Ducati Corse

Ducati R&D Boss Vincenzo De Silvio On Technology Transfer From Ducati's MotoE Project Into Production Bikes

At the presentation of Ducati's MotoE bike, it was immediately clear that this was a very different project. Energica had put MotoE on a solid footing, creating an exciting racing series with their Ego Corsa bike, and producing a machine that was both reliable and had an acceptable performance window. But the Ego Corsa was a modified version of Energica's road-going sport bike Ego. And Energica itself is a small engineering company specializing in electric bikes.

Ducati's V21L MotoE bike is a very different kettle of fish. Ducati is a major motorcycle manufacturer with a storied history of producing high-performance motorcycles and racing success. They have a long tradition of building a particular kind of internal combustion engine, and no experience with electric vehicles. So what Ducati have done is take the decision to build an electric racing bike, to learn valuable lessons needed to make the switch to production.

The V21L is a pure prototype, perhaps the purest prototype on the grid, in terms of distance from the technology used in Ducati's street bikes. And it is being built with the explicit aim of developing technology and gaining the experience necessary to eventually build an electric bike which consumers – or rather, Ducatisti, some of the most demanding consumers in the world – will cherish and buy.

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Ducati's MotoE Launch - The Role Of Racing As A Tool Of R&D, And Why The V21L Is A Real Race Bike

In many ways, Ducati's MotoE project is the opposite of all the electric motorcycle projects which have gone before. Up until very recently, conventional motorcycle manufacturers have mostly stayed well away from electric motorcycles, preferring to wait and see how the technology, and the political and legislative framework in which this all takes place, will play out. Exceptions have been few and far between: beyond electric scooters, KTM have the Freeride, an electric enduro machine, and Honda worked with Mugen on their bike which dominated the TT Zero race on the Isle of Man.

That has left the field open for a host of new companies, which have operated with varying success. Silicon Valley produced a large swathe of start ups, mostly run by motorcycle enthusiasts from the area's electric vehicle and technology industries, and funded with VC money. A few others, such as Energica, are engineering start ups producing electric vehicles and based in areas with strong automotive industry links. Small companies with limited manufacturing and engineering facilities which relied on widely available components and techniques for a large part of their bikes.

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Paolo Ciabatti Interview: ‘It’s always difficult to improve an almost perfect bike’

The first five races of 2022 have been far from straightforward for Ducati. The factory that could claim it had the best bike on the MotoGP grid in the autumn of last year with some justification has struggled to get up and running since March, with fancied runners Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin scoring just 31 and 28 points from a possible 125.

There has been much to ponder for Paolo Ciabatti, its MotoGP Project Director, in that time, be it rider performance, engine choices for the five riders running GP22s, or the decision to place a ban on front ride height devices, the most recent innovation from the Bologna factory that was in partly to blame for a disastrous first race of the season.

During the Friday of the Argentine Grand Prix, while the paddock waited anxiously for missing freight to be delivered, Ciabatti spoke to Motomatters on a range of issues, including a mixed start to the year for Ducati’s eight riders, the development of the front ride height device, his reaction to its ban, and how the MotoE project is being managed ahead of 2023.

Q: The start of 2022 has been a bit of a mixed bag, in that Enea has been exceptional but fancied names have struggled. How would you assess the start of Ducati’s season?

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Cristian Gabarrini Intervew: On Turning Bagnaia Into A Winner, How Tires Affect Braking, And Casey Stoner Through Turn 3

In 2021, Ducati came close to fulfilling their dream of winning a second MotoGP riders' championship after Casey Stoner in 2007, Pecco Bagnaia falling just short of holding Fabio Quartararo from the title. That came after an impressive second half of the season, in which the factory Ducati rider won four of the last six races, and finished on the podium in a fifth.

That is quite a turnaround for the Italian. Bagnaia's first season in MotoGP was dismal, finishing fifteenth in the championship with just three top ten finishes and six DNFs, including four in a row between Jerez and Barcelona. But he had shown promise in the preseason test in 2019, ending in second place behind Danilo Petrucci with a lap of 1'58.302. That time was just 0.037 slower than Bagnaia managed on the second day of the Sepang test at the start of February 2022, with three years of experience and a much improved Desmosedici underneath him.

The man who has guided him in this transition is crew chief Cristian Gabarrini. The Italian engineer is no stranger to success: Gabarrini was crew chief to Ducati's only world champion, Casey Stoner, from 2007 to 2012, and worked briefly with Marc Marquez on his arrival at Honda before returning to the fold at Bologna.

Gabarrini is a quietly spoken, intense, thoughtful man, who weighs his words carefully. He wears his razor-sharp intelligence lightly, listening carefully and giving precise and thoughtful answers in clear and easily understood language.

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Press Release: Ducati MotoE bike takes to the track for the first time on the Misano circuit

The Ducati MotoE bike made its debut on track at Misano, in the hands of Michele Pirro. Afterward, Ducati issued the following press release:


Ducati MotoE bike takes to the track for the first time on the Misano circuit

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What We Learned From The Ducati 2021 MotoGP Launch

 

After two months of quiet on the MotoGP front, the racing season is starting to burst into action. With the first test at Qatar approaching – and looking ever more likely to actually take place – there is a burst of activity, as the factories all hold their team launches. So frenetic, indeed, that we barely have a moment to ponder one launch before we are onto the next.

That is in part a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In previous years, launches have been live events with an online element. (Manufacturers, both in racing and production, have learned that they can reach fans and buyers directly with online launches, without journalists sitting in the middle and muddying the message. Series organizers are on this path now as well.) While the pandemic still holds the world in its grip, those launches have moved completely online, with different factories taking different approaches.

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Mission Winnow Ducati MotoGP Team Unveil 2019 Livery

The bike in the photos appears to be a GP18 rather than a GP19. But the launch is all about the sponsors, and the new livery, rather than the bike. The new bike will only be unveiled at the Qatar test, with parts still to be tested at Sepang.


The 2019 Mission Winnow Ducati livery

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