Wrooom 2012 Wednesday Round Up: Preziosi Giving Little Away About The Ducati GP12

Fifty-three minutes is how long Filippo Preziosi spoke to the press at Ducati's 2012 Wrooom event at Madonna di Campiglio. The Ducati Corse General Manager spoke extensively on the work that had gone in to the Desmosedici GP12 to be debuted by Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi at Sepang, on the data gathered by Ducati's riders throughout the 2011 season and in the post-race test at Valencia, on the Bridgestone tires and the problems they caused for engineers, on the lessons learned from comparing a carbon fiber chassis using the engine as a stressed member against an aluminium twin spar chassis, and about the approach taken to solving the problems encountered during the 2011 season. But despite his extended and fascinating presentation, he gave virtually nothing away about the actual bike itself.

Preziosi responded with his usual impish humor to questions about the angle between the two banks of cylinders, saying only that he will reply to that question when Honda will tell him what the V angle is of their RC213V. He was just as cagey about the displacement of the engine, merely alluding to the fact that displacement need not be an issue, as even the 800cc bike had had plenty of power. It was, he said, "enough" and that they would find out whether the displacement was large enough the first time the bike hit the front straight. Beyond that, he tiptoed around details, the full extent of his disclosure that "the only components which are used from the previous bike are the front so the fork and steering [assembly]. All the rest is totally new."

But there was still plenty of meat in his presentation, if you were prepared to dig. The key to understanding the changes to the bike starts at Valencia, and the original twin spar chassis used at the post-race test by Valentino Rossi. That bike was meant to provide a baseline, a starting point from which the targets for the bike to be debuted at Sepang were drawn. It was the GPZero - Preziosi expressed his gratitude for whoever coined that phrase - that allowed them to work out what changes would be needed; the Valencia test bike was "a reference bike," Preziosi said.

And though Preziosi was not very forthcoming on the changes, he did describe in detail the process and goals for those changes. Throughout 2011, in their pursuit of a setup, Ducati's riders had persistently bumped up against the limits of adjustments - all too visible given the sometimes extreme setups that both Hayden and especially Rossi had tried out at some tracks. "We were using the bike always on the more extreme end of the adjustment," Preziosi said, "and this did not allow us to go where our riders desired or where it was necessary to be competitive.

The new bike would be different, with the extreme adjustments most often used taken as the median of the range of adjustment. If, Preziosi gave as an example, the wheelbase of the bike was between 1422mm and 1470mm, and the bike was always being set up with a wheelbase around 1465 or 1470mm, then the range of wheelbase adjustment would be shifted so that 1470 was the median value. The wheelbase, Preziosi stressed, was not the real issue, but he had selected that parameter as an easily understandable example. "I don't want to give you too many technical details," he said, "but just to give you an idea of what we have done."

To allow all of these adjustments to be moved to their median values was an almost Sisyphean task: motorcycle setup is such a complex series of interactions that fitting it all together required a lot of incredibly difficult engineering calculations. It had required a lot of changes, too: "We change the chassis, the frame. We change the tank, the seat support. We changed the engine, the swing arm. We changed some of the engine casting, so that it can be fixed in a position which we consider more suitable."

This is the bike that will be used at Sepang, Preziosi said, and this will form the basis for 2012. It was not necessarily the final bike - Preziosi expected a few minor changes between Sepang and the first race, with perhaps one or two new parts being designed on the basis of the data from the first races - but it was a much better starting point than the GP11. "We may introduce some new things," Preziosi said, "but they're not going to be entirely new bikes. They're not going to overturn the concept of the bike; this will remain the same."

The change in approach - and especially the switch to a twin spar chassis, rather than the 'frameless' design which used the engine as a stressed member - had been forced upon them by the engine allocation rules, Prezioso emphasized once again. "We decided to use the perimeter frame to be able to reposition the engine without having to use new engines," the Ducati Corse boss explained. The perimeter frame allows the engine to be moved and repositioned freely, depending on the development of the rest of the bike. If Ducati needs to move the engine, they can, without being forced to start from pit lane.

These design decision themselves had been a consequence of the peculiar nature of the Bridgestone tires. "There is a single [tire] supplier, so our challenge is developing the best possible bike for that specific type of tire," Preziosi elucidated. "In the past, we spoke with the tire supplier, and they designed the best tire for a specific bike," Preziosi said, "today, we have to build the bike for the tire." 

Interestingly, Preziosi also hinted at changes coming from Bridgestone for 2012, saying that the direction for development was "to bring them into line with the needs of the championship." Preziosi stressed this had nothing to do with demands from Ducati, but was in response to pleas from all of the MotoGP riders which had been made throughout 2011. He praised the appointment of Loris Capirossi to liaise with Bridgestone on the issue, as the Italian veteran, who retired at the end of 2011, has long years of experience in MotoGP, and had been working with Bridgestone since 2005. Bridgestone themselves were also being more responsive, Preziosi said, much more responsive than in the past. "I'm sure starting from the first winter test that we are going to see something new and something interesting," he told reporters.

Preziosi was optimistic about the 2012 season, stating that Ducati had faced great challenges in the past and performed the impossible. He was confident that the hard work and commitment by the engineers, team members and riders would pay off in 2012, though he was careful to temper expectations a little, pointing out that Yamaha and Honda had 30 years of experience in building perimeter chassis, and so had quite a head start on the Bologna factory. But that very experience was also an advantage, he said, pointing out that while the Japanese factories may have all that experience of aluminium twin spar chassis, Ducati had experience of both the twin spar chassis now, and the carbon fiber 'frameless' concept. He also contended that the 'frameless' chassis had not been the problem, as validated by the data from Valentino Rossi at Valencia. The two chassis concepts - frameless and twin spar - had felt very similar, Rossi had told the engineers, which Preziosi believed meant that both concepts were valid. It would theoretically be possible to return to a 'frameless' chassis in the future, but the engine rules made it improbable for at least the next few seasons.

Though the GP12 bike was very different from the 'reference' bike tested by Valentino Rossi  at Valencia, the two would be hard to tell apart, he said. The difference between the bike with the twin spar chassis and the bike with the carbon fiber chassis had been strikingly visible, Preziosi said; the difference between the Valencia bike and the Sepang bike would require very close study to spot the difference.

Preziosi was also keen to affirm that the new bike was a Ducati, and not, as one journalist put it, "Valentino's bike". "In the media, people tend to 'Valentinize' everything," Preziosi quipped. But Rossi himself is always keen to point out that he is not an engineer, and that it is his job only to give feedback as clearly as possible to the designers, telling them how the bike behaved. It is the responsibility of the engineers to design the bike based on that feedback, Preziosi said, adding "the bike which is going to be racing is going to be a Ducati bike."

The Ducati boss also said that the additional testing would make developing the bike a lot easier. During 2011, the riders had been forced to treat Fridays and Saturdays as testing days, gathering data rather than looking for setup. Now, with extra testing allowed, Rossi and Hayden would be able to test in between races, instead of at the races, giving them more time to concentrate on being competitive. Preziosi thanked both Rossi and Hayden for their patience in 2011, and had some particularly fulsome praise for Nicky Hayden. "Nicky has very often been for us an example," Preziosi said, praising his professionalism and attitude when finding himself in situations which he had little control over. When he met with his young engineers, Preiziosi said, he would hold Hayden up as an example of how results can only be achieved by carrying on, even in times of great difficulty.

So will the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 be competitive for Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden to start fighting for podiums and wins again? What is clear is that the bike has undergone a fairly radical revision, though one that will not be immediately visible to the untrained eye. The starting point, the base setup that Ducati riders missed throughout 2011, should be vastly improved, and the fact that both Hayden and Rossi will be able to do real testing outside of race weekends will help. The gap should be much closer to both Honda and Yamaha, but, as Filippo Preziosi was keen to point out, neither Yamaha nor Honda have been sitting still during the winter either. 2011 was a disaster for Ducati - though once again, Preziosi emphasized that the data gained was crucial and highly valuable; 2012 can only get better.

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Now that they can finally move the engine around in the chassis and have made a bike for the middle of adjustment in terms of seat to bar to peg ratio, they are on the right track. Sounds like the seating position will allow movement/weight distribution changes and be suitable for someone taller as well as one of the mites.

Good for Ducati, they finally listened.

Great write-up, thanks David. Filippo gave some useful insights despite holding back on specifics. His comments on the twin spar frame being a strategy to allow them freedom to move the engine around without requiring new engines sounded plausible. It does imply that they want to make large changes in the engine position though. Even with the engine as a stressed member they could move it by changing the two frame sections. Sounds like they want to be able to move the engine larger amounts than was possible with the old frame, while retaining predictable amounts of flex.

How much of the old 2 year development cycle was consumed by the use of carbon fibre? When it takes a month to produce a new frame due to the carbon fibre production process, just switching to aluminium and CNC would reduce their development times considerably. This was even referred to earlier as a main reason to move to aluminium frames.

It'll be interesting to see how they go at Sepang. Hopefully they'll be more competitive so we get a bit more edge-of-the-seat racing this year. It's always fascinating watching the skills of Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa in action, but watching those skills being used to fight for a position is much more entertaining. If Rossi and Hayden end up with a bike competitive enough to let them join the argument, so much the better!

Surely with eccentrics, offsets, spacers they had a degree of adjustability with the CF chassis. After all Preziosi said (in 2010?) that the engine was in the middle of its adjustable range.

I'm not sure Ducati fully understand the nature of their problems yet. Both Stoner and Rossi have said at times you can go from one extreme to another and not feel any perceptible behavioural difference. So for Ducati's sake I hope they've chosen the right extreme to base their middling point on!

Why should a twin spar frame necessarily have a wider range of adjustment than the CF headstock /airbox and CF swingingarm arrangement? How much adjustment are we talking, 20-30mm? I would like a fuller explanation one day. I still suspect there are politics at play here with the change of chassis material and Preziosi is doing no more than dutifully towing the company line. After all Rossi said there was no difference in the feel of the ali beam mule to the CF 'frameless' bike........

Where did it say that they are using the twin spar for wider adjustment? I think you are confusing 2 issues and I thought it was explained rather well.
The engine restrictions mean that if they need to make a change that requires moving an engine mount (because of a range of ajustment or otherwise), it would count as a new engine in the allocation. Removing the engine as a stressed member, as in a twin spar, alleviates this.

I merely want to know, was (which I presume the answer is yes given past Preziosi utterances, and really what GP chassis wouldn't be?), and by how much, the CF chassis allowed adjustability. And whether the below is a red herring or not. Some journo's need to be pushing Preziosi a little harder for us to fully understand what has driven this change, particular in light of the Valencia test together with Checa's opinions.

Where did is say......"We decided to use the perimeter frame to be able to reposition the engine without having to use new engines," the Ducati Corse boss explained. The perimeter frame allows the engine to be moved and repositioned freely, depending on the development of the rest of the bike. If Ducati needs to move the engine, they can, without being forced to start from pit lane."

An engine mount? I presume you mean a engine locating lugs cast into the cylinder head. I accept there is fack all that can be done with the engine, but there must have been wiggle room in the CF chassis.

My question is simply how much more adjustment, over how many planes, does the twin spar have over the CF. Or is that not information Preziosi would divulge? Given the huge amount of interest the chassis change has generated I would've thought it in his interests to explain the reasons why in more detail.

There never was a CF chassis, there was a CF subframe. The big problem was that the swingarm and the suspension were mounted directly to the engine, so changing them meant changing the engine. To some extent they could move the engine forward and back by moving the steering stem in the front sub-frame and changing the axle position in the swingarm, but there didn't seem to be a way to move the pivot relative to the countershaft sprocket.

On the other hand, there's no reason they couldn't have built the crankcases to allow some adjustment for the swingarm pivot. In which case, maybe the adjustability story isn't the whole truth. Let's remember that while the official line is now that there was no difference in feel between the monocoque and the twin-spar frames, Barbera said the difference was huge... and Preziosa said earlier that they never reached the limit of adjustment for moving the engine forward.

Yes I figured the biggest limitation must have been with the traditional Ducati swinging arm in cases. I still hope to hear more from Preziosi on specifics though.

Yes whilst Barbera was enthusing about the GP12, bear in mind he never had any of the iterations available to Rossi through 2011, nor had he tested the 'thousand' before, and he was on the 2012 more compliant Bridgestones. Hard to isolate differences within all of those variables.

re: "My question is simply how much more adjustment, over how many planes, does the twin spar have over the CF."

the difference would be night and day to the C/F. the monocoque allowed almost nothing. or at least not "ease" of adjustability or adjustment of parameters that would help. as we saw over the years, it morphed into having a huge gap between the front wheel and the radiator. don't know if this a function of the new bodywork, but the GP2 thru GP8 never had this look. if we were to take a page from the aprilia notebook, the SP chassis they homologated way back in '99 allowed for a great deal of adjustability for a V configuration engine (rotax). they probably allowed adjustment over 2-axis (360 degrees) like a motogp bike, hence the reason the shims seen at the swingarm pivot are 2D as opposed to 1D. in fact, some considered the SP chassis back then as almost having "too much adjustability" hence this feature was not found on the chassis used for the R and base model. iirc the top of the line RSV4 (which i think they refer to as the "factory") once again has this "max adjustabilty" feature with it being deleted from the lesser models. if aprilia can do it, then so can ducati. in fact, ducati has done it before with the 999R homologation. the corse cases iinm were vertically "slotted" allowing for single axis adjustment. again, something not found on base models much like the adjustable steering head angle. so we can expect this twinspar to feature all that.

Rather than just focus on the position, angle, etc of the engine in the frame/frameless, I think the more important thing with the new frameless-less D16 is that it allows proper freedom to redesign the chassis any which way they like. The first problem they struck in 2011 (aside from hiring Rossi, haha) was that in order to change the overall layout of the rear suspension linkages they had to make new crankcases with new pivot locations. This was the driver for the change from GP11 to GP11.1 / 12.-1 - to have the new rear suspension setup which removed the pumping problem. This change ultimately made Rossi have to take a penalty coz they needed new engines to make it happen even though the ones they had were fine.

It's not just about engine position in the frame (or lack thereof). De-coupling the engine from the chassis allows them to try any change they like to the chassis without hurting their engine allocation.

Aside from anything else, I reckon this is a great case for having the very bare minimum of rules. The end result of the engine rule is no diversity in chassis design.

Prototypes indeed.

Well hopefully 2011 hasn't been a lost cause totally.
Sounds like they used the GP11 point whatevers as rolling test beds which might help Ducati catch up for the start of this season.
By the sounds of it they have built the new bike with a lot of adjustability which is fine if they have a clear idea of where they're going but a possible nightmare if they're still chasing performance.

Thanks for nice reading between lines. It seems like they should be able to get closer and start push. Would be nice to see VR on podium for few times. Cant wait to see it perform in Sepang.

Sounds very promising spec tyres dictate spec bikes to an extent and glad to see Ducati have finally come around after stumbling in the darkness for a few years.. With Rossi and his team on board and Presiozi putting his brilliance fully behind the new bike(the 800 was the best it could be in it's first season) there is reason for optimism certainly I expect them to buck the downward trend of the last few years as of now.. Good luck next season Vale, Nicky and Ducati.
Can't wait for the first test.

If it's Ducati's goal to be uniquely "Ducati," and differentiate themselves from the competition for marketing purposes, what would stop them taking the design of the finalized aluminum twin spar frame and mimicking it in carbon fiber with all adjustability still built in? Seems they could still incorporate some of the advantages of the carbon fiber subframe such as integral airbox and slimmer profile while still maintaining the standalone nature of a twin spar frame that makes it more advantageous for adjustments. Or, hell, if carbon fiber is just too wacky for a beam frame, how about machined aluminum or a machined aluminum/trellis hybrid or something? Once the geometry, mounting points, and clearances are worked out, I don't see why they can't engineer a frame with the same properties out of a different material that still sets them apart.

I hope all goes well for Ducati, and we will se the No46 at the sharp end. but it makes me wonder. Is production of a frame so simple? Can FTR build a frame just by reading the numbers provided by Ducati, Burgess and Rossi? Or is there some "black magic".

Let's say that JB and VR had verry specific details about Yamaha M1 frame and engine. And let's say, that they have signed for Kawasaki. They used in line 4. Kawasaki probably could make exact engine replica. Would FTR be able to build exactley the same frame? Would FTR frame be as competitive as The Original One?

Here again we get hyped-up about another Ducati press conference where all the meaty details are left out in mystery and speculation! This is all we have to entertain us until the racing starts I guess!? The media needs to ask better questions instead of those we all know won't be answered directly. At least the company-man Hayden is getting the spotlight, respect, and admiration that he deserves from Ducati unlike when he was at Honda! Is the GP12, in essence, a factory CRT effort? Ducati can make a powerful reliable engine same as Honda, Yamaha, and Aprilia etc etc... but their frame development for MotoGP is in its early development stages with the aluminum. The Factories should sell CRT engines to the smaller teams! Throw in Carmelo's Spec-ECU with 24 liters of fuel and call it a day!!For some extra spice... throw in Pirelli, Michelin, and Dunlop into the mix with Bridgestone.

That is certainly the way to go for GP from spectator angle,but I can't see the MSMA ever buying into it for the sake of the spectacle.
Fellipo is a brilliant engineer and equally adept at dealing with the media.
53 minutes cleverly shrouded in a mystery weave of geometry,alloy castings and woven fibre.
90% revised = Pandora's box GP2012 Ducati. Let's see what Sepang 1 throws up.
Agonising wait it is indeed.

Dorna, MSMA, IRTA, and all the other acronyms that have a say in MotoGP should ask the riders for once (officially) what they think is needed regarding the bike specs!!! Let's finally bring some common sense back into the controversy/debate. They are the ones that will be actually riding the machines to their limits while risking their lives to be Champion for our entertainment. 2+weeks to go now to see how the GP12 Ducati Factory CRT machine does on the track... this waiting is killing me slow. Obviously I am not alone.

they don't pay for them. Since the cost is the problem of the moment, the riders are probably the last ones you'd ask.

The twin spar would appear (cant be certain) to provide reduced prep times to move the motor forward or back. Weight distribution is obviously the issue, only one rider could turn it, literally by throwing his upper body to the inside (speedway style, prior to moving his backside off the seat) on corner entry.

Shimming or collars to move the engine mounts versus changing the steering head or swing arm mount? They dont have much time to setup at each track.

Hope they fix the duke, it's always fun to have many brands giving competitive rides, I am concerned that the amount they pay Vale and the overheads to 'build it for him' will come at a cost of their whole motogp campaign. Fail in 2012 and Vale maybe on a CRT. Hence his comment about wanting a 2 year contract, Vale simply became to expensive for Honda and Yamaha, and they've riders that are just as fast and much less costly and demanding.

Can't wait for the season to roll around, I need my adrenaline shot, God bless motogp!

Remember that you don't need to be 5 seconds a lap faster than the competition here, just a fraction of a second each time round will do. Having a machine with a lot of adjustment capability is most always a good thing - because a two-wheeled machine is always a blend of art and science when it comes to going around a racetrack. How many stories are there of engineers and computers getting it wrong? From the Honda superbikes that handled better with a broken motor mount to the upside down bike with fuel tank underneath and exhaust pipes on top - there have been many instances of what seems perfect on the drawing board is worthless on the track. Rossi's real value is maybe not so much his unique ability to ride or to give feedback - it's his ability to inspire and motivate those around him to do whatever it takes to be competitive that makes him worth all the money he gets. MOTOGP needs Vale and Ducati to be competitive again, buona fortuna ragazzi!

there's a very careful spin campaign going on due to them launching their all-new sportsbike based around the very concept they are walking away from in MGP - a concept that until 12 months ago was considered by them to be a fantastic design.

Once decided, the change of direction from frameless CF to ally beam would have had to be planned out in painful detail, not only by the engineering department but also the marketing. Dumping the frameless bike at the very time they were launching the Panigale represented the biggest marketing challenge possible.

The feedback in the media - and even possibly the path they took going from the original GP11 to the beam frame version tested at years end - has all been very carefully scripted to minimise the stigma landing on their critical new sportsbike product.

Although the racing side of things (and to some extent probably streetbike sales too) is riding on the velvet carpet of money that flows thanks to VR's marketability, one can't help wondering whether the whole thing isn't going to end up yet another Italian tragedy. All this money spent trying to make VR and the D16 gel while at the same time total upheaval and changing of direction from the sports organisers.

It is not at all clear that what fronts up to race in 2012 will be relevant in even 1-2 years time.

Here's another question, since the 1199 is/should be extremely similar to the 1199R which has been tested by none other than Troy Bayliss throughout all of 2011, who has praised the bike and defended it's frameless design with multiple citings at the Pirelli's achieving the exact needs of the bike flawlessly, why is it that they are putting off its WSBK release until 2013?

Is it because they knew that they would be flooding too much money into the GP campaign once they knew the GP11 wasn't going to win?

Is it because the 1199 isn't actually up to contending for a WSBK championship?

Or is it because the 1198 is still extremely competitive, or possibly because they feel if they leave the 1198 with no development, it will help coerce more beneficial rules for twin bikes the 2013 season?

Barbera's comments if in fact true, could be the reason we have a seen, in my opinion, a more hopeful Rossi since the last test...Rossi will always have his tricks. However as mentioned before, there were a slew of changes that Barbera experienced over the course of a weekend, and these changes were massive, new frame, new tires, bigger motor. How can we be sure that the improvements he felt aren't reminiscent of the first press releases we heard from Vale and Nicky on the first 1000cc tests ?

FlyinLow27 - I believe the reason that Ducati can not race the 1199 is because they have to have made and sold 3000 to qualify for world supers. They don't expect any in Australia until May according to my contacts with the importer.

Only after they have made 3k and sold them (okay to there franchises each country ;) will the be able to submit them for homologation for SBK.

Also, given how new this bike is, you'd want to be doing a shit load of testing with it before you try and take on the world. This is NO over blown Pantah, steal trellis framed bike. I think anyone trying to race one would would be starting from absolutely zero reference.

And SBK are limiting engines this year, 12 for the season. I wonder if the 1098R can do that? Would not be surprised to see Checa doing minimal laps in practice.

WSBK authorities made it easy for Aprilia and BMW to enter, the rules were relaxed for them allowing them to enter even before the bikes were sold but then they had to reach the sales number quite quickly after the start of the season.

I really don't think the homologation rules are the reason for Ducati to delay the WSBK career of their 1199...it's more like internal politics than exterior influence.

The required adjustability could have been built into a new engine and sub-frame system. What could not be is the distribution of flexibility that is possible with a twin-spar frame... as pointed out by Capirossi. However "we can't quickly adjust it to work with the funny tyres" is much better for the marketing than "the design is fundamentally incompatible with the sort of flexibility we need".

As for the weirdness of the tyres... the Aprilia seemed to work ok on them. Maybe they could lend Ducati some of their special duct tape?