Ducati's Future Direction: Filippo Preziosi Explains Ducati's MotoGP Strategy For Valencia And Beyond

The least surprising news revealed by Filippo Preziosi in the press conference he gave at Valencia today was that Ducati will be testing an aluminium perimeter frame on Tuesday and Wednesday. The fact that Ducati have been building such a frame came to light in mid-August, Ducati sources letting slip that the factory was building such a frame. But the existence of such a chassis was always officially denied, at least until today.

But even as he made the announcement, Preziosi stressed that this frame - an aluminium twin spar design - was very much a starting point, rather than the finished product ready to race. "The bike you will see tomorrow with the perimeter frame will be not the bike for the first race," Preziosi told reporters. "The bike you will see tomorrow is an experimental bike, really a prototype bike, to give to our designer the targets to design bike of the future."

The goal of such a move is to create a baseline, a starting point for the work that is to come. The first task of the aluminium perimeter frame is to replicate the existing frameless design, to understand the changes as Ducati moves forward on this new path. "At this stage, we would like just to realize a bike with a different kind of chassis but with exactly the same geometry and weight distribution as the current bike uses," Preziosi explained.

Ducati was not expecting a step in performance, Ducati's MotoGP boss emphasized, as they knew that the existing geometry and weight distribution will need to be changed going into the future. But following good engineering practice, they were changing just one variable at a time, to eliminate any interfering factors from the data.

Preziosi also explained the reason behind the switch from a design using the engine as a stressed member to a more traditional perimeter frame design. "We believe that an engine-based chassis is a good idea in general, but we believe that in the MotoGP championship there are some constraints that force us to make the choice we did," he said. "The first is the tires: they are are very good from a technical point of view. It is unbelievable to be able to create a tire that with the unbelievable level of this bike and these riders and the amount of energy they can carry, especially on the front tire. It is amazing that the riders are able to make their best lap time on the last lap of the race. But to reach that result, this kind of tires are completely different from any other kind of tire, and they require special chassis in terms of stiffness."

The most obvious reason for switching to a perimeter frame was the engine allocation limits, however, with the factories allowed to use just 6 engines for each rider in an entire season. "When you have an engine-based chassis, if you want to change some dimensions or weight distribution, you have to redesign the tooling to make a new custom part, machine it and make a new engine," Preziosi said. "This is a big effort in terms of economics, but it's quite impossible to do in this championship because you can only use six engines." Preziosi used the penalty Valentino Rossi took at Aragon to illustrate his point. "We had to use a seventh engine just because we wanted to use the front frame, and this of course is not the way to win the championship."

The engine rules in MotoGP meant that the design using the engine as a stressed member, connecting the rear swingarm to a small monocoque front frame was much more suited to production than to racing. On a production bike, once you have finished your development, you release the bike to the general public and you don't need to change the bike any more. Racing is different, Preziosi explained: "For the races, you are always developing the bikes. Even if you have found a good solution, going back to the engine-based chassis is a problem with the limited number of engines, because you have to design the engine and chassis just for that configuration. If you need to change that configuration three races later, you have to seal other engines with a penalty. This is a big problem." He added, "When you have to work continuously in developing a bike according to the development of the tires and the request of the riders, it's a lot easier to do with a complete frame."

Rumors that the angle of the engine would be changed were dismissed almost out of hand, but not quite. Preziosi even declined to confirm that the existing engine is a 90 degree V, telling journalists to ask Mr Nakamoto (head of HRC) what angle the RC212V and RC213V engines use. He assured the press that he had the freedom to change the engine angle if he wanted to, though such a change would need to be discussed with Ducati's senior management. If it was necessary, however, it would be done: "Like I said many times, if I believe pneumatic is better than desmo, I will use pneumatic valves, and if I believe that 72 degree angle is better than 90 then I will do that. But to be honest, I don't think it is a top priority issue, and I don't think it will help in what we are thinking of doing."

So the goal of the next two days' testing for Ducati is to create a baseline, a starting point for Ducati's engineers to work from in designing the bike for 2012. Ducati staff are not even calling the bike to be tested on Tuesday the GP12, Preziosi only referring to the bike as "step zero". All of the riders, including the satellite teams, would be using the aluminium perimeter chassis, and contributing to the development of what will become the GP12. The biggest changes are expected after the winter break, in the tests at Sepang. There we might get a glimpse of the real future direction for Ducati. At Valencia, what we will get is a comparison of what Ducati's bike might have been like if they had built it exactly as it was, but with an aluminium frame.

There is a lot of work to do, and a lot of work has already been done, Preziosi thanking both Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden for their willingness to sacrifice results this year for a year of testing, something forced upon the factory by the lack of testing permitted by the rules - and due to change, Preziosi joking that it was "inefficient" for Ducati to pay Valentino Rossi to "sleep in his room" while the test riders were out testing the bike. 2011 had been Ducati's worst year since 2004, Preziosi said, and he was determined to ensure it didn't happen again. "The only way I know to change this is to work," Preziosi said, "and to work in the hardest way I know."

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with step zero and then the GP12. Four aliens are better than three, the whole category would benefit from a competitive Ducati squad, there is definitely A LOT of talent on those bikes for it to go wrong.

And Stoner and Rossi still have some unfinished business. Another title fight between them would be huge.

Spot on dude. Everyone's been kissing Stoner's butt this year, but any true race fan knows Rossi hasn't lost anything. MotoGP desperately needs some real racing next year.

Very few people have been kissing Stoner's butt this year - nobody has got that close most of the time.

As for 'desperately needs some real racing' - is that some sort of code for 'needs Rossi to be at the front'? Possibly you missed Pedrosa vs. Lorenzo at Estoril; Lorenzo vs. Stoner at Laguna Seca and Spies vs. Stoner, Pedrosa and Dovizioso at Valencia?

Yes, Rossi back in the mix for the podium would be great but there is life without him.

"Very few people have been kissing Stoner's butt this year - nobody has got that close most of the time."
I´m sorry but I cant get myself to like somebody who punches ppl only because they are in their line and also talk like they are 112 years old like"back in the day´s when I was still motocrossing..." and stuff....as well as the fact that he starts every f***ing sentence with"...to be honest..." while he is not.
The fact that Lorenzo tried to imitate the GP-winning acts of VR discredited him totally as well, even though that he is probably a tough racer nowadays.
Pedrosa goes in the cellar for a laugh and will never achieve a MotoGP-title in my opinion.
So why should I care for their races?
Its different when VR wins and I believe everybody agrees on that.
His style in everything he is doing is unmatched and unique.
If he quits racing, I will quit watching it...and I´m pretty sure a lot of ppl will.
Stoner is now hailed as the "drift-master" and stuff-first of all an almost fortgotten Aussi was/is the very best at that and that is Garry McCoy.Second: VR was doing it like crazy as well when he was on a confidence level like Stoner...so what?
Yes, Stoner is a worthy champion-no doubt-but a mile away from a legacy and Vita like VR.
I´m glad there is finally someone who can keep up with VR and it will be a great pleasure to see VR end his career against someone like him and show again who is the better racer.

I´m sure this will be deleted anyways...so what the hell?

"but any true race fan knows Rossi hasn't lost anything"

He lost the championship last year to his team mate, on the same bike :)

He is still fast, but the young guns have caught up now. Remember in the movie Faster JB said it was going to take some young racers from the lower classes to challenge Rossi. He is no longer a class above everyone else. ALL the aliens are a class above everyone else ;)



But strangely enough, the Spaniard actually misses the Italian in some ways: "The races against Valentino, battling for the win on the same bike, were all great; even if I never won any of them. He is super strong on the brakes, and I'd like it if, sometime in the future, we had the chance to race again with equal machinery. Those races were certainly more fun to watch than the ones from this season, where one rider always seems to break away. My fondest memory is of Barcelona 2009."

That seems to imply that Rossi was injured last year, the whole year, and Lorenzo himself states that he hasn't really beaten Rossi in a fight.

Everyone's been kissing Stoner's butt this year, but ...

That's one way to see it.

But if you dial back to reports and comments at the 2007 season you might notice a couple of guys who recognized outstanding talent at the first sight. It's only the dumb majority of motorcycle racing followers (and journalists) who caught up with reality some 4 years later.

Why is it that rusted on Rossi fans assume that being a 'real' race fan involves thinking that Rossi should really be winning every race? I would have thought that being a 'real race fan' would involve enjoying the performances of all riders without thinking that one rider in particular needs to be at the front for Motogp to be interesting.

If they know the geometry will have to be changed down the track, why not simply start with the appropriate geometry? It's not good engineering practise they are following, it's good industrial espionage practise. If anyone thinks Rossi and JB left Yamaha without at least one late night session with tape measure and stringlines (as if they'd need it - JB would probably have it all in his head) then I have a bridge to sell you. But of course they can't just roll out a Ducati M1; so Prezioso must gradually 'arrive' at the most appropriate dimensions for Rossi's preferred geometry and positioning.

I also find it hard to stomach the comment that the 'year of testing' just performed by Rossi and Hayden was 'forced upon the factory by the lack of testing permitted by the rules'. The lost year is simply due to Ducati's reluctance to change a bike that Stoner would complain about but then go out and win on, a fact well documented all over the internet.

I want Rossi to be on a competitive bike as much as anyone, but why can't these people just speak the truth and get on with things?

"I also find it hard to stomach the comment that the 'year of testing' just performed by Rossi and Hayden was 'forced upon the factory by the lack of testing permitted by the rules'. "

Was Ducati caught out because of a sudden rule change this year? Preziosi seems somehow to imply that the problem only surfaced this year. The same problem (limited geometry changes possible) had been there after the engine limits were introduced, it was just not considered a problem while CS was winning.

"... but why can't these people just speak the truth and get on with things?"

You mean like Casey does but then gets labelled a whinger :).


Preziosi is playing to an audience. He has to try to keep his sponsors and management happy, hence the need to blame something else (e.g. lack of testing). In fairness, no-one could have anticipated that Rossi would have such a tough time with the Ducati, and really nothing much has gone right for Ducati in 2011. Look at the race at Valencia, sheer bad luck that the three leading Ducati's get taken out at the first corner. Karma maybe? The senior management treated Stoner rather poorly, and it has come back to bite them. Anyway, we can surely all agree that we want to see Ducati resolve their problems for the good of MotoGP.

The way I read it Preziosi is stating the geometry may have to change down the track to suit the new generation tyres. He's not going to know until they gather data! This is why he has clearly stated this variation is a mere starting point and not the finished product.

The man has called it very plain and straight above - what's not to understand? Sound basic engineering principles. Understand what you have and make one change at a time.

... what's not to understand?

If you ignore what has happened and what has been said the last 12 months - I agree - it sounds straight forward. If you don't you might recoginze some serious problems with Preziosi's comments:

I remember reading a statement from Preziosi that weight distribution (as it comes with the L4 configuration) is not the problem, now the L4 concept might be open for debate.

Ducati was one of the first adopters of B-Stone tires, so they should have absolutely no reason to complain about lack of tire knowledge - yet Preziosi does exactly that.

Acting like he just found out that his "engine = stressed chassis member" concept has some major flaws is also not very convincing as the Duke has a nice reputation of destroying racer careers in the last 3 or 4 years. The problem Preziosi mentions that he can't develope the frame independently from the engine and not fall into the engine allocation trap was mentioned by me ... I think in May or so. Possible some smarter folks realized it a lot earlier.

I can understand why Preziosi doesn't talk straight, Philip Morris apparently isn't the business partner that can handle the truth. Truth like - "we from Ducati fucked up the bike design during the last 3 or 4 years and because we lost that magical kid which we could hide behind during these years we suddenly all look like fools".

As the B-stones were developed for Ducati (others had Michelin) there was no problem. But after B-stone became sole supplier then they had to change the tires for wider range of bikes - Jap bikes with complete different chassis. From my point of view that's the problem of Ducati. They had tires well suited to their bike. But now they must change the bike to suit the tires.

LOL wut?

Perhaps a time machine is in order.

Maybe all these fools on yamaha, suzuki and ducati should just rent hondas, yeah? Maybe ducati should fire its engineers and just read user comments on the enterwebs from people smarter then their fool engineers, like, oh, youself.

It's an evolving sport. There is not perfect bike recipe to read from and those that try to copy the leader will always be one step behind the leader.

The tires were made for stoner, not ducati, as the results have and continue to show. They took this tire supplier when it was the underdog, but had new ideas.

The very stupid limited testing rules and the closed engines forced them to have a slow and painful rethinking in public. If anyone should be admitting mistakes it's the rule makers for all this 'money saving' farce.

I applaud ducati's commitment to trying to think outside the box and introduce different ideas while being a relatively tiny company among their peers.

I don't think so... Bridgestone had been supplying Ducati for a few years (since 2005) when Stoner joined the team as their No.2 rider. He took the 2007 title on the standard stuff that Bridgestone were making, against the Michelin 'overnight specials' that Rossi was using.


"And the second was to tell the press quite frankly that Ducati would never be completely honest about what it was developing or not. "We will never tell you what we are building," Preziosi said, half-joking. Honda was secretive, Yamaha was secretive, so naturally Ducati was secretive. They would tell the press what they felt was appropriate, Preziosi said, adding "but sometimes, we lie!" It is a safe bet that this is one of those times."

The funny coincidence in all this is that, in the same day the 1199 Panigale production bike (with frameless chassis design) is presented to the public at EICMA 2011, Ducati comes to the MotoGP pre-season tests with a Desmosedici 1000 "laboratory" bike with a perimetral frame for all their teams. ...the same chassis design that they denied exhistence or plans all the time.

He speaks almost as if the engine limits were a surprise, like they weren't there last year and Ducati didn't know they would be in place this year. Like it was impossible to see at the outset that using the engine as part of the frame would severely limit the ability to change the bike during the season. Never mind the fact that it seems like they have spent the season floundering without a baseline at all. Here's hoping that the no limit testing will help Ducati field a competitive bike. They are way behind the 8 ball as it is.

What's Preziosi got to go on? Stoner stating the machine when set-up right works extremely well - substantiated with results.

Burgess stating 2010 that the D16 was a better starting point than his move to the M1, an 80 second fix. Ducati had just hired what was then thought to be the greatest Rider / engineer combo of all time.

From Preziosi's stand point you'd have to say he was very justified in thinking his machine was competitive for the 2011 season. He was thrown a massive curve ball in Rossi.

The Honda was competitive for this year, the ducati anything but.. It's easy to make the comparisons to the other ducatis but the competition is against the hondas and yams and it's difficult to put forward a sensible argument to suggest that Casey could have achieved even a third of the season on the ducati that he has on the honda.. and with only one competitive bike compared to 4 or 5 for the other manufacturer, it gives you a clearer picture of just how far back ducati were.
Changed needed at Ducati and it's finally come, I expect them to be competitive next year, at all tracks.

...the competition is against the hondas and yams and it's difficult to put forward a sensible argument to suggest that Casey could have achieved even a third of the season on the ducati that he has on the honda.

No, it's not difficult. Just dig out the lap times, race times of Stoner from 2010 and compare it to this years races under comparable conditions. You will find out that at some circuits the only one who could beat the Stoner/Ducati/2010 combo is the Stoner/Honda/2011 combo.

The problem with your argument is that it ignores the fact that Stoner always looked competitive at the pointy end of the field. It is not surprising that he smashed the field on a half decent bike, but I think he still would have been in the mix with plenty of podiums and a few wins if he was still at Ducati, based on his previous efforts. What sensible argument do you have to say otherwise? It is just a pity (and somewhat surprising) that he is the the only one good enough to demonstrate the capacity for alien level speed on the CF framed Duc.

You really believe Casey was 'in the mix' the last two seasons?? From the stats, I've got him out of the hunt by races 5 and 3 respectively for 09/10 he finished strongly though but it was all over by then. lies damn lies and all that..This isn't meant to be Casey bashing merely from a non stoner fans viewpoint, two 4ths for a factory number 1 rider isn't that good and would get you the sack anywhere else. If Rossi is 4th this(2012) year it will be a disaster for him and ducati.. Not a success..

I am waiting for you to wheel out your regular argument that the Honda is a rocketship that is so far above every other bike, all the riders have to do is sit on it to win. Oh, and that how Lorenzo dominating everyone except Stoner on the Yamaha shows how much of a better rider Lorenzo is than Stoner (rather than the Yam and the Honda in fact being quite close overall and the rider talent making the difference at different circuits). With a commentary history like that, anything you say has very little credibility as it is always tainted with extreme bias.

Of course CS was in the mix. He was generally near the top of the time sheets - he always looked like a fast guy who crashed. Any rider capable of wining races is 'in the mix', an alien if you like. This year the Ducati team just looked like average run of the mill mid-pack pace riders. Certainly there was no alien like speed in sight. Your argument, which is nothing but pure speculation on your part in the face of previous seasons performances, is that this year Stoner would have suddenly started looking like an average run of the mill mid pack rider rather than one who crashes a bit due to riding said inferior machinery over the limit in order to be competitive whilst getting regulars podiums and race wins.

Your argument seems to be based on the delusion that since Rossi couldn't ride the GP11 fast, and given Rossi is far better than Stoner, Stoner would not have been able to ride the GP 11 fast. Keep clinging to that if it makes you feel better, but it doesn't make it true.

As far as fourth with 3 wins and 9 podiums being a complete disaster, looking at Rossi's woeful performances this year, I would say that he would have claimed results like Stoner's in the previous year as quite a successful first season. At least he would have been able to claim that he was showing good pace on the bike and could actually win races on it. As it is, I would instead classify this seasons performances by Rossi on the Ducati as a complete disaster - to imply that Rossi's 2011 and Stoner's 2010 performances are somehow equivalent in the level of disaster stakes... well, I think you need to open the other eye a bit.

If you consider that Hayden is a decent "parameter" to compare 2010 and 2011 seasons at Ducati, he's got 31 less points this year than in 2010 but more importantly his teammate is only 1 spot and 7 points ahead of him, compared to 3 spots and 62 points in 2010.
The fact of the matter is that Stoner never bagged less that 3 wins, 8 podiums, 11 front row starts and 220 points in a single season at Ducati (and that was in 2009 with 13 starts).
There is no point trying to imagine exactly what kind of results Stoner would have had on the Ducati in 2011 but suggesting that he would have had difficulties to regularly qualify on the front row or score podiums is completely unfounded and frankly irrelevant.

Honestly getting tired of stating the obvious, I was hoping that this kind or argument would be settled by the end of the season. The people really involved (Rossi, Burgess and co) have mostly acknowledged their mistakes and frankly recognized Stoner's talent, they are are definitely over that, so can you!
Here's to hope, Ducati competitive or not, that we won't get a repeat of these kind of discussions next year, cheers.

If they can sort this bike I won't be surprised if someone other than Rossi benefits the most. Hayden, for example, must have developed quite a steely determination over the past few years riding the carbon monster. Whereas Rossi this year has crumpled and gone running to the engineers for a new frame or engine whenever the thing has twitched underneath him.

Oh, and the new Rossi-Ducati friendly testing rules will ensure it doesn't matter a jot that they don't have the right frame from day one at Valencia.

Filippo Preziosi covered all his bases pretty well during this press conference as always! Blaming the engine and testing rules for Ducati's need to make an Italian M1 for Rossi. MotoGP bikes are a never ending development project from 1 year to the next. As said many times before, Stoner outriding the bike to victories... Ducati never listen to Casey to start over from scratch to improve the bike. The 2011 Ducati/Rossi marriage never lived up to the hype and tarnished themselves in the process while Stoner broke a few records on his way to his 2nd title! What will Preziosi say about the 1199's design if/when it fails??? Release it to the public... not change it anymore... even if it fails in WSB? The 1199 better prove that his frame-less design works in some fashion so he can someday revert back to it when he figures out where he went wrong... if he's still around by then!

I thought he quite covered the 1199 design. He said using the motor as the chassis was more suited to production bikes. Presto!!!

They really have got themselves in the trick bag, though. They started the frameless concept with their MotoGP racers, and quickly morphed that into their premium production superbike before the design proved out. Now they step back to an aluminum deltabox design, leaving their signiture product an orphan. I hope that Panigale works out. It looks cool enough.

The big news for me is that Ducati rolled well over 40,000 motorcycles in the year just completed! A record! That's pretty remarkable for a company stuck in the low 30,000 range since 2000. What products are driving new sales and where are they selling them?

I think the Diavel everywhere. And the Monster seems like a good thing... whereas even Ducati fundamentalists like the French "Desmo" mag keep saying that the 1198 is not a good bike for real roads.

Maybe Ducati are following the haute couture model:
-make some expensive and outrageous dresses for cat-walk models;
-give some to celebrities to wear to high profile events;
-sell a few to very rich people;
-make money selling perfume and handbags...

In which case, provided the Panigale gets close to breaking even on tooling costs, it's probably a success. It even looks like something Jean-Paul Gaultier would design ;-)

Ducati's best seller has been the Multistrada(s), in the US (Ducati's first market) and in their global sales.
The Diavel might outsell the Multistrada, the point is that their more recent products widened their audience and generate more revenue that the iconic Monsters or Superbikes.

I want Ducati to get this figured out as much as anyone, but it really bothers me that the second Rossi needs more testing, the rules are changed to allow more testing. I agree that it is best if all manufacturers are competitive, but why wait until it is needed by Rossi to change the rules. If they don't win next year I wouldn't be surprised if they give all other manufacturers a 20kg weight penalty.

The thing is that all teams, all manufacturers, all pilots (and all of us in fact) find this rule stupid... it's a common agreement ... and i'm not sure at all it will solve Ducati's problems

Where did you hear that? Did you listen to the post race PC? Casey, Ben and Dovi all said that they currently have enough practice days and didn't see the rule change as a good thing except for maybe a rookie. Casey especially didn't seem to like it.

from an article read here ... if David is wrong, then ok, i'm wrong too

The proposal came from the factories, with Ducati pushing for the change with the full support of Honda, and though the change has to be formally approved by the Grand Prix Commission, which contains representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the teams, as well as the manufacturers, it is customary for the rest of the GPC's members to accept what the MSMA propose.

and i don't find the interviews you're talking about (which of course doesn't mean they don't exist ;) )

"all pilots" is an extrapolation (a mistake)

For the rest, pay a guy to run with no real useful feedback for sure doesn't satisfy those who pay ... Ducati, Honda or Yamaha

What I really mean is I really don't think this rule change is a "pro-Rossi lobby" ... if it was the case, then Honda would have refused it.

The rule was stupid ... if simulators was as good as in formula 1 (which is quite impossible in motorcycle) then why not ...

PS: so I'm not going to say it's a bad thing Ben Spies

They all were of the opinion that the extra testing by the riders might be too much wear and tear on them in a busy season not that it didn't have any value. That's my direct read of the statements. If you read into the qualification that maybe it might be good for a rookie but not as much for a seasoned factory rider you might conclude that extra testing allows talented new riders, satellite teams and struggling factories to play catch up. The same extra rider testing that would wear out a series leader would tire a rookie all the same so the perceived negatives of extra testing hurt the experienced rider on the most sorted bike with the most data more than those that need more work. The factory riders stating that they are happy with what they got is an honest answer, for them. Pass that around the grid and pit boxes and you might get a different consensus. I'm all for it if it has any chance of making everyone more competitive.

It can be argued that much of what Preziosi's saying is a) to preserve his own ego, and/or b) to try and limit damage to the marketing of Ducati's Panigale, a roadbike that is about to be released with, guess what, a monocoque frame.

Just look at the way he's spinning it: 'PERFECT for a road bike, not suited to a MotoGP bike as it turns out.' Given the number of years it took them to come to the conclusion about MotoGP suitability, if I was a buyer I'd be sceptical about whether they've got it right for the road.

These aspects could have done with at least a cursory treatment in David's article, given that Preziosi's remarks must seem at least mildly cynical, if not extraordinarly so, to even the most pro-Ducati observer (I include myself in that camp). When I read the reporting of MotoGP in general (not just here) I do sometimes wonder whether objectivity at times loses out to hospitality tent passes. It gets left to commenters to raise the thorny questions.

... I feel somewhat let down in this instance.

Generally I read (some of the other) websites first, essentially for fun or the breaking news line, then come here for David's analysis and the much more sane community. In this case David's story was more like a straightforward recounting of the Preziosi line, with some embellishment that still more or less bought into everything Preziosi said without question.

David's reputation doesn't preclude anyone drawing attention to the shortcomings of an individual article he's written. In his favour he does at least add some analysis and background - more than many others have done or will do on this issue.

I must say the year 2011 has left Jeremy Burgess looking quite shabby after his wholesale trashing of his countryman Stoner in the past. He's backpedalled furiously since the ridiculous comments about being able to fix the Ducati quick-smart, and can now be heard saying that Stoner did a great job at Ducati, but it's a pity he hasn't been big enough to come out and make a direct apology for the things he said about Stoner and, by implication, Stoner's crew. The latest line Burgess and Ducati are spouting does nothing to conceal the fact that 2011 is a career-worst performance for this factory, this rider and this engineer.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and I can't cover all of the angles straight off the bat. If it's any help, I have only one more manufacturer to go to collect the full set of upset PR people, and I'm working on that one. There were a few pieces I left out because I didn't have time and they didn't fit exactly. All that will be coming later in the year.

And as others have said, if you believe I am not objective, I am not the only source of information in the media. Have a look around, and draw your own conclusions from all of the information available.

To set the record straight: freeby haul from Ducati hospitality during the presentation? One croissant and one chocolate cupcake. I'm cheap, but not that cheap...

Croissant and cupcake! I knew as soon as I read it that there must have been a pastry bribe involved.

No need to trot out the 'go somewhere else if you don't like it' line so hastily. I was at pains to make clear my opinion of your work in general.

I think Motomatters.com is totally objective, and I liked the article. It's better to have these things unfold before delving into too many angles. I'd rather have a few basics notions to chew on and polish them as we go along.

They're called Viennoiseries...

Or is it something else journalists know?

In the sense that MM does not favor a particular brand, team or rider in reporting; I think the site's objectivity is obvious. In the sense that a commentator advances his own theory, perhaps objectivity is not a relevant term. Afterall, David is a columnist as much as a reporter. Columnists write to present a point of view, and his views are what generate discussion here, no?

I believe most, if not all, commenters on this site view David's musings as one of the shining lights in the sea of dross that makes up the online English language Motogp coverage. That being said, DE is as human as the rest of us, with all the fallibility that brings. No point in giving a blanket statement of objectivity that does not allow others to exercise their minds with some analytical criticism if said criticism is well argued in a logical and coherent manner.

P.S Not making a comment on the quality (or otherwise) of the above claim of lack of objectivity.

Wazman, the fact is that you YOURSELF were able to read DE's article, and fill in the gaps yourself. He presented you the facts, and let you draw the conclusions. If you want his opinions to mirror your own (whether they're positive or negative on whomever) then you're just asking too much.

Like it or not, there's some damn heavy politics involved in ANY situation where journalists/media are involved, and if a journalist takes a dump on the same people that take time out of their schedules to give them individual attention, they're not going to do it the next time around. So it's a fine line for a journalist to give their opinions and views in a manner which is fair to all concerned, without heavy bias, and without burning their sources. If a good journalist (who doesn't work for The National Enquirer or whatever the spanish/italian equivalents are) can present the side of the a particular party (in this case, Preziosi doing the PR dance) as they gave it, and at the same time giving the rest of the facts as they actually happened and that are public knowledge for you the reader to compare & contrast against what that party said, then he's done his job.

I posted a further reply earlier in the day - it either got modded out or, more likely, my dodgy wi-fi connection didn't hold up long enough for it to post.

Suffice to say the croissant of truth has many layers - and now I want a croissant ...

What did we really expect Filippo Preziosi to say? "We've made a monumental error with the path we chose in recent years. We told Casey to shut up and ride the darn thing. We only realised the errors of our ways when Rossi was completely rubbish on the same bike. We are sorry."

He has to spin it like a politician in front of the world doesn't he?

Ofcourse 2011 was a testing year. Ofcourse the rules force a different approach. Ofcourse he makes it sound like a strategy. The man has no choice.

I wonder if 2011 would have been a testing year to which VR and NH so graciously sacrificed their championship ambitions if VR had actually been able to ride the GP11 fast? Is Elvis implying that VR and NH would have been competitive in the championship if they hadn't been required to do the 'testing' (that is, the changes asked for and approved by Rossi) during races?

This is one of the the biggest loads of corporate PR bull sh@t spin I have ever read.

if it was as easy as bolting the right geometry on a bike to make it work, anyone with a decent camera and tape measure could replicate Casey's Honda and be done with it, eh?

The reality is that everything is inter-related: shocks, motor, rider, tires, tire pressure, geometry, and so on. And as much as you'd like to change just one factor at a time, anything you change will have an effect on everything else.

For example, let's say we have a rear traction problem and decide to make the swingarm a bit longer. OK, but that means the effective rear spring rate is less (longer lever arm makes squishing the spring easier) so that means the bike sags more in the back. So maybe we should up the rear spring rate to make the sag the same (is that one change, or two?). Now the spring is different but the shock damping is the same. Shock rebound is mostly counteracting spring force so if we up the spring rate, shouldn't we up the rebound? And what if the spring or damping rates are non-linear? A few more considerations; with a longer swingarm, we've moved the center of gravity back. And the center of pressure forward. And the wheelbase is longer, making transitions harder...we might be faster out of the hairpin, but slower in the chicane. We might be better on the rear tire wear but worse on the front...something that only shows up after 10 laps. But only if the sun comes out. And the rider is feeling confident in turn 11 ;)

And the combinatorics...if there are just seven things you could change on the bike, and each had seven settings...that's about a million possibilities. Free Practice starts in 30 minutes - ready, set, go! Actually, there are many more than seven things to change on the bike, and most have way more than seven settings (Ohlins shocks have 28 clicks for just for rebound, and that's before you change piston or valve stacks). I'd estimate there are at least 25 things that are typically adjusted on a setup sheet for a MotoGP bike, and each would have 10 or so reasonable settings...that's about 95 trillion possibilities, assuming the rider never has a bad day, the weather never changes, the fuel never burns off, and the tires never wear out....and that's why racing is hard!

FWIW, I think the Ducati approach makes sense and it is just a shame that they are just now establishing a baseline as ideally they'd have started the season with one. I am big Valentino fan but my respect for Casey has only grown this season. He made the most of that Ducati and no one else was able to get close. I selfishly hope that Ducati make great strides this winter (Suzuki too) so that the races are even more exciting next year.

David, again, really love this site and your articles. This is the only site that digs below the veneer and, in the most constructive way possible, attempts to highlight the hidden workings that drive the sport. It makes it more fun to watch on Sunday.

It's not just the quality of David's words that keeps me coming back to this is it's the responses it draws from his readers. A very well written piece - thanks.

Thanks too to David, of course!

I enjoyed reading that too : )

I agree, what I said was pretty simplistic and I understand that there's a lot more to it (I've been closely following GP for 20 years). But Burgess in particular would know what baseline specs work on a racebike as far as swingarm length and angle, weight distribution, rake/trail etc. Surely the various frame configurations tried this year were built with his input rather than simply what Ducati thought might work?

To read a comment that acknowledges and respects the difficulty of the task and efforts of those involved in solving such problems. Sure, Preziosi's statements concede that their approach up to now has failed with a minimum of self flagellation but what is he supposed to do? A press conference is not the place for critical self examination. His statements are not lacking fact. With the former design there is no way to radically (or even minimally) change direction without completely new engines and chassis components for each test. Insanely expensive, slow, and completely prohibited under the engine rules. Of course none of this comes as a surprise there but they couldn't find out that their previous engineering direction was a dead end until they exhausted the options they could explore under that design. No design in any engineering discipline is all steps forward. You have to make mistakes to know what are mistakes and where the direction of progress lies. They also had to do this during a race season with a very high profile rider that most have come to expect consistently exceptional results. All within and without Ducati Corse were disappointed beyond all expectation but bitter cynical finger pointing is not going to solve anything. They are doing what they do. They don't give up even when behind. That's racing. That's something to admire.

The story about parts or bike already made for Aspar, must be incorrect. As Ducati themselves don't know yet what they will build for 2012......

I am pretty curious how will some fans respond IF the 1199 beats his rivals in STK or WSBK one year later. Will the monocoque-frame still be a dead-end? What will happen if the No.1 hero won´t be getting the result with the new frame but the 1199 will be a success in racing? We don´t know it yet, might be the other way around but so far I would not judge Preziosi´s frame design a dead end.

Pretty much irrelevant. WSBK uses Pirellis. They use Bridgestones in GP. Completely different tyres and their approach to making them.

I read these comments and you'd think Casey won the championship last year. He lost the championship in 2008, 2009, and 2010. 3 wins last year and a bunch of crashes doesn't win a championship. Valentino was never going to ride it in this way, win or bin it, just to get a win or two and lose the championship. Instead he said the bike needed to be changed, and thank God Ducati finally listened.

You think he's got 100+ wins across all the classes by being a crasher? You win that many races by staying off the tarmac as much as possible. This year's Ducati wasn't championship taking possible, neither was it last year. Casey won a few races on it last year but still finished behind Valentino in the standings, and that is with Valentino being injured all year sans Qatar, and missing 4 races due to a leg break. Yeah, that CF demso was a real ringer!

This is all fodder for VR or Burgess haters, or both. If Valentino fails to produce results next year then start your voodoo doll party.

That's not what Burgess thought last year when he stated it was a better starting point than their move to Yamaha, 80 seconds and all that. And no you're quite right BrickTop, Rossi's attitude this year was never win it or bin it. It was sixth or bin it.

Can we go easy on the 'hater' word. It's crass and describes very few on here.

Hater in street parlance would seem to describe a regular contingent here fairly accurately.

Hater per urban dictionary:
A person that develops a strong dislike for another, solely basing their own opinion on personal judgment rather than objective merit. The formation of a hater's contempt commonly arises from jealously and/or resentment.

Your cynical comment of sixth or bin it would be a classic example. There are many more throughout this thread or any other where Rossi is the subject or even if he isn't. Especially so if Stoner is also under discussion which about makes any topic about Ducati this year. I don't see where the cynical sniping at various GP pros on the track, pit, or factory help in anything unless it's simply fun which in case is just a bit of haters hating as the expression goes. Here I am again the unintended Rossi defender but really I think all the riders deserve a modicum of respect.

Rossi's approach this year has been more "come in 6th or bin it."

Not to put him down, he's still a brilliant rider but he obviously can't handle the Ducati like Stoner did.

eta: should have read Nostrodamus's post first. he beat me to the punchline.

As tempting as it is to fixate on the times from the Ducati squad, it looks like a long road ahead and we likely won't really have an indication of their competitiveness until the last couple of tests before the 2012 series begins...


Harken back to 2004. They made radical changes to the impressive 2003 bike.
With incremental changes,they got back on target 2005 and had the title within their grasp in 2006. 800,2007 through 2008 saw incremental changes. 2009 and 2010 saw the radical approach raise its ugly head.
2011 saw a return to the radical changes. 2012 promises much of the same.
How radical ? Ducati using Honda/Yamaha frame philosophy.
By close of play tomorrow,Ducati's heirarchy will either be slapping their backs or questioning their factory rider line up. Here's hoping Hector and Karel stay close to Vale and Nicky. That will tell a million stories and bury many a myth.
I believe all four are running the twin spar during this test..Hayden? Is he testing ? I never thought I'd see the day that I'd mention Hector and Karel in the same breath as Valentino. But, there you have it.

"Everyone kissing Stoner's butt this year . . . " has got to be the dumbest comment I've ever read on this site! First of all, as someone previously posted, no one has gotten close enough to him to 'kiss his butt'! Secondly, if Rossi had performed/won the way Stoner did this year, EVERYONE would be kissing his butt . . . and I'm a Rossi fan!

Can we not appreciate what Stoner has accomplished this year? 12 poles! He's been in a different zip code this year! Qualifing 1.1 seconds faster then 2nd in the last race----has that EVER been done?

Let's be RACE FANS first!

I've got to wonder just how much of this year's 'testing' results are actually reflected in the GP12.46.0 bike? Given that they never seemed to understand what was going on with the old chassis, it seems unlikely that much of the data gathered will be particularly useful.

Oh well, claiming that '11 was a 'testing year' sounds much better than the alternative. :)

Hell for leather sums up some of the differences between the GP.11 and 1199. : "...MotoGP frame is wider to accommodate a V4 and breathes through the steering head. Contrast that with a narrow frame that has a closed off steering head and a top breathing air box on the road bike. These two designs are different enough that it’s safe to say the front end problems affecting the GP bike will not carry over to the 1199 just because they both utilize monocoque chassis design. They’re simply completely different motorcycles."

- (track) Time will tell if it is "safe to say that the front end problems affecting the GP bike will not carry over to the 1199."


Thanks for that link, Dalmatian Duc. While brief, it does cover some aspects that I (as many others, I guess) was curious about. *thumbs up*
This is the first time I've been this interested in a sportsbike ever since the original Ducati 916 and I'm anticipating exactly the type of bike that Ducati needed at this point for their Superbike flagship model (more "revolution", instead of "continuous evolution").

While the frameless design didn't seem to succeed in MotoGP (I'm happy they're going for a perimeter frame now), I believe we're about to witness a winning machine with the 1199 "Panigale", on the road and especially on the track.

re: "This is the first time I've been this interested in a sportsbike ever since the original Ducati 916"

whoa, that's disappointing. that means you're overlooking almost 2 decades of innovation and hard work by others prior to this point.

...and there have been plenty faster others, but nothing out there has felt as good to me as a nicely modded "old and agricultural" 916 Desmoquatro still does. :-)
(an RG500 perhaps, but that's different)

No other motorcycle I have ever ridden puts a bigger smile on my face than my 748s. Luc and I know a secret, I'll share it with you: "Desmo/dry clutch/termi" - we mumble it in our sleep :D

What Preziosi says makes sense to me, but i do wonder if the Ducati management insisted they carried on with the fully stressed engine concept, for maybe longer than Preziosi would of liked, say around mid season before they used their engine allocation up.
Ducati like to be different by having vee twin Desmo road bikes, and i understand their latest superbike uses the fully stressed engine idea, i suspect they thought it was good company policy to have the same frame concept on their GP bike as their latest superbike.

The MotoGP bike got the monocoque frame first, in 2009. In 2010 Ducati registered a patent on the frame design for the Panigale which was under development. I'm sure they thought it was a great idea at the time, both from a performance and a marketing aspect, because their MotoGP bike was winning fairly regularly back then...

re: ""When you have an engine-based chassis, if you want to change some dimensions or weight distribution, you have to redesign the tooling to make a new custom part, machine it and make a new engine," Preziosi said. "This is a big effort in terms of economics, but it's quite impossible to do in this championship because you can only use six engines."

re: "Racing is different, Preziosi explained: "For the races, you are always developing the bikes. Even if you have found a good solution, going back to the engine-based chassis is a problem with the limited number of engines, because you have to design the engine and chassis just for that configuration. If you need to change that configuration three races later, you have to seal other engines with a penalty. This is a big problem." He added, "When you have to work continuously in developing a bike according to the development of the tires and the request of the riders, it's a lot easier to do with a complete frame."

c'mon mr. preziosi. the new engine allocation limits have nothing to do with this. you and i both know even with UNLIMITED engines this design philosophy (while clever, carbon or otherwise) was flawed in the context in the "rapid-fire" world of grandprix and had been from the very first prototype debuted back in april of '02. your brilliance as an engineer betrays the suggestion that it took you a decade to have this "epiphany". and it certainly didn't take an agitated and disgruntled burgess (hands tied behind his back) mumbling under his breath in the back of the garage all season either. even though this appeared to be what was happening.

Preziosi says he has to work harder to ensure Ducati doesn't get another 2011, but I think he should have said smarter.
There is definitely something missing in the Ducati way of thinking the last 2 years, and that is probably Not Rossi's ability.