2012 IRTA MotoGP Jerez Test Day 1 Round Up: On Fast Factories, CRTs, Tires, and Ducati's Travails

The first day of the final test ahead of the MotoGP season, and normal service has been resumed. The factory boys - well, the factory Hondas and Yamahas - are top of the pile, and fairly comfortably ahead of the rest. In bright, sunny, but very windy conditions, it looked like Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa would battle it out for top honors, rather as they did at last year's race, but just as everyone in the press room - your humble author included - was trotting out the old "Jerez is Stoner's bogey track" chestnut, the Australian turned up the wick and took half a second off his best time, propelling him to the top of the timesheets, and well under race lap record pace.

Behind the Repsol Honda of Stoner, Lorenzo put over a tenth between himself and Pedrosa, while Ben Spies ended the day four tenths off Pedrosa, and eight tenths back from Stoner. Cal Crutchlow continues to impress on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, ending as top satellite bike and within a second of Stoner's pace. Crutchlow was at pains to point out that his bike is a step behind the factory Yamahas of Spies and Lorenzo, something that was painfully clear at track side. The Factory Yamahas hustled through the fast corners with nary a hint of interference, while Crutchlow's M1 sounded like an asthmatic smoker having a coughing fit. The electronics on the factory Yamahas are a big step forward, as witnessed by the front wheel almost hugging the ground as the bikes powered out of the slower corners. Despite this, both Lorenzo and Spies said that the bike's tendency to wheelie was a problem at Jerez - more so than at Sepang - though watching from the track, their definition of a wheelie appears to be hoisting the front wheel a whole 2 centimeters over the track.

Nicky Hayden was the first Ducati, happy to be so, but even happier to be able to ride more or less to his full potential, the shoulder injury he suffered over the winter, and had surgery to fix. He had gotten through a decent testing program on the brand new bike, for the first time since riding the original prototype back last summer. This is a very different bike, and though he had one or two problems, mainly a lack of rear grip, he was pretty satisfied with the results. The gap to the front riders was still large, he said, but he felt there was more improvement to come.

The feeling on the other side of the garage was much worse. Once again, and despite the completely new bike, Valentino Rossi is still having problems with corner entry. Standing down at Dry Sack, the corner at the end of the straight, Rossi was visibly struggling with rear grip on corner exit, a result of not being able to enter the corner the way he wanted to. "It's because of the corner entry. When I open the gas, I'm already a little bit wide from the problem in the entry, and I have to keep the bike leaned over too much, and for this reason, and this is why the bike is moving, I think." Rossi believes his position on the bike is at the root of the problem; though it is improved from 2011, he still feels he is sitting too far back and cannot get enough weight onto the front. That is probably still a result of the engine being a 90° V; there is a lot of empty space between the cylinders, and the cylinder heads are forcing the designers' hands when it comes to the location of the tank, the fuel tank, the airbox and other items.

The good news for Rossi - if you can call it that - is that the Italian and his crew found one possible solution towards the end of the day, an avenue they will explore tomorrow. The bad news is that despite the improvements, Rossi is still 1.774 down on Stoner, an eternity at a track like Jerez. When asked whether the feeling was more like Sepang 1 or Sepang 2 - Rossi was very optimistic after the first Sepang test, but much more pessimistic after the second - Rossi barely hesitated. "Sepang 2" he answered. Though we still have two more days of testing to go, things are not looking good for the nine-time World Champion, and he and his team appear to be struggling to find solutions. Rossi is famous for being able to ride around problems, and providing an unparalleled level of feedback, allowing engineers to fix problems quickly. Rossi's crew chief Jerry Burgess has a display cabinet full of world championship trophies won by transforming that feedback into data that the engineers can use to identify weak points in a design and create new parts to solve the problems. The Rossi/Burgess magic is starting to lose some of its luster.

What is even more surprising is that Rossi is less than a tenth of a second faster than Randy de Puniet on the first of the CRT bikes. Watching the Aprilia ART out on track, it is clear that the electronics are not quite as sophisticated as the Yamahas, Hondas and Ducatis, as the bike wants to lift the front wheel more and is much more squirrely coming out of corners. But De Puniet is determined to get the most out of the bike, and ended the day in 11th, ahead of the satellite Ducatis of Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham. De Puniet is going to show up a few satellite riders this year, and with more development to come from the machine, the top 6 is not all that far away.

The biggest contrast between the CRT bikes and the factory prototypes was probably the noise levels. Though the CRT machines add some welcome variety to MotoGP's soundscape, they are also noticeably quieter than the factory bikes. Where the Honda's rasp sounds like it could saw you in half, and the booming Yamaha or Ducati wants to disintegrate your innards, the Aprilias, Hondas, Kawasakis and BMWs just sound like really, really loud motorcycles. Not quite as visceral, but at least adding more notes to MotoGP's tune.

Given how new some of the CRT bikes are, their times are positively impressive. Danilo Petrucci's IODA-framed Aprilia has not seen much track action, yet the former Superstock champion is ahead of Mattia Pasini on the Speed Master Aprilia ART. The fact that IODA has most of the former Aprilia engineering team in the squad surely helps.

But most impressive of all was the FTR Honda fielded by San Carlo Gresini. The mood in the team after the first shakedown at Imola was very downbeat, with much talk of problems with the bike scraping its fairing. But at Jerez, with the Pirellis used at Imola ditched for the spec MotoGP Bridgestones, Pirro took the Gresini bike to within a couple of tenths of Colin Edwards, on the BMW-powered Suter, that has had almost a year of development on it. Watching Pirro out on track, the Italian looked scrappy and was making a lot of mistakes, but as the team have started to work on setup, they have made major progress.

The fast times by the Aprilia is causing plenty of muttering in the paddock. On Thursday, Lin Jarvis commented that Aprilia were arguably a de facto fourth factory in the championship, and on Friday, Casey Stoner echoed a general feeling at Honda that the Aprilias are factory prototypes, and not the specialist product of small engineering workshops that the Grand Prix Commission had in mind when the rules were drawn up. The trouble is that the bike that a team is running is irrelevant to their CRT status, it is the team itself which is judged. The current manufacturers could try to get, for example, the Aspar team reclassified as a factory prototype team, but the problem is they need a majority in the Grand Prix Commission. Of the remaining parties in the GPC, Dorna is not disposed to have CRTs reclassified, nor particularly is the FIM. IRTA represents the teams themselves, and so is unlikely to side with the factories. The MSMA has been caught in its own trap.

On a side note, the Aprilia ART is actually the bike that FIM president Vito Ippolito has been pushing for all along. Throughout the long debate that has gone on about the state of MotoGP, Ippolito has long pointed to the Yamaha TZ and Suzuki RG series as lessons we could learn from the past. The Aprilia ART is the ideal production racer, just as the Yamaha TZ and Suzuki RG were before it.

It was not just bikes and parts that were being tested at Jerez, however. Bridgestone had brought two new front tires to be tested at Jerez, developments of the tires tried at Sepang beforehand. The vast majority of riders - in fact, all but one - preferred the tire designated with the code 21 over the other on offer, designated 24. They all praised its greater stability under braking, and preferred its characteristics. All except one Casey Stoner, however: Stoner complained that it was the 21 which was worse under braking, and that it offered less stability than the 24, his opinion diametrically opposed to that of the rest of the paddock. Jorge Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg explained the difference to me, but the two tires are very similar. The 24 is a development of the 21, he explained, with a slightly different construction in the center of the tire. Lorenzo said in his press debrief that he hoped that Bridgestone would follow the wishes of the majority, rather than what Stoner wanted, which is the most logical and likely course of action.

Stoner's preference for the tires nobody else liked has shades of his hero Mick Doohan. Doohan always wanted what the others could not ride, confident in his ability to deal with problems that others couldn't. Likewise, Casey Stoner appears to prefer the more difficult tire option; he consistently favors the hard tire over the soft, and managed to get heat into the hard front tire where others - including his arch rival Valentino Rossi - struggled. Whenever Bridgestone offered to bring a slightly softer compound, to allay the fears of the riders having problems with the uberstiff spec tires, it has been Stoner complaining that it was unnecessary, and that the tires were just fine as they were. Stoner appears to be able to use a much stiffer, much harder tire than anyone else in the paddock, and is determined to cling on to his advantage. The problem is that the huge number of crashes last year have sent Bridgestone in the opposite direction, making a tire that is easier to warm up and ride, to help the majority of the riders. Stoner seems capable of going fast on either hard or soft tires - he did a short race simulation on the softs in the morning, and managed the tires pretty well - and so does not really need the advantage. But racers like to play with a stacked deck, and Stoner is no exception.

Rain is expected to fall on Saturday afternoon, which could curtail action at the circuit, but the morning should see plenty of action. After that, there is one more full day of testing before the bikes are packed up and shipped off to Qatar. From then, there will be no more hiding.

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David, as always a great writeup and insight into the test day. One truly cannot just look at the time sheets and judge who is doing well, etc. So many factors that are unseen to us that merely watch the live feed or read the comments and interviews.

It looks like we are going to have a good season with some mixed CRT teams in between the satellite bikes. RdP is one who in my opinion has developed his race craft, from the days of always crashing to putting up solid results on the Honda with LCR.

Nice to see Nicky feeling well and able to put in some decent lap times. Hopefully he will be able to get a few podiums with the GP12.

I think it may be a wee bit speculative to suggest that Stoner's preference for the Type 24 is merely based on him 'doin' a Doohan' - he did fairly consistently top the Brembo 'Late Braker' lists last year, so it's possible he is pushing the tyres just that little bit harder under brakes. Stability under braking was Honda's main bete noir for a considerable period, so surely it's understandable that Stoner would not want to see the tyres return it to that problem?

Stoner is on form, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, and Spies trailing............
Honda and Yamaha are ready. Both bikes look awfully fast, and much more refined than the old 1000cc bikes (no surprise). They've both done their homework and Stoner is on form and Lorenzo is ready. Can't wait to see them both duke it out.

Ducati? What can you say? They are all much slower and you have to wonder what Preziosi is doing when the same complaints are being made a full 12 months later. Problems entering the corner and Rossi cannot get the riding position he wants. He said this last year and here the same issue exists. David talked about that 90 degree engine last year and pointed the finger (slightly) that it could be the issue. Bang, crash, bang, crash. While Ducati finally gave up (like a confederate solider giving up his rifle) the cf chassis they remain stubborn on the engine degree when their GP bike has 0 to do with their production line. Honda doesn't make a production V4 sport bike (the VFR1200, Shamu, doesn't count) and they don't make a production bike with carbon discs, gas charged forks, nor sensors for TC (yet). GP bikes don't have much in common with street bikes. Some of the technology trickles down but all I'm saying is that Ducati's new trick production bike, the 1199, isn't a 1000cc V4, it's a 1200cc twin. But hey, we must make a 90 degree V4. Makes no sense pouring millions into the bike only to keep failing. And it's not the riders' issue. They are providing feedback and that feedback isn't translating to bits. Ducati are stubborn and insist that they must make a 90 degree engine for their GP racer. You have to wonder if it was a 65 or 60 degree V4, if that would solve the issue of riding position, air box location, everything. Amazing how stubborn they are.

Aprilia looks great and I hope the MSMA gets shut down on this quickly. This new CRT rule, while some hate it, is at least letting other mfr's return to the fold. I really hope BMW follows suit and we get one of the two remaining Japanese factories back in the series.

Crutchlow, such a shame. David points out that the electronics are doing much different things on the Sat Yamahas. So lame. Why are they there then? The sat bikes are neutered by the factory so why even have them there? This is a 4 bike series until Ducati can fix their issues. The rest of the bikes on the grid are filler and a waste IMO. If you have 0 chance of winning then why race? It makes no sense.

I remember Kenny Jr. riding a prototype chassis with Honda's V5 stuffed in it to a podium. My my how things have changed. I am growing ever so tired of this. What we need is a series and a set of rules that allows at least 5 mfr's the ability to compete and challenge for wins. With these rules currently, this is a 2 mfr series, possibly 3 if Ducati ever get their act together.

Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Spies, the rest should just save thier money and go on home.

A two manufacturer series is no fun! I like having a little bit of a challenge thrown in, I'm hoping that Dovi can mix it up a bit and get some podiums and maybe even a win.

Ducati obviously has money to burn, but what are they waiting for? It was my understanding that a lot of Rossi's crew came over to Ducati from Yamaha and previously from Honda, with all these talented individuals why doesn't Ducati take their expertise and build a great bike? No one is saying they will make a clone (that was the rumor last year - make a Yamaha clone) but hey, you do what works!

I think if the Aprilia ART format works we can see more manufacturers return to the fold, and isn't that what all these new rules are about? I really wish that Kawasaki and Suzuki hadn't pulled out, but at the same time, I say go all in or don't go at all. Don't put a half hearted attempt into the series, that's how riders get hurt, trying to prove themselves on inferior machinery (Hopkins, Bautista, Melandri - Kawasaki to name a few).

An hr ago my wife asked why I was shouting: well exactly as Brick Top says, they/Duc still haven't sorted VR's riding position!!!!

Before I say something MM won't want on the site, I'll go away for a cup of tea and hope calmer minds might have meaningful comment.

I had forgotten that Nicky Hayden had injured his shoulder. His recent times certainly don't hint at it!

Explain to me again how that Aprilia factory-built prototype - based on a bike that has clocked 208 mph at Monza - gets classified as a CRT machine?

If anyone believes that the ART bike costs anything less than a satellite Honda or Yamaha, I've got a good deal on some beachfront property in Nebraska.

More and more, the whole CRT thing simply looks like a purely political power ploy to rig the results in such a manner that strengthens MotoGP's owners, not its participants.

There's no such thing as a CRT bike. There are only Claiming Rule Teams. Anything they run is a CRT bike, including a factory backed M1. And I can assure you, those bikes cost half as much as a satellite Yamaha or Ducati, and a third as much as a satellite Honda. That's why they are there.

If Honda et al have a problem, and claim only a manufacturer can build a competitive chassis, let them build a CBR1000RS and sell it to teams along with a nice thick reference manual for the electronics.

Kinda, sorta ... I know the rules say it's the team, not the bike. But if I knew I could run 24 liters in a race, I'd at least have explored the possibility of designing the bike around a somewhat larger fuel cell, unless the factory bikes have larger than 21 liter fuel cells and somehow the FIM just trusts then to put in the right amount at the beginning of the race.

If a Honda team is tomorrow designated a CRT team, are they stuck with the "stock" fuel cell or does Honda go back to the drawing board and re-design the thing based on a larger fuel cell, or do Honda factory technicians at least re-visit the consequences of starting a race with an additional 2.25 kg of weight on board? I mean, look at the crisis began with the addition of 4 kgs anywhere you wanted it on the bike.

And David, you and I know the stated price of a race bike is a number akin to something that the Professor of Neomathematics at the University of Maximegalon would produce (bonus points for anyone who gets the reference ...:). Honda or Yamaha could sell or lease their MotoGP machines for half as much as they do now; does that actually make the bike any cheaper to produce?

Regardless of what Aprilia claims the bike costs, to produce it you have to factor in the factory's involvement in research and development. No non-manufacturer would have been able to produce this bike.

And that's my point; the ART is a full factory prototype built to a different set of rules than the other full factory prototypes.

A full factory prototype such as the Hondas, Yamahas and Ducati is a motorcycle built in the only intent to compete in MotoGP.
This is definitely not the case of the ART.
Of course the Aprilia RSV4 was designed as a street bike with the intent of being very competitive in WSBK. The RSV4 project started years ago before the very concept of CRT was even written down. Not mentioning the motorcycle design, its production as a street bike started in 2008, 4 years ago, which is an eternity in MotoGP terms!

Now over the course of roughly 6 months Aprilia developed a new chassis to adapt to MotoGP Bridgestones and carbon brakes.
Assuming the ARTs run Aprilia factory electronics and an engine very close (if not the same) than in WSBK, the chassis is the only part of this bike designed for MotoGP purposes (and it's very far from a blank page, much more adapted from the WSBK chassis).

The fact that Aprilia, instead of Suter or FTR for instance, is obviously a difference compared to the other CRT but that does not make it a full factory prototype to my eyes, far from it.
Its origins are the very reason why it's 7 or 8 kilos heavier than proper factory prototypes.

You have nailed the point exactly: It is APRILIA doing all of these things. Aprilia is a factory that has won something like 41 World Championships in road racing. The ART is based on an engine/electronics package that Aprilia, a major manufacturer, has spent four years developing/refining in road racing competition. Aprilia built the motor; Aprilia built the chassis; and Aprilia is developing and refining the bike. And there is nothing in the MotoGP rules preventing Aprilia from doing whatever it wants to the bike to develop it further and still having its team labeled a CRT, as long as the pit crew doesn't have the word Aprilia on its shirts (I exaggerate to make the point).

It's like saying that the Hayate MotoGP bike wasn't a prototype because they took the words Kawasaki off the fairing.

And honestly, I'm not sure I see the benefit of owning one of these motorcycles or trying to develop it yourself if you're a team owner. How in the world would a small team - even a team the size of Tech III or Gresini - match the development available to the factory, whether that factory be working on "prototype" or "CRT" team stuff?

The whole CRT thing has nothing to do with racing, engineering or competition. It is political, designed to reward the factory that will do what MotoGP wants it to do and punish those who don't. MotoGP's comments about making sure the CRT teams get the technical breaks they need to be competitive illustrate the intent.

Seriously, to solve the problem that the CRTs are designed to solve, simply issue a rule that states that any factory that wants to race in MotoGP must supply bikes to XXX number of teams at XXX amount of money per bike.

OK, back to work for me ...

would stand if it had been built around the ZX10R instead of the official ZX-RR prototype from the previous season...
That's a pretty significant difference.

My point is that the RSV was certainly not designed and developed with MotoGP in mind. And it's been available for 4 years already.

Then what difference does it make if it's Aprilia designing the chassis instead of FTR? Isn't FTR supplying the chassis for 4 Ducatis, 1 CRT Honda and 2 CRT Kawasakis? Does that make the Ducatis CRTs or does it make FTR a factory?
What difference does it make when Ten Kate develops the engine and electronics for Gresini based on their extensive knowledge of the CBR1000RR being Honda "official" entry in WSBK for years? Didn't BMW supply their WSBK electronics to Forward Racing (though that may not be such a good thing lol)?

Aprilia, just like any other CRT suppliers, offers the ART to any team interested in paying for it, then the team owns the bike and is free to adjust it and develop it and do whatever they fancy with it.
And next season they can either upgrade it or sell it to another team.
That's a pretty big difference with leasing a sub-spec satellite bike (for 2 or 3 times the price), and that's the point of CRT.

If you were building a MotoGP and a commercial superbike there's no way you would end up with the same bike with such different constraints.
When the time comes that Aprilia wants to build a proper MotoGP bike, I believe it would be pretty different from the ART...and much faster!

The good thing is that we're having this conversation...because the ART is fast, go (sideways) get them Randy!!!

Honestly, I'm not sure you wind up in particularly different places if you start with the goal of building a MotoGP bike or a World Superbike. God knows the lap times for each are within a fraction of each other. If Honda built a street-legal version of the RC213V, regardless of its state of tune, you could re-tune it and race it in World Superbike, with very few restrictions. Read the WSBK rulebook. Most of the restrictions come from homologation issues, and racing history is filled with street-legal, limited-edition homologation specials. By my reading of the WSBK rulebook, the DesmosecidiRR would have been legal for the series.

But it likely wouldn't have been as fast as the 1098R.

Unless the Ducati factory developed it.

And that is the difference between Suter or FTR building the chassis and Aprilia doing it - the Aprilia factory brings many, many more resources to the game. Regardless of where the cases for the ART came from, the fact is that the bike is a factory-framed, factory-suspended, factory-faired, factory-electronics-operated factory-built bike powered by a factory-designed and factory-developed engine. And you don't get that without spending factory-style money.

(I'll cede your point that BMW electronics might not be such a benefit ... ;) )

As an aside, as in any other major-league motorsport, a year-old MotoGP bike is almost worthless if you plan to run near the front. So I really don't see the value in having one - unless, of course, you've got a factory developing it back in the homeland.

I'm a huge fan of Aprilia, and I want to see more bikes on the grid. But even if Randy won, it's kind of like watching a rookie jockey take a win, knowing that he/she got a weight break.

Maybe asking this question will help clarify where I'm coming from:

What would Repsol/Honda have to do to become a CRT? And how would that be any different than what Aprilia is doing now?

If you had seen the M1 engine Yamaha had on display at Valencia, you would see the difference between a road engine and a prototype engine. A road engine has to last for 100,000 km or so with its cases intact. A race engine's cases only have to last 10,000 or less. They are machined and engineered to have the bare minimum of material everywhere, and are absolute works of art. Production engine cases are massive pieces, which are engineered to be produced as cheaply as possible and to be strong enough to last. They are massive lumps in comparison with the prototype engines. There's no comparison.

Of course the funny thing is that in World Superbikes, the teams are all complaining that the Aprilia is a prototype, while in MotoGP, the teams are all complaining that it's a factory-backed production bike.

What Repsol Honda would have to do to become a CRT:

- The team in Belgium would have to become an independent organization, with no funding from Honda

- HRC would have to withdraw all of its organization resources from the team

- HRC would have to supply just one or two technicians to help set up the bikes, and would have a lot less to say about what the team mechanics could or could not do with the bike

- HRC would have to sell the bike to the team, rather than lease it

- Once that was in place, they would have to apply for CRT status for the 2013 season, before 31st December 2012

- The Grand Prix Commission would have to agree unanimously to accept the team as a CRT entry. This is unlikely, given that Yamaha is a member of the MSMA, who have a seat in the GPC. They would probably veto CRT status for the team.

Excellent points (and the point about Aprilia in the subsequent post is not only true but hilarious, too!) But let me propose another scenario:

HRC withdraws all its funding and resources from MotoGP, but continues to develop a MotoGP bike. The HRC-developed bike is sold to, (just to pick a team name out of the air) Ten Kate, which suddenly finds itself awash in Repsol money and Repsol-hired employees who used to work for HRC. Ten Kate calls itself a CRT independent of HRC. Repsol, of course, is simply a conduit for HRC money and resources. It's all just an accounting trick. But it's all perfectly legit by the rulebook. It's just an accounting trick. And it's as old as the F1 teams of the 1960s getting around sponsorship bans by simply renaming the car chassis after the sponsor. If every one of the new Ten Kate employees gets a paycheck signed by Ten Kate, how could the GP Commission argue that the team is really HRC and then deny it CRT status? Hey, in WSBK last year, didn't Ducati "withdraw" its factory team, but a bunch of the old factory employees wind up in the Althea Racing garage on race weekend?


The problem with trying to enforce regulations based on the flow of money is simply that instead of tech inspection, now you've got to hire financial forensic experts to figure out whether the team is factory or CRT. It's like one club racer/medical equipment engineer I talked a while back said to me: "I've been walking through the same door to go to work for 20 years, and I've gotten paychecks from six different companies."

And ... on the engine front, there's nothing in the MotoGP rules that says that if Aprilia were to create new cases/cylinders for the RSV4 the team would no longer be a CRT team, correct?

And this, to me, is the problem with CRT as it sits now.

Would they not also have to use the CBR1000RR engine in lieu of the RC213V? Or conversely, make the RC213V engine available in their production line?

Nope. The only written technical regulation for a CRT machine has to do with fuel capacity.

David is spot-on with the link. As a famous U.S. Supreme Court justice said about obscenity, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced…[b]ut I know it when I see it…"[2]

- The team in Belgium would have to become an independent organization, with no funding from Honda

- HRC would have to withdraw all of its organization resources from the team

What about Aprilia's organizational resources that are being used? I've seen a few pit shots of the Gresini pit and there are lots of Aprilia techs in there. Is the cost of these techs included in the 1M bike price? When you factor in personnel and development/overhead costs Aprilia is definitely spending a lot more than 1M on these bikes.

I like Aprilia's involvement but hate the rulebook and rulemaking style that lets the organizer explicitly make rules that benefit some teams and hinder others. To me that is the mark of a dying sport.


I've been 'into' this sport for a long time. I'm still not sure how the legend "Rossi is famous for being able to ride around problems, and providing an unparalleled level of feedback, allowing engineers to fix problems quickly", came about. IF it is true (which surprisingly, I don't think it is!), what is to be said about Stoner or even Hayden who is treated like the poor cousin in the team and let's not forget his treatment as a virtual outcast as a member of the '06 repsol team where he clearly struggled to get anything a rider needs to get his job done?
It's also naive to think Burgess didn't know the M1 back to front, upside down, whatever! To believe that knowledge would be discarded after previous performance vs investment for the team, is ludicrous. Having said that, if the dimensions, configuration or the bloody feng shuei of the D16 engine where considered an issue by the team (including Burgess, you know, the 'legend') then it would NOT be present on the 2012 factory ducati motoGP motorcycle, simple as that.

on the thing. That's bound to cancel out his time deficit.

Despite the usual excuse making on behalf of Rossi an excellent read thankyou David. Loved your aural descriptions of the various machines.

Whilst the ART engines are sourced from a production road machine then I for one have no issue whatsoever with their CRT status. Just as WSBK teams bleated the RSV4 was a motoGP machine in their series, now MotoGP teams are having a crack with as little justification as the WSBK boys. Man up and race!


Since when is Rossi famous for being able to ride around problems? I think Burgess is famous for getting the bike sorted for warmup on race day but I have never known Rossi as being a rider that rides around problems. I would also say that the Burgess/Rossi success period was based on the elimination of problems and the creation of bikes that did everything well and had no flaws.

What I think is the case here is that they are unable to tune out the still flawed Ducati in the pits box and as a result Rossi's inability to ride around problems is showing.

When VR played with the competition in 2004 and 2005, many insiders put it down to Rossi's ability to keep his speed in the 2nd half of the race when (the Michelin) tires where deteriorating. Or with other words, he was riding around the problems the tires where causing.

2 things have changed since:

  • we now know that Rossi needs a special type of chassis to be able to ride around deficits in the whole package - think of the Yamaha M1
  • 2005 Rossi was the only alien, he had no competition. When he rode around the tire problem everyone was in awe, there was no one that could compare to him. Today Stoner rides around a tire *and* a bike problem and the rest of the pack has to see how they can keep up with him. The 3 new aliens raised the bar, and since more than a year Rossi has to show he can reach that new level on the Ducati.

It is kind of sad that VR can't seem to make any significant progress on the Ducati, the optimism of this season not being a two horse race between Lorenzo and Stoner is fading. Hopefully the supporting cast of Spies and Pedrosa can mix it up, but we've seen from last year that you've got to be the best to even hold a candle to those two.

"Rossi is famous for being able to ride around problems, and providing an unparalleled level of feedback"

Did you mean Stoner?

Everybody knows Rossi's achievements and his reputation, but as far as "riding around problems", he's not the lad whose name springs to my mind.

So you're saying he just happened to have the best set-up bike for 105 GP wins?

I think his status for riding around problems is completely legit. You cannot get that lucky at these levels.

BUT, like the article says, and other posters have said... his shine isn't shining so bright anymore. But, don't take away what he has accomplished. One day Stoner too will face some young guns that will step up the game... it's the natural way of things.

It is not luck unless luck's name is Jeremy Burgess. There is no one in the history of the sport with more success then Jeremy Burgess. Rossi has not had to ride around problems because Burgess has always sorted them out.

As far as Michelins that didn't last race distance goes, well Rossi ALWAYS had the best of the Michelins that didn't last race distance so if his weren't lasting then everyone else's were lasting worst.

He was gifted the best bikes (Aprilia RS125, 250 then Honda RCV which had won something like 9 out of previous 10 championships) because he deserved it.

When he took the first risk in his career, going from Honda to Yamaha in the end of 2003 it was a different time.
He did not have to ride around problems so much because at that time tests were unlimited and he tested a lot during winter time. He enjoyed a very good relationship with Furosawa who was responsible for the redesign at Yamaha, told them what he wanted and when the season started he was already on a different bike than the one he discovered.
Last but not least it was much easier for Rossi, JB and crew to "export" their knowledge from Honda to Yamaha, than it is to export from Yamaha to Ducati.

He's obviously very good at giving feedback to develop a bike, but we have yet to see him outpacing his Ducati teammates (or even satellite riders) the way Stoner did every time he threw a leg over the red beast.

This is my amateur take on "riding around problems".

No, when the 2004 season started Rossi was on the bike Furasawa designed. It was not "redesigned" after Rossi joined the team. A cross plane big bang engine is not designed and built so quickly. Rossi chose the Furasawa design over the previous version in back to back tests, but the Furasawa design had already been created before Rossi even joined the team. It was Furasawa's concept, nothing whatever to do with Rossi.

From what I know, Aprilia's CRT bikes are using the v-4 from the world super bike series, which is based on the RSV4 production motorcycle.

I think it is really unfair to say that a motorcycle engine derived from a street bike should ever be considered a prototype.

As has been pointed out - Honda do not have a 1000cc V4 engine in their production line-up. This means that the V4 they have in their RC213V is a custom-made racing prototype engine. Everything in that engine is made to produce maximum power at maximum revs. There is nothing in that engine designed to give street riders "drivability" from very low RPMs, or to deliver smooth exhaust sounds. Just take a look at the exhaust. Split exhaust with one pipe coming from the rear cylinder bank, and one coming off the side from the front bank. The Aprilia bike has a 4-1 exhaust system, because the engine has been made for the street, and street bikes would never have a split exhaust, as it would be too expensive and loud. I don't know exactly what Aprilia have done to their RSV4 engine to make it competitive in MotoGP, but you can be sure that there would be many things that they would do differently with a V4 engine if they had to build one from scratch for MotoGP. You'd be talking about another 30 horsepower, and that is with a lower fuel limit.

The Aprilia is a superb CRT, but it complies with the rules. If you took away it's greater fuel allowance, it would be no where near the factories, and that is because the engine is inferior. That is why it should never be considered a factory.

The rest of the components on these bikes are similar - with exception of electronics. But that is just about investment and racing experience. There is no rules-based reason why any of the CRT teams couldn't have the best electronics package on the field.

This is why the ART is a win-win for Aprilia, and a masterstroke in marketing and brand building. If they run mid- to back of the field they will still be best of the CRTs and Aprilia will be praised, but no one will blame them for not mixing it with the factories, because it is not one of them.

If they run with the satellite teams they will receive double the praise for being a CRT team but competing with the factories and satellites. That is why the other manufacturers are so annoyed - because Aprilia has come up with the great strategy for looking so good in MotoGP. And Ducati, who are running in 6th, are looking so bad while spending three times the amount of money.

Good points jacen. The Aprilia outfit in CRT format is currently doing a great job.
Now,that accursed CRT, claiming rule teams monicker. No way of getting around it. Until prototype/sattelite and CRT are merged under one set of rules for all, CRT is going to be lumbered with the 'CRT Bike' label,an exciting subspecies in MGP that many are rooting for.
Enjoyed the read David and the CRT bike retort. You are right, but when I wake up and read the time sheets for RdP/Aleix E on their ART kit, I think immediately of how well they are doing on their ART/CRT bikes.
Anyway,lets hope the weather turns good for the rest of today and tomorrow.

The achilles heel of the Ducati, particularly for Rossi, is understeer and lack of feeling from the front. Knowing Rossi's penchant for riding the front hard, on the very edge of traction, and his unusually tight corner entries, it should not be so difficult for people to imagine that the problem is exacerbated for him, and negates his 'alien' advantage over the other Ducati riders. A bad front end seems to be his kryptonite, something he cannot adapt to after 20 yrs in the saddle. I don't blame him, we're just seeing his weaknesses for a change.

As to the Aprilia, I love the concept, the bike, and the promise that it shows. What i can't understand is anyone saying that it's not fair. What is the objection here? If they are allowed to do this then surely so can anyone else. Taking a 250,000 eur superbike and putting new chassis, carbon brakes, bodywork and tires on it and selling it for 1m euros while still undercutting the factory lease bikes by such a wide margin seems like a wise move to me.

I must be the last to know. But I have to ask, what does ART stand for? And are they under the CRT banner?