Why Did Ducati Move Its Front Holeshot Device?

MotoGP is always an arms race. A contest between manufacturers to try to make their bikes go faster. The trouble is, of course, that once you have made your own bike go faster, your rivals turn around and do exactly the same. You find yourself back where you started, or worse, the only difference being that everyone is another tenth of a second quicker, and finding the next tenth is now exponentially more difficult.

Ducati are the current masters of this, though it wasn't always this way. In the past, the Desmosedici was an intransigent beast that only a few riders – or rather, one rider – could wrangle into submission. Ducati have turned that around over the past decade, and now, where they lead, others follow.

So with two years of enforced inaction due to the restrictions imposed to keep costs down during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jerez test saw Ducati unleash a pent-up torrent of new parts and ideas. Many of the new development parts have been discussed here already, including the new fairing, the new engine, and the extra long exhaust tried on the bike that might become the GP22. (For a full analysis, see my post-Jerez test round up).

Moving the holeshot device

But one detail caught my eye, and in private discussion with Peter Bom and Tom Morsellino, two people with enormous technical knowledge, a few interesting points arose.

What is that detail? If you look closely, you will see that the front holeshot device has been moved from the front of the fork leg to the rear. What's more, it has been turned upside down, with the metal catch and the latch release swapped. Let's start with the old device, used at the end of the 2021 season and seen here on the Ducati Desmosedici GP21:

If you look at the bottom of the carbon fiber fork tube, you will see above the gold section marked Öhlins an aluminum clamp with a bolt attached. That bolt holds a metal plate with a protrusion at the bottom. That protrusion is a catch, which is captured by the latch mechanism on the lower stanchion, and hidden by the front fender. You can also see the two cables which operate the latch mechanism, controlled by a butterfly switch on the top triple clamp.

Other things to note here: the bottom of the teardrop-shaped aerodynamic fork cover is flat, and there is a sizable gap between the fork stanchion and the fender.

Compare this to the 2022 prototype, and even though the angle is different, there are a lot of changes. The catch plate has been moved from the clamp around the fork outer to the same mounting bolt used by the suspension travel sensor (the thin rod attached to a plate fixed to the radial brake caliper mounts). The metal protrusion which serves as the catch which the latch mechanism grabs hold of is more clearly visible, and though it is hard to tell, it looks like the plate may now be made of carbon fiber rather than metal. The cables for the latch mechanism are no longer visible, as the latch mechanism is now located at the back of the aerodynamic fork covers.

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Miller fastest in 1st practice on the ASBK Ducati - seems to be enjoying himself .

" bloody fun day " is the quote on GPone 

Tidier package, improved aero, a refinement. No doubt the start device will work as well or better than before.

Well spotted David. These minor tweaks may add up to the 1% or less that makes the difference in 2022.

Great photos and analysis. Interesting arcana to get that last .01%.

I can understand how veterans get used to all the extras as they are added one at a time but for a rookie coming in it has to be daunting the number of things to do besides, as larry puts it so aptly, RTFB. At least they have to do them manually and not, as used to be, by GPS with the bike setting itself corner by corner. I'm on Casey's side with putting the rider as the difference maker more than the tech. That said I'm picking tech to win everything in 22. And to get stronger as the season progresses with eight bikes/riders' information.

Almost doesn't seem fair, but Suzuki could have had the most popular rider of all time to team up with. Or they could keep their thumb up their behinds. They chose thumb so for that they get my fickle finger of fate award for "you are getting what you set yourself up for". And I am very not happy about it. Joan will go if they don't their thumb out soon. Think small you stay small.


All the current riders grew up in the gaming era, move the buttons and levers around on the bars all you want, it's no different from going to a Playstation controller to a mouse and keyboard. I bet they could all do it blindfolded*

No doubt it's a lot to learn for the rookies but this and last year's crop all seem to have coped. If anything it's the older riders who suddenly have to change their technique that get it worst.


*this is how David Coulthard used to learn new steering wheels in his F1 days.

Silly season can't come around quick enough. Here's hoping for some musical chairs.

I have limited interest in technology, and I believe we've reached a point where it gets in the way of racing. I don't see why something that will never find its way to consumer applications should be developed in competition. Obviously racing will always require good analysis skills from riders, but the current level of complexity is countereproductive in my opinion.  

Thanks David for your investigations, analysis, and great photos!

Regarding just the front fender: If indeed the front fender has an aerodynamic role it could provide downforce directly, and more effectively, to the front wheel while reducing compression of the front suspension. 

  • More efficient use of downforce? It's possible that downforce acting on just the unsprung mass of the front end (lower fork, brakes, wheel, tire = 25 kg?) could be more efficient physics to achieve the same downforce needed to compress the sprung weight of all the forward mass of the vehicle+rider (= 50% of say, 150 kg + 60 kg?)
  • Better position to create aero? Aero effects of the front fender might be proportionally more effective because of its position ahead of much (all?) of the distrubed air flow. 
  • Preserving suspension travel? Any downforce on the front tire (vs. all of the forward sprung mass) could increase grip and front-end feel without sacrifing the suspension travel taken up by compressing the front suspension to achieve the same force.
  • Over bumps, this could possibly reduce suspension harmonics and resulting chatter created by the inertia of all that sprung mass trying to keep up with high frequency input from the wheel.

Just hypothesis - riders will feel an improvement, or not : -)

I don't think that fender is designed to produce downforce. Then again not producing lift is the same same but different or is it ? Not really. I think it's mainly to tidy up the air flow around the aero fork covers.

Putting aero devices on the unsprung mass has advantages especially with freeing up the suspension from the forces created by the aero device and also freeing the aero device from the movement of the suspension. There could also be disadvantages or maybe tricks to be missed. When mounted on the sprung mass wings will change their angle of attack to the airflow depending on suspension travel. This will change the downforce and the cost in drag to produce the downforce.

All very weird though. Braking, ok the front is loaded and the more we brake the more we load the front. More load gives more grip provided we aren't deforming the tyre beyond some limit. The front forks, being compressed, increase the aoa of the wings and produce more downforce and drag, more load, more grip. Then again if we want to use the rear tyre more for stopping we don't want too much transfer forward, we need some load remaining on the rear. Maybe with wings it's possible to keep load on the rear and make up for the corresponding loss of load on the front with wings. Have heard a bit recently about how stiff the bikes have become.

Ok, after the corner the bike needs to accelerate and now the wings should help with wheelies. However, the transfer is now to the rear wheel and the aoa of the wings is reduced. Less drag yay! Less downforce...hmmm more wheelie. Maybe there's enough to stop the wheelie, maybe that's the balance. Stiffer bikes too. Dropping the front AND rear for acceleration would help. The amount the front and rear drop relative to each other must be very important if the wings are to help with the wheelie and or reduce drag from the wings.

I kind of agree with Ianhet but I think it's a really difficult position. The more they limit what can be done the more what can be done migrates to the extremes. Instead of making big progress in big areas manufacturers are pushed to make tiny progress in multiple tiny areas which possibly ends up costing a lot more. However, with more freedom the gaps between bikes gets bigger and/or the effort to gain the knowledge required to be competitive increases. Maybe the net result in terms of cost is the same and the way it is now keeps a close field.

My main concern is that once a significant proportion of a bikes performance, relative to its competition, is reliant on the process of tiny ad infinitum aero dynamic polishing, the performance starts to rely more and more on the quality of the air it travels through. Less battles? The good news is that the aero changes we are seeing, especially in the 'tidying' department look completely amateurish when compared to F1. I hope that means aero is still not a huge part of the challenge of building a competitive MotoGP bike. The majority of their performance overall still lies elsewhere.

... Ride the Fcking bike! Just RTFB! I HATE this aero and "shape-shifting" crap. The mfrs say they race to improve their street bikes; how tf does any of this matter?

I think they should ban the aero add-ons. Incorporate the aero into the fairing but make the fairing smooth sided. Channel the air inside a double sided fairing, Idc, as long as they get rid of Gigi's appendages from the outside where they just look like attempts to fix what engineers got wrong with the basic bike. Not to mention aero only makes a significant difference at speeds above anything legal outside the Autobahn so no advantage to 99% of road riders who only ride the legal speeds at all times. ahem

I would have welcomed aero back in the day for myself. I just don't like to see it. Also I was responding about legal speeds. Could never do them myself.

That's the whole point. So what aero do we ban ? Front fender to spec shape ? Stop suspension moving at all ? I'd be happy with shape shifters going the way of the dinosaurs. However, aero is just impossible to ban. The bike moves through the air. As soon as you remove the appendages the teams have to look elsewhere. That gets banned. Look elsewhere and on and on until the elsewhere is now the absolute tiny tiny detail. Many small improvements which together give the result. A lot of investment in time and money. Maybe the wings are relatively simple brute force method of achieving the desired results. You can get in the 'aero ball park' quite easily. In a perfect world I'd love to see the back of them too.

A couple years ago they 'banned' aero that could harm another rider on track.  That was deemed anything tacked on. Then they backtracked, I imagine under the greatest pressure Ducati could bring to bear, then later said 'case-by-case' and since that time they have let it go as far as Gigi wants to take it. I lament it, that's all. I'm old and I complain a lot because I grew up in the Garden of Eden where everything was orange sunshine and Lucy's diamonds in the sky. It's the off-season. When am I going to whine if not now?

We can all agree: they are here to stay. Now about that didgeridoo exhaust thing...I guess ugly is the new fast.

Jinx, please report to the Red courtesy phone. Jinx, please report to the Red courtesy phone. Thank you.

Great bike porn Mr Emmett, thank you yet again! The NASA bike has come to flourishion and it a-mazing. Ugly exterior excused. 

As I recall MGM and Bricktop are two of the oldest members here. There are a few from way back. Anyone else from the old days? I think David started in 2006. I was a few yrs behind, but instantly knew there was something fresh, real, thorough and well considered here. So I set up a comfy chair in here and stayed! The rent is cheap and the motorbike doings toppest of top notch. Now there are friends in every time zone all immersed in it together.

Thanks David Emmett and Co! Now, where are those other folks anyway? It's off-season. 

Yesterday I woke up and had a sleepy inkling "is it a race day?!" Nope. Maybe on Sunday there could be a race to watch here.


Started riding in 1964 and was following Hailwood, Agostini, Redman, et al in Cycle World race reports.  Watched Speedvision starting in late '80s (until SV became unbearable after Fox bought it) following the American racers and Mick Doohan.  Loved the 250s!  I never raced, but still ride the local mountains and do track days.  My #1 riding buddy was a WERA West multiple-class champion, and an ex-motocrosser, who gave up racing a year ago after getting an ankle replacement.  I was a huge Casey Stoner fan (loved the recent interview), hope MM can come back strong, and can't wait for the '22 season to start!  Last but not least at all, many thanks to Motomatters and its contributors and regulars!! 

Technology is here to stay... in 10years or so when the first electric Motogp things go around some of us be saying - remember them days when gigi first put them shapeshifters on jacks bike, those were the days...!! Nostalgia is a strong element of human nature and we're always looking back to the ol simple days when we cuddled up to our teddy bears and chewed the corners of our favourite blankets but right now ugly is here to try and win a championship and it's about bloody time too.. Forza Gigi, you mad scientist, I await your next contraption!!

I like aero. I dislike shape shifters. Neutral on start devices. I LOVE that Bologna is sticking it to the Japanese in their own unique way. 

Most thankful that electronics got a limit and consistency post CRT. It reminds me that reasonable middle ground is there. 

Enamored w the Suzuki when it does conventional so well. Purty bike. The opposite of a Duc. 

Absolutely. But I keep going back to "what's the point if it has no relationship to street bikes?" I mean, the factories claim (with varying degrees of honesty, I'm sure) that they race to "improve the breed." Don't see a lot of street-related improvements coming from aero, carbon discs, hole-shot devices, "shape-shifters", etc. On the other hand, some of the stuff that's banned ... like electronic controls for the shape-shifter stuff, is already available on some street bikes -- hell, even the newest Harley has an electronic device to lower the bike at a stop for the short of inseam!

Larry, you've cited a good example (electronic suspension control) of useful tech that ended up "on the street". It's always hard to tell what tech will scale up to an affordable commercial application, since racing is a whole ecosystem: from the tires to the top of the rider's helmet. I just purchased an electronically-triggered air bag vest for less than the price of my helmet. A multi-billion dollar business like MotoGP is complex and somewhat mercenary: you can't develop new stuff if you can't pay for it. Sponsors and media rights pay for it (well yes, ultimately WE do...) and winning with close racing is what keeps the sponsors and media viewers shelling out the funds. So you gamble (fail fast and smart) on what will win to fund the whole package, and take from the successes whatever has commercial value for mass consumption. I love a good design, am not a big fan of current aero, but all-in-all a MotoGP bike looks pretty much like my street bike. Not so much Formula 1 and my pickup truck. Me, I just like clever engineering for its own sake. Bonus points if it's entertaining!

A day may arrive when the physical constraints of manhandling top-flight motogp machines and safety concerns at some tracks merges with Esport to create a class of robot-avatar pilots controlled by players off track. Wickedly fast electric propulsion. Technology developed could be used in the robotics industry. 

Rossi's Ranch today, Day of Champions race. 50 laps, bike swap every 5 laps. Marini was top in the individual "Americana" part. Fun to see the big names! 3rd was a hard battle, Bezzechi crashed close to the flag and remounted. 

  1. Rossi – Marini
  2. Bartolini - Manzi
  3. Pasini - Baldassarri
  4. Bezzecchi - Migno
  5. Antonelli - Vietti
  6. Fernandez - Moreira
  7. Surra - Fuligni
  8. Rins - Arenas
  9. Rabat - Artigas
  10. Lorenzo - Foggia
  11. Patacca – Farioli
  12. Di Giannantonio - Cecchini
  13. Lecuona - Vinales
  14. Nepa - Ortola
  15. Davies - McPhee
  16. Bertelle - Zannoni
  17. Belli - Gramigni
  18. McGrath - Zaccone
  19. Casadei - Ferrari
  20. Manfredi - Bassani
  21. Ottaviani - Serra

Bet he had an interesting conversation with the misses the day after :-)