2011 Aragon MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Going Over Old Ground, Motegi, Rossi, Marquez

There are a number of subjects that it feels like we've been talking about forever this season. The two biggest are obvious: Valentino Rossi's battle with the Ducati Desmosedici, and Motegi, so it becomes tedious to have to talk about them again. But the reason we keep talking about them is simple. They are big. These are the stories that really matter. So we have to keep talking about them.

The subject of Motegi will not be relevant for long. In two weeks' time, the MotoGP circus will alight at the Japanese circuit, most of whom carrying large packages containing food, and for the more paranoid, even water. All of the MotoGP riders will be there, Valentino Rossi announcing at Thursday's press conference that he would be going to Motegi, and HRC issuing a press release announcing they would have eight (count 'em, eight) riders at Motegi, with Japanese veterans Shinichi Ito and Kousuke Akiyoshi entered as wildcards.

After the front row press conference, Casey Stoner, the very last holdout, admitted he too would be going to Motegi. Like Rossi, he said that the tests had shown no positive results, and after talking to several sources he trusted (including HRC, he added) he felt he had no reason to stay away. The thing he was worried about most of all was the same as Rossi, of an earthquake hitting while he was in Japan, just as had happened to Indycar this weekend. He had experienced an earthquake in Motegi several years ago, he told the press, and he had found it surprisingly frightening.

But he will go, as will everyone else. There will be a large number of 125cc and Moto2 teams sending only the very minimum staff to Japan, many of them just the riders and team managers, and then hiring local staff to work on the bikes. It is conceivable that a large number of teams will turn up with just their riders and managers, and be unable to find staff to get the bikes to run. The teams believe that they will have fulfilled their part of the bargain by turning up in Motegi (the alternative being finding themselves without a spot on the grid for next season), the question is whether Dorna and IRTA expect them to attend, or to actually race.

While the question of Motegi is nearly done with, the question of Valentino Rossi's turbulent marriage to the Ducati Desmosedici looks set to run and run, with still no end in sight. The latest chapter will see Rossi start from pit lane, as the aluminium chassis which Rossi started to use on Friday requires slightly different engine mounts. The mounting points where the longer rear frame spars are mounted are different to the ones used for the carbon fiber chassis, meaning that Rossi can no longer use engines #4 and #5 which he had taken at Assen to allow him to use the GP11.1, the destroked version of the 2012 Desmosedici. The engine Rossi started to use at Misano already had the modified mounting points in situ for the new chassis, but the old chassis would still fit that engine, #6 in his allocation. To allow him to have two bikes with the same chassis, Rossi will now use engine #7, and accept the accompanying penalty.

For full details of the engine changes, as well as an explanation of the engine rules, see the story I wrote earlier today, but the situation is illustrative of the predicament Ducati find themselves in. While it is clear that Casey Stoner was extremely competitive on the various iterations of the Desmosedici, that is not doing Ducati very much good at the moment. As Andrea Dovizioso pointed out at Misano, it has been clear that the Ducati has been hard to ride since Marco Melandri sat in his pit box at Jerez in 2008 with a look of horror on his face. The fact that Casey Stoner found a way to ride around the shortcomings of the bike is frankly irrelevant, after all, Stoner is on a different bike this season, and no longer providing the magic ingredient that was required for Ducati's success. Comparisons between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner are fruitless, as the two have completely different requirements as riders. Like Freddie Spencer before him, Stoner can ride anything, and ride it as fast as the tires will permit. Rossi needs a bike that at least handles: It may be underpowered, it may wheelie too much, it may have issues with rear grip, but if the front is strong and the bike is agile, Rossi is the hardest man in the world to beat. After all, Rossi collected a total of seven world titles in the premier class, and they don't give those away with boxes of breakfast cereals.

The bike is clearly the problem, but what can be done to fix it? It is not just that development work is lagging behind the other factories, Ducati seem to actually be going backwards this year. Nicky Hayden is at a loss to explain, telling reporters "whether it's rider, bike, track, I don't know, but we're just not as fast as we were last year." He had no theories to offer, no explanations, no avenues of investigation to pursue. "Truthfully, I'm not exactly sure why we're slower. If I knew why, then we would have fixed it," Hayden said.

The question is whether the new aluminium chassis will make any difference. Rossi said that it helped, giving him a little more feel from the front. The problem was that Aragon is a track which is more about rear traction than front turning, and so it is far from ideal for testing a chassis that has been designed to help the bike turn and give the front end more feel. It was better, Rossi said, allowing him to ride the bike more like he wanted, but it was not a huge revolution. 

Watching Rossi out on track, he looked more comfortable, but while Stoner and Lorenzo were at one with their machines, Rossi still looked a little stiff and awkward. Go back and watch the races from last year - even ones where Rossi was struggling in mid-pack, or suffering with his shoulder - and he looks like a different rider, regal, supremely confident, able to put the bike where he wants. Perhaps the key indicator to Rossi's comfort level on the bike is the lack of dangling leg, the trademark that he used to get inside the minds of his opponents. As a Dutch journalist friend of mine pointed out to me, the young kids in Moto2 and 125 are dangling their leg less and less, as Rossi keeps his leg close to the Ducati's footpeg.

While the Ducatis are slower, everyone else is quicker, and none more so than Casey Stoner. The Australian has a knack for excelling at tracks he is not particularly fond of, and Aragon is no exception. Stoner's race pace is depressing, for everyone except HRC, Stoner, and his fans. In the first part of qualifying, while Stoner was working with hard tires on his race setup, he was constantly posting low 1'49s. The rest - consisting in this case of Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, as well as Yamaha's Ben Spies - are lucky to be able to post high 1'49s consistently, with a low 1'50 likely to be the target for a strong race pace. That will not be good enough to get anywhere near Stoner though.

The MotoGP race looks to be over before it is done, with Stoner a step above the rest. The fight for 2nd could be good, though, with Pedrosa, Spies, and Dovizoso all pretty evenly matched. The wildcard is Jorge Lorenzo, who on the face of it has a pretty terrible race pace, the reigning World Champion struggling to find a setup. His one hope was for a wet race, he told reporters after QP, and judging by the reports coming from the track this evening, where a thunderstorm has been raging over the track, Lorenzo may get what he asked for.

Just because there is controversy in the MotoGP class does not mean that everything is well in Moto2. Marc Marquez has been ripping up the track at Aragon, much to the dismay of the other Moto2 riders. The reason - apart from Marquez' undeniable talent, that is - is the 2012 prototype parts the Spaniard has been given by Suter. The new swingarm and revised frame now turns better and has more rear grip, and according to Scott Redding, who also tested at Valencia alongside Marquez, the new parts offered an improvement of around three tenths of a second. Marquez sits on pole for the Moto2 race, nearly seven tenths quicker than the rest of the field. It is clear that Marquez is receiving special treatment from Suter - the other teams have been complaining that they cannot buy the new parts from Suter despite having the money to pay for them - but it is equally clear that there is good reason for him to be in such a favored position. The more we see of Marquez, the more it is clear that this is a special talent indeed.

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But haven't we seen the 'Stoner's got it all wrapped up on Saturday' line backfire a few times? It could be someone else finding a setup fix on Sun morning or Stoner for some reason not being able to run his practice pace (weather, tires, fitness) but I think the race is far from over considering the flag hasn't even dropped yet!

As far as Marquez goes, weren't the Moto2 rules intended to avoid what is going on? What's the difference between Aprilia or Suter deciding who is going to win the title? At least Aprilia had a few top level machines available. And from what it seems it's not even about the money, it's about who they want to support. Are they trying to groom the next Rossi? Special parts unavailable to anyone else and a gold-paved road to the top equipment. Not to say Marquez is not fast but with Suter withholding the latest and best parts from the rest of the paddock we won't see who else is fast too.


It's not good for this series for one rider to get special parts over the others. Marc is an excellent rider, and it would have been good to see him finish the year as he was going.

You lot are amazing !! First the Dorna/FIM " cartel " force a spec engine onto Moto 2, now you are bleating because Marquez has got different chassis components. He was already climbing to a different level above the competition. Consistency is the best gauge of a team's competence and # 93 now seems to have it in spades.

Chassis are open..........NOT spec . There are no rules preventing any team commissioning alternative chassis components from another vendor.

And don't forget the golden rule of motor racing :

He who has the most gold, ( usually ! ) rules.

Suter is in a position to win a championship and they've made their parts available to the rider they see as being most capable of winning that championship.

It may well be that Suter does see their main rival for the Championship (Kalex/Bradl) as being in a very close position and wish to give their best hope for the title the best shot possible, and also all of their potential 2012 customers a bird's eye view of the 2012 package. Seems to be clever racing and marketing strategy on their part to me. They do risk pissing off their 2011 customers though, to the extent that they support someone else. Let's see what Kalex brings in response. If they do nothing for Bradl when Suter has stepped it up for Marquez, how many teams will choose the Kalex package next year? It works both ways...

I know it is unscientific to draw an inference from just one data point, so instead I will just state the single data point we have for a Moto2 rider coming to MotoGP - Toni Elias.

Moto2 is so closely associated with MotoGP but there is another 600 cc rider, Chaz Davies, that I believe holds tremendous promise. He has displayed very good race craft and is a demon on the brakes (I saw him last year on the Triumph at Miller Motorsports Park, UT).

...anywhere, though I remember he had some test rides which didn't go off too well.

Quite apart from your recommendation, Chaz also has a very strong recommendation and endorsement as being a star rider from his good friend and fellow rider, a guy called C Stoner.

Would be interesting to see Chaz riding in this series. I expected Keenan to come across and be a consistent front runner but it never really happened. Chaz would be a good gauge of the level in both series.

Has already ridden inthe 800cc class. In 2007 he rode a few races for Alex Hoffman on the Pramac Ducati.

Stoner vs. Rossi comparisons are getting boring... Rossi is a living Legend and Stoner has been an overlooked talent for years even before he won the '07 MotoGP title. The media keeps asking Stoner for his opinions of the Rossi/Ducati situation which helps keep the hype going on and on. But I have not read (as much) about 'Stoner/HRC' views/opinions regarding what is actually happening before everyone's eyes! Stoner is having an amazing year. Casey's success this season is overshadow by the Ducati issue(s). Casey has single-handedly done more this season with HRC what other riders (including Dani) has not been able to since Rossi's time (post Mick Doohan) with the Repsol Honda Team. The Stoner/HRC team-up is a deadly combo even unto other Honda rider/teams. JB spoke of it somewhat. Marquez will surely replace Dani soon enough... and Dani must be really feeling the pressure lately. After years with the Repsol Team, Dani never produced the results that Casey is performing now. Stoner deserves more credit for his abilities that he has had for years! Since 2006, CS has been an alien in MotoGP... now he has the best complete package (currently) on the grid. He knows how to set-up his bike, get the best from his tires, and his race-craft/mind-set has matured! What I'd like to know is: what the heck is really going on with his health condition(s) and training! No speculations etc etc. Input anyone?

Casey's fitness is fine. He said in the qualifying press conference that his fitness is fine, he has been able to train and he feels great. He says he guarantees it won't be a problem tomorrow. It was just a one race thing due to lack of sleep and having to ride very hard in Indy.

Maybe David can ask VR his thoughts on how CS is going on the Honda this year.
CS is looking good for a record number of poles this season and will also go close to record points for the season.

Glad you mentioned him for I feel the same way in that he's the most talented man on two-wheels in general we've probably ever seen, and I also believe Stoner is the most talented since good old Fast Freddie.

Glad to hear spencer mentioned in a nice light. He's the only rider I'd ever heard of til I got into MC racing. Spencer said he was taught to be smooth and just adapt to what he rode, Stoner on the opposite is a bull a bit but allows himself to adjust to what the bike needs. Duc ride it to the breaking point and then hammer the throttle. Spencer just go fast and fling it out when she's ready to climb bring her around.

Rossi sorry to say that starting from pit lane wasn't much of a penalty, lets hope you are truly making setup gains. I can only think of one rule for MC setup that was ingrained in my head. "NO MATTER WHAT ONLY CHANGE ONE VARIABLE AT A TIME AND WRITE IT DOWN BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE PITS" if you change more than one thing its easy to miss what helped and what hurt.

Stoner is definetly a happy man, he's pushed Dani to ride better but DP's man of glass is showing itself he's winning and riding well (better than yrs past) but missing races.

Stoner needs to either figure out what is holding him back" I have suspicisions (sp?) that its a bit embarrasing or private and that is why 2 yrs ago we never did get the real story? Can't be drugs they test for them? Is lactose intolerance that serious I thought you got the runs.

P.S. if theres a moto2 team that needs a good wrench I'll go just buy me a plane ticket and I eat light. I'll supply a pillow, and sleep on a toolbox (needs to be at least 7' long i'm tall)

There is something really wrong with the current race formula that allows the great Marquez to have a steep mechanical advantage too. However I see that Bridgestone are also servants to the push for a Honda championship as well and that is no better. It will be good to see the current era gone and the CRT era ushered in but it's sad it couldn't happen without so much speculation of what could have been.

I don't see the comparison of the two protagonists as 'fruitless' at all! The Italian rode the gp11 for some time and as far as I'm aware, it had minimal differences to the bike that made quite an impression towards the end of last season. He didn't do so good on it either!
Their rivalry is one of the big stories of the season, primarily driven by the disparaging comments from the Italians camp that he has still failed to address in a respectful way. An insincere quip from JB in an offhand interview just won't cut the mustard, and btw I'm sure Stoner cares less about it than some of us!
As for your 'different requirements' scenario... they're just motorbikes David, with proprietry brake and suspension components, a wheelbase within a whisker of each other, a couple of adjustable yoke inserts and levers and pedals hardly different from one of my '78 suzukis, and the SAME tyres. One hour in the garage and I would be surprised if the almost 'forgotten' team of Gabbarini and co. couldn't make that bike 'Stoner friendly'. Would you bet against it?

As Burgess said at a fundraising night here in his home town of Adelaide earlier this year - best $10 I have spent for a while - the problem for Ducati was that they sat back and looked at the 3 or 4 wins for the years, and were satisfied. They never looked at why there were 3 or 4 crashes each year, and that is where they failed simple engineering101 - they failed to look at at the successes and the failures, and understand them all.
Let's face it, without the rare talent of Stoner, the Ducati has looked average for a number of years.
Could Gabbarini and Co make it go as well as it used to - quite possibly. But that's the problem, without Stoner it needs to go way batter than it used to, and not have the front-end feel issues that Casey often managed to ride around, and sometimes couldn't.......

Where's the talk about this kid doing absolutely amazing things down in the 125s? Am I missing it or is it just not there? Marquez is getting hyped, understandably so, yet his kid who looks to be on his way to having the best performance in 125s since Loris Capirossi is being largely ignored. He actually has already surpassed Capriossi in terms of pole positions, fastest laps and number of wins at this point in the season. He currently has all the aliens handily beat in terms of statistics at at the same point in their career. As far as I can see, Maverick looks more like the future Spanish Rossi than Vinales. Unless you're judging them by how fortunate they are in terms of sponsorship and favoritism.

No doubt that Vinales is going very well this season and makes very good use of the great package and team he's working with. However, I don't think it's completely fair to compare his results alone to the first seasons of today's greats in MotoGP. If you look at the 125cc class this year, it's almost been entirely drained of its fastest riders from last year with only Terol staying and at the start of the season we had over a dozen Rookies coming in, the field was almost overrun by them. Naturally this gives a great chance for the new guys to shine. You have a very broad dividing line down the field and the first few races only Terol was really fast and in a league on his own with no real competition until Zarco started to catch up.
All credit to Vinales for catching up with them so quickly and staying there, but his results have to be viewed with a bit of perspective and he also has to be compared to the other Rookies in the class who are not doing badly either, but for the most part are on inferior material (or have been for most of the season, like Kent).

So its reasonable for Ducati to give parts to Rossi before Hayden but not for Suter to give parts to Marquez before others ... and i doubt Suter has the resources that Ducati has.

And with the limited testing I think it is counterproductive for them not to have both factory riders riding what they consider to be the future. It is really only due to Rossi's demands. Nicky said many times that he had the same bike as Stoner's and had no complaints about parts supply. We all can plainly see that the parts supply is not the same with Rossi but Nicky knows which side of his bread the butter is on and will never complain. He's had a factory seat for years and will swallow a lot before having to compete for a Pramac, Tech3, or Gresini satellite seat. I think he'd rather try to get a mile win to complete the Grand Slam than ride for a satellite team.

If Marques was riding for the Suter factory team then it would not be unreasonable for them to keep whatever parts they want but he is not. To refuse teams willing to pay seems to be a good way to piss next year's customers off whether they win the title or not. Who cares how good their best parts are if they are not willing to sell them?


Im still waiting for someone to compare Rossi and Elias. Both are struggling on a 'package' that apparently doesn't suit their riding style. But nobody is spending big money to fix Elias' problems.


If Stoner was still at Ducati in 2011 with every resources under the sun thrown at him - as does Rossi this season; and suffers the same predicament - Would you still be so generous in your assessment that it's the bike and not the rider?

I think most people would rip into Stoner like a cold dagger if he whinged 1/5th as much as Rossi has this season. Yet when Rossi whinge it's considered constructive/ development talk.

The points of comparison are pretty clear to see, and (while everybody is being pretty civilized about it here, unlike some other sites) - guys, the story is written in print large enough for anybody to read.

David tries to maintain strict neutrality and that's a hell of a lot harder to do than to take cheap shots at either rider. Bring your good stuff to the analysis of the racing as a whole, but PLEASE don't let every mtm article become a Rossi/Stoner catfight as happens on so many other sites - all that fanboi stuff is out there for those who want it, mtm is here for us all to get into the things that matter (pun intended!). There's more to motoGp than just Rossi and Stoner comparison..


The subject of Rossi's struggle this year is invariably is closely linked to the Rossi-Stoner subject. They are big stories and continue to be debated.

However to paint my rhetorical question to Dave as fanboi speak is a little harsh. I support Lorenzo; and it is perhaps because of it that I find it difficult to endear myself to Rossi - the demand for the wall in the garage, the 'it's him or me' ultimatum to Yamaha and various snide remarks at his rivals over the years (e.g the classic "Stoner doesn't ride the Ducati hard enough") are a few examples that reflects poorly on the man.

Media reports points to several reasons why Rossi has struggled; firstly it was the shoulder - where Rossi claimed costed him 0.5s a lap. Then his season unravelled and we were told it was the forks, bushings, Casey was at fault for not developing a good bike, Bridgestone got blamed for the tyres, the engine and frame are also to blame.....

Rossi got what he wanted - an metal frame for which he supposedly tested 80+ laps on. Then Aragon was blamed for being too different to the test track.

My question is; when will a journalist finally ask the million dollar question:

"Errm....What about the rider?"

Afterall, the rider is one the biggest contributing factors to performance; or is Rossi's reputation on such a pedestal that it is dared not challenged?

My questions are not so much directed at Dave- whose writing and journalistic skills I respect immensely. It is to the media as a whole.

Every race weekend, Valentino Rossi gets asked why he can't win on the bike that Stoner could win on. His answer is always the same: "Casey ride this bike in a very good way. I cannot ride this bike like that."

Rossi is clear: he cannot reach his own potential on the bike as it is, so the bike has to change. Judging by the results of the other Ducati riders, he would appear to be correct. The fact that Stoner could ride the Ducati is irrelevant, as Stoner is no longer riding the Ducati.

I think the performance of Hayden is the true test. End of last year he was finally coming to grips with the Duc. Nobody has ever accused him of being an alien but last year he had a 3, 4, 5, and 6 in the last 6 races. That is not too bad in the current company. I think maybe Rossi decided too quickly he couldn't ride it as Stoner had been and since then have been changing so many things with so limited seat time that he doesn't have time to get any decent comfort level with any version of the bike he rides. Karel and Hector have not been doing too badly mainly because they are used to the package and it is familiar so they can push it.

I was wondering if Ducati would bring an original GP11 (was it not very close to the end of year GP10?) for Nicky and Rossi to test at Aragon since at least Nicky had old settings to start with. They both have good available engines in that version of a chassis but I get the idea Ducati does not want to look back for various reasons. It would be a real black eye if last year's bike turned a faster lap time after all the effort they've been through. Funny though because Yamaha doesn't seem to have a problem running (and sometimes winning with) a largely 2010-spec chassis?


1. Stoner was able to find a set-up which also helped Hayden, and what we're seeing this year is Hayden without that help;
2. The tyres have changed again since yast year in a way that further disadvantages Ducati;
3. The development direction that works for VR is not working for Hayden... or maybe it feels better, but is actually slower.

Of course it might be my imagination that is falling short.

Declaring that the bike is 'clearly the problem' is hardly neutral!
A racing motorcycle is a useless, inanimate pile of bits and pieces in your shed without a rider and someone to keep it running. It's a disrespectful indictment to teams that have been able to achieve success on similar machines wouldn't you say?

Gabbarini did a fantastic job with Stoner, allowing him to ride the bike. But Marco Melandri is ripping up World Superbikes, Nicky Hayden is a former World Champion, Loris Capirossi is a rider with many wins to his name. It's clear that the bike is poor. What Stoner could do with the aid of Gabbarini was exceptional.

The Ducati at its best has been blindingly fast, and spectacular to watch, but clearly difficult to ride. I suppose a bike that can only be ridden fast by one rider is a poor bike. It's a matter of perspective. But it seems to me that as soon as Ducati tried to make the bike easier to ride for Hayden and others a couple of years ago they screwed it up, even for Stoner. If I recall correctly that's when Stoner started complaining about the front end problem. Now it seems that all Rossi and Burges have done with the changes they have requested is to make the bike even slower for "ordinary" riders. Refer to Hayden's comments. He says that the bike is slower and no-one knows why. Maybe the bike in its current figuration will only work for Stoner, no matter what changes Ducati makes. And maybe they need to swallow their pride and copy Honda and Yamaha. Surely winning is more important than misguided loyalty to some discredited Ducati design philosophy. No-one complains about the Ducati engine, which differentiates Ducati from the Japanese. Just fix the damn frame.

I have to agree with you on this one Bob. Rossi himself contradicts David when he says he cannot ride the bike like Stoner. Clearly the rider is a major contributing factor. David sounds like a politician who wants us to forget the past and only look forward (Stoner v Rossi on the Ducati, even though there is a direct comparison with Rossi's test of the GP10). Or, maybe only remember bits of the past that reflect favorably on the writers argument (7 times world champ remember!)

Lets put this into perspective..

If any other rider said to his team, 'Look, I know your bike is capable of winning races on occasion, but I can't win on it, so you will have to design a bike that I can win races on.', do you think the team would redesign the bike, or start looking for another rider?

Which other rider would you put on it? They have all failed, all except one. Capirossi, Hayden, Rossi, Melandri, all are world champions, yet they are lucky to get on the podium with the Ducati 800. Ducati's only hope is to sign Casey Stoner again, and he seems perfectly happy at Honda. That's not a good long-term strategy.

You don't measure it in litres or gallons and it's not the same in nature for all riders. The fact that Rossi cannot do what Stoner did on the Ducati does not necessarily make hime a lesser rider. There may equally be things Rossi did on the Yamaha that Stoner couldn't do. We'll never know.

Moreover, to jump from that argument to say that the Ducati is just fine is a breath-taking leap of non-logic. Even if they brought Stoner back, history suggests he would be behind Lorenzo. On the Honda he is well in front. Ergo, the difference between a Honda and a Ducati would appear to be 3 places in the final points, even when ridden by the rider who had the greatest affinity for the thing.

Well, didn't Aragon throw up some interesting perspectives... Hayden on the factory bike battling with a satellite Ducati; Rossi's new-improved-version faster in a straight line than a satellite Yamaha or a satellite Yamaha, but slower in several corners, so he gets beaten by a MotoGP rookie on a satellite Yamaha. Hayden is absolutely correct about the bike being slower this year. In fact, Hayden was a staggering 25.689 seconds slower over 23 laps this year than he was in getting on the podium last year - more than one second per lap. Now, forgive me, but I would have thought that a professional team could do better than that. If Hayden had his 2010 bike at Aragon, would be have performed better this year? Judging by Hector Barbera's effort on a satellite Ducati (presumably based on the 2010 machine) one would have to say he would. Also, has anyone else bothered to do the arithmetic and worked out that Stoner was actually faster last year on the Ducati? Question: "Has Rossi taken Ducati down a blind alley?"

A blind alley? A very good question TheBaron. Seems Stoner was 100% right. Rossi and Burgess should have spent time to learn the bike properly over a few races before changing anything. But no, they were arrogant, they thought they knew better. I have very little sympathy for them. Rossi has had an amazing career, and everything seems have gone his way most of the time. Until now. A little humble pie never hurt anyone.

And we constantly hear about Burgess and his achievements, but I think that Stoner's crew are unsung heroes. Look at what they have achieved with Stoner, not only on the Ducati, but this year with the Honda. Credit where credit is due.

Putting a positive spin on those facts shouild present a challenge to the PR dept........... There has been a deafning silence, re Stoners comments that the carbon "chassis " was not the problem. If I recall, the claimed " fix " last year at Aragon was a seating position change and reverting to the 2009 forks, which still tends to point to a related weight distribution/geometry/ fork issue. Newer is not necessarily faster..............

At Rossi's insistence to exorcise the Stoner legacy, Ducati have thrown the baby out with the bathwater and appear to have adopted a scatter gun approach to development.

After today's fiasco, the straws are getting really short..............

No amount of frame modifications will change the results for the Ducati's until the crankshaft center is lowered from its current location, full stop. This is not easy to do with the current engine configuration and a full redesign of where everything is located would be required including new engine cases. No small feat to accomplish.
There are of course many other considerations in conjunction with moving the crank center , but that is the core issue.
I wish them luck because someone needs to keep the satellite teams supplied with bikes they have a chance to do well with. At the current rate those private teams can't be very happy and can always take their money elsewhere. The show will get deminished if only Honda and Yamaha can supply bikes.

Now we have Suter making progress in Moto2 with chassis development. This also opens the door and provides evidence that CRT teams can be effective. Marquez having special parts not available to the other customers is not related to lack of fair play, but probably related to validation testing and production capability. These new parts have only just been tested with a rider good enough to prove the concept, so they have him use it in a race setting at a new track to validate in public. If the updates work everywhere, they might make them available to those who want to buy them after. Since we don't know what all has changed it could also be that a new/different chassis would be required to mount the new swingarm or suspension linkage. I don't think Suter would conspire against his customers.

You're saying the crank is too high, meaning the CoG is too high? That would cause excessive weight transfer, leading to good front and poor rear grip on corner entry, with excess wheelies and so lack of acceleration in the final stage of corner exit, would it not?

That doesn't appear to be the problem.

Crank center does not mean CG. The effect of the spinning crank in the current location in relation to the rake and wheelbase is causing the lack of feel and corner entry problem the riders have described over the last few years. Right now the bikes are further out of the available adjustment window than even last year...
The riders have not been as vocal about what you described, so I take it that the corner entry issues are the most pronounced and have been a fundamental problem.
Weight bias, not weight transfer, issues have different symptoms and don't seem to be the biggest problem for the riders right now.

I stand by my statement, and it is fun to watch what will happen. Hope to see more photos as the bike progresses into GP12. The only real clues we have are the changes seen in the photos and its not easy to find a good side shot in the garage with the engine exposed.

I think it's natural that the newest parts go to Marquez at this very situation, it's Marquez vs. Bradl, Suter vs. Kalex. In the beginning of the season no customer would accept it.

Ducati simply has to make a bike that works on the control Bridgestones. That unfortunately means the bike has to be like the other machines. I would point out that as incredible as Freddie Spenser was-- and I loved the guy-- his career was dead short after the double win on the 250/500 season. I'd note that burgess was a mechanic for Spenser for his last 500cc championship.
The fact that no one can put the Ducati close to a podium this year, and simoncelli can totally blow a turn and still place 4th says the hondas are all conquering. The only thing that keeps Lorenzo up front is his remarkable precision lap after lap.
I'd like no control tires, more fuel, increased testing, qualifying tires, and no gps electronics. Then we'd see something. This season it's been "who can ride Bridgestones fastest?"

Plus one for that. If we're comparing this year's Hayden with last year's how do this year's Bridgestones compare with last years? And is there any indication that the tyres are being designed to work more with Hondas and Yamahas and less with Ducatis.

When the field first started moving to Bridgestones there was lots of talk about race engineers having to change weight distribution to match Ducati's rear bias. Then with the control tyres they all progressively moved back to a more neutral layout. Except Ducati who can't because of the engine layout and Stoner then started having unexplained front washouts.

However having a unique manufacturer, if anything, is an equalizer.
Everybody gets identical tires and every manufacturer and team has to figure out how to extract the last inch of performance from them.
For sure going from Ducati being Bridgestone biggest team to Bridgestone supplying everybody on the grid, the tires lost part of their "Ducati suitability".
But that's fair game, that's the same for everybody, they all get to test the tires at the same time and develop their bikes around them.

This is the kind of excuse that no one thought of when Stoner went from champion and runner-up to 4th from 2009...exactly when the unique tire was introduced.
Funny that no one would even dare mentioning this for Dani and the Hondas neither.

Ducati and Rossi are clearly underperforming, Nicky admits they are going backwards without knowing why, if it was as simple as tires they would know by now.
Finding "special excuses" for Rossi's distress this year is almost an insult to his skills and talent. If you never thought of this excuse for other riders underperforming, be fair, don't mention it for him neither.

Starting blaming the exclusive tire supplier 2 years after it was introduced just because for the first time it might not favor Rossi is not fair.

My view is that any tire should be available to any team. I didn't like the control tires then, nor do I in any motorsports. Considering bridgestone is locked in, can a single small manufacturer seriously complain their tires are totally unsuitable? No one but stoner has ever ridden that machine to a win since stoner's championship. At the same time, the Ducatis have wrecked more than all the other makes, and it's only been pure luck that stoner never broke a bone or suffered a potential career killing injury like Toseland.
Perhaps Ducati needed a rider with clout like Rossi to point out that playing musical chairs with riders wasn't solving the basic problem--a bike unsuitable for any style of riding other than a slider. I'd like to have seen McCoy on the thing, as his sliding style seems to be what the bike responds to.

Can someone please explain to me why control rubber is bad ?

Does anyone remember when it was open slather and you had 'favoured' teams who got preferential treatment, Michelin at one stage cooking up special compounds overnight for favoured riders ?

Or if you were contracted to a particular brand and they got it wrong, (or not as right) you were light years away from the pointy end ?

With control tyres it reduces the costs dramatically for both the manufacturer and those that have to buy them, and also at least gives the lowliest back marker the same chance on tyres as the best funded factory effort.

If you can't setup up the bike (or car) for the case construction and compound used it says more to me about the engineering of that team and less about the tyre.

First off, there is always preferential treatment but now it is usually access to the latest software.

If racing is only to provide good entertainment to the viewing audience then spec tires are good and NASBIKE is our future. NASCAR has gone so far with the spec aspect they even have a spec car (the Car of Tomorrow) to ensure parity and close racing. That's big brother looking out for us. Thanks, but no thanks.

If you see GP racing as trying to improve the breed then spec tires suck. No new development because you need to design around the tire. I've said many times that a major factor in Ducati's woes is the spec tire. They had BS' sole attention for a few years and had a solution that worked with their unique design. As they went to the spec rule with a generic tire design Ducati's performance went downhill. To me there is something silly about having several major manufacturers and a small one or two devote such an extreme level of resources to design a motorcycle around a tire that had been sitting in a sea freight container for a few months and was designed using year old weather data. Is it really saving that much money? I can't imagine Ducati thinks so. Is it really pushing technology forward? I don't think so.

I remember the tire wars fondly. Qualifying was really exciting and mixed the grid up a lot as a few of the riders were able to leave the brain in the garage and pull off a real flyer even if their race setup was bad. I think this is a never-mentioned reason why the racing is so processional these days, your race setup is your qualifying setup is your race times so the sorting process starts Saturday afternoon instead of when the flag drops on Sunday. The slow race setup guys are already in the back with no chance of getting a tow.

Yes, especially once the interm 2008 tire rules (all tires chosen before weekend starts) were in effect, it threw up a few routs (it is a war after all, routs do happen). With the boring races we've been having even that could be considered exciting! And maybe we'd have more than just nearly the same 4 winners per year over the past 4 years.


Chris, you make some good points.
Part of me would love to see the ultimate category on two and four wheels as a 'run what ya brung' scenario with virtually no limits of any kind, just to see what creative minds let loose can do, but that's then becoming a category for engineers and not necessarily riders/drivers.
The NASCAR approach leaves me cold, so I was disappointed when I heard how the Moto 2 regulations were formulated.
At least the FIM didn't go with a spec chassis too.

Having raced at lower levels with spec tyres I see them as one of the lesser evils in terms of rules, and they do reduce costs for the tyre manufacturer and competitor, although as we know, if a team has money and the rules are tightened "to reduce costs" the engineers will find a way to spend it on a work around.

As I said above, if the tyre's the same case construction for everyone and one team is having major, continual issues compared to their competitors, of course it can be said the tyre doesn't suit the chassis, but I can't blame the tyre.

Bear in mind I know two tenths of bugger all on setting a bike up (I come from cars) I was thinking the problem with the Ducati is along the lines of poor weight distribution (due to the engine design not loading the front tyre enough) but someone mentioned on one of the other threads that they believed it more to do with the height of the crank centreline and the gyro forces it's imparting through the chassis.

Thoughts ?

According to the Bridgestone press release:
"Even though our tyre compound options were the same this time as at Aragon last year, because the track conditions were different this year so was tyre behaviour."

I find really surprising watching so many comments, even here, going around the preconception that the Ducati D16 was a winning machine, when it's a well known fact that it was always a problematic racebike if compared to the others.
Be it on "screamer" or "twin-pulse" engine config, on trellis or semi-monocoque frame, it was always a difficult concept, both in MotoGP 990cc and 800cc era. It's not a recent thing.

- Casey Stoner won a title with the Ducati D16 on somewhat peculiar circumstances of the championship in that year, and it was his brilliant riding that was hiding/disguising problems on it during the last seasons (now made even more obvious).

- Sete Gibernau turned into a fiasco while riding the Ducati D16 (990cc) when he had years of success with the Honda RCV211v and decent results on the Suzuki GSVR prior to that (not mentioning with 500cc Honda and Suzuki machinery years before).

- Nicky Hayden, sucessfull with the RCV211v 990, always complained about the Honda RCV212v 800, for not being able to "gel" with it (bike had been built around Dani Pedrosa), yet he has not been able to produce any better results on the Ducati D16, worse too many times.

- Marco Melandri is the biggest example of them all though.
He (too) was a huge fiasco (last places on the grid) when riding the Ducati D16 after being so successful with the Honda RCV.
...difference is, he came back a year later -already the season had started- on the HAYATE private machine (which was a "previous year" Kawasaki ZXRR) and instantly delivered some amazing results, simple as that, shockingly.
He is currently a front runner in WSBK, on his rookie year.

...what does all this tell us?
That the factory Ducati riders weren't and aren't that good?
Are they the ones to blame for the bad results, and not the bike?
Heck, even the MotoGP privateer riders always seemed to struggle after switching from Honda/Yamaha machines to Ducati ones, has anyone noticed?
Better even, does anyone have any doubts that Rossi would be consistently challenging for the podium (for the least) was he on a Honda or Yamaha factory team instead?

Bayliss says their upcoming WSBK Ducati (1199) is "on the money" (broke his own fastest ever lap at Mugello while testing it)...
Perhaps Ducati should drink some inspiration on that to redesign -from scratch- their MotoGP bike? (they can't do any worse with the current "evolution from old" design anyway)

I don't think anyone is claiming the Ducati is an awesome bike. It clearly has 'unique characteristics" and even Stoner has said it is exceptionally hard to set up correctly. However, he has also said that he thinks the chassis concept is ok... so are we to ignore his point of view because he could actually get results out of it?However, this train of thought that it is a complete steaming pile of poo, now that Rossi has demonstrated his inability to ride it fast, is a bit over the top. The Ducati had a similar amount of wins in '09 and '10 as the Honda. Can you then say ohhh... obviously the Honda is crap since only Pedrosa can win on it, and even then only very occasionally?

Stoner and his crew was able to set up the bike and ride it for wins... this is through a particular set of skills... not by magic (or 'tricks' as characterised by David in earlier articles). Other top riders should be able to (or at least try to) replicate these skills to some degree, no? This is what they are paid big money for.

The Ducati won at Aragon last year in a similar time to the Honda this year... Pedrosa came second on the Honda again in similar circumstances. The Ducati, after much money thrown at it and many Rossi approved chassis updates that have 'improved the feel' looked nowhere near winning, yet you claim it is all the bike... this staggers belief. Even RdP was showing excellent race pace in FP and qualifying. This waffle about being slower because they are developing the bike doesn't add up. Going slower is not development, it is regression. Why not return to the concept that could at least win occasionally, rather than developing a bike that a certain rider feels better on but is embarrassingly slow?

Here is a question for you... Do you think Ducati are happy with the results of their investment in the supposed greatest rider of all time?

That people are still arguing about whether the Ducati has a problem. Everyone who rides it or has ridden it says the bike is difficult and needs to be improved. Ducati agree.
The only thing of interest is how to fix it.

The rest seems to be some pent-up resentment of Rossi's status as a great rider (deserved or not) and a desire to bring him down a notch or two. It's the sort of petty "well, I faked all those orgasms" mentality that sets in during the acrimonious break-up of a relationship.

Do those people feel he cheated on them?

Of course I could not agree more with you. There is a bunch of "anti-fan" who can now expel they resentment against Rossi. That's childish and there is not much you can do.

I believe there is one question which is worth to be asked in a civil way. The JB/VR was allegedly the right ingredient Ducati needed to fix the bike. Now it's too early for a definitive judgement but so far what we have seen is not encouraging. The control tyre may (who really knows it?) be not in their favour but the magic has not flourished. It's not about saying it's JB or VR or Ducati fault. To me is more about there is not much of a chemistry so far. Loosing 2011 for development is fine. They may not be competing for WC in 12 and that's OK. But I believe that next year they combo should deliver more.

If they won't it's not that Ducati should be judged a bunch of incompetent people or JB stature demeaned by that. Rossi will still be a living legend (second most successful rider in history). But it would be fair to say that the three together do not work out as expected.

This is a fascinating question. It seems to me there are grosso modo 2 possibilities:

-that Ducati are so far off in the wrong direction that VR/JB are needing a lot of time to reverse out before they can start going forward again;

-in fact there is a way of making the Ducati work, that is different to the way the Japanese bikes work but equally effective. And that way is maybe not so far from where they were last year but VR/JB have missed the turn-off.

The second option is one of those things that can never be dis-proved, so there will always be criticism if the Rossi-Burgess crew fail to find it. Also, the fact that last year the bike was close in the lap-time sense with Stoner riding it is no guarantee that the changes needed to bring it to the performance level of the Hondas is small... these things being annoyingly non linear. It seems possible that the Ducati has developed along a path that is somewhat parallel to the other bikes, but it has now run up against the ultimate limit of that path of development.

Or not. Maybe if Stoner had stayed, AND Ducati had been willing to throw a lot of development money at the bike with him on it, they would have progressed further in the same direction.

Realistically, they haven't tried much yet. Swapping some bearings, changing the swingarm... even the latest chassis change amounts to a small increment in the length of the spars if you aren't willing to believe that CF is an inherently inappropriate material (and I'm not). Everything between the swingarm pivot and the forks is still very different to anything else out there, and very different to Ducati's own successful superbike.

The story still has a way to run :)

Haydens quote that he can not work out why he is slower this year than in 2010, does make me think [as others have commented] it is the side wall stiffness of the tyres has changed, and that change does not suit the Ducati.
In my humble opinion that could explain some of what has caught Ducati out this year

Much debate and opinion to digest here. Starting with Suter and Moto 2/Marquez. I said a year back that given a one engine rule in Moto2,the 'works' effort in this class would naturally progress to a state of affairs where the best and most well heeled teams/riders would get preferential treatment in the chassis department. Its come to pass. In Moto 2 gone is the frenetic scramble race in and race out between a dozen riders/teams. The pattern of top rider/bike/team is starting to establish itself with a mordicum of predictability. It remains a 'feeder' prototype class for GP and emphasis on chassis is the obvious area of exploitation within the ambit of the law. Fair enough.
MotoGP and Ducati. I have my theories,but mine will inevitably focus on their rider selection rather than the fundamentals of the bike.
A lot ado is made of Capirossi,Melandri and Hayden's failures to deliver stellar results against Stoner in 800 Ducati GP. Melandri's star was fading post 2005.
Stellar year for Nicky in 2006 and thats all. Capirossi was about 33 when he faced Stoner back in 2007 as a 21 year old. Now Ducati lumber themselves with a pair of ageing and slowing riders in the factory team. How old are Lorenzo,Stoner, Pedrosa,Dovi,Simmo and Co ? They can give the Ducati factory riders a half a dozen years to play with. That is a huge lifespan in GP. Unsurprisingly,Barbera and Abraham on their 2ND Tier Sattelite D16's have impressed. There are other issues outside of the bits and pieces that once made for a potential race winning bike week in and week out. Rossi's racecraft is still there,but his ability and youthfull exuberance is systematically being tempered with much caution. I think the Mugello 2010 incident just slowed him down the .5 a lap he needs to be competing up front 2011. 33 years old before he revs the GP12 in anger on the start line next year in Qatar. It only looks bleaker for Ducati as the clock ticks on. Great ride by him in Sepang last year,granted,but Stoner was in the Kitty Litter,Dani was out,Lorenzo was riding for the title and thats all.

Ah... another recent and amusing theory of rider performance on MotoGP... age!
Saying Rossi, Hayden and alikes are "old people" and "ready for retirement" is downright funny.
Those guys are little over 30 years old, they're trained athletes in body and mind, with a LOT yet to give to the sport.

Wayne Rainey was 30+ when he won his 3 titles (and who knows how many more if that horrific accident didn't happen!).
Mick Doohan was reigning the scene past his 30s too.
Kevin Schwantz, Eddie Lawson, Kenny Roberts Sr., Barry Sheene, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, and so many of the "All Time Greatests" were still on a high and writing history books in the GP scene, past their 30s.
Look at Troy Bayliss, Carl Fogarty, Joey Dunlop, Max Biaggi, Nori Haga, Carlos Checa, Matt Mladin, Pier Frankie Chili... list goes on and on.

Injuries, morale, sponsors and especially how a rider is able to adapt an older "school of riding" makes a difference for that retirement time.

Perhaps the problem is that last bit... many of these "older" riders may have a lesser ability of excel (or adapt) to the "safe-cornerning-on-rails-lean-until-you-fall" more modern way introduced with the intrusive electronics, to which the younger talents gone specialized so fast (having no previous vices in their shorter careers).
....would love to see the "young stars" taming a savage 500cc 2 stroke GP, or early 990 MotoGP beasts of "drift n' slide"...

Like Rossi Said, Time is their enemy and restriction on testing for cost effective has hurt them more.
Ducati has been trying differents parts, the swing arms,bearings,changed the weight distribution,firing rate and most latest the aluminium front.

So far nothing has worked out.
What Rossi need is bike that can handle,be agile, not neccesary for power,if this was the condition he would have been wining.

There has been lot of talent on the ducati and many have complained. It's sure tht CS was exceptional in 07 but after tht he had DF's.
It clearly state tht bike is real problem,cause it hards to accept all those riders who rode this aren't talented at all....
N now the tire add more fuel to the situation especially this year,all manufactures is suffering and here it hurts ducati the most.

So Basically Ducati needs a Major Revamp... A New from scratch with aluminium twin spar frame, and engine not as stressed member etc etc.....

Rossi mentally has put effort to resist this situation of his and hold on.A Rider have who have always won,it hard to see him like this,i bet no rider would hold it like he does.thts whats make him different.
He is Natural Born Exceptional Talent.

Hope GP12 Will be major break through...

There is a natural leveling of Moto2 each year as any "aliens" move up to MotoGP leaving a bunch of old OK riders and new riders from 125s.

There has been a lot of complaining about the entertainment factor of MotoGP this year with Stoner steeting the field. Was this an issue when Rossi dominated seasons in the past. Surely Doohan winning 12 of 15 races must have been a snooze fest. Agostino winning race after race on the only factory bike in a field of 10 or 12 amateur bikes must have been like taking candy from a baby.
This is the top flight where the best riders meet. It is a development class with bikes leap frogging in capability. I believe we should be able to appreciate the class and skill of these top riders for there ability when they street the field as much as a paint scraping battle. I think the battles of Ducati to get the bike up up speed is also a story in itself.

David has alluded to the balance of technology and entertainment. Maybe that is what we can look forward to in Part 2 of the article. My comment is to be careful what you wish for.
I wouldn't want to end up with NASCAR on 2 wheels!

Unique ...Special..... Different..... Do this words mean anything to all of us?
Ducati is a unique motorcycle. So us a unique motorcycle it's not possible to be driven by just anyone. That's the major problem. Casey is the one but that not makes him the best rider. If he was the "one" why Ducati gave him to Honda? Why they pay Rossi so much money? Why they spent so much money to fulfill Rossi's needs?
It's because they knew from the very beginning that their bike is not the best on the grid. The problem is not why Rossi don't win. The problem was that Casey couldn't win the championship. The problem will be that Rossi will not be able to win the championship. Open your eyes!!!! They knew that their bike isn't constant enough to win the championship. That's why they hired VR/JB to help them. How many of you believe that if Stoner was on a Duke this year he have won the championship? I bet none. Desmo (valves) was a brilliant idea. But two pieces of chassis (no matter the material) with an engine (especially this one) connecting them it's not a brilliant idea. It's just a wrong concept.

PS: Make 10 laps with a cbr1000rr. You will start to put better and constant lap times after 3 or 4 laps. Then get on a 1198 (which is much more conventional than GPxx) and you will need 20 laps to start to be faster but not constant. That is not the way to win a championship (ask Lorenzo).

Just how competitive the 1198 is against the CBR1000RR. Seems like the Honda and all the other 4 cyl aluminum beam-framed machines have a lot of catching up to do in WSB.

Ducati didn't give Casey to Honda. Casey left Ducati because he felt they did not have the resources to compete at the top level. Once bike design per year was not cutting it and therefore he went to the biggest operation on the paddock that regularly rolls out new chassis and parts at riders requests. I am not guessing at this, Casey has said as much in several interviews.


Reported on 'GP Week' this morning: VR when asked if he thought the Bologna engineers were losing there way, with this his third chassis of the year, replied obliquely >

"For me we have a great engine."

On the surface thats a giant sidestep to the question.

He then says

"This (new chassis) is one way to try, but if after a few races we don't improve, maybe it is not the right direction."

Seems to be summed up in his comment "It looks like we don't fix a lot."

Ghostrider11 - Perhaps you should contact Ducati and offer your services as a rider and engineer. You seem to have all the answers. Who would have thought that Ducati, Burgess and Rossi are all so stupid as to have not figured it out - all they have to do is one quick phone call to you and presto - a winning bike again!

Rossi once stated that Casey wasn't riding the Ducati hard enough... Stoner's reply to Rossi was... wait until he rides my bike next year!? Rossi and JB are making the Ducati into another Japanese machine in order to win! Casey's recent opinion regarding the Ducati was about all the changes being made before each part is put through a proper evaluation for race use! So basically, ride what you're given to the fullest before you change to the next part. Simple yet lost on the requests of Rossi. Rossi isn't willing to ride the bike like Casey's take no prisoners stlye... so it's taking the team a very long time to find the answer to the GP11.1 dilema! Given the bike that Stoner left behind (winning on by-the-way) with a few tweeks, Stoner would be in the top 3 this year. The Ducati needs to be ridden hard with confidence... tamed by brute force through the clip-ons and foot-pegs!

IMO, Rossi is pushing and riding as hard as he can and taking risk. His frequent trip into the gravel says as much. However, he is not able to ride like Casey is also true, he said it himself. It is not that he is not willing.......

What happened to 'it's the rider, not the bike' and 'the rider should just ride around problems' comments from earlier in Rossi's career? Now that he is unable to unlock the secret to at least looking competitive on the Ducati, there is much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth about how it is all the bike and nothing to do with the rider. Funnily enough, no-one cut Stoner any slack about the bike when he was crashing it alot and complaining about the front end problems.

The earlier statements by Rossi now appear to be the height of hubris.

I think Rossi, Burgess & Co are probably the most (technically) cohesive group on the paddock but they hugely underestimated the challenge of adapting and setting up a design that is unlike anything else they ever placed their hands on (unknown territory)... they wanted a challenge and certainly found it!
The fact that the Ducati factory does not seem to open hand (commercial reasons, the upcoming 1199?) of what is being considered as a flawed design and keeping on updates for that instead, is possibly another factor in this whole nightmare adventure which, most likely, was not in their wildest guessing when joining the italian manufacturer.

Dissecting wether Casey Stoner could win riding a flying pig that noone can ride as good (or not), or pointing fingers to Rossi for something he said almost a decade ago (when there weren't as many rider assistance electronics, the rider WAS more important) will not provide any indication or solution for obvious Ducati problems at this moment, it's irrelevant (except for fanboy type debates).

Give credit where credit is due and practice what you preach... was my point of the remarks Rossi made to Stoner. Not that he's (nor am I) an engineer but Stoner already told Ducati from his viewpoint how to fix the bike some time ago. So why is Stoner constantly approached by the media on the Ducati dilema? Casey was the only rider to tame the Ducati because he knew where to find the answers! Flying over to Italy to pick up my 1199 in a few months!

It is a single track vehicle. It has a wheel at the front and a wheel at the back (hopefully) aligned with the one at the front. It has an engine in between. It has the same tyres as everyone else. The same forks, the same brakes. But does Ducati have the correct steering angle, the correct fork clamp off-set, the correct distance between the swing-arm pivot and the steering axis? This is the challenge, and the results (with the greatest rider of all time) show us whether the Ducati chassis department is worth its wages. Perhaps they have no way of accurately checking the chassis geometry of all their racing motorcycles, so one may be good, another bad. Which would indicate their quality control is in question... Racing success is not a matter of black-magic, no matter how many reporters - too lazy to learn some of the technology - try to say it is.

You don't think they have accurate measures of all those standard parameters? You don't imagine Burgess carries around all those numbers that have worked on different bikes for Spencer, Doohan and Rossi on Honda and Ducati?

It's a little more sophisticated than that. One track vehicles bend and twist under load, they transfer load between tyres as a function of braking and acceleration and centre of mass and moment of inertia, the contact patches move with lean and tyre construction. Then there is rider feel, which is some combination of resistance and vibration that he feels through the bars and his backside. The difference between the Honda and Ducati is about 1.5%... it looks huge on the track but in reality it's a tiny difference: in the good old days, the slowest of the 500's would be out-qualified by the fastest 250's, now the MGP bikes are all well clear of the M2's.

It's not incorrect to say Stoner appears to try significantly harder than Pedro on a very similar bike, yet the advantage that counts is only measured in tenths and hundredths of seconds! It's easy to think it's not much of a gain for so much more effort and being so much closer to potential disaster. Much like making horsepower in an engine really!
Many of you are forgetting that at some stage of nearly each and every weekend of last season, ducati had a bike that was earning it's keep.
I don't believe for a second that the base motorcycle from 2010 was light years away from being a more manageable package for the 2011 season. Whether that difference was able to be managed by a little more effort from the riders or the ongoing development of the bike itself, I guess we will probably never know.
I feel disappointed for Preziosi and I don't think he and his teams creation deserves the slating it's had. The evidence is there if you care to look.

Yes it is indeed unfair on Ducati's engineering team to get the blame because their $15million star signing has failed miserably.

Jeremy Burgess once said it's "80% rider and 20% bike" in MotoGP. So are we to believe that Ducati's failings squarely lies on the 20% bracket?

Back to my rhetorical question "What about the rider?"

As for the tyre excuse. I recall a gem from Jeremy Burgess regarding the one tyre rule; He was against it, he thought Rossi would wipe everyone off the floor with the one tyre rule. This has to rank along with the 80sec fix comment.


"If I was a rider out there now I wouldn’t want to be on the same stuff as Valentino Rossi. That’s a tough call”

In an interview today from the Australian GP, JB said the rider was not providing the information required to drive development in the correct direction. Another black mark for the 'it's 100% the bike' theorists. Highly unusual for JB to say anything but positives about VR.

If you start with preconceived ideas about the direction a bike needs to be developed, any feedback from a rider indicating you need to go in another direction will be perceived as incorrect. 

In other words, either the rider is not providing the right feedback, or the engineers are not hearing what they expect and want to hear. That statement by Burgess can be made to cut both ways.

If a rider has a preconceived idea on how a bike should be built then the same can be said. Nicky is the control element in all this. As during last year his results showed slow but constant improvement using the same chassis. With the amount of revisions going on with Rossi's side of the garage you'd think he would be light years ahead but if he thinks the design will not work than he will not go fast regardless of how good the bike is.

Nicky's my favorite rider, mainly because of attitude, but I still expect Rossi to usually be faster than him on the same equipment. The fact that they are so close in rankings all season long to me points to something not bike-related preventing Rossi from performing at his usual level. Maybe he is wary of reinjuring himself. The shoulder injury followed by a broken leg followed by an extended recovery shoulder surgery followed by a hard to ride bike could throw a wrench in any rider's psyche. He would have to completely change his riding style while recovering from injury while not losing any confidence and being in the camera's eye. Not easy. As with all world class performers winning is mainly a mental game. If you head is not in the right place you are not going to perform at your peak.