2012 Sepang 1 MotoGP Test Day 3 Round Up: Taking Stock After Sepang 1

The MotoGP bikes have been back in action for three days now - four, if you count Randy de Puniet and the other Aprilia ART (as Aprilia's CRT bike is called) riders' outing at Valencia - and fans and followers now have some real meat to chew over. The days of endless speculation based on nothing more than ill-informed gossip and rumor is over; the days of endless speculation based on slightly better-informed gossip, rumor and lap times are here.

So what preliminary conclusions can we draw from the test at Sepang? Has the Ducati really been fixed? Are the 1000s going to provide more exciting racing? Will the Honda be as dominant this year as it was last? Can Jorge Lorenzo take the fight to Casey Stoner? Do the times set by the CRT bikes mean that the project is a failure? Wouldn't it be nice if we could provide a simple yes-or-no answer to all of these questions?

The big question over the winter is what has happened at Ducati, and whether Filippo Preziosi and his band of laboring engineers could come up with a bike that Valentino Rossi could be competitive on. That question is incredibly hard to answer from the lap times: Rossi ended the test over 1.2 seconds behind Casey Stoner, and a good six tenths behind Jorge Lorenzo; in 2011, the Italian was just a second behind Stoner on the Honda, suggesting that Ducati may have gone backwards instead of forwards.

Yet put that suggestion to anyone at Ducati, and they would laugh in your face, and from the body language, riding style and atmosphere at the factory, there is some merit in their response. The Ducati's biggest problem - and it was a corker - was the fact that the front end simply refused to provide the level of grip that a rider who had come through the GP school of riding - minibikes, 125s, 250s - needed to go fast with. Before the spec tire was introduced, Bridgestone could build a special tire to overcome the Ducati's foibles, but the spec tire killed that approach stone dead.

The consensus of the people who have ridden the bike is that this problem has been resolved. Whether the Ducati GP12 provides the same level of front-end grip as the Yamaha is open to question, but at least they are now in the same ball park. Rossi has been insistent during all three days that he can now ride like he wants to, and use his strength in corner entry to take the lines he chooses. Throughout the test, his responses, his body language, suggested that he felt he was back in the game.

That alone does not make the Ducati competitive, however. The bike has gone from being a machine that is virtually impossible to ride unless you happen to have been born in Kurri Kurri some time in 1985, to a bike that is usable but still has its problems. The effect of rolling the engine back, lifting it up and locating the fuel tank under the seat has allowed Ducati to produce a bike that responds to set up changes in the same way as any other MotoGP might be expected to.

With the big problems solved, Ducati can now set about fixing such trifles as a lack of rear grip, excessively aggressive throttle response, and a host of other issues that are slowing the bike. But all of these are doable without having to redesign the bike, with just tweaks in swingarm design, electronics and suspension offering sufficient avenues for research for the next few months. With Nicky Hayden due to test new parts at Jerez in three weeks' time, parts which can then be brought back to Sepang, the second test in Malaysia should provide a clearer picture of just where Ducati stand.

Even with a greatly improved bike, there is still the small matter of that pesky Australian, Casey Stoner giving no sign of having slowed down. Stoner's first flying lap on Thursday morning was a 2'00.923 - faster than the time set by 6th-place-man Hector Barbera after a full day of riding - and his second lap was under the 2'00 barrier and the fastest ever lap of the Sepang circuit. It should be noted that it was also set while Stoner was still suffering with a stiff and painful back, after he tweaked a muscle on the first day of the test while warming up to put his leathers on.

That it's not all just the Honda was evident from the time set by Dani Pedrosa: the Spaniard was 3rd fastest overall at the test, but he was still behind the Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo. The Yamaha has taken a much bigger step forward compared to last year, and where all through 2011, Lorenzo felt he had taken a knife to a gunfight, this year it looks like the 2010 World Champions is more appropriately armed. Though stopping Stoner is going to be a Herculean task, on the evidence of Sepang, Lorenzo stands more of a chance of taking it on in in 2012.

The Honda is not without its problems, however. The bike continues to be plagued by chatter, an issue which Stoner puts down the extra weight which has been added to the bikes. That added weight, and the extra power of the 1000, is turning into a real issue for Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard struggled on occasion to control the 800s, and the bigger bikes are placing a further strain on his body. Pedrosa will be working on bulking up even further - he may be short of stature, but he has always been surprisingly muscular - to help to manage the RC213V.

The Yamaha, meanwhile, is clearly pretty competitive, with Cal Crutchlow on a satellite bike getting close to the factory bikes. While Lorenzo is happy ("really, really satisfied" were the exact words he used, saying that he will be going to sleep happy after the test), the bike still needs a little more grip, but the benefits of the outstanding front end of the bike make it possible to compete. Lorenzo's factory teammate Ben Spies has also been strong at Sepang, closing the gap to his teammate to just a couple of tenths.

The prospect of a confident Lorenzo on an improved Yamaha going up against the might of Casey Stoner on the Honda is an attractive one. Lorenzo was unfazed by Stoner's fast time - "Casey is fast even with a bicycle, no?" he told MotoGP.com, "He is fast with anything, it's normal," - pointing out that while Stoner made his fastest time in the morning, when conditions were ideal, Lorenzo had set his fastest lap at lunchtime, just as the heat was really starting to take its toll. The gap, Lorenzo implied, was not as big as it seemed, adding that he felt that the Honda and Yamaha were fairly equal in performance.

Most of the paddock is now aboard international flights, heading away from the tropical heat of Malaysia for the Siberian freeze which has gripped most of Europe. The engineers have plenty to get their teeth into, as do the fans. The next appointment with destiny is at Jerez on February 20th, when the CRT bikes will take to the track again. This time, they should have company from the Ducati of Nicky Hayden, giving them a real benchmark to measure themselves again. Randy de Puniet on the Aspar Aprilia will be the real measure of the CRT project. Until then, speculation, rumor and ill-informed gossip will have to suffice.

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Once again a very good summary of the first 2012 MotoGP tests, hopefully all the Aliens teams get their sums right and all do 1.59 flat. Then we will have a race series.

I have to say, for me the 1.2 second gap is stunning. That bike is 30 days old (in the real world) and it's already that close.

You just have to figure that the Honda is already much MUCH closer to its full potential than the Ducati, obviously. That says that there's a lot more time to be found in the Ducati than in the Honda at this point. Is there 1.2 seconds? We'll find out...but anyone that thinks Rossi is done (as was mentioned in some circles last year) is kidding themselves...Hayden too.

Oh, and take a look at those two pictures Rossi posted to Twitter yesterday from '11 and '12 Sepang testing. Look at the laid rubber tracking through that corner. Looks to me that the 1000cc bikes are immediately changing the corner entry angle, back to more of a cut the apex, pick it up and get on the power. Not where the 990s were, but certainly closer!

I don't see Stoner running away with it this season.

I think the fact that Rossi is posting twitter pics to convince us that he is faster is a huge statement that he needs his confidence back. He's never been so transparent in his desire for approval. He looks better but the lap times are still as far back as ever. Stoner was riding with a stiff back and was experiencing chatter yet was still .6 in front of Lorenzo. Rossi has a huge hill to climb to get to the podium, much less the top step.

I don't think Rossi is done talent wise but I do think he is in a situation that does not play to his strengths. The R&D process of the Japanese is very different than that of the Italians and the Italians can be even more stubborn. Honda and Yamaha will willingly bring several chassis to a test yet even after last year Ducati seem to regard a chassis as some sacred object that once made should last nearly forever, or at least a season. Only one new chassis design at this test? Honda's last 800 was great yet they still brought different chassis to any test. I think Ducati will need to hire a few talented aluminum fabricators if they want to make any progress in GP. They need to be able to make a design change and test it at the next event. That is what their competition is doing and the fastest way to optimize a bike. Subcontracting such a key part of the bike always slows down development.


you very long-windedly explained why they went to an Aluminum twin spar. The carbon fiber monocoque frame was notorious for taking weeks and then some to build.

I think if Vale was looking for a confidence booster you would have seen it when they first started switching chassis' last season. This must be some Machiavellian trick I presume?

You wear your heart on your sleeve Chris and I think its weakening your arguments which are normally exceptionally put together.

Why on earth would they bring multiple variants of a twin spar frame when they don't even know where a brand new design is? You're literally suggesting they do exactly what every Rossi antagonist accused him of doing last season. More shots in the dark?

Not trying to start a war of words, just nit picking an opinion rather than facts. I'm a Stoner fan myself, and a Rossi fan, and I would put money on Stoner winning the title again this year, with Jorge right behind him. My opinion. Rossi fighting for 3rd.

BRAND new - what does it mean: when is something new, not new? Don't intend a war of words: can we go back to 'new' to describe something new?

Altrnative extension of brand new? Ultra brand new ?

When the bike isn't even completely assembled in time for your own WROOM annual launch, in my opinion, that makes it pretty darn new to me.

I love to hear myself type.

Stop listening to what Prezosi says, he already told us it is all lies. I know several people that make CF structural parts and nobody knew anything about curing the parts for weeks. The front chassis is a relatively small part so no huge autoclaves are needed. It should be easy to bang out several variations but they never did. Now after the entire winter break with the easy and fast to make aluminum chassis they only have one design to test. I thought they should bring different options to evaluate.

Vale is an extremely Machiavellian person and my point was that his being so up front with 'see, it's better than last time' is the opposite of that. And even with the visibly different corner behavior his lap time was still 1.2 back, basically where he's been all last year. Yes, he is smiling, but lap times win races.

They first built and tested a full aluminum chassis at the end of last season. That chassis was supposed to duplicate what they had in CF (problems and all) and apparently was successful in doing so. Rossi did not improve times significantly but they got a set of data on a full aluminum chassis. I would think that they have more than one option to try to move forward. Time is ticking and at this point they need to be ready for Qatar. To me bringing only one chassis is Ducati's MO: we know what to do so just let us do what we want. And I don't think that having a subcontractor build their frames is thew way to go for a factory GP team. It is not a slur on FTRs skill, those pieces are beautiful, but going outside always slows things down.

Ducati are all happy but what I see is the same gap to the front as always. I hope they can close the gap but wishing does not change the fact that if Dovi was not in recovery and Sic was still with us Rossi would have been in 7th place, nothing at all to be satisfied with.


Rossi: .6 behind Lorenzo

Stoner: .6 ahead of everyone

First shake down, no base setting, .6 down on everyone but Stoner...I think that's a pretty darn good debut. 'Nuff said.

Agree with flyinlow on this.

Rossi took to twitter, well because he joined last year (I can't stand that site or Facebook but I digress), and he's happy. He can finally ride the bike the way he wants and load the front end. Ducati also solved the seating position problem that they couldn't fix for him last year. He's repeatedly said he can load the front the way he wants, take multiple lines the way he wants, and finally has confidence in the front end. Did you read or hear the comment that he never ran wide? IIRC, it was after the first day he said he never made a mistake (running wide) all day. How many times did we see him do this in practice last year? I can't honestly count because it was so frequent.

There are a few members here who root in the guy's failure and are incessantly negative when even Emmett says he isn't done, no talent, drive, or skill change, and that he is in his prime. You can post all you want on here about Rossi's demise but it will only be your wishful thinking.

Ducati has a very late start compared to Yamaha and Honda and it might be some time before they iron the bike out to go nose to nose with the Japanese but like Nick Harris says, never, ever, count Valentino out. Come to think of it, Michael Scott says the same thing.

At this stage of the season I'm rooting for all the riders so we can have a competitive season with no runaways. It would be outstanding to see Lorenzo, Stoner, and Rossi's machines close in terms of performance so we can finally put some of this bs to bed.

No surprise after the first test. Stoner has always been fast in testing/qualifying. With all the development during winter, Honda only barely matching the lap time of 800s. First time out Ducati already looked much better than last year. And they still have couple months left before first race. If they can sort out a few more issues so Rossi can dance with the rest in the corners, it'll be a fun season.

The 800s had five years of development, and already the 1000s are as quick or quicker.

Actually Stoner has always been fast in the races, not just testing/qualifying. Most fastest laps and most race wins (fastest over a race distance) in the 800 era by a big margin.

And Stoner could have gone faster if he had wanted to. Don't believe for a minute that Stoner and Honda are showing their full potential, especially at a track like Sepang. Two long straights preceded by tight corners: that's 1000cc territory. A bad back, misses the first day, does less laps than than any of the other front runners, and on just his second flying lap on the last day sneaks in a time just ahead of his 800 time. People who discount that lap as a one-off are making a big mistake.

But everyone will go faster, especially Lorenzo, Spies, Pedrosa and Rossi. And they will surely need to if they hope to match Stoner. The 1000s are tailor made for Stoner's style of riding. The big question mark will be the impact of the fuel restrictions, which might help the smoother style of riders like Lorenzo.

Rossi can comment and smile all he wants, what he really needs to do is turn a fast lap time. Any of the top 7 riders can ride around at 1 sec off their pace and feel good. The problems always arise when you are at the limit.

I never said Rossi lost his talent or was done, merely that he was working with a group that is a polar opposite of the type he did _all_ his learning and winning with. Its hard to shine when you are still developing a working relationship and behind the 8-ball in performance terms. When the Japanese have problems they bring lots of parts to test and get data from and usually converge on a solution pretty quickly. Ducati seem to resist and resist and then bring one new design to test. With the amount of catch up they have to do I don't know if that is the best way. Last year they went back and forth improving the rear and making the front worse. What's to say that will not happen again? Testing.

Yes, we all want a great racing year with 4-6 riders dueling for the win on the last lap. That has nothing to do with wondering why Ducati is so happy when the gap to the front has not changed.

Sepang 2 will tell a lot. If they are still 1+ second out I don't think there will be a lot of smiling faces. If they close the gap to under 1/2 sec then I'll shut up because they are showing competitive lap times and enjoy one more rider being able to take a win. Again, this is Rossi we're talking about. Fighting for podium positions is not what we expect from him.


Lorenzo may be sandbagging his concerns over Stoner's lap times for the moment. Stoner isn't full fit yet and he's just trying to figure out which chassis to go with. Jorge should be concerned with having Ben Spies covered throughout the season. Ben is not too far off Lorenzo's lap times. If Ben manages to put himself between Stoner and Lorenzo on occasion, when the points are tallied it could become an issue if Stoner is leading in the points. Will there be Team-Orders then?

Coming next week on MotoMatters Comments - "The Silly Season - Just When Is Too Soon? Leading team principals argue that March makes more sense than June" and "Team Orders - Set Them During The First Test" by Alberto Puig.

; )

except I doubt Puig would want to set team orders right now that his boy isn't number one rider anymore...
Actually both riders are his boys since he was the first to give a chance to Casey in his team in CEV and in the world championship.

I am getting a little tired of reading that the Ducati is a month old bike with a lot of room to improve. Is it realy the case? Some people tend to forget that 2011 season was sacrifised and proclamed as testing season for the 1000cc 2012 bike. So the Ducati bike is one month old with one year of testing and development behind it, right?

All the *testing* in 2011 showed is that the CF frame does not work, at least not with the control tire rules as they stand currently.

The simple fact is that the bike IS only a month old and just went through its first true test...test riders can take a bike to 95%. Only the GP regulars can take it to where it will live on track...and only there can real development happen.

Obviously, with so little else to harp on, we all over-react to test times and associated gaps...in reality they don't mean a thing once the flag drops in Qatar. All I really care about is a competitive field...and I really think that we're going to get that this season.

All the teams have now had their first taste. The data will point their chattering/mass/torque/power issues in one direction,ie:Sepang1 reference point.
Sepang2 will address some issues relevant to Sepang heat. When they head back to slowly thawing Siberia,another can of worms may be opened rather quickly for all and sundry.Nicky testing against the ART bikes and Randy is going to be interesting.
As David points out....until then,speculation etc.

Obviously the author really wants to see Rossi back on the top and so is biased towards painting a rosy picture. As several posters have mentioned, the Ducati GP12 is not a month old. They spent most of 2011 coming up with solutions to their problems.

I believe if they can get the GP12 to within 2 or 3 tenths of the front runners during qualifying/practice, and Rossi can make some uncharacteristically good starts, then he can battle for a place. Having said that, if the Honda underneath Stoner can go that fast with his stiff back and front end chatter, then God help the rest of the manufacturers.

Last week, I was accused of running a pro-Stoner site and bashing Rossi. Looks like I've got the balance about right ...

No you just have the same couple of Stoner fans who post in every single story and like a rat that hasnt fed for a fortnight, seeking out any food they can get their hands on to bash Rossi incessantly.
Anything they can spin negatively they do.

You aren't running a pro Stoner site but you do have layer 8 Aussie issues.

...how can anyone deny that the GP12 is a brand new motorcycle? I'm struggling to find what a bunch of frankenbikes combining CF/stressed member/aluminum parts on a doomed motorcycle with a completely different power plant on completely different tires in a now defunct class have anything to do with the current rendition of Ducati's GP bike.

This is exactly what I was thinking! Have these people not read the little bit that I have had time to read? To me Ducati are finally doing something right, and no that's not necessarily the material, just the fact that they aren't throwing lots of different parts at a developing bike. They must have done a good job with the new chassis over the break so instead of coming to the test with 4 different ones and trying to find time for each they actually concentrating their efforts in one direction. Yamaha and Honda already know their chassis' work so bring 3 with slight variations makes sense.

I love Monday Morning Quarterbacks, or the racecraft engineering professionals we often see on the forums. No matter what anyone says, when you give a potent racer with incredible racecraft (ROSSI) his confidence back, you've got a player back! Period! First test boys and girls, as some have said Honda/Yamaha more of an evolution where as the Duc is very different from last year. Guys, Rossi has his confidence back, Nicky said it's the best front ended Duc he's ever ridden. I belive that Ducati can do some good fine tunning on the other stuff pretty well. I remember when Rossi was once given a 10 second penalty (when he was, yes, younger on the Honda) and he proceeded to stretch his lead to over ten seconds to win the race. If the bike is close......he can (and I think will) BRING it on Sunday! -Slideways151-

It's a shock, but I agree with Hugelean for once. And considering how much sustained criticism certain people have directed at Preziosi, he deserves congratulations for his work so far with the GP12. But then, most of us can understand that even a genius like Preziosi can be wrong sometimes, and unfortunately the radical GP09/10/11 didn't quite work.

What surprises me is that people seem surprised, or impressed, that a factory GP bike built by a factory who has been in the series since 2003 (ten years this year) is within 2 seconds of the fastest bike at a test. It should be AT LEAST within 2 seconds of the fastest bike, and really the gap should be one second, max - and ideally, well under that. Especially with a perfectly fit Valentino Rossi doing the steering, and his team with a full year of experience with the factory under their belt.

This isn't club racing...

For every tenth that Ducati finds between now and the next test - or more importantly, the first race - both Honda and Yamaha will also be making similar advances.

It's a bit sad, but things just don't look good for Ducati.

In fact, Ducati designed 3 new chassis last year that were all within 2 sec of the front after the first race weekend. But each was also deemed not to be the right direction and discarded soon after.

The difference this time is that Rossi seems to think they have fixed the front end problem where he never really came out and said that last year. Now all he has to do at the next test is make lap time improvements more than Honda and Yamaha do.


If GP titles were about the fastest laps Casey would have have more than two championships. Realisticly the title will be between Casy and Jorge but at this point the lap times are about as meaningful as the first day of practice during a race weekend. Remember, the Suzuki used to post good times during pre-season.

I for one am happy to see Ducati make progress. By progress I mean moving away from what was not working. Last year the field was swamped with 4 factory Hondas. This year the role is somewhat reversed with more top riders on the Yamaha. Rossi will still likely be fighting for 5-6 place on a regular bases but I can hope for a surprise every now and then.

It looks like Edwards CRT bike is a little behind developement. They say it's the electronics, but they can't sort the rest of the bike until they get those sraight. Too late for that now. If he Aprilia ART proget goes well out of the box it will put a big 'ol smile on my face. I don't like them leasing bikes but it is what it is. While not really cheating. It's more like an open marriage, but those never work out.

Stoner/Rossi 2011 Sepang 1 . I look forward to the Europa test.. A general pattern has emerged post Sepang 1. It clearly looks HRC/Yamaha. Adaptation to Bridgestone in colder climes is a real issue. Everyone bitched about its 'slow to heat' last year.
Back to riders and basics. Pretty much stet,I would say. HRC/Yamaha.
Nick and Andrea are still wobbling around in slings alongside tweaked back Casey.
I want to see who handles the tires best in cold track conditions.

Has the Ducati really been fixed?
No. But don't tell that to the elite commentista. The bike is only three days old, after all.

Are the 1000s going to provide more exciting racing?
Not if "exciting" is defined as Casey Stoner not winning.

Will the Honda be as dominant this year as it was last?
Yes, the Honda with the big #1 on the front will be.

Can Jorge Lorenzo take the fight to Casey Stoner?
Yes, of course.

Do the times set by the CRT bikes mean that the project is a failure?
Only if failure is defined as just having 17 bikes on the grid again next season.

My main concern about Rossi in 2012 is not whether he will win races, but how he will go about it. If he's got a bike that's closer to the front this year, but not quite good enough, that's when he starts to play dirty. We've seen it before – when he's being beaten fair and square, Rossi has a tendency to resort to unfair tactics and stupid moves, without due consideration for others. We've seen the consequences for others and we've seen Rossi repeatedly absolved by the sport's organisers. In 2010 at Mugello he jumped the start and then in puts his teammate's championship in jeopardy. He was prepared to shunt Lorenzo off the track purely for the sake of his own ego. Then he stuck it under Stoner in the rain on a bike that he knew he couldn't control. There are more examples.

To be honest though, I don't really feel that Rossi has 'still got the fire', is 'still hungry', is 'in his prime' etc. Every time I see him, he just looks gaunt and tense.

Nevermind having more bikes up front or their suitability to the new control tyres, is anyone else worried that many of this years races may be decided not by who is the fastest; but by who goes just fast enough to make it over the line without running out of fuel?

Hats off to Ducati for building a bike that it seems Hector, Hayden and Rossi are not getting off and running screaming to the hills. A good start for a new bike!

For those wondering here is my take on what they've done in the last year.

GP11.0 - Based on the 2010 Stoner raced, and won on (Ducati built 4 for their riders and 8 (2 teams x 2 riders x 2 bikes) for the Satelite teams)
GP11.1 - Aluminium chassis components replaced the carbon frame parts.
GP11.2 - Further changes to the ali bits. Lord knows how many derevations they went through!
GP12.p1 - The original 2012 bike, Rossi and Hayden tested these bikes last year with the stressed member chassis design.
GP12.0 - As tested by Rossi etc at Valencia 2011 - a traditional Ali beam frame design bike, BUT with the engine in same 90 degree L lying flat motor? - This confirmed what Rossi/Burgess and probably Prezosi where thinking that the weight was to far back, regardless of the chassis design
GP12.v1 - A beam frame bike with 90 V rotated backward to get more weight over the front end, the next logical step!

I don't care who you think is the best rider, but take your hats off to the engineers here. They've done the hard yards.

Although early days for a bike that is 90% new,judging by VRs comments the GP12 sounds very promising,and must be very encouraging to Preziosi and his engineers.And hopefully they can iron out the other issues quickly.
After riding the entire 2011 season on a bike that he had little confidence in the front end, and the vast majority of 2010 riding with injuries. I think its fair to say it might take some time to get his form back

"The Yamaha, meanwhile, is clearly pretty competitive, with Cal Crutchlow on a satellite bike getting close to the factory bikes."

A question... At this stage in the game, how close are the satellite bikes to the factory bikes? It might have been a couple of years ago, but I once read that the Yamaha bikes started the same but the satellite bikes didn't get the same upgrades during the year. So right now, how different are the satellite Honda/Yamaha bikes from the Factory bikes and in what way? Thanks

I'm actually pretty impressed with that Edwards was able to do on the BMW project. Impresses me more than what Rossi did with the Ducati to be honest.

...by the revelation that they wont even touch the traditional chassis before messing out with the electronics.I would have swear they first set up the chassis to it's finest point AND THEN put the electronics magic to help out the chassis.From the interviews now I know they totally ignore the good old chassis set up and try to compensate a sh**ty chassis with engine braking, power this power that , anti-wheelie, anti-diving...anti-youname it....then Casey Stoner insists he use the least amount of electronics....no wonder he's in a league of he's own, he know all the electronics in the world won't compensate for a poorly set up chassis!

I am a total ignorant but I would have thought they should begin the troubleshooting by eliminating all the chassis variables and having a ridable bike and then enhance the bike with electronics,but trying to mask a sh**ty chassis with electronics and then pursue the chassis only gives unpredictable results, or so I would have thought.

Any thoughts?

Getting the electronics dialed in first makes sense to me. To be able to maximize the chassis' mechanical grip into and through mid-corner you need to be able to have a very smooth corner entry. To have a smooth corner entry your engine braking/throttle blipping/FBW throttle settings need to be dialed in very well. Then, to have the best corner exit you need to have the throttle response also working very well. Once you get the engine (which means the ECU) working as smoothly and unobtrusively as possible only then will the rider have the confidence in machine behavior to start to test the grip limits of the chassis/suspension/tires. Electronics can't increase mid-corner grip but they can minimize the engine's negative influence on handling behavior thereby freeing the rider to concentrate on how the chassis makes use of the available tire traction.


Lap times can not be significant and insignificant at the same time depending on who is one rooting for. If lap times are not important at this point of testing than everything is possible, Rossi winning the championship and CRTs thriving. If they are, the "age" of the bike can not be separated from the fact that Barbera was only .1 sec. behind Rossi, on GP0 that - besides being an abandoned version - is equally "new" and untested by GP riders prior to Sepang 1 (ones ridden by Rossi at the end of the season).
So far the only obvious thing is that Stoner and Lorenzo are doing fine.

Let me say 1st, I am a fan of most of the riders on the MotoGP grid (not Dani or Barbera though) so this comment/opinion is not to be viewed as Rossi bashing or praising like many that see Rossi as some kind of god! But I want to see Rossi reach 123 wins before he retires from the grid. Whatever Ducati, Rossi, and the Team has to do to make that happen... I am all for it and applaud their efforts/determination. Rossi... MotoGP Champion for Ducati-Italian bike/Italian rider- cementing the realism as the G.O.A.T in MotoGP History! Until the flag drops in April, lap times and testing are just that. So bring on the dog-fighting... Rossi is one of the best at it, clean or not so clean at times. However, to get there... Rossi/Ducati must get by some tough competition. Besides the other Factory No.2 riders who are fast as hell too, Rossi must beat Lorenzo then Stoner. It will not be easy for Rossi, we all know this. It will be great entertainment to witness. Rossi said he wanted another 2-year contract after 2012. 3 years? Rossi has 3 years to achieve his personal dream/goal in MotoGP History whether or not he says it publicly. The head-to-head Battle for the books would be Stoner VS Rossi... Honda VS Ducati (with equal performance) to settle once and for all who is Number 1.

Statistically Rossi was not the best the rider for the last five years, the 800 era, Stoner has that honor, so the claim that Rossi is the GOAT is shaky to say the least. Rossi will need to do something very special to re-establish himself as the best now, but the odds of that are very long indeed. Stoner and Lorenzo are still improving, while Rossi is at an age where decline is likely to be setting in. Ducati will need to produce a super special bike to give Rossi any chance against Honda and and Yamaha. Long odds, like I said, but it will be an interesting three years. I hope Stoner hangs around, and it does seem likely that he also will be around for another three years.

And by the way, having the most race wins and championships wouldn't automatically make Rossi the GOAT. Schumacher has the most race wins and championships in F1, but how many people think that Schumacher is the GOAT? Some people, but not the majority of expert opinion. Is Rossi really better than Agostini and Hailwood (and a few others)? There is no way to know. Agostini and Hailwood raced in very different times, in different circumstances, with very different machinery. But it is always the case that fans talk about someone in their time being the new best ever. We even have some fans predicting that Marquez will be better than Rossi, and he's not even in MotoGP yet.

I think the moniker should be GEOAT or GTOAT - Greatest Equipment of All Time or Greatest Team of All Time.

As we have seen, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and you can't win a race on a bike that isn't competitive. Stoner proved that on the LCR, Rossi has proven that on the Ducati (that Stoner could win on... 0.o)

It takes a lot to win a race, let alone a championship: Skill, luck, teamwork, sponsorship, equipment, engineering, conditions - and the competition. A breakdown in any of those means you are relegated to non-winner status.

Rossi, for most of his career has had the breaks with sponsorship, team, engineering, skill. It was easy to see him as the wunderkind when he walked into the biggest, best funded, best supported, best managed team in GP racing - he took up where Mick Doohan left off and used his skill to great effect.

Whether he is the greatest skills-wise is one of those questions that just can't be answered, IMO. It isn't boxing, where it is just two men, identical equipment and conditions. There are always going to be intangibles in GP racing that mean unless you take the top riders and put them all on identical bikes, tyres and conditions and let them do the same number of fast laps, the variables outweigh the ability to compare.

Can we just say he is one of the best of all time, as is Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa?

It is like pepsi and coke - you could argue all day about which is best and forget to enjoy your drink.

It seems to me that key assumption underpinning the boundless optimism infecting fans of a certain persuasion is that the Honda and Yamaha will not be able to improve as much as the Ducati. That is, whatever the Yamaha and Honda improve in the future, say another 1 second at Sepang, then the Ducati is capable of improving at least 2.3 seconds in order for Rossi to start winning again.

Is there any evidence for this? Or is it just hopeful thinking from fans starved of a win since Sepang 2010?

The evidence from the first test seems to indicate that they all improved a similar amount over the three days. Can someone please inform me why I should subscribe to the theory that the Ducati has much more headroom for improvement?

I'm with you on this, all the bikes improved by around the same amount over the three day period. Last season at testing Ducati were able to explain the large gap to the front with Rossi's shoulder. Again they were all smiles at the first test convinced they could close the gap. I'm sure Ducati and Yamaha are very concerned that Honda will solve their chatter connundrum and disappear off to the horizon. For the people that are saying no need to get carried away its only testing, were you saying the same last year?

It seems that one glaring fact is being ignored - testing is not race distance with race fuel loads.

Their bikes may be able to reach the same speed and get within a second a lap during testing, but when you have to brake earlier or later than optimum, accelerate harder to get past a competitor, run behind some slowcoach through a series of bends, and still make that 21L of fuel last to the end of the race, all while giving good, competitive power, then no, testing is indicative of the performance the bike is capable of, not of how competitive it's going to be.

It's like seeding 400M runners based on their 40M sprint time. It's interesting, it gives a kind of a feel of where they could be, it makes for something to talk about over the off-season, but ultimately the only thing that matters is where they all are at the end of lap 22 in Qatar.

I agree not much can be read into the testing times but hopefully Ducati can give their riders a competitive bike for the new season and we'll see some fantastic close racing. That said there is strongly evidence that the results are basically skewed by weight variations. The playing field is not level!
Last year Marco Simoncelli, Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo deserve recognition for making their bikes perform beyond their normal limits hampered by what is in effect a significant power disadvantage. This was very clearly demonstrated in the race to the line at Valencia and Marco's inability to make a racing pass stick without taking significant risks. Lorenzo rode his heart out on a less powerful bike while also giving away 7Kg to Stoner. Repsol Honda had 3 of the 4 lightest riders on the grid, the second lightest rider being Hector Barbera who unsurprisingly performs better than all of the other riders riding Satellite Ducati's. Rossi is giving away 14Kg to Barbera!!. In the absence of Marco, Abraham is now the heaviest rider by a Kilo from Spies at 72Kg. This is with Pedrosa at 51Kg??...why are we pandering to the lightweight rider(s) at the expense of close racing and safety? If Pedrosa can't handle the bike because of its size he should be in Moto2!
I know this is drifting slightly away from the topic of testing but feel strongly that ballasting would actually give us closer racing for little outlay....

I would encourage you to read the hundreds of comments 6 months ago when the advantages and disadvantages of being a light rider and the consequences of adding ballast on a motorcycle have been discussed ad nauseam on this website.
In the end David summarized the key points in a few articles but I really feel that everything (and his contrary) has already been written on this matter.

So you want to add 21 kg to Pedrosa's bike? The guy is already struggling with the extra weight and power of the 1000cc machine. An extra 21 kg would make Pedrosa completely uncompetitive. This body weight issue is nowhere near as simple as you seem to think it is. These are bikes, not cars. The bigger riders are likely stronger than the smaller riders, and this is a significant advantage when manhandling a bike in tight conditions. A bigger rider moves his extra weight around on the bike, it is not a fixed mass. A smaller rider would need to carry fixed ballast on his bike somewhere, so not only is his bike much heavier, and therefore harder to maneuver, but the extra weight cannot be moved around to balance the bike in the corners. Besides, statistical evidence is that smaller riders are less successful in MotoGP than those of more average size.

And what if some 2 meter tall 200 kg guy wants to race MotoGP? Should we accommodate him also? The fact is that certain body types suit certain sports. I don't know what the optimum body type is for MotoGP, but I would suggest that it is not Pedrosa. And why should Pedrosa be forced to ride in a smaller class? Why not set a maximum weight for MotoGP riders? The bigger guys can race WSBK or cars. That is just as fair as what you are suggesting.

With respect I don't think the body weight issue is simple. I fully understand that body weight is instrumental in the ease of changing direction but offsetting that is the massive advantage the light rider has under acceleration and braking. Almost all a riders weight is above the axle centreline and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate that all that mass wants to revolve around them. This is much more important than the pure power to weight ratio difference. There is also the difference the extra weight has on the fuel consumption and condition of the tyres towards the end of a race. Watching Moto2 last year highlighted this with Reading and Marquez. Marquez, if he couldn't break away would simply sit in the pack and wait for the race to come to him. Reading on the other hand would start strongly and sometimes as early as half distance would drift back down the order. I agree you'd have to have a maximum weight limit but I don't believe it should stay as it is. Maybe there's a balance somewhere in the middle?

How do you know that Reading drifted backwards because of his extra weight? Sorry, but you are just guessing. There is a host of factors that can cause a rider to lose pace during a race.

But you are certainly correct to say that the weight issue for motorbikes is not simple. That is why the assumption that setting a minimum weight for bike plus rider will automatically lead to closer racing is a mistake. But making a small rider like Pedrosa race a much heavier bike is likely to be more dangerous for all involved.

It's a guess yes but one that's been thought about. There's lots of coincidences that weight would explain, Reading the heaviest rider/Marquez the lightest on theoretically the same bike, Stoner coming from where he did to beat Spies to the line in Valencia and Pedrosa blasting back past Simoncelli in the infamous incident. If you think making lighter riders bikes heavier is more dangerous then what does forcing heavy riders into aggressive manoeuvres just to stay ahead constitute?

That sums it up: Pedrosa was able to blast back past Simoncelli because of his lighter weight. But Simoncelli was closing on him, and braking later, at least in part because he was heavier and stronger. Swings and round-abouts.

On 125's, weight makes a big difference.

On 250's, titles have been won by bigger guys (Rossi, Simoncelli) and by little guys (Pedrosa, Melandri).
It's hard to believe then that weight is crucially important on bikes that are 60kg heavier and have so much power that they are electronically bridled except at the end of the straights.

I think if you look at the 250 titles the success comes more from deep pockets and works bikes....we all know why Moto2 was introduced as there was a huge disparity between one identical 'looking' bike and the next!!
The main problem is that when a bike has more mass to accelerate higher up it want's to Wheelie much more (law of physics) so the electronic bridling as you put it, occurs earlier and therefore limits acceleration. Braking is the same but it's the heavier rider who has to let off his brakes earlier.

"It's hard to believe then that weight is crucially important on bikes that are 60kg heavier "

It really is, because GP races aren't won at the ends of straights, they are won by the guy with the fastest average speed and where the average is most affected is in acceleration, cornering and braking - and a lighter bike can do all of those better.

A rider that is 10% faster round corners and 5% slower on straights will win, ultimately.

"A rider that is 10% faster round corners and 5% slower on straights will win, ultimately"

You could find some other formula to back your opinion.
It is not imaginable that a competitive rider can be 10% slower in a corner.
In a fairly slow 100kph corner that would be 10kph. That's a difference between
a racer and a track day rider.

But they are the top of the tree.

It wasn't a scientific study, more a anecdotal pile of BS rules-of-thumb... :)

I wasn't talking necessarily about GP riders - realistically, I could be 10% faster into a corner - 55 v 50km/h.

I could easily be within 5% on a straight - 200km/h v 205km/h. Especially when you factor in that drive out of a corner onto a straight gives a huge benefit to your terminal speed.

Sorry, wasn't meaning to split hairs, but the general rule holds true - the guys that are fastest round corners, win.

Stoner hosed Spies to the line because he had a better line/run onto the straight and Ben was trying to cover his line. That one had bugger all to do with weight imo

If Stoner had been carrying 13Kg more he would not have arrived in a position to out-drag Spies, he would have been 1-2 seconds back! If you think weight makes no difference try carrying 13 Kilo's around for 45 minutes or strapping it around your waist and going for a ride. It's not possible for it not to make a difference....maybe you can rewrite the law of physics!

This is just complete nonsense. You are pulling imaginary numbers from nowhere. We are talking about a bigger rider, who is physically stronger because of his bigger size. This not the same as a smaller guy carrying around extra weight. It has been explained that a bigger rider has distinct advantages when handling a bike on the track. Look at boxing or wrestling for example. A big guy beats a smaller guy because he is bigger and stronger. Not the other way around.

In the Valencia situation, extra weight can be an advantage in slippery conditions, especially for traction out of corners.

And according to HRC, at the 2011 Phillip Island race Dani Pedrosa was losing three tenths of a second per lap compared to bigger riders like Simoncelli because of the greater effect of wind buffeting on his small size.

I ask again, if Pedroa's small size is an advantage, why hasn't he dominated MotoGP? When has a midget like Pedrosa ever dominated MotoGP?

it is very interesting that Pedrosa says he need to bulk up because he needs more strength the ride the 1000 cc machine.

It is very likely that there will be an optimum body type for MotoGP. It's the same in many sports. Clearly an eight foot tall guy has an advantage in basketball for example. Should the basket ball player be penalized because of his height? But the basketball player needs a lot more than just height to be successful, just as a motorcycle racer needs more than just a certain body type.

You want a smaller weaker guy to physically carry extra weight on his bike. That weight will be fixed, not moveable the way body mass is moveable. That is a serious handicap. And there is no compensation for the extra weight in body size and strength.

Cars and bikes are dynamically very different. It is relatively simple for a car to carry ballast, because the ballast can be fixed in such a way to lower the center of gravity and improve handling. A bike has no such option. And 20 kg on a car that weighs 500 to 1000 kg is obviously much less significant than the 20kg on a MotoGP bike. On a bike that extra weight is a very big deal. A car's mass is relatively stable in cornering. But with a bike the whole mass is constantly moving, and that movement has to fight against the natural inertia of rapidly spinning wheels and crankshaft.

It is swings and roundabouts. Yes the bigger guy is heavier, but his size has compensations. It depends on the situation. So for example Pedrosa is fast off the start, but he loses out in cross winds. And frankly, what he loses in cross winds is much more significant than what he gains off the start.

I have not seen any scientific studies of the relative advantages/disadvantages of smaller guys versus bigger guys riding racing motorcycles. It would be interested to see analysis of the body size issue by engineers with expertise in bike racing dynamics. Like the HRC comments about Pedrosa at Phillip island. That could be basis for a reappraisal of the situation. Otherwise it is just lot of opinions based on simplistic assumptions rather than on facts.


Here it all is, comments and all, direct from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

>>I have not seen any scientific studies of the relative advantages/disadvantages of smaller guys versus bigger guys riding racing motorcycles.

We watch it every year! Talent and money seem to be the overriding factors, in that order, IMO.


Right, but those are stats, not a scientific study in the sense I meant. The stats seem to support the idea that weight is not a critical factor. I wonder whether it is possible to simulate the differences between riders of different sizes using computer modelling. It may be too complex a problem.

With cars the effect of weight on lap times is precisely known, but it seems that a lot of comment regarding MotoGP fails to understand that the effect of bodyweight on a bike is far more complex than in a car. But anyway that link is very good read on the subject.

thecosman….thank you for the link to the original thread. I have read most of it and the over-riding impression is that you can quote statistics to prove any point of view. In my opinion, David has got it wrong here. Merely quoting wins against weight is misleading. We all know it’s not that simple. You have to compare like with like. Having seen Rossi struggling with the Ducati simply proves that Stoner could have shifted the statistical balance in the 3 years between titles given the same machinery. If you want to compare like with like, then it is notable that Simoncelli did not win a race while on equal machinery at Honda.

I think there are three factors at play: Bike+payload (rider) weight; Rider mechanical strength; Rider strength

If we had robot bikes and put them at 50, 70 and 90kg payloads, the lighter bike would win, hands down. That's physics and you can't change those laws, not even if you are DORNA.

So, what we are left with is the physical difference with riders, both mechanical strength - the ability to move mass by leverage - and rider strength, the ability to move mass by muscle power.

Dani has a distinct advantage in combined weight and all things being equal, he should be able to hustle a bike round a track faster, with better braking, acceleration and cornering due to lower mass. But you then have to factor in that he has to do all this while performing push-ups with some 100kg fat bloke sitting on his back as well as lift the bike from handlebar-tip to handlebar-tip a couple of hundred times a race - which is tiring. So tiring, that at around 15 or so laps, his performance starts to drop off.

He has a disadvantage in mechanical strength in that he can't pick up a bike flopped over to one side and then force it down the other side as quickly as Jorge, who is built like a tank. He just can't. He might keep up with him for a couple of tens of times, but four or five laps down the track, he is slowing.

Which the Rossi's, Edwards, Lorenzo's, Spies, De Puniet's aren't. They are slow-er than when they were fresh, but they also have greater endurance - bigger blood supply, bigger lungs, bigger muscles, more leverage - than a guy working at his maximum. Plus the bikes get significantly lighter as the race progresses.

So Dani, as well as the other 'slighter' riders has weight as his friend, but physique as his nemesis. There is a limit as to how much muscle mass he can put on and how much endurance he can build in.

This could be, in the case of the 1000s, the tipping point where his physical limitations count for more than his weight gives him an advantage.

Stoner is probably verging on this, he is slight, but long-limbed. He has a good balance of weight and mechanical advantage. Lorenzo is 7kg heavier, but only 1cm taller than Stoner, so they should be fairly evenly matched - Stoner has less weight to haul around, but less muscle to do it with.

IMO, I think Pedrosa is at his absolute limit - or may have exceeded it. He cannot keep on punishing his body in this manner and expect to perform at peak. Peak was probably 250cc and a bike weighing 115kg. He can handle all the power in the world, but it is a simple equation that he has to lift and carry the same mass, with less 'engine', than any other rider.

All I can surmise from all of these competing variables is that if a rider says the 4kg makes a real difference, who am I to argue? I don't have to do weight-lifting of double my body-weight at a hundred or more miles an hour - I will take them at their word.

I wouldn't say that races and championships have nothing to do with weight, they're just over-ridden by all the other variables. A heavy rider on a well sorted factory bike will almost certainly do better than a light rider on a poor handling and less powerful Satellite bike. The cream always rises to the top of the factory pot...

"A heavy rider on a well sorted factory bike will almost certainly do better than a light rider on a poor handling and less powerful Satellite bike."

And a light rider on a well-sorted factory bike will almost certainly do better than a heavy rider on a poor-handling and less powerful bike - cue V.Rossi, 2011.

I really can't understand the argument - light=good, heavy=bad. No question.

But as with all manner of racing, we have to let other pesky things like talent, bravery, experience and equipment ruin our otherwise spreadsheetable equations.

I used to race 250s, for 17 years. I was never that good. But when I was consistently in the last four or so towards my fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth year of competition, it wasn't because I suddenly became fat (although I did...), it was more because, compared to the kids I was riding against, I had no reflexes, endurance or balls left :) And my eyesight was going... and I didn't have any money left (darned family!) and I couldn't qualify worth a damn...

For the first few laps I was a demon, but then all the beer, pies and a sedentary job kicked in and slowly , lap after lap I was picked off until it was just me and the other dad's at the back.

Mostly due to endurance. It's hard to concentrate when you're knackered.

...of all, as a RACE fan, why would you root against riders in Moto GP? I'm hoping Rossi gets back to the front & swaps paint w/Stoner, Jorge, etc.....it's good for the sport! While I have my favorites, I'm certainly NOT gonna hope rider A does badly! As far as Test 1---big surprise that Stoner is fast out of the box. I'm hoping Jorge's M1 gets better because if anyone thinks Stoner/Honda is gonna stay where their at......quite frankly the ONLY rider that will keep Casey from title #3 is Casey & Jorge.....IMHO!

Do you really want to see a handicap series, to have MotoGP go the NASCAR route? At some point if a rider really is in spectacular form, 10 seconds better than the field over a race, they deserve their time in the sun. Rossi in 2002, Doohan in 1997 may not have been the most interesting seasons at the time but looking back they sure added to the history of the sport. I'd hate to think that we would ever dumb things down to the point where a dominant rider is dragged back to the pack by nobbling the bikes.

Since when did NASCAR have handicaps?

If you want to use another series as a foil, it helps to know how the other series works. NASCAR is spec. GT racing is handicapped or performance indexed, even SBK is handicapped with the air-restrictor and weight rules for 1200cc twins.

Furthermore, every car racing series has rider+vehicle min weight. Let's not get confused. Rider+bike minimum weight rules are perfectly fair, but on two wheels they create engineering and safety problems. The engineering and safety issues, not the competitive issues, are the reason motorcycle racing enforces min weight for the bike only (in most classes).

OK, lets say it's fair to add weight to the bikes ridden by lighter guys. By the same token stronger riders should get some exhausting exercises to perform just before the start of the race to make the field even. Bigger guys should be restricted from moving from left to right beyond the points reachable by smallest rider. Then we should move to intelligence, family heritage, ...

I don't think that would be wise b/c bigger motorcycle riders already have to overcome the forces generated by their own body mass and the torque generated by body mass at the end of longer appendages.

MotoGP riders have already said that maximizing strength-weight ratio is the end goal. If that is the goal, the paradigm will always be pushing riders towards flyweight boxer or marathon runner, not NBA power forward. We've not even addressed the negative consequences of being big as it pertains to drag, which is quite important in a fuel-limited formula.

Ballasting is not unfair, but it does make the sport much more complicated and, possibly, less safe. That's why the MSMA and the FIM have no interest in transitioning from the antiquated simplicity of machine-only minimum weight to machine+rider minimum weight. The transition would be an expensive pain in the ass, and they would be fighting an uphill battle anyway. Naturally, they leave the disparity alone in the name of pragmatism, not fairness.

If only I was 200cm tall I'd be a better basketball player. Sob sniffle, life is unfair.

Some people have more talent, that sucks too. I know, anyone who looks too fast, we'll make them drink before the race...

Build a bridge, guys.

If you'll kindly read the thread, you'll see that the people complaining are those who believe it is unfair to eliminate unfairness. This is the world the rest of us are forced to live in. Anything you can do to make it more tolerable would be appreciated.

I was trying to explain that the unfairness of the minimum weight rule has nothing to do with preserving unfairness (or fairness, depending on your veiwpoint), and everything to do with simplicity, cost, and safety. I was trying to reduce the incidence of cat calls from people who don't have the stomach to discuss the impact of the rules on the people participating.

NASCAR has continuously tweaked the rules over the last 20 years to keep more cars on the lead lap, more cars within striking distance of a win. You can call it many things but to me that is pretty damn close to handicapping, particularly at the big tracks where you're just one 'big one' from anyone on the lead lap taking the flag.

I think you've missed the point. I'm not talking about a success ballast, but a combined bike/rider weight system as operated in 125 (and Moto3 this year). A success ballast is a definite no no!!

...with your comment that you just want close racing/to not have Stoner running away with a race. If you like ballasting riders as you think that it will drag a dominant rider (Stoner) back to riders like Spies then it sure sounds like a handicap.

So this is about Stoner is it Steve? A variation on the "he only won because he had the best bike" theme? So why hasn't Pedrosa disappeared into the distance these past five years? He is 7 kg lighter than Stoner.

At 76kgs? Marco should have had no hope of competing if total weight was that critical.

Dani's 51kgs? is undoubtedly the reason he is the hole-shot king, but otherwise, it would seem that the electronics and tyres allow the engineers to accomodate significant variation in total wieght... but perhaps with one cost - tyre wear.

I will admit to not being a Stoner fan but I have to admire his bravery and skill! Aside from that he has an ideal physique for MotoGP as he's relatively light but has the long balancing poles! Generally Pedrosa (when he's not injured) is pretty fast, it's just he hasn't managed to string together a winning season.

Many are ignoring or counting out Spies for the championship in error. Now that he is familiar with all the tracks and the nuances of MotoGP and has sufficient power to stay with the Hondas out of the corners i foresee a knock down drag out battle between him and Stoner and Lorenzo at most of the events this year.

I hope he has the same results as the last time(s) he duked it out with a VERY talented Aussie (Mladin)!!

It would be awesome to see Spies really start to win. Considering he came in 5th overall in his first year on the factory team (Dovi being the only non-alien to score higher) I think there's a good chance he's going to impress us.

When the "zero" was rolled out at the end of last year, Rossi said on the record that it had all the same problems as the earlier attempts. In fact he was more negative about it than the previous versions, of which he invariably said they were improvements.

Barbera, otoh, who is less controlled by the Ducati PR machine, said it was way, way better.

Roll forward to Sepang. Rossi says the "12" is lots better. None the less, Barbera is able to follow him around on the zero. Now, a lesser rider can usually stick with a better rider by copying his lines, braking points and so on... provided he has a bike that is up to it. In particular it needs to handle ok, since to get a tow on the straights, you need to be close on corner exit. If Barbera had tried that on the GP11 he raced last year, he would have been in the gravel, I think.

So my guess is that the real step forward was the full aluminium chassis on the "zero". Whether because it was full, or because it was aluminium, I don't know. The addition of the rotated engine may not have improved things much more, but I'm guessing there is a marketing spin for that: it being more "Panigale" like in the engine could be a plus, whereas being less Panigale in the chassis is an awkward negative.

However, like Chris I'm amazed they couldn't turn up with a couple of chassis options... that was the Preziosi rationalisation of the new chassis, remember: being able to swap it without a new engine.
In any case, they still lack rear grip and the throttle response is too sharp. Given the connection between throttle response and fuel consumption (ie smoothness is easy if you can just throw in fuel), those are still quite serious problems even if the corner entry is (hypothetically) fully sorted.

Anyway, we should be thankful for the Ducati soap-opera (opera buffa?)... otherwise, it's pretty hard to get excited about the rest of the bloat-ware that is going around.

You are reading way into this way too early. Rossi and Hayden were testing various parts, settings, etc. Much like they tested during every practice session last year.

This early, don't read too much into lap times. Be concerned with those times at the end of the testing season. We'll see new chassis, parts, electronic settings changeds, etc, before the season even begins! You don't win races or points in testing.

Not sure I buy Stoner's theory on that one.

I suspect that Edwards? might be on the money... the rear tyre has been changed but the front is essentially the same.

David-is it asked too much, that you send an email whenever you delete my comments? I'm allways searching like crazy for my posts only to realize that my Rossi-hailing was deleted....

There was nothing wrong with your Rossi hailing. It was your comments on Stoner that got your comment deleted. You are free to praise, but that kind of attack gets deleted. Without the courtesy of an email.

.... so that people know when they have crossed a line.

Another option is to use a 'bozo' mode, so that idiots' comments are hidden from everyone but themselves. That way, they think that everyone is reading their comments but ignoring them - which hopefully leads to them improving the tone of their posts.

to alleviate the pain and a detailed 4 pages discussion about the relevancy of their comments...
I understand that scanning comments to ensure that everybody keeps it fair and square is awfully time-consuming, please don't waste more time to justify your choices, people should be just sorry, not asking for even more of your time in emails/development.

Not many engineers in these parts obviously.

Ducati - They have done the right thing. Their engineering methodology is sound (for this year at least...). From last year, they know the Aluminum Chassis was the way forward. What they were testing was the revised weight distribution. it is precisely THIS point that is being missed.

Your constant is the chassis being made from Aluminum, everything else forms the variable and with deliberate and methodical changes measuring the action & reaction, you get your result. What is different and most important is that Ducati are now getting the EXPECTED result. Something that hasn't been happening for years. Form simply an engineering standpoint, they have made a major leap forward and it shows. I would expect to see any tweaks to the chassis only coming after the baseline has been found (engine placement, swingarm stiffness etc), and that would be towards the end of Sepang 2, if not during the first few months of races.

K.I.S.S. - it never fails.

Since 1999, MotoGP has been centered around Rossi!? 'FASTER' and 'FASTEST' are documented featured-movie evidence of this! Casey 'Superman' Stoner has the best record for the 800cc Era but due to his age group, he did not dominate in the 500cc or 990cc generations. Of the current active MotoGP racers... who has a better track record than Rossi? But don't look at just the wins or title numbers, Rossi's off-track prowess isn't anything to downplay either. He's a unique character for every aspect of the racing arena. He a celebrity racer among other racers. Now that Marco is gone, Valentino may be the last of the Dog-Fighting Gladiator type racers. With the 800cc (Boring) Era... many of the racers just want to be the fastest guy on track so that he can check out from the field! They can avoid the 500cc Era type of racing this way. Stoner can ride anything he's given... fast, but he can crack from a lack of mental toughness. Spies may very well be the NEXT real threat to the other factory riders in the 1000cc Era. Spies adapts well to whatever environment he's in and does what he needs to do... to become champion!

or mythical lack thereof is a shibboleth perpetuated by Kevin Schwantz (a one-time WC who quit in the middle of a season because Rainey wasn't around to beat any more) and Michael Scott ( a journalist who has how many successful years of gp racing in his CV?)

Stoner certainly didn't dominate in the 500cc era, having never ridden one. Rossi didn't dominate in the 500cc era either, as it happens. Stoner had one rookie year on a satellite 990 - the year that Rossi threw away the WC because he cracked in the last race. Since on factory machinery from the start of the 800s era, Stoner is the dominant racer, with nearly 3 victories to every two of the next best - Rossi.

Rossi has been an adornment to the sport, a great ambassador and a great rider, but in head-to-head competition, Stoner has the superior results. Lorenzo is also statistically one of the greats of the sport. Spies has huge potential, yet to be realised.

History is bunk,but lessons from the past obviously apply. The mass increase may be the single most important factor over race distance for the top guns this year. Electronics governing fuel consumption to the n'th degree inconjunction with tire consumption.
Funny how it all stacks up with reference to the 800 era. As much as it all appears to have changed,it hasn't changed a bit.
The only thing that is certain is that the rider's input,skill and mental toughness across the seasons length will be the deciding factor barring injury.
And yes,two tier Championship at least until mid-season,by which time the title will have been pretty much sown up,SAT/CRT an aside. Ducati/HRC/Yamaha know it.

Get over it people, it's called 'Racing'. At the end of the day, he who has the most points wins. In any given year, one person manages to put it all together, the team, the bike, the tyres, the wins, the podiums, the 'mental toughness' and that makes him the best, for that year on that machinery, on those tyres and those circuits.

It's only when a rider retires does the scale of their achievements move from fact to myth to legend status with the ever present rose coloured glasses...... people tend only to remember wins.

I've recently watch the 2006, 2007, 2008 seasons in full and all I can say is it was a lot closer than people remember, but I guess it depends on who you root for to how you might look at each race or season.

If no one fell off, injured themselves, had the same bike etc etc then it would be very very boring. From the comments here you would think the only way either side would be happy is if MotoGP bikes were all the same, on the same rubber (already ticked), ridden by robots with programmers at the helm.

I heard it said "be careful what you wish for"....

There are too many variables to compare and at the end of the day, it's a sport, which I for one LOVE. Revel in that.

They have a created a media storm in 2011 by finishing off the podium almost all season and then followed it up with another astonishing effort in Sepang during testing.

Now I really like Rossi but I like him riding, I dont care about how savy he is with media. I really like Ducati and they built a 90% new bike, so did Honda and Yamaha fit a 1000cc wiseco piston kit to the 2011 800? Big deal, they all built new bikes.

I want to see them race, my big complaint is that the length of the break, I want to see them fly (Marco mssing will be hard to take) but I want to see them ride, lets force the FIM to shorten the layoff - I want my Sunday night fix and I want it now...

PS: ban the electronics - standard ECUs for all, maximise rider input, minimise geek input.

Congratulations to Ducati for finally waking up and realising that a motorcycle isn't a formula 1 car, and that a rigid engine block isn't a flexible frame. Well done Ducati for finally doing what every other successful racing motorcycle manufacturer has done since the 1950's.