Ducati Completes Test At Mugello - Electronics, Engine And Swingarm Key Changes

The weather finally smiled on Ducati's testing efforts on Thursday, providing a full day of testing under excellent conditions. After parts of the first two days were lost to rain and a wet track, the sun shone all day Thursday, with the track being too hot, if anything. Though the post-test press release is as free of detailed information as ever, the positive vibe that came through in both the press release and in the responses from various sources at the test is evident. Lap times were not made public, but according to GPOne.com, Valentino Rossi ran a 1'48.62 and Nicky Hayden posted a 1'48.84, on what Troy Bayliss - also there, testing the Panigale Superbike - described as a slow track due to the temperature. That is close to the fastest lap set by Jorge Lorenzo at last year's race on the 800cc Yamaha, but a long way off the 1'47.326 set by Casey Stoner on the 1000cc Honda at the test after last year's race at Mugello.

Both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi got through quite a lot of work. A number of items were tested, including an aluminium swingarm, the slightly modified engine, changed to make the power delivery more smooth, as well as a revised electronics package. Sources close to Ducati indicate that the biggest change may well not be the motor, but rather the electronics. The system is now much more similar to the system used by Yamaha and Honda, it is said, the strategy changing from cutting the ignition to cut power to cutting the injection of fuel. Though that is a more complicated strategy to master, it does provide for a much smoother response to the throttle, exactly what both Ducati men have been asking for. Nicky Hayden is said to be particularly positive about the new electronics. For more details on what has been tested at Mugello, see this analysis (in Italian) by Manziana on MotoCorse.com.

The biggest change to the testing procedure itself was that Valentino Rossi's entire crew was present, including crew chief Jeremy Burgess. This is the first test that Burgess has ever been to, outside of the official tests at Sepang and Jerez, and is a sign that Rossi's crew is now working more closely with Ducati Corse in Bologna than they have done before. On his Twitter page, mechanic Alex Briggs was most enthusiastic about the base setup that Rossi and his team have been using since Estoril, with the bike easy to work with and Rossi comfortable with the machine straight off the bat. This is now the third track at which the set up has worked, Briggs posted, and that in itself is a big step forward.

The new parts being tested will not be used in the next round of MotoGP at Barcelona, but will be tested again at the test on the day after Barcelona, and then after that at Aragon later in the week. They will probably first see the light at Silverstone, when Ducati is due to introduce the next engines from their allocated 6 per season.

Below is the official press release issued after Ducati's test at Mugello:

Ducati Team completes test at Mugello

The sun was out for the second and final day of a test at Mugello for the two Ducati Team riders, allowing them both to work hard the entire day, with just one break when the temperature was highest. Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden turned 76 and 81 laps, respectively, trying different configurations of the engine, electronics and chassis, among which was a new aluminum swingarm.

The next test for the two Ducati Team riders is scheduled for 4 June in Barcelona, the Monday after the next Grand Prix, with another test set for 6 June at Aragon in order to make up the day lost to bad weather inPortugal.

“I’d say it was a very useful test because we were able to gather interesting information on the different areas of the bike for which we had planned a robust test program,” Filippo Preziosi said. “We worked on different configurations of the electronics, engine and chassis, including an aluminum swingarm. Now we want to go to other tracks, which is exactly what we’ll do in Barcelona and Aragon, to test the validity of the solutions we’ve found, in order to understand if we’ve effectively taken a small step in the right direction.”

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I reckon there's no way to know if they used a soft tire to get that time or a hard one to get these times?

Yamaha and honda are going to get faster tooo.... so thinking this won't be nearly enough - although I certainly hope I am wrong.

The TC/electronics changes were the most interesting to read about. Yamaha were at the front of some of those changes back in 2008/2009 and Honda poached at least one their technicians after that, so this is probably one area where it was worth copying the Japanese bikes.

HRC poached two programmers from Jorge's garage at the end of the 2010 season. They were believed to be Yamaha's best. When have you heard of Honda stealing engineers before? That s how bad Honda wanted the 2011 title. Million dollar gearbox, 5 chassis revisions in 2010, Suppo, Stoner, they went all in and spent millions to get it.

In the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph "...at which the circuit has worked..." probably mean set-up ;-)

I hope the mods bring their riders up to the coal face of the timing sheets.
The spectacle needs it. Such a dark art,setting up the perfect GP race machine.
Swings and roundabouts. Next thing you hear is that HRC have sorted out the chatter and Ducati have sorted the power delivery and Yamaha have found the grunt they lacked off the corner.
Followed by,the Yamaha's front is not stable,the Honda has lost its ability to put the rear end to the tarmac and Ducati have chatter issues.
Thats why wheels are round. They never stop turning and the surface they navigate always changes.

I would have bet a lot (and lost!) that by this point every factory team was using fuel and spark control for TC. It makes sense that Ducati has lost some of their power edge as other teams implemented fuel cutoff strategies since ignition-cut-only TC wastes some of what little fuel they are allowed. It also has bigger effect on engine smoothness through cylinder wall wetting of the unburned fuel. Maybe its time for Corse to start poaching HRC or Yamaha electronics techs.

It will be interesting to see how much of an improvement this can provide. Since they have already gone through wholesale changes everywhere else this seems like the only stone left unturned. ;)


Everyone that see's Casey's data remarks on how little TC he uses. Maybe his tendency to turn the TC down to minimal levels was a factor in why his Ducati results were the best: it kept the crude TC system from upsetting the bike.

Is replying to your own post weird?


It seems like Bologna is finally starting to listen from where I'm sitting. How long has everyone been saying alloy swingarm? Great to hear about the engine mods too. But as everyone else seems to be saying, I wonder how much of this is ECU...quite a bit I'd guess.

But now I guess we wait..

Its a bit perplexing why updates from this test wont be brought to the Barcelona race but will be tested the next day. Sealed engine I can understand. But surely swing arm and electronics could be a possibility?

Alex Briggs has said on Twitter that some stuff will be used in Barcelona and also Rossi's post test Tweet indicated the same.

Sounds like they had a very busy couple of days in Mugello and it's nice that it looks like JB and Ducati are pulling on the same direction.

I'm reposting here as I previously posted in a thread that was so long it stalled.

"Back to bikes! How 'bout some news on the friction between Ezpelete/Domenicalli and Stoner, Ducati's (and MotoGP's) future without Rossi next year? A little speculation never hurt anybody, just like hearing others opinions." Bob Buttamasangy 22.5.12

Submitted by jvd on Tue, 2012-05-22 22:23.

Whoooa, back up the horse ........

"some news on the friction between Ezpelete/Domenicalli "

Bob B: I've missed that - what have you heard/read ?

Footnote: last week I saw reported comments in AMCN from Claudio Domenicali/Ducati CEO, that after long meetings at Estoril including FP and VR, there is now a common future direction.

Its probably especially easy to pluck a few written words and become unrealistic, but I put NOW in flashing red lights (in my head).

Does this mean there was not a common direction?

Alex Briggs has said on Twitter that some stuff will be used in Barcelona and also Rossi's post test Tweet indicated the same.

Sounds like they had a very busy couple of days in Mugello and it's nice that it looks like JB and Ducati are pulling on the same direction.

Does anyone else find that completely bizarre? World's most widely regarded rider spends more than a year dawdling about in the midfield at best and his (worlds most widely regarded) crew does not even attend testing? Is that right??

His wife had breast cancer. I remember it because I gave JB a hand made wood cross to give to her for luck. "Good on ya mate" is what he told me. He missed one or two rounds last year due to this, not just testing.

This is a total change in their program. Preziosi finally caved and is letting Burgess run the show (at least it seems that way from what I'm taking from the text). This is how it should have been in the beginning. A definite change in their testing procedures.

The way I understood it is that test have always been performed with the test team which is a separate entity.
Occasionally Ducati official riders attended but the mechanics team was always from the test team. Neither JB or Briggs or anybody from VR or NH crew attended the tests last season.
It is a definite change in organization, in order to help VR (and to a lesser extent NH) mechanics to understand better the bike and upgrades.

I'm not surprised at all that the biggest change to the engine character was found in the ECU. It was just really weird, as I'd mentioned earlier, to hear Rossi and Hayden complaining about something (engine power characteristics) that other riders weren't even discussing. I suggested that other manufacturers could deal with engine characteristic problems with a few strokes on a laptop keyboard, and Cosman's explanation about how crude the Duc's engine management system is/was helps explain why Ducati couldn't do the same.

The argument has been done to death, and so all posts discussing his use of traction control will be deleted. 

Here is what I know of the issue:

Several people, including Nicky Hayden and Stoner's crew chief Cristian Gabarrini have confirmed to me personally that Casey Stoner uses less traction control than other riders, because his throttle control is more precise, especially in the last 9% or so of throttle. What looks like "pinning the throttle to the stop" is actually "pinning the throttle to the point just before traction control cuts in". The naked eye cannot discern the difference between the two, especially not with quick action throttles.

"pinning the throttle to the point just before traction control cuts in".... damn that's badass

More useful conversation is what's happening with the throttle by those who are holding it now.

By far my favorite factory. The little Italian company that normally can and does. But those times on a track that gave slow conditions on the day or not just seem to be too slow. More than a second off Casey's time is worrying to me. I do not know if Casey had more time testing the 1000 or not, (because if that time he set was after two or three days testing I can see Rossi and Hayden getting ALOT closer). But if that is not the case, it still sounds like front end issues may still be happening.

I have no idea how they will fix it, but that seems to be what is slowing both the riders down. The Ducati's front end in the dry, feels about as good as the other bikes in the wet, which is horribly vague. At least when it is raining, you expect now to be able to rely on the front as much. Hope they get it sorted, because we need at least 3 people up there fighting it out for the win to keep things exciting.

And I will give Ducati this, they do seem to truly be trying to resolve the problems. Not that they have much choice because if they do not get it working, all of Italy will mercilessly blame them for destroying Rossi's reputation. ;)

Out of the blue on the telly I had the pleasure of hearing Fellipe discuss the 'driveability' issues being adressed by increasing the bottom end torque of the mill. Ominously he made no bones about the potential loss of top end as a consequence. His references to Laguna and Mugello future hence were obviously weighing on his mind. He knows full damn well he needs his riders to have Mugello top end and Laguna bottom end. They cant have the best of both worlds with the bore limit,engine restrictions and fuel limit.
Off topic,it was like yesterday. Listening to one of our Italian suppliers of electro/mechanical kit explaining the pro's and cons of the latest version of the updates and software built into the product. Brutally honest.
Back to the alloy swingarm. Ducati used it for many,many years in GP.
Its another one of those grey areas. Not much to pick between CF and alloy judging by the results of the past several years.
Ultimately it will come down to what their pilots feel most comfortable with.
However,the stop watch doesn't give a damn about comfort zones.