After the test on Monday, Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi spoke to reporters about the new parts and new engine which Valentino Rossi had been testing during the day. The test on the new bike came to a premature end, when an electronics failure caused Rossi to crash in Correntaio early in the afternoon. The failure was related to an electronics component failing, though it is not clear exactly what happened. With the ECU having been relocated from below the instrument panel to the front of the tank unit - the same location as on the Yamaha M1 - the finger of suspicion points at heat from the engine creating a problem for one of the components, though Preziosi would not specify exactly where the failure occurred.
Below is what Preziosi had to tell reporters, including the TV interview with Dorna:
Filippo Preziosi: Today we had half a test with Valentino, but because unfortunately we had a hardware problem, for safety reasons we stopped this test, so we received just half of the information we need. It was a good test for Nicky, because he tested a lot of interesting things, and at the end he was quite happy. To be honest all of Nicky's weekend was good. Valentino did a wonderful race, starting unfortunately from the back but the pace was really good. Overall, it was a really nice weekend.
Q: What was the feedback from the parts you were testing?
FP: With what we have tested, in Laguna we will seal engine number 4, as planned. Engine number four is ready to use some additional parts we are developing. Some parts could be delivered directly to Laguna, some parts will be delivered in the following races depending on the final results, and only when we are sure that these parts are an improvement in terms of performance.
Q: What is the plan for the test team?
FP: Now we have to finish the test and test some new parts we will offer to our riders in the next test they will do in August. Now we are working both in chassis and in engine driveability. The problem is really huge, this weekend was a step, but we know we have to work very hard to improve.
Q: The new fuel pod, does this mean you have moved the engine location?
FP: The engine is in the same position as before. We rearranged some components on the bike, in order to compact the the masses around the center of gravity.
Q: What was the problem with the problem with the ECU?
FP: It was a hardware problem of a component of the bike, and for safety reasons we stopped. So now we have to check the reason why we had the problem. Of course it will require a deep analysis to be sure what was the reason.
Q: Was it in the ECU?
FP: It was in a hardware component of the bike.
Q: You've also changed the location of the fuel on the bike?
FP: Yes, for sure, because we have moved some parts from the front of the bike to the front of the tank and to do that we need the space, so we rearranged some components on the bike in order to put all of the mass as close as possible to the center of gravity.
Q: Will you have to seal an engine to use the engine components you have tested here and the additional parts of the driveability package which are coming later?
FP: No. What was our plan was to seal the engine number 3 and the engine number 4 - engine number 4 will be sealed at Laguna, probably - in a configuration which allows us to fit the new things we are developing. So probably, we have still not decided, some components will be delivered in Laguna, other components will be delivered later, but the important thing is that the two engines are ready to use these parts without the necessity to seal an extra engine, with the penalty that this entails.
Q: [Jokes] So it's not a crankshaft then?
FP: [Laughs] No. It's something you can add without breaking the seals on the engine.
Q: In which areas will Audi help you, and how soon will they be able to help you in each area?
FP: I think Audi is a big company. Our competitors have a racing department, but they are part of a huge company. When you are part of a huge company, you have access to some excellent departments and you can speak with these technicians. In the past we were a small company, so we didn't have that chance, but now we have. So I think we can speak with Audi about engines, because they are very good at developing engines; electronics, both strategies and hardware. We can speak with them about materials; about fault analysis when parts break. They have machining facilities, they can produce parts, prototype, stuff like that. I think there are a huge number of different opportunities that we can have now. Of course it will require some time to know the right person to ask about each area, but they are very interested, and it is a new opportunity for us for sure.
Q: When do you expect to have some help from them?
FP: We will start very soon. We were just waiting for the anti-trust investigation to be completed.
Q: What about help on track. Will it be months or years?
FP: I think it will be step-by-step. So the first discussions we have, maybe we can pick up some ideas, some information, and depending on the idea, maybe you can use it in the next strategies in one month, or it may help in the general overview of the engine design, and maybe you need a year. So you will have help in different areas that will show their potential in different timescales.
Though Preziosi gives little away, some of the changes made can be deduced from what he did tell the press. More of the fuel has now been moved, presumably under the seat, to make way for the electronics package in the tank area. Contrary to expectations, the new engine parts tried do not include internals such as modified camshafts. Instead, it is likely that the changes will focus on the intake system, including modified throttle bodies and injectors. The engine casings may have had to have been slightly revised to accommodate the changes, but of this we cannot be certain.
If the changes are focused on the intake system - and possibly on the exhaust system as well, either the visible part, or the manifold, which is hidden behind fairings - then changes can be introduced gradually, as new parts are produced. The revised weight distribution - the fuel and ECU moved in pursuit of mass centralization, motorcycle racing's holy grail - could be deployed fairly quickly, though it will need to be tested to ensure nothing breaks. Franco Battaini and Danilo Petrucci are currently running laps at Mugello, doing the endurance testing on the parts to make sure that they do not fail while on track. But mass centralization is one of the things which could help with the chronic understeer which the Ducati suffers from, currently the biggest obstacle for Valentino Rossi to use his strength in braking and corner entry to be competitive.
Of course, mass centralization is a lot easier with a narrow angle V than with a 90 degree V, which is why Honda and Suzuki chose a narrow angle for their bikes. But perhaps the problem can after all be solved without narrowing the V, as I suggested back in August last year. By the end of the year, we will probably have found out.