2011 Phillip Island MotoGP Thursday Round Up - Hope For Ducati, And CRT As A Solution To Shrinking Grids

Phillip Island, the best track on the calendar, according to just about everyone who races a motorcycle. There are those such as Dani Pedrosa, as he explained at the pre-event press conference, who have some bad memories of the track, from injury or, like Pedrosa, from riding here in pain, as he did last year when freshly back from surgery on his collarbone. But the track itself is spectacular, and offers all the thrills that riders love: long, fast corners where you slide the bike round at high speed. "You gotta be brave here," as Nicky Hayden put it.

Hayden is not short of courage, as he has proved many times in the past, and for once this season, this is a track that both he and Valentino Rossi go into feeling relatively confident. There has been at least one Ducati on the podium at Phillip Island every year they have competed in MotoGP, except for 2006, when Sete Gibernau was beaten into 4th by half a bike length by Valentino Rossi, so the bike has historically gone well here. That is largely down to the fact that Phillip Island is much more about rear traction than it is about front-end grip, and the rear end of the Ducati is in pretty good shape, especially since the GP11.1 design eliminated most of the pumping. The Ducati still has plenty of motor - when asked what is the strong point of the Ducati, Rossi invariably replies "the engine" - and so the bike suits a high-speed track like Phillip Island, despite the problems that remain.

Even then, Rossi is growing in confidence with the Desmosedici. The Italian had experimented with the balance of the bike at the Jerez test before he flew out to Motegi, and that had made a significant improvement. "At Motegi, [the GP11.1] behaved more like a normal bike," Rossi told reporters. Both the front and rear ends of the machine were good, and they had improved the bike throughout the weekend. The aim, Rossi said, was to arrive on Sunday ready to race. So far, that has only succeeded at Motegi, but a collision with Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies in the third corner of the race put paid to his ambition at the circuit.

The aluminium chassis - the extended version used by Rossi at Aragon and Motegi, rather than the twin spar version being developed as a parallel project, though team boss Vitto Guareschi was keen to emphasize that it was not a fully closed chassis similar to Yamaha's Deltabox design, as the swingarm still mounts on the engine cases, something that is impossible to change in the current design - is clearly a step forward, as Nicky Hayden confirmed after testing at Jerez. "That's why Valentino was desperate to race with it and start from pit row," Hayden said, qualifying the improvement as "a nice step." When asked whether he'd spoken to Hayden after the test, Rossi said he had and that Hayden had been "not so bad" at the Spanish track during the test, and had "made some good performance." Grip levels at the track were poor - a consequence of just two bikes circulating, rather than a whole pack - and that had made it more complicated, but Hayden had been impressed.

Rossi's optimism prompted a question from the Italian press, asking about a recent column in which one writer implored Rossi to give up on the marriage with Ducati. Rossi disagreed, he said. "It's too early to split up," he said, "we still have some card we can play, some important cards." Rossi had earlier hinted at more changes to be tested at Valencia after the final race of the season. "Ducati is still working," Rossi said, "We have some different ideas. We'll try something different at the Valencia test."

A Ducati resurgence may end up being Casey Stoner's best hope of taking the championship at his home race, on the day after his birthday. A non-Stoner victory will get you very long odds indeed, the Australian having won at Phillip Island for the last four years in a row. In his current form and at his favorite track, he will be a very hard man to beat, but it will take more than a win for Stoner to take the title. The Repsol Honda rider needs to gain 10 points from reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, which means that a podium for Lorenzo will leave the Spaniard in with a chance of defending his crown, at least for another race. And in his current form, Lorenzo is a safe bet for the podium too. But if Rossi and his crew finally have a handle on the Ducati, the way that they think they have, then they could perhaps start to spoil the party. It's a long shot, but it is not as unlikely as it was even three or four races ago.

While the spotlights were on the riders, the most worrying development comes among the teams, with the 2012 MotoGP grid looking worryingly threadbare. There were complaints that this season's complement of just 17 riders was a bit of an embarrassment, but it could be much worse for next season. So far, there are only 12 confirmed entries for 2012 - three Ducatis, four Hondas, four Yamahas and Colin Edwards on the NGM Forward CRT machine - with 2 more - an LCR Honda and the Aspar team - certain to join them, though riders and, in the case of Aspar, bikes still have to be confirmed. That makes a field of just 14, growing to 16 if Pramac field a single-rider team (as hoped) and Suzuki remain in the series with their current (very low) level of involvement. Both those rides are looking increasingly unlikely, however, Pramac already having twisted Dorna's arm at the end of the 2010 season to secure funding to run 2 Ducatis instead of 1, and the silence coming from Suzuki in Japan reaching deafening levels.

The reason for the lack of bikes is two-fold, and both reasons have been debated at length in the past. The first is the astonishing inability of the teams to find sponsors, and the inability of the series as a whole to attract money into the championship. Part of that is down to the markets the series serves: MotoGP is massive in Spain and Italy, but large multinationals have no interest in reaching two of Europe's most stagnant and troubled economies. The countries they are trying to reach are the up-and-coming economies in the east and in South America: China, India, Brazil, Argentina. But MotoGP doesn't race there, though a round has been added in Argentina in 2013. Sponsors want to market their brands in emerging markets, but MotoGP doesn't go to India or Indonesia, instead they have four races in Spain and two in Italy.

The second is perhaps a more significant factor, and a sign that a major revolution is about to be unleashed in MotoGP. The costs of leasing a MotoGP bike have grown fast over the years, despite the factories' best efforts to keep the price down. For just the cost of leasing a satellite MotoGP machine with no hope of winning a race, teams could be running a top-level two-rider effort in Moto2, or a very serious World Superbike team. And that's without the cost of riders, staff, hospitality units, and a major expense, travel and accommodation for the 18 rounds that comprise the MotoGP season. Put all those together and it is easily double or even triple the lease price of the cheapest satellite machines.

The costs have already broken Aspar - one of the most efficient and well-funded teams in the paddock, running championship-level efforts in both 125 and Moto2, and coming in to MotoGP with big plans of expansion two years ago. After failing to reach a deal with Ducati, Aspar will now become a CRT entry, in all likelihood fielding a BMW-powered Suter for 2012. The switch by Aspar could be crucial, encouraging other, less prominent teams to follow suit and enter as a Claiming Rule Team. After all, the difference between spending 6 million euros to fight for 10th or spend 3 million euros fighting for 12th is huge in cash terms, but relatively tiny in terms of results. The satellite bikes have never been truly competitive as the role of electronics has grown, making the CRT route a much more attractive prospect.

Dorna, it seems, is trying to sweeten the deal further. Rumors from the paddock suggest that the teams are being told that the rules stipulating a prototype chassis will be interpreted very liberally indeed. Though FIM President Vito Ippolito was clear - "Any complete motorcycle model derived from series production, homologated or not for the FIM Superbike/Supersport/Superstock is not eligible and will not be accepted in the FIM Grand Prix World Championship classes," the Venezuelan said in a press release back in June - there are rumors that the changes required to transform a WSBK-spec Aprilia RSV4, for example, into a bike that would pass scrutineering for MotoGP are much more limited than expected. It is unclear at the moment whether a heavily modified standard frame would qualify as a prototype, for example, or whether the chassis has to have been built from scratch, and preferably by a company other than the one that built the road bike that the engine was taken from as a starting point for the CRT machine. Clarification on that point should be forthcoming very soon.

If more teams can be persuaded to become Claiming Rule Teams, then the balance of power inside the paddock will shift away from the manufacturers and towards IRTA, Dorna and the FIM. Though the manufacturers still have a contract giving them a veto over the technical regulations, the fact that deals have now been done with individual manufacturers rather than the MSMA as a whole already gives Dorna more leverage. As manufacturers break their part of the bargain - to provide sufficient bikes to put on a show, made impossible by the massive cost increases produced by the MSMA-imposed technical regulations, such as the switch to 800cc and the 21 liter fuel limit - their position grows weaker still, especially as participation starts to shrink. Honda will be reducing from 6 bikes to 4, or if Marc Marquez gets a separate team in MotoGP, a total of 5. Ducati has reduced from 6 bikes down to 3, with the possibility of a 4th being added if Pramac stays in. To be fair to Ducati, their reduction has come more of a result of poverty inside the teams rather than cutbacks from inside the factory, as is the case with HRC.

The CRT machines have unexpected allies in some (though not all) of the crew chiefs and engineers around the paddock. At the moment, a crew chief's options are limited by what the factory engineers tell them, only operating with permitted paramaters. Even at the factory level, input is limited, the engineers and designers deciding the best course of action to follow. With CRT machines, the opportunities for crew chiefs to explore solutions is greatly expanded, and they have a lot more freedom at their disposal. For many, especially those more prone to tinkering, Tech 3's legendary crew chief Guy Coulon being the best example, that freedom to invent, imagine and create is highly desirable, and is tempting them away from the factory model. Jorge Lorenzo's crew chief Ramon Forcada has spoken positively of the CRT project, regarding it as an interesting and attractive prospect.

If Suzuki pulls out, the odds of which are probably better than 50%, and Pramac decides they can't afford to lease a satellite machine from Ducati, then Dorna may be goaded into drastic action. If the grid is not to drop below the size it is this season, then Dorna may be forced to try some radical solutions. The factories may not like those solutions, but then they may not have any option but to accept them. Realistically, they have nowhere else to go.

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"The Repsol Honda rider leads reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo by 10 points"

I think you mean 40

What I meant was that Stoner needs another 10 points to take the title at Phillip Island. I've corrected the sentence now, and thanks for pointing out the mistake!

Very interesting interview with Damien Cudlin this week on RPM (AUS).
He said that Ducati have a completely open policy with data. He & his engineer can look at everybodies data (including Rossi). Going on past history I wonder how well that goes down?

At least since the Stoner era.
As far as having access to Rossi's data it's no use, the Pramacs and Aspar have only been on the same chassis than the Marlboros for the first 3 rounds and then no one (not even Hayden) has been on the same bike than Rossi's from round 7.
In previous years the open data policy was more useful, the Pramacs were very close from the Marlboros, as witnessed by Kallio when he had the opportunity to make the jump for a couple races.

"Hope for Ducati"

"Oh, REALLY?!" :)

Eek! After watching FP2 and seeing #46 struggle to reach P13, you've got to wonder what the heck is going on inside the team (and Rossi's head.)

David, all year they've been making claims that the newest fix has worked and all year they've been in a consistently poor position. To take Motegi as an improvement seems to be taking an extremely rose coloured glasses view of things.
Seriously it's disconnected from reality, they don't seem to have a coherent plan on how to get back to podium level performance. What we've seen so far seems extremely reactive with pressure from the fans, Rossi and I'd imagine the sponsors being poorly managed, platitudes offered and no end in sight

What are we onto this year, the fourth / fifth chassis incarnation? The latest extraordinary statement from Mr Rossi being that he's never been comfortable on the machine all year, but now - finally? - they've found a positional setting that allows the machine the respond to set-up changes in a comprehensibly manner.

Which begs the question. How many of these chassis variations were necessary in the first place?

They should've listened to Stoner: he said they should learn to set up and ride the bike first before changing anything. But no, despite what Burgess said before joining Ducati, they wanted a Ducati that behaves like a Yamaha. But it never will behave like a Yamaha unless it becomes a Yamaha clone.

Still, it's just the first day at PI, and in fairness everyone's a fair bit off Stoner's pace, despite Lorenzo's optimism. Stoner did a 1:30.6 and two 1:30.5's in a row, and no-one else is anywhere near that.

Where do you think he would be now if still at Ducati? 5th or 6th?..silly question, I know. He'd be fighting for the championship wouldn't he?..and everybody would be scrambling to ride the D16?

Why couldn't he get the bike working for the first two thirds of last year? and why did it take Gabbarini and Casey so long to implement the set-up changes that apparently turned his season round, even though it was over, at Aragon? Have you forgotten that his results went steadily backwards over a period of four years?

Why the snide inference regarding a clone? Do you mean a twin-spar frame that virtually everybody else in racing uses? The same as the RCV, M1 and GSVR?..If that's what it takes..what's the problem.

Some people have short memories.

Pity you didn't bother to properly read what I said. It has nothing to do with what Stoner did last year, or might have done this year. It has everything to do with how Rossi and Burgess have approached the situation they found themselves in at Ducati.

There is nothing the slightest bit snide about my comments. It was Burgess himself who said that they did not want to turn the Ducati into a Yamaha. But almost from the moment Rossi sat on the bike they started changing things. They acknowledged that the bike was "different". They acknowledged that Stoner and his crew had four years of experience with the bike. And the bike was winning at the end of last season, a fact that cannot be denied however you want to twist it.

Stoner said that in his opinion they should take the time to understand the bike they had before changing anything. But no, they knew better. And this despite the fact that they absolutely no experience whatever with a bike of the Ducati's design. Now Rossi is saying that he just doesn't know why he is slow. After how many millions of dollars have been spent on all the changes. It rather suggests that they simply don't know what they are doing.

And as for short memories Wosideg, would you like to be reminded of the numerous comments you made regarding Stoner, Rossi and Ducati at the start of this season? You have been been comprehensively proven wrong in every respect.

I expect the Ducati to do reasonably well on Sunday, on a track that should suit the bike better than most. If it doesn't do well it will be a very bad sign indeed.

I did read it and have read enough of your comments to understand your stance, we have been here before.

Didn't Rossi did keep the same bike as Stoner for 3 races? AFAIK at Qatar for the opener he even started with the same settings, trying to get a handle on it.
Slow?..at Losail on his debut, he lapped as fast as he had done on the M1 the previous year while winning and it has been a similar story barring a couple of exceptions all year..Nicky hasn't headed Rossi all year, he kept the bike for 7 races and has 2 more years experience. The competition has increased and moved on, Ducati haven't...6th is the new 4th and Stoner wouldn't be doing any better in the standings with his win or bin it attitude..

Keeping the CF bike was/is not the way forward, despite Stoners typical end of season 'dash for cash' wins. It may have been a winning bike outside the heat of competition for the big prize, but it wasn't a championship contender.
Testing restrictions dictates that re-directed development work has to be done on race weekends. The bike has been turned inside out and upside down with little success, they've run out of adjustment. Have you considered that perhaps the concept is flawed and needs to change?

And..please feel free to remind me of what I said previously that has been proved comprehensively wrong in every respect. I made no predictions, just popped up occasionally to give a balance to your perspective..which as we all understand, clearly favours Stoner.

It is impossible to have any kind of sensible debate Wosideg when you persist in misquoting statistics. We've had this discussion before. Rossi was slower at Losail this year on the Ducati than he was last year on the M1, and considerably slower than Stoner last year. His race time was about 5 seconds slower than his M1 time last year.

Clearly the Ducati has problems and I have never said any different. The discussion was about how Rossi, Burgess and Ducati have gone about addressing those problems. They have made numerous changes, yet now we have Rossi saying that he doesn't know what the problem is. So clearly they made changes without knowing what they were doing. So the question is whether they would have been better off spending time getting to know the bike better, not dumping it after just six races. Especially considering that they had absolutely no prior experience with any bike like the Ducati, plus the bike was winning races at the end of 2010.

As for my perspective, it is not pro Stoner, I am happy to support Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa or whoever when they do well. However, I object to the constant sniping at Stoner by you and others. For example, prior to Laguna Seca this year you posted here that Stoner was mentally damaged for life after LS08, and you predicted that he would crack under pressure. So much for your prediction. In 2007 it was Rossi who cracked, not Stoner. This year it has been Lorenzo and Pedrosa who have made the big mistakes, not Stoner. I don't know why you have such a problem with Stoner. The stats clearly confirm that he is the best rider of the 800 era.

When is a snipe not a snipe?? you've got me..

All this talk of Casey shoulda coulda woulda is bolony, Casey rode the bike for 4 years had two years on this set up and never looked like getting in the top 3.. And he got the most out of the duke... he had his chance and decided to leave things got so bad.. and I suspect he thinks it's the best move he ever made...

Ever since Rossi’s 5 year winning streak, the guy who wins the championship is the one who gets it from the yellow brigade. This was the case with Hayden in ’06 (where now ofcourse the same people applaud his aimable character and hard work), with Stoner in ’07, with Lorenzo in ’10. This year Stoner looks like he will be champ again and be the most succesfull rider in the 800 era to top it off, so he will get the double whammy.
People thought for a long time Rossi was invincible and some just can't seem to accept he is only human. A very talented human being, and possibly the best motorcycle racer ever, but still human.

I agree it's impossible to have a sensible debate with you when you are selective and simplistic..

At Qatar 2011, Rossis race was indeed slower than Casey the previous year by approx 5 secs. but as we know, during a race, things can happen which slow an overall race time. EG: traffic or having a lonely race where your position is safe so you bring it home. True race pace is best illustrated by, within reason, your fastest lap, especially if you set that time at two-thirds race distance and finish, rather than at the start then fall off trying to go faster.

Rossis fastest lap on the M1 in 2010, while winning the race as world champ having ridden the bike for 6 years was a 1' 56.042".

On his D16 debut a year later he set a 1' 56.053" on the 15th lap of 22.

Stoner did a 1'55.5" lap the year before on lap 5, then promptly fell off while leading trying to go faster, after 3 years at Ducati.

Now you may think that is slow or considerably slower, but I don't.

Qatar is a good gauge because of it's unique evening slot and conditions are usually very similar.

"..yet now we have Rossi saying that he doesn't know what the problem is. So clearly they made changes without knowing what they were doing."
is a simplistic statement to support your bias..

How many titles do Rossi and Burgess have between them? or are the pair of them frauds?

Oh..and link to my supposed Laguna quote please..you're getting confused again.

Happy to support Rossi? Yeah..righto!

I not going to say 'ifs' but I can say with confidence that Stoner would still be fighting for race wins and with the other aliens and not with Hector and Bautisa...and Im sure that the D16 would have been percieved as a weapon.

To your other point about the diminshing results. Yes his results were getting worst each season but he still was a competitive. That being said his crew DID find a solution that worked for them by Aragon and who knows what would have happen this yeear. Aragon has been and gone for Burgess and yet dispite all the changes we have seen little to no improvement.

So I turn the question back to you.
"why did it take Burgess and Rossi so long to implement the set-up changes/bike changes that apparently will turn his season round, even though it was over, at ......"

"Have you forgotten that his results went steadily backwards over a period of four years?"
And I hope you to can notice that rossi results increased the backwards trends this year...

The world looks better in yellow-tinted glasses

PS I think that the snide remark was aimed at Burgess contradicting himself lol rather than a wish for Rossi not to be competitive. I too hope ducati can get some much need results.

gxsr600- have a look at Caseys 2009 season it was almost a carbon copy of 2010, very hard first 2/3rds only for a solution to be found and the bike back to winning ways for the last few races, comes the start of 2010 and the bike was back to square one, there is a similar pattern even back in 2008 strong towards the end of the season only to start 2009, Qatar aside, as if the progress they made never existed. Not sure what it means but it suggests that at certain tracks Casey and duke just worked, he was winning easily so worked incredibly well, but as Burgess said it's the other 15 or 16 races that have always been the problem.
To give Rossi some small credit he was getting better every race on the original gp11 and was struggling with injury at the time, no doubt a year to concentrate purely on riding style would I have no doubt produced some better results. The problem has come when they've tried to improve the bike and everything they've tried hasn't made any difference. Rossi has been riding a new setup nearly every weekend since the early stages and non of them have worked..
No doubt though Casey was quicker on the duke, but fighting for 4th is still not good enough..We are talking about the guy who is romping the title on a Honda. That is what should be ducati focus not one rider just in the top 4.

You got 2009 quite wrong. Yamaha had the biggest advantage that year, and Stoner was suffering from his 'mystery' illness at the time, he was uncompetitive for most of the year because of it. After he took several races off he came back and grabbed a second place and two wins. Very different from 2010, where it was mostly the bike having an unpredictable front end. How many retirements did Stoner have in 2009 compared to 2010? If you disallow his Valencia warm up crash, he had no crashes. In 2010 he had five. The GP10 was a disaster, after Rossi's and Stoner's performances this year, we now know how bad it actually was.

Nicky Hayden is having quite a good season, especially compared to last year. Hayden hasn't crashed nearly as much as he did last year, which shows the bike has made progress, rather than the riders themselves.

Casey was on a run of poor results before he went off sick... barely in the top 3(once I think though I'd have to look it up) in 2009 there were just two competitive yams and one was on michelins..and not a decent honda in sight,
When he returned Casey's form hit the stratosphere, with the usual suspects unable to get near him...But he did have a couple of good rides early on including Mugello where he was 10th when the rain came his team gambled on the softer compound and he walked it leaving everyone on the harder tyres trailing in his wake...
His sole competition that year should have been Rossi on the yam with Jorge earning his pilots licence and on michs and honda totally lost..he was 4th. This season competitively speaking is light years ahead of 2009 and even 2010 thanks to both Rossi and Dani trying their best not to attend..
Truth is both Stoners and Rossi's ability to challenge for the title has been seriously hampered by the duke, Casey looks twice the rider on the honda and is getting more than twice the results.. Will more than double his best ever efforts on the cf bike this year, what a comparison that is, should be as plain as the nose on your face.
ps I'm inclined to give Nicky some credit for not crashing..

Bridgestone as a control tire was introduced for the start of the 2009 championship. All four Yamaha's on the grid were shod with 'Stones. Perhaps you are thinking of the 2008 season when Rossi demanded Bridgestones, got them, and erected a wall in his garage? Followed shortly by Dani Pedrosa?

Also, Casey was not on a string a poor results prior to leaving. A couple of podiums and 4th places, all things considered (level of talent, throwing up in helmet... etc), is a pretty sweet deal.

Then there is HRC. Honda was no slouch in 2009. Dani bagged some wins (Andrea too), handfuls of podiums (Andrea too), and the pair rarely finished out of the top 5. Look. The Desmocidici may or not be a crap bike -- im no engineer, professional racer, or club rider even. But as a spectator, watching Casey on that beast was something else. Like poetry in motion. Grass or gravel, win or lose, he looked good on that machine. Valentino? Well, it's been said a lot. He is clearly uncomfortable.

It is something that Stoner acknowledged, the bike wasn't up to the task, as shown by the results of the "other" Ducati riders. Ducati hardly ever listened to him nor took his input into account when he was asking for changes which is why he left them.

Anyway, no if and buts about what he could have done in 2011 on a Ducati, we will never know.
But looking at what he did in his Ducati years, suggesting that he would be struggling as much as Rossi is pure fantasy, it is highly unlikely that he would be as uncompetitive as Vale.
During his 4 years at Ducati Stoner never bagged less than 8 podiums, 3 poles and 3 wins in a single season.
He was never ranked lower than 4th in the championship.
He never started off the first row more than 6 times per season, off the first two rows never more than 3 times (Rossi made it ONCE in the first two rows this season, with a 6th).
He was never outqualified nor did he have to battle in race with Hayden, Barbera, the Ducati Pramac or Bautista.
Even in his worst year he still finished more than 60 points ahead of his teammate (right now both official Ducatis are separated by 16 points).
Amusingly, even his racing times from last year, when the race time has been comparable with this year, could still hand him up podiums.

If anything, after one year of tragedy, gigantic spending and extensive testing program in the Ducati camp, Stoner "bad" years with only 50% podiums and 3 or 4 wins were not that bad...

The Aprilia engine is made for CRT, yet is being black-balled by the MSMA because they fear it could prove competitive with the extra engines and fuel a CRT entry allows. Why not take the same stance with BMW?..It stinks.
Waiting for manufacturers to 'break their part of the bargain' is going to take how long? Surely the better option is to re-write Dornas agreement with the MSMA that gives them rule-making privileges and vetos. This contract was up for renewal at the end of 2011. Has the new document been signed yet?

The editor asked Ezpeleta in an interview here about possible changes.


From the above mention of individual manufacturer contracts, I fear it is a done deal. If it is, why so early when this could clearly have been a stick to reign in the MSMAs self-interest and protectionism at the birth of a new era? It would have been perfect timing! Why extend the contract under the same technical and political terms when you know that this is exactly the problem?

If the contract has been signed and sealed..Dorna are culpable of gross mis-management and will have nobody to blame but themselves if a 14 bike GP grid providing us with big gaps and tepid action, self-implodes losing airtime, popularity and investment.

all the talk about development and stuff..

Philip Island 2003 - Rossi; RC211V; Race lap: 1.31.421 very clear conditions.
fr.practise lap: 1.31.147

2004 - Rossi; M1; Race lap: 1.31.334

2010 - Stoner; GP10; Race Lap: 1.30.458

2011 - Stoner;RC212V;Fr.pract lap: 1.30.535
2011 - Rossi;GP11.1;Fr.pract lap: 1.32.041

Rossi moved from honda to yamaha in 2004, and was .1 sec faster on the yamaha. does that mean he tried to make the yamaha into a honda? i wonder what would that be named.. (yamada ?)

anyways, Comparing Fr practice 2003 for Rossi and Stoner in 2011, the gap is .6 sec... which will place him 3rd on the grid.. So if Rossi can get one of his old RC211V's out on the grid, he would still be fighting at the top... :-/ wow! i would like to see that happen... If he's not competitive on the Ducati next year, he might move on Yamaha again... (All speculations... :D) that'll be killer!

That no one, even Ducati, knows what the problem with Ducati is...

I'm sure if they did, they would fix it.

Preziosi should be commended for trying to take motorcycle design to the next level by being brave enough to innovate and try to move the goal posts. His concept for a more "organic" motorcycle has pushed him into that unknown realm of experimentation and discovery. Unlike say Honda who are working with know and understood variables, Ducati are exploring the unknown. This exploration can seem exciting, but also it'll prove to be costly in competition because while your still "learning" the competition is merely "refining" what they already know.

Unfortunately, in a series like MotoGP, it's the technical regulations that dictate the optimum solutions.

A good example is tires. The current Bridgestone tires are developed to work with the entire field. A field that, except Ducati, all use delta-box style aluminum frames. When Bridgestone partnered with Ducati a few years ago they could make tires that suited just Ducati's. Now that they have to design tires for the entire grid, Ducati becomes the smallest variable in the equation by being so different, so they suffer.

It's quite unfortunate to know Bridgestone learned so much about motorcycle tire design with Ducati, but are now forced to design a tire which does not suit their old partner so well...

Sport mirrors life sometimes.

Stoner for sure would ride the GP11.x as fast as he did last year. The problem is would that be fast enough to win this year? Also, looking ahead, Ducati had to do something. Stoner is long gone and no one else has been able to be competiive on their current design. With limited testing they have to regroup for 2012.

Secondly, although I am not a fan of the CRT idea as it is writen, I think it would be more successful if all the parties just ask what they really want. The Aprilia engine. Like Honda is doing in moto2. If Aprilia alone, supply a 220-250hp CRT motor, I think all parties including WSB, could live with it. The last thing either series needs is a big public fight.

I feel the need to specifically mention Pedrosa's crash during practice in 2003 (a week after winning the 2003 125 world title) in which he broke both of his ankles. It was a very nasty incident.