The first test at Sepang was a disheartening affair for Ducati. The times of all four Ducati riders - Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso in the factory Ducati team, and Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies in the Pramac Ducati junior team - were well off the pace of the fastest men at the test, with Hayden, fastest Ducati rider, ending the test two seconds behind Dani Pedrosa on the Honda. Ducati acknowledged that they had a lot of work to do, and that there would be no quick fixes. Serious improvement would not come in the short term.
But Ducati Corse boss Bernhard Gobmeier was at pains to stress that improvement would be made, and that Ducati is working on a number of solutions. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro joined Pramac's Andrea Iannone at Jerez this weekend for three days of private testing at the circuit, trying out some modifications which could be tried at the next MotoGP tests at Sepang, just over a week from now. Parts tested included new chassis parts, as well as some electronics updates, which Ducati declared had performed 'according to expectations'.
Italian technical blogger "Manziana" on the Motocorse.com website explains some of the changes which Ducati could have made, including a modified fairing and chassis, to accommodate a modified exhaust system. The changes could have been made as part of the first steps towards a new design, which would solve some of the issues highlighted by Valentino Rossi's crew chief Jeremy Burgess, which include not being able to locate the output shaft correctly, causing the swingarm to be too short and the frame too long. The Italian electric bike blog Moto Elettricheblog posted a diagram on Facebook explaining some of the issues.
We should see at least some of the changes tested by Ducati at the following MotoGP test at Sepang. It should also be clear whether those changes have helped or not. Real change, however, is unlikely to come until the middle of the year, when Ducati is rumored to be introducing a completely new bike.
Below is the press release from Ducati after the three-day test at Jerez:
Ducati Team development test concludes at Jerez
Three days of private testing concluded today for Ducati at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Spain. The riders present at Jerez for the Italian factory were Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, whom it was decided to send late last week in order to provide further development input for the Ducati Desmosedici GP13 bike, together with test-rider Michele Pirro.
During the three days, several new components on the chassis side of the ‘laboratory’ bike were tested successfully and everything went according to expectations. In addition the riders tested some different electronic strategies and they also went according to plan, leaving the team satisfied with the outcome. The success of both of these solutions indicate that the Ducati Team is working in the right direction, in what is just the first phase of its development programme for this year.
The next appointment for the Ducati Team and Pramac Racing Team riders will be next week in Sepang (Malaysia) at the second round of IRTA-organized pre-season tests, scheduled for February 26-28.