2011 Valencia Post-Race Day 2 Round Up - The Season Is Over, The Void Awaits

The 2011 MotoGP season is now officially over, and the first steps on the road to 2012 have been taken. Coming on top of a race weekend, two days of testing leave the MotoGP paddock exhausted, drained, and after an 18-race season, quite frankly sick of the sight of each other.

Fortunately for the MotoGP class, the weather perked up on Monday, producing two days of glorious weather for the riders to test in. While the track was still a little dirty on Tuesday, by Wednesday conditions were perfect, the track dry and warm, or at least as warm as it is going to get in early November. Everyone came away tired but content with the work they had gotten done, and no one complained they had not got round to testing everything they had on their list. With the old 800s making way for the 1000cc MotoGP bike, it was important that everyone had time on the track to test.

The big question, of course, is how much would change with the advent of the new era, and the answer, looking at the timesheets, was nothing at all. The two factory Repsol Honda led the way, topping the timesheet by a relatively comfortable margin, Dani Pedrosa leading Casey Stoner. Behind the factory Hondas - the only 1000cc Hondas being ridden by contracted riders on the grid - the Yamahas gathered, Ben Spies just over half a second off and closest to Pedrosa and Stoner, with Cal Crutchlow posting a very impressive time just two tenths behind Spies, and Dovizioso another seven tenths slower than his new Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate. The Ducatis followed the Yamahas, Valentino Rossi a fraction slower than Dovizioso, and Karel Abraham a tenth off Rossi's times.

The Hondas will be the bikes to beat, just as they were this year. Both Pedrosa and Stoner were happy after the test, though both complained of chatter which they put down to the new softer Bridgestone tires. The Honda men had tried to iron out the chatter with set up, but had reached the conclusion that new parts would be needed to solve the problem completely. Neither rider had been chasing time, Pedrosa saying that feeling with the bike was more important than a fast lap time, while Stoner told the press that chasing a set up had not been the highest priority, as every time they had had a decent set up at Valencia, that had failed completely to transfer to any other track on the calendar, and provided very little useful information.

Ben Spies was a little happier, and pleased with the amount of work that he and his team had got through, including testing some fairly radical set up changes just to see how the bike would respond. Yamaha had missed having Jorge Lorenzo to test, but the good weather and good progress meant that Spies had done all that the team had wanted in the two days. The Yamaha's biggest problem was not corner entry, like the Hondas and Ducatis, but rather corner exit. The Yamaha had always wanted to wheelie, even as an 800, something the 1000 had made even worse. Rear grip, drive out of the corners and a way of keeping the front wheel down were the things the Yamaha were missing.

Andrea Dovizioso confirmed Spies' results, and emerging from a meeting with what seemed like every Yamaha engineer in the paddock, Dovizioso said the Yamaha was almost the opposite of the Honda. Stability under braking was outstanding, corner entry was smooth, and the feel of the engine was outstanding. But keeping the front of the bike down once you opened the gas was a big problem, Dovizioso said, making short-shifting out of some of the tighter corners an absolute necessity.

Over at Ducati, Filippo Preziosi now has his baseline, Valentino Rossi confirming that the new version of the bike with the aluminium perimeter frame had almost exactly the same problems as the carbon fiber frame had. The different engine characteristics between the 800 and the 1000 meant that the larger bike was much easier to handle, the front end of the machine wanting to stick where it never would on the smaller bike.

But it was still far from perfect, as witnessed by the fact that Rossi is still over one-and-a-half seconds behind the Hondas. The problem was not in the material, Rossi said, though he was rather coy over exactly where the problem lay, only murmuring vagaries about the weight distribution. Questions about his seating position were also met with similarly vague responses, Rossi saying that they had tried a couple of things but that this was still something they had to fix. How they would go about fixing it was not something he wished to discuss, for whatever reason.

The real test, Rossi said, would come at Sepang, once they rolled out the bike that Ducati have designed based on the data gathered here over the past two days. Another new chassis - still an aluminium twin spar, the engine allocation rules dictating that this is de facto the only kind of chassis that will work in the class - should have a radically revised weight distribution, much closer to what Valentino Rossi needs to be competitive. If they are still 1.5 seconds off Pedrosa and Stoner at Sepang in January, then Ducati is in deep trouble indeed.

Suzuki was absent from the second day of the test, the team having packed up on Tuesday night and gone home. The factory has apparently been given a deadline of Friday to commit to MotoGP for 2012, but the prospects for Suzuki are not good. Alvaro Bautista finally announced that he had signed for the San Carlo Gresini Honda team, though he was keen to emphasize that he was not taking Marco Simoncelli's place. Bautista said he had decided to leave Suzuki at Sepang, and had started talks there with other teams.

The reason for leaving Suzuki was simple: Bautista wanted to ride a 1000, and Suzuki's plan is to race the 800cc bike until Brno in late August at the very earliest - if they race in MotoGP at all. He had already passed up the opportunity to take the place in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad vacated by Colin Edwards while holding on for a response from Suzuki, but his patience had run out in Malaysia. The complications of Marco Simoncelli's fatal accident put Bautista's plans on hold, but they also meant that they gave him an additional option. He was not taking Simoncelli's place, Bautista said, but he would be racing in his spirit, and hoping to continue the results that the Italian had started to accrue for the San Carlo Gresini team.

The bike that Bautista had apparently been headed for before the tragic events of Sepang now looks almost certain to be filled by a German. Stefan Bradl had a very successful outing on the 800cc Honda RC212V, but more importantly than that, he had impressed the LCR Honda team. LCR crew chief Christophe Bourgignon praised Bradl's intelligence and the speed with which he learned, and team boss Lucio Cecchinello was equally impressed. The waiting now is for approval from Honda, which should come in the next few days.

There were a number of CRT bikes out on track, but this is a subject that deserves more attention than we have here. I will be writing a series of articles on CRT over the next few weeks, and discussing both the results and the progress posted by the bikes at Valencia, but for now, I must let the cup pass from me.

The season is officially over, and everyone involved in motorcycle racing can breath a huge sigh of relief. That will last until early next week, when the passion that drives us on is rekindled by the passing of time. A few days without motorcycle racing is a pleasure. But getting on for 5 months is far, far too much of a good thing. It's a good thing there's a round of the Spanish championship this weekend...

Back to top


And so the waiting begins.

Thanks for the write up David.

From what I understood about the Yamaha, it uses the reverse crank, which helps keep the front down better than a forward crank. David, do you have any insight as to why they would be experiencing so much lift on the front?

Now we wait to hear the LCR signs Bradl, but what of RdP? Is Gresini only running one bike next year?

The wheelie problem (on these MotoGP machines) has everything to do with the speed of the computer CPU and the skill of the computer programmers.

This should be a much easier problem to fix than what the Honda and Ducati men are complaining about.

...they've had this problem all year. Don't know about an easy fix.

I like to differ:

The wheelie problem has everything to do with a short wheel base and a high center of gravity.

All that electronics can do is cut the power off before the front wheel lifts up.

IMO Yamaha's lack of "drive" out of the corners this year was never an electronic or engine power problem, it was just the consequence of an ultra nimble, high traction chassis with significant weight transfer.

If your hypothesis is true then how is it that the Hondas don't have this issue?

I don't know anything about how true this may be since I don't know the suspension geometry of any of these bikes but maybe the angles of the suspension and the steering combined with the power delivery of the Honda make it less susceptible to wheelie than the Yamaha? Perhaps that's why if it was a year long thing with Yamaha, they were not able to change the suspension to a point to get rid of the wheelieing and also keep the pace they needed. Now that they have the opportunity to take the data and see if a very slightly revised frame may work or maybe something smaller will fix the problem. They at least have a starting point for this off season which is good.

..., and I have nothing to prove it, than the Hondas have either a larger wheelbase or lower center of gravity or both.

But given that the Yam's were better than the Honda's in the corners this season I think there is some merit to this theory.

Thanks David, and I hope that during the off-season you can continue to squeeze some articles out with what little news is forthcoming. I'm more interested in MotoGP than ever before and I'm not looking forward to the dry months ahead. Given the lifting of testing limits, there may be an opportunity to cover what the factories are doing. Ducati for example are probably going to be frantically busy.

I do have to take exception with this Preziosi assertion - once again repeated without question by you, I'm afraid - that you can't have a stressed-engine frame concept in MotoGP because the engine rules preclude changes to the frame (ie if you want to change the frame on the carbon Ducati you had to throw the engine away because of the mounting points).

As far as I understand the design, it's simply not the case. The front suspension, headstock etc did not attach directly to the frame - it attached to the stressed-airbox assembly, which in turn was bolted to the frame. Though there would obviously be limits, there is nothing to stop you making changes within a certain range to front end geometry, and the same goes for the rear end of the bike.

You could make the same argument as Preziosi is making, but for a conventional frame. If you're going to make radical changes to the geometry you might have to change the engine mounting points on a twin-spar frame as well, and that might mean chucking an engine away.

Ducati's problem seems to have been that Rossi's predilections dictated them going outside the normal adjustable range of what they already had. That combined with the fact that they shoehorned in a destroked version of the 1000cc engine, and grafted on various other bits that were intended for a future bike. It's a bit rich to make such wholesale changes to your setup in the middle of a season and seek to explain away your difficulties by blaming the rules under which you agreed to take part in the sport.

There are plenty of engines out in the motorbike world that have the same mounting points but bolt into different frames for different models of bike. Speaking from direct experience, Ducati is a shining example of that.

...that to change anything more than the attachments points, for example the stiffness characteristics of the chassis, you have to change the whole engine, given the engine cases themselves are the basis for the chassis stiffness.

In this frame concept the engine is simply stiff. Rigid. Full stop. There is no flex in the engine, you can't go bending an engine into shapes while you're riding the bike, otherwise the fine tolerance in the engine's moving parts is thrown out and they either wear out prematurely or fail altogether. The carbon Ducati does not factor in any flex in the engine, it relies on it being completely rock-solid. So that argument is dead in the water.

hi wazman, i'm impressed you know so much about the ducati's design & how it operates. May I suggest a few things for your well informed feedback:
i) that the whole of the 'engine' is not the cylinder barrels
ii) everything has a finite stiffness and so everything deforms to some degree under load
iii) even if the 'engine', from top to tail (including the mounting points themselves) is 'rock solid' as you say then you've just made my point for me, the stiffness characteristics can not be (easily) adjusted.

My humble suggestion is Rossi & Burgess are not engineers they are (very, very good) 'adjusters'. Correct me if I'm wrong but in very simple terms they need Ducati to give them something to 'adjust' to give them some front end feel when they are at the limit (& perhaps especially when transitioning to throttle)? Given all their playing around with different material for their 11.1 'chassis' earlier this year, I'd suggest the stiffness of the thing connecting the front wheel to the back wheel could be an important thing to be able to adjust.

In engineering trems there is no such thing as "rock solid". Everything flexes to some degree. since the engine is at the center of the flex equation, as far as possible fromt he points of contact witht the ground, small amounts of flex will leverage to larger values. the problem comes in trying to predict the form of the translation of forces in the system.

i still beleive the problem is that Ducati made an all too common error of trusting to simulation. I have seen the most rediculous assertios based on simulation that is taken as fact.

I am very hopefull that Ducati can solve this problem. If they do it will be the result of extensive testing on the track with support from the simulation guys, not from extensive work by the simulation guys with support from the testing crew. The testing will have to be done by Vale and Nick. Everything I have read over the years indicates that testing at anything other than 10/10ths will not produce usable data.

Since I am a gear head I wish whole heartedly for a removal of all testing restrictions.

... Ducati have been seeking to dial flex in and out via the engine casings then I don't think you have been paying attention. Ducati went to an engine-based frame not as a way of introducing a different kind of flex, but as a way of eliminating it.

eliminate or make consistent?

hi wazman, as I recall the publicly stated reason was they weren't able the make the steel trellis ones to be consistently the same. This is more 'the same stiffness as each other' rather than 'stiff enough'

I wasn't suggesting that they would want to try to vary the flex via the engine. Just that the flex of the engine could not be ignored as part of a truly complicated equation.

"(...)There are plenty of engines out in the motorbike world that have the same mounting points but bolt into different frames for different models of bike. Speaking from direct experience, Ducati is a shining example of that."

Indeed. The production engines such as the Desmodue and Desmoquattro/Testastretta (and all their evolutions) are all good examples of that, some are even almost a straight bolt on.
I was looking at the new 1199 Panigale engine and its chassis-bits attachments, and I don't think it will be that easy from here on.

I'm not sure how can this be relevant but, some cynicals say the "frameless design" main advantage is production costs, pointing that as the reason for its adoption. I have no clue on that subject but, if looking at NCR, Pierobon and Verlicchi trellis frames (beautiful special frames for Ducati racebikes), it can make some sense.
The monocoque/frameless chassis is an interesting and smart design, it probably performs just as well. But is it practical, for maintenance and specifically for chassis geometry adjustment, at the levels of GP racing? ...I really have my doubts.

My own take regarding racing hardware is conservative, but I always thought sticking to the "k.i.s.s. principle" is paramount, i.e., use what is most known, proved and uncomplicated - the contrary of what they adopted with that "frameless design".
Ducati have been using exclusively trellis frames both on their production and racing bikes (with success) almost forever. If they did find a limit for its usage in Grand Prix racing, then they should have sticked with the next best known and proven formula - the perimetral frame (aka Twin-Spar, aka Deltabox-type).

Guys like Jeremy Burgess (and the mechanics/engineers that surround him) are used to that, they have specialized on GP racebikes that use no other chassis type than that one.
Time is money and the competicion doesn't wait for you.
Just a strong guess but the perimetral frame on the Desmosedici 1000 might being used now mainly to (try to) give both the race crews and the reparto-corse something they can understand and tweak much faster, therefore achieving much quicker what is needed -results and confidence for their riders- within the skills/knowledge they already carry from previous experiences with other GP racebikes/manufacturers.
That's what got them a contract, afterall (or so I thought!). :-)

There is nothing radical about the CF chassis. It is the same concept as the stell lattice made from a different material to improve stiffness, manufacturing consistently and provide an optimum airbox feed. Nothing more than that.

Remember that a few months back Preziosi stated the D16 engine was right in the middle of it's adjustability range, indicating that chassis does have options to alter the static weight distribution. I do wonder how much they have played around with altering engine position in both chassis variations?

To date zero benefit shown for the Twin Spar over the CF. This test has already blown a number of theories out of the water. Score 1 to Preziosi and 0 to the detractors.

The two biggest points of this merry chase that Rossi is leading Ducati on seem to be;

1: Why on earth has he never been comfortably sat on the machine after 12 months? I find this completely unfathomable.
2: Does he actually have the ability anymore to push up to the pace of the three Aliens? Rossi wouldn't be the first Italian World Champion racer to suffer a crisis of confidence. There's about three others in recent times I can think of.

Time to bring in an ergonomics specialist and the shrink again me thinks. To apply the KISS principal go for the easiest fixes first.

I think it's tad to soon to make judgements on the new ducati, the old one had 4 years development(?) behind it..
No doubt that ducatis biggest problem was feeling the front end(nobody had it) and all the riders have said there has been a big improvement in that area, If you watch the videos of it you can see it bucking and weaving all over the place so their is massive potential for improvement over a design that had both run it's course and was out of ideas..
It's a pretty safe bet that it will be a lot better by sepang however catching the hondas will take work, they have many years head start..
Hector seemed over the moon with the new layout saying it felt like his old 250 that's has got to be positive but more importantly Ducati now know that the bridgestone tyres are being developed for the same layout they used a huge + over the old bike.

After abandoning the trellis, development moved at snail's pace as we all know by now. Honda doesn't have a head start, Ducati is lagging majorly by their own fault. A different perspective I guess.
I still can't believe they had - how many? - different frames this year and have only slightly improved. Sure, the bucking and pumping on corner exit is gone, but that was never the big issue. Their major problem always acts up at corner entry.

Ducati has had umpteen new frames with different designs and configuration this year - but all with the same geometry. Including this latest one. I think it is finally dawning on them that other factors such as weight distribution etc are the main issue now.

Odd though how different Barbera and Rossi's comments are vis the new chassis.

@ Nostrodamus,

Sorry, have to disagree (bear with me mate).
Heck, even Barbera would disagree with you after these pre-season tests, and the guy has been riding the CF chassis for two years?
I think you would too if you just look at facts and history of Grand Prix.

By the same token, we would already have in Grand Prix other type of front suspensions succeeding, there's plenty good and smart alternatives such as wishbone type (Fior and Britten), horizontal front swingarm MacPherson-like strut type (ELF 500) and derivatives (Bimota Tesi, Vyrus), even the Telelever is out there (BMW road bikes).
Yet telescopic forks still are uncontested rulers (currently in USD form), in racing and in production. ...Why is that?

You say you used to race before. Question - would you take one of those mentioned alternative suspensions over, say, a nice Ohlins FGR, with plenty assistance, vast knowledge and proven performance?
...heh, look at the BMW superbike...

The fact is, there are decades of development and fine tuning around the concepts that did proven superior ever since their introduction.
The monocoque/frameless design is over thirty years old, it has been used in Grand Prix, and it never proven superior, ever. Not even now with Ducati and all the tecchy gadgetry behind it. ...Why "reinvent the wheel" now?

I think the "anti-Rossi" brigade have to understand two things:

1) - The problems with the CF frame Desmosedici exhisted BEFORE he got onboard Ducati. Actually, there were already problems before the CF frame, it's introduction just agravated them or, most likely, introduced other ones (for sure, the spec tyres didn't help).

2) - The same problems would still remain even if Rossi went away (like so many of you wish).
The fact that just ONE rider in the whole history of the Desmosedici could win on it (riding well over the edge) is a proof how the whole concept is not that good, with its inconstant results ever since 2003.
A manufacturer can't rely on the talent of just one single rider to keep results coming. What happens if that "wonder boy" gets seriously injured then? ...or if he goes away?
Is it worth sacrificing 5 other riders to benefit one, year after year?
If that much, they should use that talent to help develop a racebike for EVERYBODY that is riding the damn thing, now and in the future.

I think we can agree that Ducati never really did that in MotoGP.
I hate Rossi so effin much for performing so poorly to the point that it's giving Ducati a bad name, making it look like shite (justified confirmation, unfortunately) but I got to take my hat off to him for provoking a reaction inside Ducati that should have happened many years ago.

Although I fully admit to not being impressed by his demeanour since the competitive arrival of Lorenzo in the premier class.

I don't really understand your argument on the fork fronts. Other than the majority of the paddock being inherently conservative. I've personally never ridden on a 'funny front end' so cannot comment.

The point is the CF chassis has had but one season of development (2011) in its three years of existence(2009-2011), and has now been cast aside in a knee jerk manner. On the back of this test perhaps prematurely. Ducati are a small company that do not have the years of aluminium chassis experience in the bank that Honda and Yamaha have. It's easy to say they need to challenge with the same technology. Not so easy to put into practice. Yes maybe the CF route was risky. Preziosi was / is looking for a technical edge. I'll just be disappointed if they abandon it for good, just when they've barely started. This point is not clear yet.

Rossi is supposed to be an Alien. An Alien should by denifition be head and shoulders better than the other riders of the same marque. Stoner was at Ducati. Rossi was at Yamaha - until Lorenzo's arrival. Lorenzo has been over Spies, and Pedrosa has been at Honda over Dovi (injuries notwithstanding). Rossi has NOT been at Ducati despite always having first dibs on the new stuff. He has been mediorce and scoring in a similar fashion to Nr.2 Hayden. Regularly outshone by the lesser lights in qualifying. Simply poor when all the resources have been piled up in his corner of the garage.

I am not disputing the Ducati is nr.3 or perhaps even nr.4 in the pecking order of G.P machines currently. And remember it's only a poofteenth off, not a million miles away. Merely that at EUR 18 - 20m Rossi should have brought a lot more to the table performance wise.

There's a lot of people out there in the ether more than willing to lay all the blame at the feet of Preziosi, whilst completely exonerating Rossi of any blame whatsoever. What's that all about?

>>(Quoting:) "The point is the CF chassis has had but one season of development (2011) in its three years of existence(2009-2011), and has now been cast aside in a knee jerk manner. On the back of this test perhaps prematurely. Ducati are a small company that do not have the years of aluminium chassis experience in the bank that Honda and Yamaha have." <<

Did Honda, Suzuki and -biggest example- Aprilia had experience with the perimeter frame tech, brought first by Yamaha (to factory bikes)?
What to say about Suter, Kalex, Moriwaki, FTR and many other "hand craft" specialists on the perimeter frame chassis design then?

The trellis frame turned out to be a "signature" of Ducati, but it never was something built (sometimes not even developed?) in-house for their racebikes. What makes you believe it would now be otherwise?
They have bigger resources than ever and, most of all, access to subcontractors and race partners, to help with that development for them.

>>(Quoting:) "There's a lot of people out there in the ether more than willing to lay all the blame at the feet of Preziosi, whilst completely exonerating Rossi of any blame whatsoever. What's that all about?" <<

Ok, that sure brings a lot of questions regarding Rossi's current form, I'll give you that.
But the one factor to look at -the important one- is which other rider vouched for the carbon frame? ...or the whole bike (over the competicion) for that matter?

Plenty articles seem to point that every single professional rider that has placed on track his own arse over the CF desmosedici complained of the same - lack of front end feel, strange and vague reactions, etc, when compared to any other racebikes with "conventional" chassis.
Should Ducati risk to waste "X" more years to develop the CF frame, most likely never being able to better the perimeter frame design, which is used and further perfected by everybody else?

Nine seasons have passed and every single rider that has succeeded on other racebikes, in this or other classes, did not succeed (actually failed) on the Desmosedici (long list!), with the single exception of Stoner.
...isn't that too much of a coincidence?
...isn't that too strong of a sign that it is the bike that has something(s) fundamentally wrong, or worse than the others?
...did the CF frame really presented a solution over the trellis frame?
...have been all the riders that incompetent so far?

You defend Rossi's performance by - rightfully - saying no rider, except from Stoner, was able to be successful on the Ducati. The point is, as Nostrodamus says, you'd expect Rossi to be a step above the rest, even without all the resources that now are being thrown at him.
So contrary to popular belief, maybe he just happened to always land on the best bike, until Valencia 2010.

Maybe we are discussing different things then.

I'm more interested in seeing Ducati finally perform consistently at the top, rather than seeing one single rider win (or lose) to prove a point or fill expectations.

Watching Rossi, at his age and long career, finally winning on a Ducati, would (will?) sure be epic and really special, but I'm honestly more interested in seeing one "small house" special brand like Ducati ("David vs Goliath") succeeding with more than just one rider on the same season (proof that the bike works for everybody), as that will certainly have a much bigger direct impact to the sport -and to many other riders- probably for years to come.

I definitely agree with these points. I think we all want Ducati to be up against the Japanese, with or without Rossi. We already have to do without other non-Jap brands (although it looks like the CRT bikes will change that to a certain degree).

Yeah, I guess everybody agrees that just a couple of the big manufacturers up there is weak (the more the merrier).
It's uncertain how this CRT story will end up, so, meanwhile, we'll have to look for MSMA factory bikes when looking for the riders who are in the top places.

I should have added to my previous post something that will go along what Lo and Nostrodamus were approaching, which will probably cause controversy... (I sure hope not but what the heck...)

Even understanding that Casey is faster at this point (IMHO he is), Rossi has other stronger qualities which are just as important. He has -undoubtedly- the biggest experience on factory machinery on the grid today and knows "how it should be", same for the crew that got in with him.
That's something I really don't think you can get from "test-riders" or from the reparto-corse at this level. Ducati Corse is not HRC.
Myths or no myths, with or without their arrogance and (sad) funny remarks in last pre-season, that's the truth and, IMHO, he and his crew are worth their price for that, even if the results this year makes one think otherwise.

While many expected "multi-million-contract" Rossi to win everything with one hand in his back and, now seeing how he fails throw him tomatoes, I look at him and his crew as a sort of confirmation that, afterall, Casey is so adaptive as a rider that he was working as a "placebo" for inherent problems on that bike, making Ducati continuously lazy(?) and overconfident on something that never worked for anybody else.

So, while the expensive Rossi/Ducati saga has been as total fiasco on results -and some of you will keep bringing down his past achievements- at least it brought something positive and made Ducati "wake up and smell the coffee".
Before, that wouldn't happen, almost ignoring the riders. Now, when (and if) the benefits arrive, it won't be just Rossi that benefits from it.

Which brings us back to another great 'Rossi is God' myth - 'He develops bikes that others can ride'.

It is without question that Rossi's palms, fingers, feet and arse are some of the finest sensors the world of GP racing have ever known. But these sensors exist for but one man, the one to which those extremities were proved by Darwinian means. Circumstance (i.e the factory engineers actually doing the nitty gritty nuts and bolts, not to mention the design brilliance that lead to for example, the cross plane crank) has dictated that this coincides with what other Yamaha riders want - supposedly.

Yet the following contradicts this brilliance in all arenas attitude towards Rossi. The two times WSBK champ CE11 has continuously complained about having difficulty setting up the M1 despite seven years in the saddle of the damn thing (again fantastic rider with an admirable C.V, but not Alien, and not able to find that ethereal 'eenth degree). This is Mr. Michelin feedback. Why has he always struggled on the Rossi established M1? Because he's not Rossi! Because he's not an Alien!

The argument is of course that these guys wouldn't do better on something else. Yet again the CE11's record on both RCV and M1 is roughly comparable - indicating station - as with Hayden, very good, but not great.

The evidence of my first paragraph is sketchy and rather 'intelligent evolution' based than anything truly empirical.

As that great skeptic Douglas Adams said it's probably the mice that are controlling the universe and everything. Although if you listen to the Rossi cultists it's probably HRC that dictate which way the wheel spins in the mouse cage. Cest le vie.'

And finally in parting for this evening let us not forget the very telling words of one Silvan Guintoli (yes I know historically it's not wise to listen to the words of a Frenchman, but this one made an even graver mistake and married an Englishwomen. Sometimes two wrongs do make a right.) Mr Guintoli is inWthe unique position of having ridden both the M1 and D16 in their 2008 incarnations. Without a moments hesitation he stated Stoner was the superior rider. Guintoli's statement carries a thousand times the weight of any journo or ether jockey such as us.

That's the type of discussion that, while extremely interesting, contains fuel for many different and contradicting opinions, it's impossible to find a global consensus.

Notice that I said Casey is faster, not the superior rider. :-)

Riders of the same or previous generations have come up and thrown a hint of "X rider is better than Y rider" (they always done that), yet in what basis are they -and we- comparing that?

- Some will clearly be faster than everybody else given a clear track, but perhaps will crack at some point if another more agressive rider insists to play around for the overtaking...
- Some will go "do or die, win or bin it", while others will do "the best they can" and bring the machine until the end...
- Some are too dependant on setup, while others don't even seem to notice or know what was changed...
- Some are very relaxed before and after the race ("pass me a fag mate" a-la Barry Sheene or Joey Dunlop! HAHA), while others are so focused that they look like they're going to have a hissy fit if the nearest person pops out a word too close...
- Some have flamboyant riding styles, others smoother/self-contained styles.
- Some are friendly and more laid back, some are reserved and more "professional"...
...etc etc etc...

There's too many variables, plenty can -and will- bias the personal preferences towards what you "admire" or identify with in certain riders, not just plain results or lap times.
I don't think the "superior rider" exists in definite. And if it ever existed, I'll stick with my own bias and say that rider (or riders?) was racing in the late 80's/early 90's. :-)

For me, and since I admittedly favor Ducati over any other manufacturer, I want the best success for more than one of its riders. There are many different opinions but I think that, even if Rossi probably will never be able to go as fast as Stoner did on that thing, I can't see any better rider to have in there to push them and somehow guide(?) them to "make it better". If he can also bring sponsors, then even better.
I do not miss Stoner in there. In fact his "loss" from Ducati may have served a bigger purpose (IMHO). Worse results in this season and all.

I think the comments are starting to detract from the quality of the site, especially when they are longer than the original article and the same person keeps posting the same thing over and over. I come to read what David has to say, it's interesting to read other people's perspectives, but if you want a soapbox, I think you should put up your own motogp site.

i personally like the comments, even the long ones. some interesting opinions even if i dont agree with them all. some are repetitive, yes, but if i dont like them i move on past. you can just read the article and skip the comments if your feel.

The problems at Ducati did not start with the CF frame. The problems were manifest already in 2007 and 2008, but probably masked because Bridgestone was building a special tire for Ducati. But Stoner was the only guy able to win on the Ducati in the dry regardless of whether it was steel trellis or CF. Melandri had a disastrous year in 2008 and he never got anywhere near a CF Ducati. So why this continuing assumption by a lot of people that the problem is CF?

Reality is that no-one, including Ducati, knows what is causing the front end problems. If Ducati knew they would surely fix it. It seems from Rossi's post Valencia test comments that the problem is still there with the aluminium frame. Maybe they need a new engine design. After all, that was one of the keys to Yamaha's new found competitiveness in 2004.

Nine Years of failure for a long list of riders with the sole exception of Stoner? You're delving back a bit here into the steel lattice years and even further back again with the 990's. A combination which saw tangible success with Capirossi (who should've won the 2006 title if not for the incident with his 'teammate' Gibernau. Capirossi who was voted best rider of 2006 by his peers) and success of sorts with Bayliss and Xaus.

At the back of everyone's mind is Melandri who had a couple of good years on a RCV and frankly nothing else on either a M1 or D16 or even later RCV's. Poor example, and one, may I remind readers, who never rode the CF chassis Ducati!

Who has been on the CF chassis of note? Stoner, Rossi and Hayden. That's it! And again being brutally honest for all those sensitive souls, Hayden has never approached Alien status and has muddled around his current station ever since 2007 be it on a Honda or a Ducati. Satellite riders, well they're second tier aren't they?

So where does that leave us? Pretty much at a straight Rossi versus Stoner juncture. Two of what were four Aliens. Riders supposed to be a class apart from any other (refer please to my earlier post on this thread).

Yes Stoner had issues with the CF Duke which were never addressed, ostensibly for budgetary reasons, although it seems more through Corse arrogance; yet he still regularly pole'd, podium'ed and won on the damn thing. Alien status confirmed. CF chassis certainly ball park, although with rough edges as you'd expect from an undeveloped component.

Then we have Rossi, who through hubris painted himself into the Ducati corner and said he relished the challenge of a real prototype, something more akin to his favoured 500 two strokes. Coming out with statements like; 'Stoner wasn't riding it hard enough', he and the others were 'pussies'. Burgess jumps on the bandwagon and states the D16 was a much better starting point than the 2004 M1, 'an 80 second fix'.

An entire season later and now Rossi states he's not even comfortable sitting on the damn thing?! And to be fair this is a mutual issue between Corse, Burgess and Rossi. Although I find it hard to believe that Corse wouldn't have sorted this one pronto if this was a real gripe Rossi had enunciated to them. After all they'd recast entire engine blocks to accommodate him, a wee little seat / tank mod seems puny in comparison.

And now we've had a full two day test with a twin spar chassis with Rossi stating the sensations remain in essence the same as on the CF, vague front feel up to the apex. Why does this make the CF material flawed Luc? Where'd Dennis Noyes' Cheshire cat go? Disappeared into thin air just like in Lewis Carroll's book.

So the blame now moves to the engine and it's lack of compactness in comparison to Honda's 72 degrees. And again remember Preziosi states the D16 engine is right in the middle of it's adjustability range. I.e if they wanted to they could jam the thing closer to the front wheel. So two 60kg lumps (RCV vs D16) only 18 degrees different are going to make that much difference on a racing machine as dynamic as a GP motorcycle with a 67kg even more dynamic gangly lump of rider of top?

Again to my mind Rossi is leading Ducati on a merry chase and is besmirching the name of the marque that I feel a strong racing affinity too. Already we see the heaving masses pointing the finger at Ducati letting down Rossi and not the more realistic (to my mind at least) Rossi letting Ducati down. Twelve months of backwards development and pitiful results is not what Rossi and coy were supposed to bring to this marriage on the back of his record and salary demands.

On one level I really am surprised an acrimonious divorce hasn't happened already. On the other hand with whom else would both parties sleep with? No other willing and able partners exist for either. And so shall both soldier on in this loveless relationship. It's going to get ugly at some point though....

Phew, exhausted now. Thank Mohammed for booze getting me through.

Apologies to Lo and Motogpmd for repeating what you've already said.

you had threatened some time ago, a warts and all (from your perspective) Stoner versus Rossi piece. One which you found the thought of distasteful, but necessary nonetheless. Is this still in the pipeline? I guess a good one to feed the seething masses (us all) with mid off season to keep the juices flowing.

it would be interesting I think to go back and do a summary of Stoners comments about the Duc over the years some time. Given alot of what he has said has proved true. David, do we know if Ducati have tried what Stoner was asking for?

Yes, when Stoner (commenting on the Ducati situation this year) said that there wasn't much difference in feel between steel, aluminium and carbon fiber his comments were rubbished by some people. Now after the last test Rossi said exactly the same thing. In fact most things that Stoner has said about the Ducati have since been confirmed in subsequent comments by Rossi. When two riders of such high calibre make similar comments about the bike this should at least give Preziosi and his team some clear direction for future development.

Mate, I'm just a fan like everybody else in here, the difference for me (and some others around, I guess) is that I have a serious affection for Ducati superbikes, more the old ones although I also like the new ones.
Anyway... the point is that those are sort of a benchmark for a lot of riders out there when impeccable cornering attributes come to the surface (and loads of feedback, funny enough), even today with the latest and greatest out there -can testify- and, along with many other of its peculiarities, it's one of the qualities that made Ducati so respected and valued in previous decades.

That Desmosedici always struggled in the corners when compared to the rest, 990cc or 800cc, more electronics or none. Trellis of "frameless" chassis, "big-bang" or "screamer," 2003 or 2011, makes no difference. It's not the ultimate symbol of what some of us recall in a Ducati. For me, it never was.
It's like a bastard child and that turned out to be its character, now and before, we all seen it in the races (heh, remember Bayliss at Jerez'03? seems like he was riding a wild horse and holding for dear life... now check Rossi riding it in suspicion this year... notice some resemblance?).
It's almost the opposite of what it should have been, and I would say it goes far deeper than the freakin chassis. But hey, I'm no engineer.

Another interesting aspect... some say the limited production road bike (D16RR) is pretty close to the 2004/05 gen bikes of GP. Never rode one but have sit on it. Very exotic, lots of wow factor but, really, it's somewhat of a fat pig in this current day. ...sit on a Aprilia RSV4 after it and it's almost a revelation.
I know very well the 800cc MotoGP D16 is a lot different (CF frame or trellis), but I've seen them in flesh and I maintain my opinion.
Among other changes, put it on a diet! :-)

Let's take another look at the lap times from Valencia at the end of two days of testing with the new 1000cc bikes.

Is this REALLY the premier class of motorcycle road-racing?

Test Times

1. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda 1m 31.807s
2. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda 1m 31.968s
3. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 32.338s
4. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 32.550s

All the above finally made it under Casey Stoner's 2008 lap record, set on a STEEL TUBE framed Ducati GP08,

at 1m 32.582s. (Hands up those who still reckon steel tube frames are no good!)

5. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 33.256s
6. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 1m 33.332s
7. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 1m 33.433s
The above actually managed to get under Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike pole time from 2009.

8. Hector Barbera ESP Pramac Racing 1m 33.648s
9. Alvaro Bautista ESP San Carlo Honda Gresini (800cc) 1m 33.814s
10. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda (800cc) 1m 34.142s
11. Kousuke Akiyoshi JPN Repsol Honda 1m 34.546s
The above made it under Noriyuki Haga's Superbike lap record set in 2009... (set on a steel-tube framed Ducati TWIN!)

12. Franco Battaini ITA Ducati Marlboro 1m 34.840s
The above made it under the 250GP qualifying record, set in 2006...

NONE of the following managed to break Mika Kallio's 250 Grand Prix lap record, set in 2007

13. Carmelo Morales ESP Team Laglisse Suter-BMW (CRT) 1m 35.911s

None of the following managed to better the Moto2 lap record, set in 2010 by Karel Abraham...
14. Ivan Silva ESP BQR Inmotec (CRT) 1m 36.695s
15. Yonny Hernandez COL BQR FTR Kawasaki (CRT) 1m 37.279s
16. Federico Sandi ITA Grillini Team Gapam (CRT) 1m 38.680s

The lap times are also affected by the state of the track surface, there was general complaint by the riders that Valencia's tarmac had seen better days.

Just check out how much the lap times have dropped in Mugello this year ...

Bridgestone has decided to favor the Japanese manufacturers. When Ducati was their only customer, they made the tires work. When Honda wanted to win their only Championship with the 800s, Bridgestone made the tires work. Who was the beneficiary of Bridgestone's kindness both times?

If only Michelin were as kind to their best tester: Colin Edwards.

Interesting claim. Now how about some real evidence that Bridgestone made their tires to suit Honda in 2011. And I suppose someone will soon be telling us that Bridgestone also made their tires specially to suit Stoner in 2011!

It is highly likely that Ducati would have been somewhat disadvantaged in 2008 because Bridgestone had to make a tire to suit everyone. I recall Stoner saying something along those lines at the time. But that doesn't mean that they were favoring the Japanese, it's just an inevitable consequence of running a spec tire. But 2008 is long time ago in racing development terms. By 2011 everyone surely knew what to expect from Bridgstone.

I am not saying you are wrong about Honda and Bridgestone in 2011, I am saying prove it. The more likely scenario is that Honda engineers and riders did a better job than anyone else of optimizing their bike to suit the spec 2011 Bridgestone tires.

Listen to Pedrosa and Stoner saying they have chatter now on these softer 2012 generation Bridgestones on the litre bikes. Something they don't think can be dailled out. New bits please HRC is the call. That doesn't sound like a tyre manufacturer building a tyre to suit a particular machine to me.

I seem to remember reading that Yamaha and Rossi had to use the tyres that were made for the ducati in 2008(the only tyres BS had at the time) no doubt to some degree because bs weren't overly happy about it and but that is pure guess.
Don't think the bs tyres are made so much for the honda these days they just make them work best, though Casey as WC will be one of the riders bs definately look to. More made for the majority of bikes so that the tyres works best across the biggest spectrum, which means a twin spar layout...
In 2006 it was Rossi's most convincing pre season I can remember , come the end of testing Michelin introduce a new tyre, caused the yam serious chatter problems and it took them a long time to fix it, but they defo dropped the ball that year, and you could argue the tyres were made for/by Rossi back then..things don't always click first time out.. can be a real pain in the arse chatter but luckily they have plenty of time to fix it..

Actually no, Bridgestone had different tires for Ducati, Suzuki and Kawasaki in 2007/8. They were not a single spec tire back then. I know I mentioned it elsewhere, but anyway Stoner said the tires Ducati was using were quite different to those used by Suzuki and Kawasaki. I don't know what tire spec Rossi was using in 2008, but he certainly had a bigger selection than just the Ducati spec tire.

Michael- I agree that Bridgestone made their tyres for Ducati in 2007 and before. But I completely disagree that they have favoured Honda in 2011. When Bridgestone became the control tyre they used M1s with test riders to develop the tyres. Yes they also asked riders from other teams for feedback, but they actually had test riders on M1s doing additional testing. I don't know how Yamaha manged that but it set them up for 09' and 10'! And it put an end to Casey being able to feel the front. I remember him commenting in 07' on how good the front Bridgestone was. He was able to weight up the rear of the bike but still feel the front. That had changed by half way through 08'. Now Rossi is dealing with the consequences of Ducati not reacting well enough to a change that he put in motion by switching to BS back in 08'.

The new 1000s are bore limited and fuel-limited.

During testing, the bore limit caps horsepower at roughly the same peak rating as an 800 (~250-260).

During the races, the fuel limit will produce lap times similar to the outgoing 800s.

Tires and horsepower.


HRC riders have been complaining for a while now!

How about they they had chatter issues with the 2012 chassis and are working to solve?

Sorry just sick of hearing that they were complaining when they've had a valid problem like all riders do!

Re-word as you see fit minus the c word......

day two Honda were done early - very few laps, and almost none after noon.

No reason to embarrass the Suzuki and CRTs and more, lest the bail on the series and weaken the prestige of MotoGP?

No reason to motivate Yamaha or Ducati any more than they were already?

No reason to get Dorna upset about an even larger gap which might hasten the move to standard ECU, etc?

Just seems odd given that Honda came nowhere close to using up their engine allocation this year, or their test days.

day two Honda were done early - very few laps, and almost none after noon.

No reason to embarrass the Suzuki and CRTs and more, lest the bail on the series and weaken the prestige of MotoGP?

No reason to motivate Yamaha or Ducati any more than they were already?

No reason to get Dorna upset about an even larger gap which might hasten the move to standard ECU, etc?

Just seems odd given that Honda came nowhere close to using up their engine allocation this year, or their test days.

Look, let's be clear on this, throughout the history of motor racing there have been riders whose careers have hinged on being able to ride on a specific tyre and bike combination. Remember all that talk in Superbikes of the changing tyres, and some riders taking for ever to get used to the Pirelli's for example???
Why do we act surprised when we see this issue cropping up in GP racing??
Tyres are the contact with the road - and every force that is applied has to act upon them, and so it's not surprising that some chassis will encounter problems as tyre specifications change.

And so it appears to have been with Ducati - where they had a bike which went backwards as Bridestone tyre specs changed.
In the first season on the 800s (2007) Stoner ran away with the title on a bike with superior speed and good grip. The major Michelin runners then demanded Bridgestones, and suddenly the tyres had to be manufactured for a diverse range of bikes for 2008 - Honda/Yamaha/Ducati.
Then in 2009 we went to the one-tyre rule, and suddenly Bridgestone had to build a generic range of tyres for the whole grid. And Ducati started to go backwards as the characteristics of the tyres were less and less specifically suited to their chassis. Essentially, the change in tyres exposed the weaknesses in the Ducati chassis.

Ducati had only one person able to ride around this issue, and he found a way to get the tyres up to temperature, but it involved a fair bit of risk and occasionally he chucked the Ducati away as a result.
I think we are all agreed that Stoner has proven that he is a prodigious talent, and in proving that he could ride the Ducati to regular wins in the dry he may well be considered a unique talent. After all, nobody has gone close to winning on the Ducati under the one-tyre rule.

As to the Ducati, well I hope we see them competitive again - even if I once owned a Ducati 750 GT (complete POS) and swore I'd never own another - GP racing needs more than just 2 marques fighting it out for the podium.

As for the allegations of "anti-Rossi" comments above, well can we just get over those tiring arguments and allegations and discuss the racing.

This is drawing a pretty long bow. Do you have any evidence? The issue with the Ducati as raised by both Stoner and Rossi has been a lack of feel. I haven't heard either saying the tyres don't suit the bike. The evidence points to a couple of possibilities

a) Rossi is not capable of getting the same level of 'feel' out of the bike as Stoner

b) Rossi is not capable or willing to push the bike as far as Stoner (something he's more or less admitted)

I think the idea that the Bridgestone tyres suddenly morphed into being unsuitable for the Ducati but great for everyone else is a bit barmy. All those bikes need more or less the same thing from a tyre and that's why everyone wanted Bridgestones, because they were the best.

For mine, the evidence points to Honda and Yamaha's development of their bikes simply having outstripped Ducati's since 2007. Stoner was able to get better results than Rossi on the same bike not because of some freakish affinity with the Ducati, but simply because as of about 2010 onwards he has been a better rider than Rossi, who has declined for all sorts of reasons including injury.

The Ducati is a significantly different bike to the Japanese. A spec tire being equally suited to two significantly different designs is unlikely to say the least. Preziosi himself has raised the possibility that tires may be part of Ducati's problem.

In 2007 Bridgestone had a tire specifically designed for Ducati. They also had tires specifically designed for Suzuki and Kawasaki. Stoner commented at the time that the tires Ducati were using were quite different to the tires used by Suzuki and Kawasaki. If the tires suited all bikes, why was Bridgestone making a different tire for the Japanese bikes?

If Bridgestone was designing a tire specifically for Ducati now, it is highly likely that they would use a construction and compound that minimized what appears to be an inherent design flaw of the Ducati. This is likely what happened in 2007/08.

The fact is that it is well known that tires perform differently with different machines and different riders. It's the same with spec tires in F1 for example.

Very true.

Also in the beginning Bridgeston was an outsider in a way and thus incentived to adjust the tyre to the manufacturer. If Ducati has a designed flaw they could/would/want to adapt their tyre to help overcome it. Plus different bykes use the same tyre differently. Thus why one for the japanese man'f.
Over the years competition (for BS) has disappeared and we moved towards designing the bike around the tyre and also the tyres has changed. That's organical not that BS has decided to less support Ducati. Simply the tyre has evolved towards a general support (Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and so on). Of course the bigger names (H&Y) have more power but maybe also faster/better in adapt. They are big! That's why D&S were left with a "tyre problem". Recently Suzuki seem to have overcomed it (look how fast and good was RdP from Day1). Not sure we can say the same for Ducati. Hope so soon (for them).

I think Motogpmd raises a fair point - we know that Ducati and BS were able to work together to make the tyre work for the GP5 onwards, and we know Stoner doesn't BS : ) so when he says the tyre he was using is different to what Suzuki and Kawasaki were using we can believe it.

However the point Briga makes is also valid, and more relevant from a chronological perspective... the bike must be built to suit the tyre. Which I suppose is simply another dot point in the growing list of examples of how the Desmosedici was not developed in the right direction - perhaps they failed to take into account the way that the tyres evolved after 2008, simply because Stoner could also ride around *that* issue, as well as all the others...

A few punters here have been nominating tyres as the defining issue with the Duc for some time now, in light of the examples raised above I am starting to gravitate towards that camp.

Was it around '07 BStone (when BS were supplying Duc only) were considered to have the best front tyre by a wide margin, and from memory, it was said at the time it allowed the Duc's light front end to stick.

So seemingly Duc is the loser from BS having to produce spec tyres for the grid, as suggested by others.

But why?

Could it be the Duc specific front tyre requirement from back then, is related to the problem/problems VR is articulating now?

Rather likely considering thoughts in the threads earlier posts.

and they got it more correct than any of the others. However, as Preziosi said at the time: 'only Stoner is riding the bike the way it was designed to be ridden'. They did not realise that the skill set required was, effectively, unique - as witness the fact that they recruited Melandri for '08 at far more money than they were paying Stoner. Let's not confuse the idea that Ducati were building a bike to win the WC with the idea that they built the bike to suit a particular rider. That has not happened until this season.

Ducati have stuck with their '07 design philosophy until at the earliest, about the first third of this season. We now know from Kanemoto's comments that Stoner's development input is valuable; we also know that Ducati largely brushed Stoner's suggestions aside with the comment that they 'didn't have the budget to change things'. The great value of Rossi to Ducati is the necessity for them to change their mind-set because of the obvious conclusion that if Rossi cannot ride it competitively, there is something wrong. That has been reinforced by the fact that, on a properly competitive bike, Stoner has shown what he can achieve so it's been a double-whammy season for Ducati.

The differences between '04, when Yamaha were determined to build a bike that addressed the problems evident in the previous versions and included Rossi as an essential part of that equation, and Ducati with it's 'well, it wins races, just go out and ride it harder' approach, could not be clearer.

For me it is simply the end of the year ...

At the beginning, remember, we all thought that Rossi will manage to fix the "Ducati problem" ... and David said to us "look ! he's more natural now !", and week after week , me the first, we think "this time maybe !!! "

... bah ... I have lots of "interesting things" to say ... but my english is too poor, and what I want to say will become a caricature so ....

In simple words i would like to say :

- Stoner, this year, by his easy title, and by the shit year of Rossi, proves he is a real champion ... the king
- Rossi, by his smile all over the year ... almost the all year ... and by his first real big defeat, by the fact that he's stil struggling even after Simo's death ... even after all these incredible years he gave to us ... he is definitly an alien ... but a human one .. and this is quite new for me
- Lorenzo this year ... what a change .. what a maturity ... i used to dislike him .. what a mistake !!

I mean the races may have been boring ... but the champions are there .. I love them ... I love Stoner, I will always love Rossi, like a lot Pedrosa, love Lorenzo ... loved Simo ...

And Rossi will probably will never manage to come back in front with the Duke ... but fuck ... after 9 titles, after all that (1997 .... !!!), his "stupid" motivation makes me smile...

Long live Stoner, long live Lorenzo, long live Ducati, we need them all ... and please maybe it's time to look forward, to stop compare Stoner and Rossi on the Ducati (I was the first to do it : )) ) ... the last race, was the better race of the year ... hope is still there

Chears and have all a good winter :)

Luc and Nostro have made terrific points - how to answer hundreds of well argued lines.

Tele front end - I too have wondered about their continued use. Besides conservative factories, are there weight and directness of feel issues (advantages) over multi link front ends ?

The Duc: OMG - Capirossi stated clearly the main problem of the Duc front end, so VR and Stoner, didn't make it up.

VR articulated in black and white his real problem - the "fucking vibration before the black hole" (that happens unpredictably ie unpredictably its gone - you've crashed.
(Like when VR crashed in front of Bautista at Phillip Island he said he had no idea why, as data showed rider input was the same as the previous lap.)

VR said there's not really any difference between the the alli and cf frame, so the frame material, or type of frame isn't the problem.

Engine is at the centre of it's ajustment - I thought Burgess tried all manner of extreme settings.
Cann't move VR forward because the tank cann't be moved because it's part of the airbox - AFTER ONE YEAR !!!!!!! I'm apoplectic thinking about it.

VR's team manager said VR prefers to fix the bike than risk his life...........

Certainly Casey (as I've said) is incredible but VR didn't (I believe) lose his mojo in a couple of winter months.

I think that is the difference right there. Rossi wasn't and isn't willing to ride the bike over the edge race after race because he saw from Stoner, that it will be the litter, even more frequently than he experienced it this year. VR has shown so many times in the past that he will and can ride over the limit but not on a bike where he cannot feel the front end. IE no point in sacrificing his body for a bike that just won't win the championship any way. I think this is the right approach but boy has he taken flak, heaps, and continues to do so. Regardless of what anyone thinks, VR respects Stoner. Rossi watched him crash, and lose the championship 3 years in a row on the thing and risk his arse every time. To VR it's just not worth it. It'll be worth it when he can again feel the front end.

So either Rossi is a little more intelligent than any of us at riding a bike and calculating risk or he's lost his mojo. You choose. Either way you look at it he's willing to risk his entire reputation on it by accepting and continuing the challenge. We will know something in Sepang. If anything Rossi is determined while JB looked dejected and exhausted the last few rounds, almost like he was saying "I'm done with this." I'd sure like to get my eyes on a lengthy interview from him on 2011. He definitely needs to answer the 80 second comment.

Have a good winter.

I'm with you bricktop, riding over the top Casey has shown to be be incredibly risky. Add to that, that the technique not only means lots of crashes but also still means little chance of any real success (Casey couldn't get in the top 3 on it which is laughable considering how easily he has walked it this year). Add the two together and you get little reward for maximum risk it's a bizarre philosophy that any racer would avoid if they could.. Rossi this year hasn't been trying to go as fast as poss he's been trying to fix it to go faster more safely, the problem is no one really knows if it can ever be made to do that.. V happy they've gone back to basics, understand that then make it out of cf please, love to see that on track..

In reality, and compared with us reading this, Stoner and Rossi are pretty close in laptimes on the Duc. Yes, there's a second or two between them, but put that in perspective - these are very quick guys. I think the major difference is as Hugelean says; on the risk management curve Stoner was leaning to the 'win' side and Rossi was a little on the 'survive' side. In reality it probably didn't make that much difference because the lack of feel still meant Rossi found the gravel a lot, but there's a clear difference in riding style between the two.

Something people seem to miss is that the reason cited for switching to aluminium is the ease and speed of manufacturing. This first Al chassis was *meant* to be the same as the CF chassis under the engineering principle of changing one thing at a time. Rossi saying it is the same is a Good Thing. This gives them a starting point, which they can now make changes to much faster than with the CF parts. Those parts took a month to fabricate, whereas an Al chassis can be modified in hours, or even seconds if you're game to take an angle grinder to it in the pits.

Once you get the basic design right, there would be nothing to stop them reverting to CF if it offers advantages over Al. Maybe the thinner wall sections possible would mean they could get better airflow into the airbox? Who knows? We haven't necessarily seen the last of CF chassis or chassis sections.

Oh, the other reason for switching to Al was obviously to answer the critics saying it was CF that was the problem. This has obviously worked now that Rossi has said the bikes are not significantly different.

that Stoner is a 'pussy' and 'not riding it hard enough' and that is respect?

Rossi can crash all year on the Duke fighting up to a best station of 5th / 6th at the line and this is somehow sensible - being 'unwilling' to push further? Stoner can do the same, yet podium and win on the thing as well, and that somehow becomes a risk too far?

In 2011 I believe Rossi 'sacrificed' his body and Dianese's in the region of 15 times riding safe and conservative. Bricktop I really don't believe you understand the mentality of a racer, let alone a multiple championship winning one. Winning is everything.

In 2010 Rossi was willing to accept the Ducati challenge through hubris. 2011/2012 he's stuck in a contract with no other options.

Given your choices I choose mojo together with a talent level below Stoner's. The bare facts do not paint it any other way.

Rossi's "pussies" comments had nothing to do with Stoner riding on the edge, riding into the litter, or anything else. He said that in response to Stoner/Lorenzo, and Pedrosa whinging about hard passing. Please get your facts straight. They were whinging when anyone came past them, hard, yet it's OK for them to do so. Reference Lorenzo whinging incessantly about Sic then the same weekend putting the same time of pass on Dovi in the beginning laps. Then Stoner saying the same things only to do the same kind of pass on Hayden late this year claiming "that's what Nick does." This was where the "pussies" comments came from so put down your VR haterade down for a minute. It was a comment made about their hypocritical comments.

As far as understanding the mentality, again, you are mistaken.
Stoner's win total went down every year on the Duck. IIRC, 4 wins in 2009, and 3 last year in 2010. Then if you look at Hayden's finishing times this year, in the beginning of the season I looked them up and his finishing to the leader time, doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, at every circuit compared to 2010 and this was before the changing of the frames. So as Hayden as the constant, the finishing time dramatically changed for Ducati in 2011. If you don't believe me go look it up on gp.com's website as you compare 2010 to 2011 for Hayden and look at his finishing times to the leader. I did it for the first 6 races of this year and haven't looked back as that data was enough. What that means is Honda/Yamaha made strides forward and Ducati remained the same or went backwards, and this was prior to changing the chassis.

The bare facts contradict your statements. IMO, Ducati made changes to that bike over the winter that went backwards and I disagree with you that Rossi lost his mojo has he came back from 10th or 11th @ Sepang in 2010, while still injured to win.

Rossi hasn't changed, hasn't lost any speed or anything else. He had a bad year and those who don't care for him used it as an opportunity to slag, incessantly.

Lol, double standards much?

IIRC, Rossi complained when he raced with Elias at some stage (in 2006 I think?). Said the guy was pulling all sorts of hairy & dangerous passes. Didn't like it at all.
He is also, many of his fans claim, too smart to push the Ducati to the max, & crash. Rossi still crashes all the time (nearly every weekend this year I'd say) but is never able to compete for podiums let alone wins like Stoner was. This is master-behaviour, not pussy-behaviour?
If this is to be believed (i.e. Rossi isn't pushing 100%), then his comments about the level of the 2010 Ducati being difficult to gauge because Stoner didn't push to the limit are also quite hypocritical.

Regarding respect, Rossi has got not a single ounce of it for any rider faster than himself. He will say whatever it takes to get under their skin and push them over the edge mentally. His post-race antics of previous years were also aimed at humiliating his rivals. He was able to psyche out the others in the past but not with the current riders.

The respect the top 3 have for each other is refreshing for this sport, somehow its more pleasant to watch and listen to them, and its more professional if nothing else.

He has definitely lost some of his mojo IMO, getting beaten by his teammate in 2010 and unable to get near let alone match or beat Stoners "poor" results on the Ducati had to have an effect on him (I'm talking points, not times). Ducati development has gone through the roof this year with new parts (i.e. engines & chassis) at most rounds, yet no improvement in results. He also barely beat his teammate in the standings, who did not have nearly as much resources thrown at him. 7 points is all that separated them at the end. He should be racing with Stoner & Lorenzo, not dicing with Nicky (one of my favourite riders).

My opinion (which I'm entitled to), so no hate please. Argue if you want but no hate.

>>Ducati development has gone through the roof this year with new parts (i.e. engines & chassis) at most rounds, yet no improvement in results.>>

Sorry, which engine development was done at most rounds?

Ok, so the chassis we all know already the whole sad saga behind it, like the changes with chassis material (CF vs Alu) and a new design in the Aragon GP.
There was also a notice of a heavier flywheel being used and a new gearbox to provide faster gear changes (starting at Assen, AFAIK) but, other than that and the extreme geometry testing (part of their experimental work), what else was changed?

And what do you mean with "development through the roof"? ...is it "through the roof" for a smaller manufacturer like Ducati, or according to the usual standards of constant improvements?
Because, if it is according to the latter, I don't think we saw anything really that radical looking at other manufacturers in previous years, difference here being all the media focus on the Ducati/Rossi saga provoking a much, much bigger impact and notion of what's being done.

I said new parts at most rounds, not new engines. I mentioned engines and chassis because those were the parts Rossi was getting. He wasn't getting new brake cables or even different forks, but new chassis and engines. Basically new bikes. (And Rossi ran a de-stroked version of the 2012 bike with a 2012 chassis I seem to remember, you didn't mention that one. Stoner got 2009 forks to try in 2010...)

& "Development through the roof" is referring specifically to Ducati and there mid-season development over the past five years of 800's. When Stoner, Capi, Melandri and Hayden rode the bike for the past few seasons, they got a new bike every year in Qatar.. and that was more or less it for the year. Stoner said so himself and cited it as one of the main reasons he left Ducati.

I do not like Rossi as a person, he is just not my type. But my problem is not with him - It is with (some) fans of his who will stare facts in the face and still make out that this whole thing is Ducatis fault. These fans apply these double standards to their man, making excuses for the guy non-stop. Digging through times of 10 Vs 11 is completely irrelevant when you finish 10+ seconds behind the winner every weekend. Nobody cares if you make up 1 second from last year, if you finish mid-pack. Take a step back & look at the bigger picture:
- Stoner won and podiumed and poled and crashed that bike regularly, winning more races than anyone else over that 4 year period.
- Rossi is top 8 & top 6 & crashing that bike regularly.

Honda upped their game ("Stoner was lucky to land there") while Ducati have slipped behind ("Rossi left to pick up Stoners mess") is just typical of the BS I've read here over the past year - Dovi said the Honda did not change much over the winter (apart from the seamless gearbox) while the Ducati has been completely changed several times mid season. Its Ducati that have upped their game. They're doing their part. They're not there yet but they are doing more than they ever did in the past. Rossi IS part of the problem (not saying he is solely to blame) - he isn't the same rider he was a couple of seasons ago.

well said.

Bricktop. Whatever context you want to interpret the 'pussy' call doesn't make it any less respectful.

And no, obviously you do not understand the mentality of a racer. A racer (and certainly one of Rossi's pedigree) can think of nothing else except winning. Unless of course he is mentally defeated before even gridding up as Rossi has been all year - by his own frank admissions. 'I cannot battle in the front group, maybe with the second group' etc etc. Stoner whilst aware of the limitations of the D16 pushed it right up to the ragged edge (and occasionally over it or course) if he thought a win was possible. One win equals 2 x fourth though remember, or almost 3 x sixth. Wins are to be celebrated and bring glory to rider and manufacturer, a series of sixths and sevenths also interspersed with DNF's...........

As for Hayden and elapsed race times (I'll take your word), yes this is a slightly odd one. If we could ever get more than a banal P.C corporate line from the man it would make refreshing & interesting reading. However I for one have never really rated Hayden in this company and his performances tend towards the inconsistent. Once more he batted his average of around 7th in the 800 era.
Rossi as a supposed Alien & GOAT should have been head and shoulders better than Hayden, particularly as he had all the attention, not a mere 7 points ahead at seasons end.

If you care to look at races in comparable conditions there was little in it when looking at the winners elapsed times from 2010 & 2011 (eg; Stoner only 5 secs faster on the RCV than the GP10 at Laguna - and how much of that is tyres? Rossi 15 seconds slower on the GP11.9 than the M1 at Laguna) refuting this oft stated false assertion from certain quarters that HRC in particular have taken some giant leap forward. That performance part is one C Stoner.

This is not 'hate' (that is a word the - primarily Rossi - aficionados like to use as a form of attack) - this is reality.

I personally and honestly don't understand what's your point in continuous arguments over something rather confusing. If it's not "hate" then what is it?
What is that you pretend with your comments/remarks?

Why don't you just say upfront what you think and wish, instead of writing half-truths and half-lies, based on self assumptions, then ending such points with "it's not hate".
What is it then? ...and for what?

Just which part of the above do you consider to be a half truth and why? For what? Surely that is self evident when reading posts by Bricktop and Hugelean.

Why would I hate a rider? I've enjoyed Rossi's victories as much as the next man in years gone by. That said I've also stated I don't particularly like the character Rossi has shown himself to be in recent years. Dislike and hate are a long way apart.

The reply was to your post as much as was to the one above yours stating "opinions" on Rossi and Ducati.
The half truths and half lies are related to "Ducati engine and chassis development through the roof" in the other post above yours, just as much to your assumptions of "Rossi as a supposed Alien & GOAT should have been head and shoulders better".

Regarding your last paragraph (aaw, come on), I'll only say that there are far more interesting matters here to discuss. :-)

It's your "reality" not anyone elses.

Rossi's "pussy" comments were aimed at the other 3 aliens whinging. Not whinging about being t-boned and punted into the litter, whinging about clean, but hard, passing. Yes Rossi complained when Elias took him out at the first race of 2006. Stoner and Pedrosa both got hit by Rossi and Simoncelli, and they were quite pissed off and rightly so. Rossi's comments were clearly aimed at clean, hard passing as Lorenzo, Stoner, and Pedrosa will whinge about this but then do the exact same kind of pass a race later. This is where that comment stemmed from. Look at Laguna 2008, Rossi's M1 never touched Stoner's Duck yet he still whinges about it. In the Fastest movie Stoner says "cameras didn't show what went on, on the back part of the circuit." Ok. You just got beat in a tough battle, it's not the end of the world. At least Lorenzo maintains to this day, that he's never beaten Rossi straight up, that is his words not mine. Last year, what you keep saying is incorrect, Rossi was injured all year. That shoulder was screwed. To keep repeating that Lorenzo beat him on his own bike, well Lorenzo doesn't even agree with you, and he is the one making laps, not you.

Stoner pushed that bike to the ragged edge last year and still placed behind Valentino in the championship with Vale sitting out 3 or 4 rounds? Real big feat. He lost the championship again. So Valentino losing the championship this year, it's not really surprising. Hondas gained, Yamahas gained slightly less and Ducati went no where. Rossi is still Rossi. And all of the 4 aliens are still there, nothing has changed. You act like Casey won the championship the last 3 years in a row. He had to get off the Duck for that and move to Honda.

When Ducati have finally done what Vale asks and fix the weight distribution and riding position he'll be right back at the front.

But, has there been anymore talk on Yamaha and a main sponsor for 2012? Still amazes me that they cannot get funding.. But now they no longer have the #1 plate..

But with Flat-Billed Lorentho(LOL) and No-persona Spies do they even have a chance? It saddens me about Ben, I really wished he would get an actual PR person and build him up... He could have a big name.. but his lack of personality kills it.

Well Honda has said the sponsor money "is like a tip" and doesn't nearly cover the costs, maybe 1/10th. With extraordinary electronics prices, it's not surprising that sponsors aren't begging to get in, it just costs too damn much. The prices have to come down. Ezpeleta is trying to change this but it will be ugly.

You brought up a subject that could be focused a little deeper in these discussions. Sponsorship has become a huge problem now (and growing like a snowball).
...who knows, some constructive ideas could appear?

The fact that one of the leading forces in the racing (Yamaha) doesn't have a big sponsor, that is worth questioning if the right decisions were taken in the past, regarding advertising.
We've had the most expensive motorcycle racing ever in the last seasons, that too is playing against the sport (let's hope this can change).
Tobacco advertising is not what it used to be (big "money source" to the sport in the past) and energetic drinks sponsorship can't fit everybody either.

The audience is increasing every year, although that has something to do with wider and better broadcasting for various TV channels. The focus and interest of that audience is maintained by magazines but especially more and better specialized websites (this one being an example).
...perhaps there was never a better time to put advertisement in those MotoGP fairings?

Maybe it requires a very smart group of people and strategy to overcome this problem but, even in this economic environment, surely there must be some "wealthy" companies willing to advertise? (look at F1 and football)
Inside the pits, the computers became indispensable tools, just as any other regular mechanical one. There are big hardware and software houses prospering out there, a billion more, a billion less...

Easier said than done but, perhaps this area just hasn't been researched as it should?

IMO one of the reasons that big corporations aren't rushing into MotoGP sponsorship is that they are almost always very conservative bodies, and motorcyclists are largely viewed by the movers and shakers as 'loose cannons'... if you are moving up the corporate ladder, revealing yourself to be a keen motorcyclist can sometimes not be the best move. So generating interest in motorcycle racing as an advertising medium could be a bit of an uphill battle.

F1 is different, because everyone drives a car, and cars aren't 'scary'. Yes, I know F1 has more in common with fighter jets than cars, but let's not spoil the illusion. And of course F1 have been all about money and glamour since the year dot, whereas the polish didn't really come to motorcycle Grand Prix until the early/mid eighties, and even then it was quite modest (compared to F1) for the next 10+ years.

And I also think that a fair degree of F1 sponsorship is as much about networking your brand with other companies that could use your services, as it is with getting your name out to the punters. I mean, if you have a business solution to sell, and your potential clients brand is signwritten there right alongside yours on the carbon fibre, there's an immediate marketing opportunity for you - just get your best guys along to a race where you know your target market will also be in attendance, and get the sale. Scoring a deal with a company that can afford to sponsor F1 is probably worth more than ten companies knocking on your door because of your visibility in F1 (when Bayliss was racing I'm sure it would have been interesting to sit in the Xerox corporate box at a WSB event). Can't see a lot of that happening in MotoGP at the moment, because you need the big fish to attract the big fish.

Also motorcycling still hasn't shaken its image of being the poor man's transport, at least among the older set. Who, let's face it, are the ones in charge of the corporate dollar. Ever told an older bloke that your bike cost $20k ($30k!) and had the response "Geez you could have got a decent car for that!". Back in the day, if you had the bucks you got a car, not a bike... ironically, motorcycling will have to move from being a largely recreational pursuit (in the Western world) back to being an economical and practical way to get around before that 'poor man's transport' stigma is banished : /

Frankly I'm surprised that motorcycle GP racing ever attracted the big dollars that it did - there must have been a few bikers well up the ladder in big tobacco in the eighties... I guess what I am saying is that although I've been riding since 14, following GP for 20+ years and been working for a very large corporation for even longer - I can't think of any new ways to attract the sponsor dollar to MotoGP : (

motorcyclists are largely viewed by the movers and shakers as 'loose cannons'.

I don't think it's about loose canons... football tems would never get sponsored if that was the case! It's about what demographic is delivered to the advertisers by the sport.

David hit the problem on the head a while back : motorcycling delivers lots of young male Spaniards and Italians. Given the current economic dramas, they are no longer particularly cashed up to buy stuff. The big corporations want the wealthy middle classes or big developing markets (China, Brazil, India...)

Few have the charisma and personality of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi. Some people can appreciate a confident (without being excessive), grown up, no nonsense, no bull, and professional personality. Especially if he can back it up with speed that few in the world can match.

Vale and SuperSic are/was the exception in that they are/were blessed with both speed and charisma. With only a few other exceptions, most everyone else has to settle for one or the other. Diversity - thats life and thats ok.