Filippo Prezioso Talks After Monday's Test: On Ducati Changes, And The Influence Of Audi

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.

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Comments

But I hate those kinds of interviews. The "No answer" answers get old. Nothing against your article David, it's just the constantly super vague style of FP's participation. Why does he bother?

Total votes: 182

Squid, what do you expect him to do, give a power point presentation with his exact plan for the next couple of years?

It's kind of like watching a skilled politician give a speech. I don't buy any of it, but I appreciate the performance.

I really dug the passive aggressive last sentence of this article.

But to answer the question you asked Squidpuppet, the point is to keep marks like you and me entertained on another otherwise slow Tuesday.
XO

Total votes: 147

FP said far more than you give him credit for.

This was my favourite part;

"I think that Audi is a big company."

Total votes: 152

:)

Total votes: 161

David I have a question for you. Among the many rumors surrounding Rossi (Marlboro and Yamaha, Nakamoto and his 2013 satellite riders) there is one quite funny. They say Masao Furusawa has been to Borgo Panigale. Is there any shred of reason to that one? I very much admire him so it would be really cool.

Total votes: 168

I think he has been or is going to Italy, but it could just be for vacation. I seem to remember Yamaha having some branch of their racing department in Italy as well, so that's an alternate theory.

Total votes: 136

Highly unlikely. Yamaha would have a typical anti-competition clause in his final agreement with them. Masao and Vale may be friends but they won't give up corporate secrets of the highest level to each other that would bring a bank busting lawsuit down upon them with 'extreme prejudice'.

It would be a nice day dream to think about though. Anyway, Furusawa was the link between the Yamaha corporate and Yamaha GP team. He led direction of the project and personnel of the project, not the specifics of why a bike won't turn in or spins on the way out.

Total votes: 155

That under-sells him a bit.....He graduated from university and joined immediately jumped into Yamaha Motors in order to design new bike engines, expanded his career to signal analysis, dynamic analysis, and computer software.

From Masao - in 2003, I came up with the cross plane crankshaft and new electronic control to catch up the competitors," said Furusawa. "After that I organised the people, trained engineers, invited the best rider to the team, prepared the budget, negotiated with a strong sponsor and flighted with an enemy inside of Yamaha Motors."

Total votes: 158

typical anti-competition clause

Note that these clauses are unenforceable in many jurisdictions (including in parts of the US), at least where they try restrict your future employment. Exactly what the situation is in Japan, I don't know.

Total votes: 145

Those contacts are enforced at the pinacle level. A low level employee will not be restricted from moving to a competator, but elite level employees with intricate knowledge of a company and their technology will always be enforced by the courts. Otherwise companies could just purchase their way to the top spot.

Total votes: 166

Such clauses are *definitely* invalid and unenforceable in several parts of the world. And yes, it allows companies to purchase their way to the top spot. E.g. California is one I'm familiar with, because I've worked with Silicon Valley tech companies. Part of the reason there's so many tech companies there is because it's so easy for people to jump between companies because they don't have to worry about non-compete clauses. Companies *do* poach staff from each other, regularly.

Total votes: 135

Maybe he doesnt tell much because of the gamble with the parts. They may work or may not. Plus if the parts do work, Ducati doesnt want to "tell" everybody what they changed to make it work. And lets face it, all the other manufacturers do it. They know how to say nothing like nobody else.
He did gave a little insight on how things might work in the future with Audi, which sounds better with accessing various departaments of Audi , and i think Rossi and Hayden will probably stay with them. It will be very interesting to watch if Ducati can get closer to their competitors.

Total votes: 151

that Masao Furusawa and vale keep in pretty close contact (I belive it was the interview he did just after vale discribed the year by year varations 04 - 08 that vale had ridden).

I would be surprised if Furusawa hadn't been consulted... but that's just speculation on my part. Furusawa was pretty resolute that he was retired'.

Total votes: 162

I wish Rossi just leave Ducati.It has been 2 years of mediocrity for a rider of his class.Leave the seat for Hayden, he is a good rider and get some fresh talent for Rossi's seat.FP says 1 Year more, for Gods sake Rossi dose'nt have many more years left in him.

Total votes: 163

You think that you, me and others online know better then him where he is and what is going on?

Only reason he will stay is strong Audi/VAG input. He know where are the problems and what to do.

Do not dismiss Ducati now when they finally have resources.

LP

Total votes: 151

It was just a wish that he leaves, its upto him not me and you.I do not know whether the results will come or not but its frustrating to see him so far from victory.Lets hope he stays and Audi gets the ducati right with their moolah.

Total votes: 138

Preziosi has hinted in the past that people are only assuming the existing engine is a 90 degree.

I think we're learning this year that Yamaha have probably hit the sweet spot in terms of engine design and chassis with its inline four cross-plane layout, considering even the Hondas are having problems. It seems we've got some of the best riders ever, riding right at the outer edges of man-machine performance, and what might have been little flaws in the past are showing up large.

Without another Stoner, and with all their problems, it's going to be years before Ducati can close the gap. The phrase 'You don't know what you've got until it's gone' has some resonance here, doesn't it?

Total votes: 157

Like those that would like to banish Rossi to WSB - you don't know .....
(A bit off topic).

Back to the real topic !

Mass centralisation, now there's a new idea. I'd wager Uncle Jeremy gave Duc that advice 'long' ago.

Some here have suggested Duc are copying the Japanese to produce a Japacati - I suspect they are adhereing to the laws of physics.

Total votes: 163

I was thinking that the 1000 in line 4 would present a larger front to push through the wind, meaning aerodynamics are more important to the Yamaha, and that's the real reason they were always slightly slower than the rest down the straight. However if you add 200cc and extra torque etc on a fixed length straight the Yamaha looses some its disadvantage (i think).

If this gap on top speed is narrowed and you have the advantage of having the most centralised mass and with ease of adjustment, all of a sudden you've got a fast great handling bike, 3 M1s running at the front, with riders that look comfortable on them.

The move to 1000cc suited Yamaha the most and Ducati the least simply by examining engine layout.

Total votes: 157

The Yamaha crossplane inline 4 is easier to move around in the chassis, even easier than Honda's narrow angle V4. This is why Yamaha went with it in the first place, to give them a handling advantage in terms of variables in setup. This is why it is so good for different riders that have different styles and they can all go fast. There is more adjustment available with it than the others.
It can produce more work required as Vale and his crew would sometimes take the entire weekend, even working after the warmup to find the sweet spot. It has its' positives and its' negatives.

This is also why Yamaha haven't had the setup issues with the newer Bridgestone tires. They have more adjustment available to compensate.

Total votes: 158

Was chosen by Yamaha for one main reason. It allows you to use the longest possible swingarm, in the shortest possible wheelbase. This has been outlined before by Yamaha themselves, when giving a presentation on the evolution of the M1. Though mass centralization is a valid theory, it really is only good at giving you a good neutral value from where to start playing with chassis balance. The fastest bikes are always the ones that generally are able to extract the most performance under load from the front tires. This is also why the riders who load the front the most are usually also the fastest, like Rossi and Stoner for example...

Total votes: 143

Money, huge development, analysis of components and hotfixes .... That is what Honda and Yamaha have and Ducati dont have. Until now.

Maybe it was not Prezioso stubbornness. Just lack of resources.

Will see soon.

VAG is financially stronger then Yamaha and Honda together. If Ducati guys have know how, then we will see major step forward soon.

These Germans lately, anywhere they put their noses in ... I think they got sight on the last world moto sport dominated by Japanese.

LP

Total votes: 176

Don't count your chickens just yet.
Pledging 'support' and writing a fat check for tens of millions are two entirely different things...

Total votes: 155

I don't think it is resources that is the problem. Ducati did manage to get themselves into a billion dollars in debt. This means they spent at least a billion dollars and still didn't produce a competitive bike.

Lots of people posting stuff about how great the sales for ducati are. Can't be too crash hot to still be in so much debt at the time of the sale to Audi.

Total votes: 135

So in your mind.. whole debt from Ducati is because of MotoGP?

Interesting.

Look, Ducati to Honda is an ant.

VAG is is a completely different story.

Like it or not. MotoGP is really expensive.

LP

Total votes: 149

So. The factory team that needs the most improvement (by far!) appears to making the least amount of headway while Honda rolls out an all-new machine and Yamaha... well Yamaha is just kicking ass right now, with pretty much every bike they've got on track I might add. Meanwhile Rossi, Hayden and Co. are riding their butts off and actually managing to get some manner of result out of the thing through sheer experimentation with existing hardware. Ducati suddenly seems very small, yes I know they ARE small, but for having a massive sponsor behind them they're coming off pretty inadequate, which is almost unbelievable considering they have the GOAT and a world champion riding for them.

It's just such a bizarre period in Rossi's career, not only did he go to the most challenging (to win on) factory, but it's also the factory that can provide the least amount of support to him and his team.

Total votes: 156

IIRC Ducati have the GOAT because of their massive sponsor. I don´t think PM pay for the bike aswell. But I will stand corrected.

Total votes: 149

PM has been the main sponsor of Ducati since they entered MotoGP back in 2003. So yes, they have been paying for the bike and its riders for a long time.

Total votes: 147

Can someone please define to me what is meant by "new engine" because as far as I can tell, the top end is exactly the same, as is the bottom end. Which means all the major internals are not new. I's the same motor with some upgrades. In my book, this is NOT a new engine...

I could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time..

Total votes: 148

Hard to imagine a man under more pressure... The very fate of motogp seems to be in his hands at the mo..Is he the man for the job?? does his very visible CV give him the edge, wouldn't make the sift I suspect.. Rossi is in a different spot, he's done it all at yam and honda there really is no point if he's not at ducati, and I suspect he knows only too well that with Presiozi holding the reins they won't be competitive next year or the year after it's took him nearly all season to produce some engine upgrades that he has no idea whether they will work(you have to read it to believe it at this level.). The chance to drive all those cars in a variety of 4 wheel competitions must be a big pull though. Changes must be on the horizon. True or not they could badly do with a little chassis help from Furasawa...

Total votes: 152

Meh........it's really getting tiresome isn't it. 'Works Ducati: We're working towards a solution, we got new parts coming' rinse and repeat that line ad infinitum.

Why not interview Hectic Hector instead? Lets see a Ducati interview where the subject of a 'Ducati news' interview actually did something good at Mugello. Ask him about Rossi's pit board, and the fact Hectic put his bike on the front row without getting a tow, while Rossi qualified a mere .8 ahead Espargaro's CRT bike.

I'd read that Ducati interview.

Total votes: 180

No, I mean Rossi's pit board, as I understand both had them, look it up. But thank you for your snark, regardless.

Total votes: 146

One of the announcers mistakenly said Rossi when he meant Lorenzo. His partner corrected him a few moments later.

Total votes: 142

It's pretty well documented that Ducati suffer the same issue. Concentrating on Hector's single good lap instead of focusing on why he went from 3rd to 10th in 4 laps. That would seem a more accurate analysis of ducatis position. I'd also like danilos times but I have no doubt if he is fast enough or even shows real potential then we'll find out soon enough. ..

Total votes: 136

FP saying the same things HRC say about the chatter issues. Same old power complaints at Yamaha. Same old Bridgestone trying to find a solution for all on any weekend.
Audi's backing is a bonus and can be usefull as Preziosi points out in terms of facilities for testing endurance of components etc. Right now thats about it.
Audi are no silver bullit fix for Ducati in MGP.
By the same token,HRC are not in any comfort zone right now in terms of consistently competitive kit week in and week out 2012.
FP's comments are merely par for the course within the given situation.
I too would like an inside line as to Petrucci's lap times as an endurance test pilot.

Total votes: 133

More importantly,whose going to get screwed in terms of prototype contracts ?
Contrary to anticipated announcements, it does look as though Rossi and Hayden are set to race for Ducati into their 40's.
Even amicable Nick is qouted as saying something to the effect that you should not read too much into what journo's say !
Now,thats about the same as Preziosi's Q&A.
Who knows ? Ducati announcement POST Laguna is a safe bet.
I can't see any announcement made prior to that event for obvious reasons.
Meantime,Preziosi is Ducati GP and will probably remain so for the foreseable future.
Can't stand the heat,get out of the kitchen applies to the sales reps not the designers.
Strictly business.

Total votes: 153

My personal view is that Ducati has tended to have bigger ideas than they have talent to execute them. When I think of 'resources', brain power comes to mind before money. Audi has a strong history of success in motor racing. They have lots of really smart people, and I think there is a culture of trying harder imbedded there. Sort of an underdog mentality.

In the 80's I lived a mile from Laguna Seca. I took my 8 year old to watch the new Ferrari F40's do the deed. You know who did the deed? A pair of turbo 2 liter Audi quattro's. Tube frame prototypes that hooked up tandem and smoked the field. Jean Alessi had no chance.

Audi has made a great start embracing Ducati MotoGP. The brass showed up pitside to show Rossi some love and respect. Preziosi confirms their enthusiasm above. They are going to get involved, and they will move the dial, just like they always have. In many ways, they remind me of the old HRC when the man was still alive to lead them.

I am looking forward to how this unfolds. I just hope both Rossi and Hayden are a part of it.

Total votes: 184

‘Audi are no silver bullit fix for Ducati in MGP.’ Pit Bull

Only in the long term I'm thinking.
Huge in depth resources can seemingly be a benefit - HRC's 2013 machine already track ready !!

Inline 4: ‘It allows you to use the longest possible swingarm, in the shortest possible wheelbase.’ Ren-jr.

Really good point I'd forgotten.

‘Changes must be on the horizon’. Hugelean

NH has said he 'knows how hard Duc are working', so worthwhile changes: Please, yes, optimism is still alive.

‘Can someone please define to me what is meant by "new engine." pagik

Agreed - did anyone other than us (we posters and media) use the term 'New Engine' ?
Its like the redesigned Duc has often been referred to as Radical. Really, is it? Comprehensively redesigned yes, but Radical, I think not.

‘Ducati did manage to get themselves into a billion dollars in debt’. Bearforce1

Gosh, have VAG 'picked up' a billion dollars debt?
Have Duc been trying to squeeze updates out of a dry lemon?

‘I just hope both Rossi and Hayden are a part of it’. rholcomb

Sad to think the time frame is probably long.

Total votes: 142

Submitted by pooch on Wed, 2012-07-18 13:26.

Meh........it's really getting tiresome isn't it. 'Works Ducati: We're working towards a solution, we got new parts coming' rinse and repeat that line ad infinitum.

This just about sums it all up. HRC bring forwards the ENTIRE '13 bike. THE WHOLE THING.

"we've got new parts coming" as you've said, at this level, this really is an utter joke. I understand that new parts take time to fabricate. But ffs, it's been 18 months and it's all we hear.....

Total votes: 148

I just had a great idea that would help Duc out tremendously! Partner with Erik Buell!

OK kidding aside the Duc's progression set beside that of the Honda really tells the story, set beside that of the Yamaha it shows how good that M1 really is.

Total votes: 154

Yeah, not realistic, but what Eric Buell Racing is doing in the AMA is astonishing. To go up against Japanese designs that have been refined over decades and honestly take it to them is really really impressive. Now THAT is a great example of David vs. Goliath.

Granted AMA is no MotoGP for sure, but it shows a glimmer of hope that it can be done. Imagine what Eric Buell could do with a company like Phillip Morris funding his racing effort.

Total votes: 159

"Imagine what Eric Buell could do with a company like Phillip Morris funding his racing effort."

Or... maybe a giant Indian Motorcycle Manufacturer? ~wink!~

Total votes: 143

in terms of their technology/practice but surely do not need their management or engineering resources?
As has been said there is good engineering reason behind the Yam and Honda layouts.The main difference with Ducati is the L engine .
If you cannot change the tyres and you cannot beat them, then you have to accept that overall the technical solution they have is better than yours.
Riders can make a difference but only on near-equal machinery, with hugely superior power, or on a given day/circumstance.The rules apear to prevent anything other than a Honaha being competitive. Something has to give.
Are Ducati's problems budget/resources or the masterplan?
Audi seem to have two choices if they wish to win/podium with some consistency - a prototype engine that mimics the Yamonda layout, or get the tyre rules changed.
Personally, I feel that rules forcing a merging of the technology that you can use to win is bad for both the sport and technology development.
If all that is now between Ducati (or Honda) being able to give more than one rider a chance of winning is a tyre, then why not just do that?
I hear all the pros/cons of this but that applies to any part on a bike- including the rider. Money talks, and you need both skill and luck to be in the right place at the right time to make it work for you. Honda may not like tyres being the winning part of their bike but they are probably the only ones who really care.
Dump carbon brakes (their use on road bikes is so remotely possible as to make them pointless), remove the fuel limit. (?Set a maximum power/weight ratio for bike and rider). May the best team win.

Total votes: 153

I know this isn't exactly on-topic but does anybody know how the forward racing test went? They were suppose to confront 4 CRT bikes and I would love to know their conclusions.

Total votes: 152

For years it's only really been Honda & Yamaha. If not for Stoner to mess up that formula occasionally. I like the idea of Ducati having a little muscle sitting quietly in the back of the room keeping the Japanese in check. Though I would prefer it been BMW. AUDI will take a few hard years to learn.

I also fear Ducati just won't listen to plain old engineering facts. The money may sidetrack them.

Total votes: 143

David, what about the rumors in Spanish press about Marlboro talking to Yamaha and Dorna about backing Rossi on the 2nd factory seat?

Total votes: 161

In the Italian press, they are saying that Monster will be sponsoring Rossi in the factory Yamaha team. Don't believe a word of it myself. Will be writing about the whole situation soon.

Total votes: 146

Maybe it's just an issue with Google Translate. Maybe "Marlboro" in Spanish translates to "Monster" in Italian which translates to "complete bulls***" in English ...

:)

Total votes: 149

It's very confusing to me with the press. When I first saw the roumours about Stoner's retirement on your website, and hearing what he said about "dont believe what the press is saying" bit, and then he announced he's retirement, I personally dont know what to believe. My intuition tells me that Rossi will stay with Ducati. Almost sure that Hayden will too.
Waiting for your next posts about the silly season roumors :)

Total votes: 151