing would also raise the cost of entry for new factories.

So the majority of the manufacturers likely would want less tests to save their costs - unless Dorna wants to share money with them. Would there be enough to make it worth doing? It seems the cost-to-benefit ratio of racing MotoGP for motorcycle manufacturers appears to make more official tests a poor use of resources for the majority of them.

Perhaps if there was a reality TV show that followed the riders in the off season, like After the Flag, but now After the Season. Gavin could do off-season training with folks. We could see Guy Coulon's shop. Watch the local talent in ... ;-)

Total votes: 142

Pretty cool idea, they need someone like David as a director so that the whole thing was relevent to racing and not just another "Kardasian/Big Brother" load of tripe. Would be interesting to see how much these guys train or what their sponsor commitments are in the off season. Factory staff interviews, team staff interviews... even the sponsors thoughts on their investment. Between the three classes there are enough riders they could find plenty of interesting information. mmmmmm would certainly reduce the pain for fans in the off season :)

Total votes: 154

I think that more winter testing would mean more travelling. The teams are all European based (IIRC) and it would be winter there. So they would have to leave home to find decent weather. Sepang and PI are ok but far. No races in Brazil or SA anymore. Doha is in the 80's for the next week or so but still a bit of a trip and how many people would spectate for that one anyway? They already spring for testing in Sepang anyway.

I think the teams like to have a bit of time off anyway. The GP season is already pretty long.

Total votes: 166

Good observation. One shared by Livio Suppo over a year ago.

From the interview on SuperbikePlanet (sorry, competing blog I know):

"Well, as I said yesterday, we speak about technical issue always, but there's no one commission that's tried to understand how to help each other and try to find more money. And at the end of the day, we can save half a million per rider, still you need millions to race. So we cannot go racing for nothing. There will be always a cost. And seems to me that in this world, nobody's really focused on how to increase the revenues, apart from our team that we have a marketing department. Of course we have a strong brand, because Ducati's a stronger brand than the Japanese. And we are doing a reasonably good job, I think. But is not easy. As far as we not have a more international grade, MotoGP want grow up in several countries. We are very, very strong in Italy, strong in Spain, growing in UK thanks to BBC. But still, we are struggling in Germany, France, that are key countries for sponsors. If you live in Italy, you think MotoGP is one of the most popular sports in the world. And then if you move to other countries, you realize is not."

http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2009/Sep/090904liviointerview.htm

Total votes: 150

Thanks RatsMC
"Until the Sepang tests in February, no MotoGP rider can test a MotoGP bike. Test riders can ride them as much as they want - but not at a track on the regular schedule except for 2 circuits they have designated as testing circuits.
"

So Franco Battaini will presumably be doing a lot of laps once they get a revised package together. He becomes critical in the development of the Ducati, and presumably was also in the testing of the earlier incarnations. Is their any assessment of his calibre as a development rider?

Total votes: 146

It has been Vittoriano Guareschi who has been THE development test rider from the outset of the Ducati project until he was promoted following Livio Suppo departure.

Total votes: 134

Don't see why they don't hire more capable testriders in general. I'm not saying Franco Battaini doesn't know anything about motorcycles, but there must be faster guys out there. If you spend several millions on a MotoGp project, I would make sure I had the fastest testrider possible too.
Remember Rossi's replacement this year? Neither do I :)

In F1 they generally have testriders only a little slower than the racers, this seems logical.

Why not pay a bit more and ask Troy Bayliss, Kenny Roberts jr., Garry McCoy or someone of similar skill.

In Ducati's case, where they probably have a lot of changes and evolutions of the chassis for Sepang, I would let the satelite teams test more stuff. Is there a logical reason they didn't let Randy ride the screamer ? More feedback would be welcome right?

My prediction for 2011: Rossi will adapt to the bike, but not enough to win races right away. Ducati want Rossi to win so bad, that Nicky will end up as a development rider testing new stuff every race.

Total votes: 138

The problem is that riders who are fast enough to provide useful input are usually also fast enough to compete, and have no desire to be stuck in a testing role. If you were able to ride within a tenth or two of Nicky Hayden's times, you'd want to be racing, as you'd be scoring regular top 10 finishes. It's a universal quandary.

Total votes: 135

Each rider has some personal bias and differences. Should those biases be successfully communicated from racer to tester, then the next question is how to progress for the stable of racers. So how specific the bike is made to one rider, especially one rider who's personal bias is on the fringes of the norm, is a design choice. A test rider, even a fast one, with a different bias than your racer(s) may not be helpful. Oh, and there are many biases that need to be met to have a good fit.

Then there's size match of the racer/tester frames. Remember Hayden on the 2007 toy bike?

Total votes: 138

The major issue with the GP11 is it does not have a real chassis. All the chassis tuning Yamaha has done on the M1 over the years are by changing the thickness of different area of the twin spar and relocating engine/swingarm mounting points. With the GP11, the front swing arm and the front section are directly mounted to the engine case, there is a much small chassis area which one can fine tune the flexiblity. How can one fine tune the vertical/lateral and twisting flexibility of an engine case? I think bolt torque value is the only thing they can play with?

Ducati should really bring back the steel trelis frame. I don't see any value of using carbon fibre. I suppose the stiffness of carbon fibre (thermal plastic) frame will be more affected by temperature? So Ducati riders are not only battling cold tyres, but also cold and stiff chassis during the opening laps?

Total votes: 126

Correct borrego and there is no welding on a plate here or there or deleting a cross member. But it's going to work roughly the same no matter which carbon frame you use.
Rossi just needs to get on it a ring it's neck which is the way Preziosi designed it.The way Stoner rode it and the way Hayden rides it.Won in the dry won in the teeming rain and won on a wet/dry flag to flag race. Nothing on the bike changed for Stone because he was a serial winner on it. Someone (old and cynical like myself )who signed the cheques would have said when it stops winning then we will throw some cubic $$$ at it.

Total votes: 134

CF frames can be altered the same ways as any metal frame, IE more or less material in whatever areas they want.

Additionally, the orientation/direction the fibers affect the stiffness and strength of the finished product.
That's the beauty of composites.

Total votes: 133

Composite materials offer much more tuning possibilities (especially regarding mechanical properties) than any kind of metal and alloys. This is why they are widely used in aeronautics in the first place.

Total votes: 121

Borrego and 2 Stroke Institute.Valid points. Few point out the boon and bain of the L-Twin or L-4 engine configuration. Great primary balance. No need for balancing rods to knock out horrendous vibration and catastrophic engine impolosion. Problem is simple. It cannot be compacted like a narrow V4 or transverse 4.That front cylinder 'pushes' weight distribution onto the front tyre,nevermind what latest suspension you use. Unsticky(cold) front with the load, it just washes out, inside tuck. So Ducati made the chassis infinitely adjustable. Went as far as CF with swing arm and all.
Witness 2003/2004.Potentially most powerfull engine in GP and proved it.
No issues with the powerplant,but integrating the topsy turvey configuration into a manageable chassis is a Nightmare.
All about compromise. Great motor , but to centralize mass in order to make it manageable for everyone,they had to raise Centre of Gravity, in order to make it 'flickable' in 'stop go' circuits. When they go that way, they have inherent problems with fast flowing circuits. Shaking its head in high speed sweepers.
The steel trellis frame was a good compromise. Quick fix at any circuit. Now they bombed the Screamer engine for a good reason, narrow, but massive powerband. Softened everything up. Results as per the graph from 2007 until 2010.
My 2 cents to Ducati would remain :
When you have an ACE that can race it, hang onto him with all you have.

Total votes: 140

Ducati have historic and marketing ties to 90 deg vee engines.
Honda don't so the RC211V engine was 77.5deg giving a more compact engine. To my surprise a quick iternet search hasn't revealed the angle of the RC212V engine. Is it the same as the 211V? Pictures show it as being less than 90deg which should give greater options in positioning it.

Chris

Total votes: 140

65 days to perform a miracle. Tall order for any company. Maybe they have time to crank out a new frame or two. February 1st is right around the corner.

Total votes: 129

Shoulders can take a long time to heal. So as short as the time frame is for the engineers, the medics will need to be busy with rehab - without overdoing it.

Hopefully everyone is healthy and fit for the heat in Feb.

Total votes: 152

From what I heard or read, Edward seemed to contribute a lot for M1 too. When he was at factory team, Yamaha gave him all new parts to test them first. After they were sorted by him, Rossi tested the selected parts, and refined them. No doubt about Rossi's development skill, but can he understand the bike better in just two days than Nicky who has been riding for two years?

Total votes: 136

Excellent article David, and as usual very insightful discussion in the comments. The MotoMatters Army is second to none on the webz.

That being said, running the risk of contradicting my own observation, here's my observation. We know Rossi had been looking at Ducati and vice versa for a while. The rumors had been flying almost before the season began about a #46 switch to Ducati. What if a deal was pencilled in and Duc/Marlbor gave Stoner his marching orders, or at least options to discuss with other teams, in a display of good faith. They could hardly afford to pay both #27 and #46, let alone a MGP and WSBK squad. So Stoner is free to talk to Honda early, a deal is done there, all the pieces fall into place. I doubt Ducati would have WANTED to give up Stoner given the choice, after all he has done for them. And vice versa all the success Stoner has had in red.

Still, I'll bet #27 is way happy now, with a bike that doesnt routinely wash out the front end. I mean, over the past 2 years, if Duc had fixed that front end, how dominant would Casey have been. Clearly he is a VERY fast rider.

And how happy must Honda be right now. Especially in light of Dani's physical condition, no guarantee that will heal fully. I personally hope he does, I think he is a great rider and has shown some real chutzpah this season. Now what will be interesting is the dynamic in the HRC camp if #26 is back to top health and on form. How will Honda manage two very dominant number one riders, we know they dont foster a team sharing kumbya atmosphere in their shed. The drama is mounting before the dust on 2010 has settled

Total votes: 122

As an ex racer, what bothers me about Rossi's test is his overall times ....being 15th means nothing if you're only 1/2 a second off the fastest time, but he was 1.5 seconds away ....that is football fields in this (and most other) classes.

The problem is most race bikes will be perfect up until the last 1/2 second of their best lap time then they turn into horrible buckets of mush trying to get that last bit. You have to really push to find out what the problems are

So either the GP10/11 is so bad that it starts playing up 1.5 seconds away from it's maximum or Rossi didn't go fast enough to find out(I find that hard to believe)

It would be interesting to find out the sector times for the riders, maybe Rossi was pushing in particular areas without stringing them all together for any complete fast laps

Total votes: 141