2013 Silverstone MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Of Frayed Nerves, Stopping Marc Marquez, and Hayden's Quest For CF

As the last of three back-to-back races, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone sees the teams and riders looking a little more tired and frazzled around the edges than when they first convened after the summer break at Indianapolis. Tempers are a little shorter, stubble is a little longer, and eyes are a little redder. Add to this the fact that Thursday at Silverstone also plays host to the Day of Champions, and the teams and riders have a lot more PR duties to do, going up to the stage to help sell some of the items up for auction to help Riders for Health, and you have a group of tired and irritable motorcycle racing followers all clumped together in a room.

Despite the weather, the overwhelming consensus is a positive feeling going into the weekend. The track is widely loved, every rider I spoke to singing the praises of the circuit. What's more, the forecast fine weather has also had a positive effect on the general mood. In the past, Silverstone has inspired dread among the paddock, as it has all too often been cold and very, very wet. Moving the race from June to late August/early September has been a masterstroke, however, as the chances of warm dry weather are vastly improved. Nicky Hayden even half apologized to the waiting British journalists for having given them a hard time about the British climate.

Three races on three consecutive weekends may be tiring, but it does allow for a series of extended discussions between rider managers and teams. The first of the expected deals was made official today - Scott Redding announced at Gresini, to ride a production Honda for 2014, and the factory prototype in 2015 - but more are clearly in the pipeline. Nicky Hayden said talks were still ongoing, and he didn't expect an announcement any time soon, but some of the top Moto2 rides vacated by the departing Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro could soon be filled. Unsurprisingly, the two top Moto2 teams of Marc VDS and Pons are chasing the top Moto3 talent, with interest in both Luis Salom and Maverick Viñales. The teams are also keeping a keen eye on Alex Rins, though the young Spaniard has consistently said his first aim is to stay in Moto3 for another year, to try to win a championship.

At the press conference, all eyes were on Marc Marquez, naturally enough, and the stunning debut the Spanish prodigy has made in the class. What would Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa be doing to try to stop Marquez? 'Try to win races and finish ahead of him,' Lorenzo said. When asked what his strategy to beat Marquez was, he reiterated it would be the same as at Brno: try to get a great start, break Marquez early, and get away. But Lorenzo looked resigned when answering the question, not holding out much hope that such a strategy would succeed. As far as he was concerned, the Yamaha could not compete with the Honda, suffering too much under the advantage the Honda has in braking.

Would changing his strategy, trying instead to follow the Hondas and then attack later in the race, give him a better chance? Not with this bike, Lorenzo said. It might leave him with more energy at the end of the race, but the Honda's superiority in braking left him few options to attack. The strong point of the Yamaha is the fast corner speed, but he needs a clear track ahead of him to exploit that, Lorenzo explained. Until they get a new bike, complete with seamless gearbox and a modified chassis to handle braking better, Lorenzo had to charge early and hope for the best. The look on his face did not hold out much hope, however.

Over at Ducati, while Nicky Hayden is yet to find a new ride, he had some comments on the state of the Ducati. One thing he regretted, Hayden told reporters, was the fact that the 'frameless' carbon fiber chassis was abandoned so quickly. The American had tested the 1000cc version of the bike at Jerez late in 2011, and had immediately been fast on it. Hayden claimed to have posted a 1'38.1 on that first version of the GP12 at Jerez, at a test where he had been drafted in to replace Valentino Rossi after the Italian broke his finger in Japan. That time is faster than anything Hayden has ever done at the Spanish circuit, and is actually inside the pole record for the track.

The carbon fiber frame 'had a lot of potential,' Hayden told reporters. It did not have anywhere near the understeer of the later aluminium frame, he said, but the choice for the aluminium had been made in his absence. His first-corner crash at Valencia - taken out by Alvaro Bautista - had seen him break a hand and ruled out of testing, leaving Valentino Rossi to decide, the Italian plumping for the aluminium frame over the carbon fiber frameless design. Hayden was frustrated that he had never been able to match the lap time he set on the carbon fiber bike since, and that he wished Ducati had pursued that avenue a little further. 'Ducati has had the most success when they went in their own way,' Hayden said. 'A Ducati is a Ducati, and it needs to be ridden in its own way.'

What was frustrating, Hayden explained, was the fact that Ducati had never brought the CF frame back to the track to be tested. They had brought a bunch of other parts, including stuff he had already rejected, Hayden explained. Yet the CF frameless design is one thing which Ducati had not brought to be tested again.

2013 Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso and 2014 Ducati man Cal Crutchlow were not interested in trying the carbon fiber frameless design, however. Dovizioso was downright dismissive: 'I don't think this is the future,' the Italian said. As for Crutchlow, he revealed he had already had extensive talks on the progress of Ducati's 2014 MotoGP project, and was optimistic without looking at the CF frame. He could see further down the road than the current riders, Crutchlow explained, as the only topic of conversation he had with Ducati was the 2014 season, while Dovizioso was largely focused on this year. Crutchlow is optimistic that Ducati will have something to help solve the problems of the bike, the Englishman said. For his sake, I, and millions of bike fans around the world, hope he is right.

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Hayden's comments, validating Stoner's earlier comments regarding the potential of the c/f frame. Just perhaps, Stoner did really understand rather more about development than he has been generally given credit for.

I believe Stoner's greatness wasn't widely acknowledged until his capability to run at the front was evident immediately after throwing his leg over a Honda.

The English-language official MotoGP commentators were almost apologetic when praising his incredible talent throughout 2011 and 2012 races.

His Ducati championship was widely reduced to having the best bike (how many times do we have to hear this?). Front-end losses on the only-responds-when-pushed Ducati in subsequent years were blamed on his poor team and his inability to develop a prototype machine. Throw in British fans doing themselves proud and booing after his Donington victory (2008?) and his down-to-business attitude mistaken as a constant whinger, and it's no wonder Casey was pissed off.

As you point out, Hayden's breaking ranks and validating Stoner's opinion on the carbon fibre frame, perhaps Stoner could just provide sufficient feedback to develop a bike. It's no surprise people with conservative machinery backgrounds like Rossi and Dovi approve of conformity - and to be fair, from where Ducati stands today Dovi could well be correct - but we all know how well Rossi's steering of Ducati development was.

has been CS's "issue" since chilhood. He simply has throttle control sorted, hell he won the 125cc road race champ in UK 1st yr on an Aprilia with a bent head stock.

I'd really like to see Vale invite Casey to his ranch for a "dirt track off".

I would watch that.

only. You're more correct than you know mate. Preziosi and Stoner understood the potential they had. Stressed motor, CF and BANG, you got a point and squirt HRC killer.

But it never happened.

Those words are as close to rebellious dissent as I have heard from Haydens' mouth & find the picture of Dovi rejecting outright something Ducati have in the locker that he has never tried disturbing as well

It was not that the CF bike could not do good lap times but I believe it provided no feedback when at the limit. Notice how much the crash rate for all riders went down once they changed to the alloy frame.

Aluminum is what the riders know. I think Hayden's point is that given time, they may well have been able to engineer the necessary feedback into the Cf chassis.

Also notice the Win rate went down with the Aluminum frame too. Albeit a simplyfied answer the CF frame probably should have been further developed

All it proves , if Nicky isn't having a laugh that is, is how bad Ducati are at making alu frames. The honda and yamaha frames were vastly superior to any ducati frame, the cf included, they just didn't have the engine and tyres for a single season... Nicky appears to be saying that ducati are completely hopeless when it comes to frame design.. The tyres play a huge part also and have changed a lot in the last few years.. Yamaha are also suffering currently.. BS don't get half the criticism they deserve.... There is basically one working tyre in motogp and it suits the honda best.. The situation is criminal.... Why oh why are they allowed to produce only one working tyre???

Please remember that there aren't any fuel limits during preseason testing. Who knows what sort of straight line speed that CF frame bike had? Who knows what tires they were using? How many laps could it go that fast?

Not to be rude, but its stated nicky's unconfirmed test lap of 1.38.1 is under the pole record time, qualifying, which is sort of the time to do one lap wonders.

As I remember, they both said that CF frame have also other issues, like dont provide enough feedback for rider etc, but first of all, they decided to switch for aluminum because that frame could be built much faster, allows make changes faster, etc. At that time they still didn't cured under steer and they was hoped to find solution faster with aluminum frame.
If bike was with that version of CR frame so much better, there is no reason why they cant try same balance and bike geometry with current technology.
Wonder why Nicky said that now. Does it mean he already find new job? I think so.

"Wonder why Nicky said that now. Does it mean he already find new job?"

Hopefully... or maybe he just knows his next job won't be with Ducati in any form :)

His comments about not being in on the decision about keeping or rejecting the CF frame are telling. He had the same issue at Honda once Dani arrived as he did at Ducati when Valentino arrived. He's just left out in the cold.

The Ducati c/f frame achieved 7 wins (from a total of 30 races contested by Stoner, with four of those where he was seriously affected by the lactose intolerance issues) and a total (Stoner plus Hayden) of 19 podium finishes, in two years. Hayden gained three of those podiums. In other words: the c/f frame., ridden by Stoner, achieved a podium result in better than 50% of its races.

The alloy frame achieved 0 - zero - wins and 1 podium, for Rossi. It has continued this year to achieve zero podiums.

5 of those 7 wins were at the end of season when he was out of contention, the pressure was off and others were riding to win a championship..they don't really count.

What about the 5 race crashes 2010 and the fact he reverted to spindly 42mm stanchions to try and get some feel from the front?

So they relax in the last couple of races? From what I usually see, the guys in contention are doing whatever it takes to finish in front of their rivals, and the back markers want their contracts renewed, and are riding with superb commitment. Sorry, completely disagree with that one, I think they go harder (maybe if the championship is already wrapped but that often happens in the second or third last rounds). You've got nothing to win and everything to loose by crashing in the early rounds as opposed to the year end rounds.

Makes sense to me put flex into the suspension and not the frame, why? Quicker and easier to vary (how do you adjust frame feedback? Next year's model), has the damping built in, and has to be more tunable.

Did he win the 5 races at the end of season using the spindly 42s? Interesting conumdrum....

racers dont slow down for anything. yEAH, you have to play your strenghts and exploit others weakness.

A Motogp win is just that, race 1 or race 18. Makes no diffrence its still a win(points).

Fighting for the champship you're still going to go for the win, at least i would and im not even close to the hunger in Motogp.

How much variation in engine position (and thereby variation of weight distribution) did the CF frame allow? That is one of the reasons mentioned for going to an aluminium twin spar frame - being able to move the engine around.

Even if they could improve the feel with the CF frame, it might have been a dead end due to limited variation in engine/weight position.

as another at this level.
The talk around the Yamaha at the moment is the call for a 'new' bike. Would the average Joe be able to tell the difference? No.
The same applies to the Ducati.
Hayden's lap time has no real relevance to race success IMO as the current Ducati has been 'competitive' at several tracks yet as soon as the tyres wear they cannot hold the speed.
The bikes that Stoner rode bore little resemblance to the current machine in the same way the earlier RCV's/M1's bear little relevance to the current versions from a top-racer's perspective.
If Ducati could make the CF work, great. I suspect that the reason they haven't pushed it is that they realise how difficult development is.
The trials the Panigale is going through are a case in point. Has Checa become useless all of a sudden? No. It is the bike and anyone who thinks some rider just needs to 'man up' and ride it has as much chance of being right as the man who tried to send Melandri to the shrink.
Turn the clock back? To a trellis, maybe.

The Dukes of 2013 vastly diff from 2010. Lets turn the clock back a little in regards the rules..more sponsorship????

I cannot see another way. A possible less defining regs, parametres relaxed.

How many cashed up John Brittens we got these days?? ok, maybe none.

WE could/should be seeing all kinds of machinery competing. I hate that only 3 bikes can win even though i think the racing is pure ability and finesse now(MM93 excused). In Moto2 Marc had to fight for wins. In Motogp he's just winning.

Come on Jorge, you got this one.
Rossi for my mind has more wins coming, he's cunning and will work it out and if he does might be a threat till he's 40 or beyond.

Those comments from Nicky are interesting.
I dont believe that those words are alienating him from Ducati, quite to opposite, he's saying "hey, you guys had a frame design that could work given the proper development, I was part of the original development, i've got experience on it, let me have a crack at it."
Remember the complaint was that the CF chasis "didnt give them the feedback they wanted", its like the center hub steering design, it just gives a different feedback than the riders are used to. These guys have been on conventional aluminum twin spar chasis with traditional forks since they got a motorbike. they know what the feel should be in those parameters given what they've ridden.
i think the ducati WSBK door is still open to Nicky (and even if they want to dig the cf frame out of storage for their non-msma entry and say have at it that may be an option as well)

Yamaha was very happy when HRC was having their problems with the BS tires and added weight rules. The RCV was having mad chatter for most of the season. So JL99/Yamaha won the title. Honda never stopped sorting the RCV for the tire issues or the added weight. HRC are still working like mad geniuses! Yamaha/Riders in light of the RCV problems were praising the M1 waaaayyyy too much. HRC got poked 1 time too many and they came out swinging, not just with their engineering but with their rider line-up! Jorge is so bothered by the increasing HONDA dominance that he's starting to be vocal like Rossi! Now both JL99 and VR46 want a new/improved M1 from the Yamaha engineers. Meanwhile... HRC has Marquez (a motogp rookie) riding the RCV213 like nobody else ever has... not even CS27. MM93 is still learning to RACE the RCV (winning while doing so) and he's collecting data. He's going to be unstoppable next year when the team has stored data to use and compare with. Jorge was asked what he plans to do to stop MM93... what is Dani going to do? Dani is on the same machinery! He's having a worse problem than when Stoner joined the team. Hayden? Uncharacteristic of Hayden to speak so freely of Ducati even if he does agree with the ideals of Stoner after all these years. Hayden must have something signed to criticize Ducati's development direction. Going to WSB with Ducati must not be on his table of contracts. HRC has it all... RCVs, Riders, and now their newest toy... the RC213v prod-racer. IMO the Prod-racers is going to be a decent kit from the start. Fine-tuning will be in order like any new bike but those teams/riders using it will be impressed from the jump. HRC/Stoner testing again? Can't wait to read about CS27's feedback.

I think frame materials and design are a distraction from the real problem. The big bang engine. The problem with the front end of the bike began when they switched from screamer to big bang. The riders loved the drive they got but I remember Stoners comments after first tests being such. But those comments were followed by the comments that the extra traction and drive where causing the front to push. I believe that the balance of the bike would return if they went back to the screamer engine. Honda, the other horsepower king still uses the screamer configuration and their balance is fine.

The upside for everyone would be getting to hear that unearthly sound the Ducati Screamer made.

Honda screamer? Screamer = equal firing intervals, one every 180°. Cylinders on one side of a 90°V can fire at 90° or 270° intervals, but not 180°. A V4 screamer is only possible on a 2-stroke.

Surely though you have to look at the interaction between the two cylinders and how the firing order creates drive? This would make a screamer V4 4stroke possible surely?