2013 MotoGP Sepang 1 Test, Day 3 Round Up: Rossi, Pedrosa, Ducati - Joy, Determination, Despair

Joy, determination and despair. If you had to choose three words to describe the first test of the 2013 MotoGP season, these are the words you would choose. Joy: for Valentino Rossi and his crew at finally having a bike that Rossi can ride and his team understand how to work with; for HRC, at seeing both their hopes and their expectations of Marc Marquez' ability confirmed; for Bradley Smith and Michael Laverty, at making such rapid progress on their early days in the class.

Determination: for Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, both working hard at preparing for their assault at a title which either could win. For Marc Marquez, focused on learning everything he can to add the consistency he needs to his raw speed, if he is to match Pedrosa and Lorenzo.

Despair: for the factory Ducati riders. Sepang showed the bike is uncompetitive, and with few avenues left to explore with the machine in its present state, despair at knowing they have many months of hard, dispiriting work ahead of them before they can even start to turn the situation around.

The test confirmed several things that we already knew: Pedrosa and Lorenzo are favorites for the title, and both are just as fast and focused as ever. Valentino Rossi has lost nothing of his speed, immediately getting to within spitting distance of the pace of the two Spaniards. Marc Marquez is as good as everyone expected, though it would be fairer to say Marquez did more than match expectations. He is not just as good as everyone expected, he is as good as everyone hoped. Maybe, just maybe, even better than they hoped.

Pedrosa finished the final day of testing at Sepang on top of the timesheets, well clear of Jorge Lorenzo. The Repsol Honda man lapped under Casey Stoner's outright pole record, but he shrugged that fact off as irrelevant. He is not here to chase lap times, he said, he is here to test the RC213V, and turn in into the best possible weapon with which to launch his 2013 title challenge.

He did that. Pedrosa got through all of the work which HRC had scheduled for him shortly after midday, and decided to call it a day early. The stresses of riding a MotoGP bike at a high-speed circuit like Sepang for three days after a layoff of nearly two months are such that everyone is complaining of stiffness and sore muscles at the end of each day. In those circumstances, a mistake is easily made, and as Pedrosa knows, mistakes can be horrifically costly.

That meant that Pedrosa did not do a race simulation, unlike Jorge Lorenzo. Both Lorenzo and factory Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi got a lot of parts tested, including chassis and engine upgrades for the 2013 season, but Lorenzo tacked on a race simulation towards the end of the day. The Spaniard got in 13 laps before the first spots or rain appeared and cause him to break off the run. It was impressive indeed: Lorenzo followed up a string of 8 laps in the low 2:01s with a sequence of 5 in the 2:00s. That is the kind of punishing pace which brought him the 2012 title, and he has clearly lost none of his touch.

With Lorenzo's pace beyond question - new old (or is that old new) teammate Valentino Rossi told Spanish magazine Solomoto that he felt that Lorenzo was "perfect" now: "he never makes mistakes, and has a very high level of concentration" - the problem which both Yamaha men face is that the M1 is starting to lag fractionally behind the Honda RC213V. The Yamaha factory riders tried both chassis and engine parts aimed at reducing the pumping at the rear of the bike which is causing them to lose time in acceleration. The two of them have stepped up the pressure on Yamaha to produce a seamless gearbox to match that of the Hondas, but so far, Yamaha has been cagey on a schedule for its introduction. It would definitely help, but Lorenzo is clearly not that far behind Pedrosa.

Nor is Rossi. The huge question mark which hung over the Italian after his time at Ducati has been answered, at least in part. Rossi ended the day four tenths slower than Pedrosa, but the sheer joy and pleasure he radiated all throughout the test showed in everything he did; in his riding, in his responses to the media, in his body language in the garage. Even his crew are the same, the joy bubbling over onto social media platforms like Twitter, where some of his crew are present. Happy as sandboys, the energy in the garage can be felt halfway across the planet.

The gap to Pedrosa belies how strong Rossi's pace is. He is still slower than both Pedrosa and Lorenzo, but look at the full timesheets, and you see Rossi consistently running mid- to low 2:01s, which should be enough to hang with Rossi and Pedrosa if they were to go racing tomorrow. Matching them may be promising, beating them will likely be another, though. Rossi may have regained his old pace, but Lorenzo and Pedrosa have moved the game on since the Italian was last on a Yamaha. The old dog will have to learn a few more tricks.

Rossi's time on Thursday meant he ended the test ahead of Marc Marquez, no doubt much to his relief. Marquez has made a sensational debut, impressing both friend and foe alike. Fast on the first day, the Spaniard spent Wednesday and Thursday working on his consistency, work which paid off in the race simulation he did towards the end of the day. Putting in nearly full race distance, Marquez ran consistently in the mid 2:01s, lower in the first half of his run, a little higher in the second half, his lap times constantly within a tenth or so of each other.

Marquez also passed another key milestone. The Spaniard had his first crash, losing the front of his Repsol Honda on the final corner and sliding off into the gravel, the bike tumbling end over end. Marquez walked away unscathed, both physically and mentally, and got back on to post an even faster time on his next trip out of the pits. He knew a crash would happen, he said after the fact, and that at least now, he had found where the limit was. "I know what NOT to do when the bike moves like that under braking," Marquez told MotoGP.com.

He had spent a lot of his time at this test trying to understand the electronics, and this had impressed his boss Shuhei Nakamoto. Speaking to the press about the progress being made on Honda's production racer (see separate story) Nakamoto explained that Marquez had been riding with the electronics turned down as much as possible, "like Stoner". "He wants to understand the bike," Nakamoto said. Marquez was already sliding the bike, and Stoner's former crew chief was already making comparisons between the two. The Spaniard has a similarly sensitive touch on the throttle, able to control the rear spin with his right hand, rather than needing electronics.

While most of the media focus was on the factory men, Cal Crutchlow was quietly sneaking up on the front four. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man got within a tenth of Marquez, and two tenths of Rossi, and was generally running the kind of pace needed to stay close to the front runners. Crutchlow was, as usual, keen to point out that he is riding a satellite bike, a machine which is inferior in spec to the factory bikes. He does not have very many ways of putting pressure on Yamaha to provide him with a better spec of machine, but his performance speaks volumes.

What Crutchlow would like is what Stefan Bradl has: a factory spec machine, with the support to make it fast enough to have a chance to stick with the front runners. Though Yamaha is extremely supportive of the Tech 3 team, they do not operate in the same way as Honda, and so despite finishing well ahead of the German, Crutchlow will likely hope in vain for some help from Yamaha.

Operating in the shadow of the big four may have been a bit of a disadvantage for Crutchlow, it certainly helped his Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith. The Oxfordshire youngster had faced criticism from some quarters at being given the Tech 3 ride, but the past three days have proven Hervé Poncharal's decision to put Smith on the M1 to have been the right one. Smith has made huge leaps forward day by day, learning new lines, but above all, getting comfortable on the bike. The gap of just under two seconds to Pedrosa may look large, but in reality, he is exactly on target for a rookie coming into the series - or rather, a rookie who does not have the extraterrestrial ability of a Marquez. Comparing Smith's first test at Sepang with that of Stefan Bradl's debut in 2012 shows Smith to be matching or bettering the German's first outing on the LCR Honda MotoGP bike. Smith has proved he belongs in MotoGP.

Another man who has proved he belongs in MotoGP is Michael Laverty. The Irishman - the question of the Laverty brothers' nationalities is a vexed one, with its roots in the 12th Century invasion by the same French kings who conquered England and Wales, and far too complex for a piece on motorcycle racing - is riding Yonny Hernandez' spare Aprilia ART machine, and has positively astounded insiders with the speed at which he adapted to the bike. Many had their doubts about Laverty. He had so much to learn: the track, the Aprilia, carbon brakes, the Bridgestone tires. He came from the wrong background, riding a Superbike in the BSB championship, on user-friendly Pirelli tires, around tight and twisty circuits. He is too old to learn: Laverty will be 33 years of age this summer, an age at which most MotoGP riders are considered to be entering the autumn of their careers. Laverty confounded expectations, finishing as second fastest CRT machine, and less than a second off the Ducati Desmosedici satellite bike of Andrea Iannone. An impressive debut indeed.

As impressive as Laverty's day was, getting close to a Ducati is less of an achievement as it once was. The Bologna factory is in a very deep hole indeed: Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso are 9th and 10th, behind all of the Hondas and Yamahas, and over two seconds behind Pedrosa. That is not a distance that is bridgeable with a new swingarm and a few set up tweaks, especially not when the bike is essentially unchanged since the second half of last season. Ducati was already in trouble before the slow and difficult process of being taken over by Audi got underway midway through 2012. Development on the bike ground to a halt, as the old guard were shuffled about and new management installed.

After the test at Sepang, both factory Ducati riders were frank about what needs to be changed. In a word, everything. "We need to consider radical changes, not just small steps" Nicky Hayden said on Thursday. Andrea Dovizioso agreed: "Unfortunately, we need to try something big, and in MotoGP there is not a lot of time." The current bike will not do, both Hayden and Dovizioso made a point of saying that they had run through just about every possible set up permutation without result. Almost every avenue of investigation had been pursued, and something new had to be tried. A new bike, designed from the ground up, was what was needed, not new parts thrown at the existing machine.

This, however, will take time, meaning even longer to wait for Dovizioso and Hayden. Data is being collected and analyzed, but building something completely new is not something that can be done in just a few months. Having the support of Audi will help, but the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated.

Could the Japanese factories be willing to lend a hand? In the late '80s and early '90s, when Cagiva were struggling, Yamaha stepped in to help, providing advice that helped make the bike competitive. During his press conference about Honda's production racer, Shuhei Nakamoto was asked about Ducati's situation, and the precedent set by Cagiva. Would Honda be willing to step in and help a struggling Italian factory, just as Japanese factories had in the past? "But Ducati is not an Italian factory!" Nakamoto joked. Having Audi behind them can also work against Ducati...

The teams are now heading home, and the engineers back to their factories, to analyze the data collected and tweak the designs of their bikes in preparation for when they return here in three weeks' time. The first test at Sepang is really just a warm up, where everyone is more focused on evaluation than on working on set up and pushing for a fast time. At the second Sepang test, the factories will return with bikes that are much closer to their final incarnation ready for the season start. Riders return with the confidence of one test under their belt, and having spent some time training the muscles which had hurt so much after their first outing on the bikes. And the teams return with track data analyzed, and some set up options ready to test. Sepang 2 is a much better measure of how the season will play out. But before then, there is work to do.

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It's mildly amusing that all winter we heard how Ducati were too rushed and did too much because of the pressure they were under when Rossi was there. It was all "evolution not revolution" and "we changed too much", but as soon as the riders are on the bike again...it's time for the big changes needed to bridge the gap.

3 days of running with minimal rain!!!! Nice.

Marquez seems to be adapting quite well, better than I thought he would. Now I just hope he can keep cool in the races and not cause any crashes.

As for Ducati this was more of a test for the new team than the old bike. They need to run what they have and get the data they want before they can recommend changes. I'm sure Nicky is bummed out but the answer as we've seen is not to throw new parts at the bike without some careful thought as to what they woud do.

The big surprise for me was Aleix Espargaro. He is one fast dude. RDP was able to run up front a few times on the Honda yet Aleix seems to have Randy covered on the same equipment. This is one person that should be on a factory prototype, not a CRT.

I think this may be Pedrosa's year. He never seems to be a rider that is thought of as hard as nails (maybe because of his size and quietness) but 2012 showed what a determined and uninjured Danny can do. The increase in his confidence was noticable both on and off the bike. I hope he can continue it all through 2013.


The ART machines are showing themselves to be mighty impressive especially when compared
with the Ducati bikes of the CRT era. Perhaps Aprilia should go all in given the weakness at Ducati?
Or rather can Aprilia's MotoGP CRT evolved superbike platform do it? Indeed they don't have the
backing of a beast like Audi or Honda motor corp, yet look at what they have achieved.

So why so little talk about Aprilia making their own true "production racer" to compete with the Honda
to come out this Fall? The CRT is clearly this production racer (but at a fraction of the cost of the
Honda), it simply needs more development, no?

God, that test was fun. I got nothing done over three days except for staring at the timing/scoring screen on MotoGP. My poor students ...

I think that the early part of 2013 is going to be more fun than anyone predicted. I think by mid-year, though, the fun will be in watching the race for second. Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi have, what, 22 seasons of MotoGP racing between them? Marquez has done three tests. Jesus.

p.s. I like Nakamoto's sense of humor.

p.p.s. The graf that starts "The gap to Pedrosa ..." should read "hang with Lorenzo and Pedrosa ..."

The difference of the Ducati vs Japs might be that the engine has a different layout and it's COG is lower,(i.e. lower relative to the front axle) now when they load the front end during trail braking, the different COG makes the front tire push "less downward" and hence the advantage of the jap bikes) if you look at the pics of Vale raising the rear, leg out and bike slightly angled towards the corner, it is evident that the COG of the bike is of paramount importance, and the higher COG of the japs bikes puts more downforce, rather than if it was lower, like the L-desmo config. They can throw in any number of frames, forks, tires, carbon fiber,synthetic materilias or even a wood frame if you will and nothing will happen until they scrap the silly L-engine only Harley Davidson fans like. Hopefully AUDI will enforce it's autocratic management and will come up with a desmo operated V-4 that will kick some arse and makes for a properly biased bike!!

Sorry for the off topic!! But it's rather painfully evident that Ducati needs to rethink their "uniqueness" or go home.

I sincerely hope Ducati had the foresight to have Philip Morris pre-pay their sponsorship dollars for 2013. While I don't know when their agreement runs out, I am willing to wager they are history as soon as it does and then what? They are entering pariah territory.

While I admit to generally bowing at David's Motomatters altar, I am shocked that David almost seems shocked at just how bad this Ducati situation is. This team has been a disaster since before 2007, and, yes, I know they won a Championship in 2007, But Casey was the lipstick on that Ialian pig. His ability was a blessing and a curse as it unfortunately validated the team's opinion that bike was capable of winning when it wasn't. Casey was an amazing talent that got the best of that beast.

That Nicky Hayden chose another year in Hell rather than get a great ride in SBK blows my mind. He is a younger version of CEII at this point and that is a travesty. It pains me to see him risk it all on this bike. Ben Spies is another story, but IMHO, he too should have found a ride in SBK until Suzuki made up their mind. I really hate to say this about Dovi, but his ego writes checks he can't cash and he will now see what happens as a result of his wax wings. Why a front end rider needing feel and high corner speed would choose this bike after one of the sports greatest riders needing and not getting the same thing just had the fire doused is beyond me.

Shame on Ducati. I truly mean it. Shame on them. The bike has been plagued by the same symptoms for as long as I can remember and the results, save for Stoner's truly extraordinary talent and ability to ride around problems, have only gotten worse. As I said in a previous post, the grid, fans and riders deserve better than this.

I am thrilled for VR46 that he can begin to repair his legacy and, while he is not a sound marketing strategy for MotoGP in the long term, the sport desperately needs him until either Ezpeleta is fired or one of his randomly thrown darts hits something resembling success.

Cal may be luckiest one of the bunch given the Résumé Killer the Ducati is.

Ok. Rant is finished. Sorry.

PS - Holy Effn Sh*t is Marquez fast.

I have to disagree with your assessment of Ducati per-2007.

In 2006 Ducati with Capirossi was leading the World Championship by 34 points coming into the fateful Catalyuna round where Capirossi and Sete were both injured (quite badly).

The same bike went on to win in the hands of Troy Bayliss at the final round of 2006 at Valencia.

Ducati were clearly on a winner both years.

Hey it is ok to disagree, that's why we're here - to talk through sport. But i disagree with you too. The ducati was a rocket. No doubt. But the complaint then too was it couldn't turn. Period.

While Bayliss scored 2 more podiums than Rossi in his time with Ducati (i think they had same number of seasons) he did get canned after finishing 14th and was only given the wild card for Valencia after winning SBKchampionship

"Why a front end rider needing feel and high corner speed would choose this bike after one of the sports greatest riders needing and not getting the same thing just had the fire doused is beyond me."

One word. Money. And lots of it.

That's the respective lap count from Sepang..Lorenzo completing over 30% more mileage.
Pedrosa knocked off early for fear of hurting himself? Pass me the tissues..

Also..Pedrosa's fast lap was set on his first exit of the day, early in cool conditions. He couldn't get within half a second of it during the rest of the session.

Which makes a person think..he was chasing a time while clearly not working as hard as Lorenzo, or indeed Rossi & Marquez?

Remind you of anybody?

And on the second day of testing Dani did his fastest lap in the hottest part of the day while Jorge did his in the early morning in cool conditions.....So what.

Let go of it, your nemesis has retired.

Pedrosa's fast lap was the 4th lap on the 3rd day... same and Lorenzo. This is NOT the hottest part of the day (as it says above Dani finished his test by noon). Lorenzo's 4th lap was also his fastest.

2:00.100 4 / 44*


Not to be antogonistic (though I likely am). Pedro's racecraft and competitivness definitely improved at the end of last year. I would have to say he's the favorite going in. I am certain the presure is there.

What impressed me with Rossi is that his fastest lap was the 43rd lap of 60 which was just prior to Lunch at 1 or 2pm during the hottest part of the day.

Ducati was ruined by Rossi, that's clear! They have paid him a tremendous amount of money to do the job, and he didn't do it. To me, that clearly shows that his development skills aren't great. Now he's back on a great bike, and look he's in a top three. I hope he feels bad about Ducati!

Oh spare me. Rossi has said (way back) he knew within a few laps the first day he rode the Duc, the machine wouldn't turn ie understeered and ran wide, that there was a huge task ahead: subsequently said understeer seems to be in its DNA. Hayden has said the key problems of the Duc have not changed (what did NH say a couple of days ago? The machine needs radical change).
Rossi has (on various occassions) expressly/precisely denoted the problem characteristics of the Duc - don't believe him,oh well, listen to NH then. Don't believe him either. Oh well, never mind, Rossi ruined the Duc.

No one put a gun to Ducati forcing them to hire Rossi, nor to pay pay him as much as they did. Rossi is a rider, he rides the bike and provides feedback. What Ducati does with that feedback is entirely up to them. Ducati is in the position they're in now because of their own bad decisions and can blame no one but themselves.

As has been discuussed MANY times, Ducati won races and a championship in the past because of a couple of things. There were no spec tires, Bridgestone was free to supply tires which suited the Ducati rather than the entire field. Casey Stoner. The fact the other factories (read Honda and Yamaha) have improved while they've stood still. Personally I don't see Audi doing anything to help the situation either, at least not for a long time.

Couldn't agree more. Ducati has been on a slippery slope since they went to the CF frame in 2009. In 2007 Ducati came out of the gate with an electronics package and total package that forced Yamaha into pneumatics and Honda into millions of dollars of deveopment into TC, anti-spin, fuel management, you name it. They caught the Japanese out, so bad it stung, Casey Stoner embarassing the Japanese at Qatar in 2007 with a straight line disparity among mfr's that will be remembered for many years. I bet Honda is still embarassed up in the board rooms if asked about this. Stoner + that bike = death to all foes that year.

Preziosi has been throwing darts at a dartboard, blind, for many years now. Casey left for the same reasons Valentino left and their respective riding styles couldn't be any more different. Burgess and Rossi naively thought that Ducati would listen to them AND have the expertise to implement the changes they saw fit. Funny to read the new head Corse German say that "communication has been improved and it's not a problem any more". That indicates to me that their was a definitive break down of communication and Corse were not listening real well to Burgess and crew, which also is the same thing Casey Stoner mentioned more than a few times.

You can never rest with the Japenese, ever. Not with an exceptional talent like Stoner or run of the mill pilot. They got burned well in 2007, and I don't think they'll forget any time soon. Honda have always believed this series is theirs and that embarassment will not be forgotten, ever.

Ducati need to come out with an all new bike. If not, Audi will pull the plug.

For once the season is looking like it could be one of the best for many years. Not because Valentino may be competitive but because you might actually have 4 riders competing for the championship late in the season instead of two, or one. I hope Rossi is competitive, that Marquez won't suffer the new curse of highside city, Pedrosa stays healthy, and Lorenzo gets Yamaha to implement the seamless box. I want to see some fierce battles all season, not just 1-2 races with the remaining 16 being checkout at register 1!

It's nice to see Rossi being talked of positively again. I'm no insider and don't know whether the on-screen personality masks a not-so-likeable chap in real life, but it's been pretty sad seeing him fail so badly for the past couple of years. Whatever the outcome of the coming season I think he deserves to go down in history as someone who was prepared to take huge chances even if they didn't always work out.

So, looking ahead, and a "what if". I suspect many of us had only modest expectations of (or perhaps fears for) VR for the year ahead, with every chance that we'd find the problem in 11 & 12 was him, not the bike. He's savvy, he'd know that. So what if he's sandbagging again - he's a master of it after all - and has done just enough in these tests to restore credibility without creating massive expectations. What if he knows in his head that he's got another couple of tenths in him? Wouldn't that be fantastic for the year ahead. We might then actually have four serious contenders throughout the year and it's a vwery long time since we've seen that. And having been thrilled by his racing for many years I'd love to see him win a championship once again.

Sepang 1 brings closure on a few issues. Status quo at the top. Rossi is in the hunt. Marquez is the real deal and Ducati need to dump the perimeter alloy concept as a matter of urgency. It clearly does not work with L layout mill. Keeping the alloy perimeter and reducing the L to a Honda V will change nothing overnight. HRC own that area of 2 wheel technology. Big change for Ducati may well be going back to winning ways. Stressed member engine and trellis tubular framework. They have nothing to lose right now.
Anyway. Bernd Gobmeier must be relishing his position right now.
Ducati have a very quick test rider in the shape of Michelle Pirro. Perhaps as Nakamoto would say,Honda are not going to assist VW/Audi. Rightly so. Really,how much of an exercise can it be for them to weld up a couple of pipes and slap the L into it. Run it against the alloy beam and let Pirro and the stopwatch be the data sheet. At 2+ seconds a lap adrift why not ? The trellis flexed too much for 800 precision,but it wobbled around quite handily in 990 guise in its final incarnation with the greater mass/fuel load/torque etc. It sure as hell gave plenty front end feedback. Witness Capirossi at Sepang 2005. Sometimes you have to rewind the clock in order to establish a base to go forward with.

but it wobbled around quite handily in 990 guise in its final incarnation with the greater mass/fuel load/torque etc. It sure as hell gave plenty front end feedback. Witness Capirossi at Sepang 2005. Sometimes you have to rewind the clock in order to establish a base to go forward with. "

Further confirmation; Baylis at Valencia , 2006

First time on the bike with the tires.........his own set-up.

NH69, the baseline for Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum repeatedly stated that the GP11.Aluminum was better SUBSTANTIALLY than the Carbon Fiber Monocoque. Casey Stoner said that the monocoque was better than the Trellis. The only way forward for Ducati is forward with NEW thinking. Not digging up old failed attempts. Im ecstatic at your admission that Rossi is competitive, however I'm sure its the bike right?

As much as I like Nicky he never airs the dirty laundry in public. According to him every change that Ducati have come out with has been an improvement yet the finishing position or gap to the front does not improve. There may be subtle feeling improvements but if the finishing result does not improve then it is not an improvement.

Nicky's best string of results during 4 years on the Ducati were a bunch 4th places and a dry podium at Aragon (passing Lorenzo on the last lap) on the CF subframe bike in the 2nd half of 2010. I think that as a company they made a major mistake in throwing in the towel and going to a conventional frame design. If they were able to make the subframe concept work they would have learned something new. If they make the current design work they will have learned what Yamaha and Honda learned years ago.


What baffles me, is why stop there?

Why not go the whole hog..back to the steel trellis frame that brought rider & manufacturer titles. I mean..The GP7/8 trellis amassed 17 wins in the last two seasons before it was replaced?

The CF bike chopped that win statistic to just 7 in the two years following it's introduction - Five wins a season less - and saw Ducati drop to bottom of the current MSMA pile in the manufacturer standings?

What the hell were they playing at?

Perhaps you can explain Chris?

None of your response addressed the point of my post: Nicky's best Ducati results happened on the last iteration of the CF bike.

>>Perhaps you can explain Chris

Yea, 2 big reasons: 1. Lorenzo figuring out now not to highside and instead win races. He had 1 win in 2008, 4 in 2009 and 9 in 2010. I can't remember the last time if ever that there were 4 such closely matched top riders. Anything less than 110% and 3 other guys are ready to pounce and bounce you off the podium. 2. The introduction of the spec tires took a huge tuning tool out of the hands of the bike designer and the crew chief.

Then some small reasons: Stoner sitting out 3 races in 2009 because of lactose intolerance, Stoner and crew admitting that they got it wrong in 2010 and only found a good setup mid-season.

The fact that throughout the past 4 years according to feedback from all their riders the Ducati has had the same problems (hard to turn, understeer, and abrupt throttle response) with chassis ranging from a CF subframe to an Al subframe to an Al half frame to an Al full beam frame of 2 or 3 variations should indicate that CF is not the problem.


with #2..

"The introduction of the spec tires took a huge tuning tool out of the hands of the bike designer and the crew chief."

..not to mention the rider.

The past is past and old is old. The ahead is....ahead; not backwards. The past is useful for lessons learnt. The trellis is a nightmare to tune and each one is different due to the multiple areas of difference every time you pick up a tube, cut, and weld it. More than good enough for the road and club racing etc. The technology is outclassed at this level, and with the corner speed and lean angles that these bikes now need.
Honda use the beam frame because they have tried everything else and they know that the stiffness and flexibility it offers in multiple planes is the best option available. The alloys that they use are (allegedly) a secret recipe that very few people will know, especially which type goes where.
What would be wrong is for Ducati to use something else just because it’s something else.
It’s the engine that needs to go, not the frame. Honda have tried everything and got there first. Don’t reject it just because ‘it wasn’t invented here’. Yamaha have a solution but Honda’s is arguably better and is at least closer to the L than a I4. Desmo valves – hang on to that.
The only other fix may be for the tyre rules to be opened up so that Ducati can (perhaps) make their bike work like it used to.
It’s not Honda that we need to build them a frame, its Bridgestone to build the sort of tyre that they used to be able to. (Unless their silence on that front means that they have already tried and failed at that fix).The game has, perhaps, moved on.
One reason people breed racehorses off of champions is because the basics give a great starting point and your share of the DNA may produce something even better (for racing, not the local gymkhana). Its also quicker than going through multiple generations/iterations yourself. It’s Germanic logic they need when making decisions, not a passion for glories or solutions past.

Citing a carbon fiber frame as the reason for the desmosedici's failure by people on the forum here is getting pretty old. Stoner himself has mentioned that CF wasn't really the reason for failure and that such a frame handled quite well. In fact, before the CF frame was finalized, they had even tested an aluminium frame if I am not mistaken. There must have been some reason why they had gone ahead with the CF option. I'm sure Stoner was not a complete fool to have suggested CF while also having tested an aluminium frame. Also despite having an aluminium frame for over a whole year, Rossi concluded that the bike was none the better.

I know Nicky Hayden always wanted a different chassis stiffness than the one Stoner preferred (I think he had mentioned this before the 2011 Indianapolis race). This is probably one of the disadvantages of having Stoner as a teammate. Different riding styles and understandings resulting in varied opinions. Something no factory would ever want. Conversely, I don't think the Stoner/Pedrosa duo had very conflicting opinions on the direction of the Honda's evolution. In fact Honda engineers were happy to have Stoner in their office despite rooting for Dani as their favourite racer. All that said and done, I believe Nicky at all gets prominence because of the one championship that he had won. Now I know I'm offending a lot of Americans here. He might be a great AMA champion and even a really good person, but let's face it, he needs a really good bike to get something out of it, like any other regular racer would. I shudder to think how his career would have panned out had not got the factory ride from Honda as soon as he got out of AMA. He does come from a dirt-biking background and has been compared to Stoner for the same reason (and that's another thing I'm tired of hearing on this forum), but that hasn't really added too much to his ability to ride the Ducati.

Coming back to my original point of contention. The CF was a big risk to implement and in the hands of Stoner it did find its glory days. The factory's refinements to the CF frame and the experience they gained while doing so was the reason why we see such a unique concept being handed down to the Panigale. Also if one notices carefully, on most public forums Preziosi is the one who has to take the brunt of being the one who didn't allow the Desmosedici to evolve into a capable race winner. However, Stoner sided with Preziosi when he was 'sacked' (again I'm sure Stoner's not a complete fool etc.) saying the budget restrictions made sure some of his ideas never saw the light of day.

The reasons of Ducati's failure are multifold and will probably take a bottle of whiskey (or two) to put down (yeah some of them make you that frustrated). However its definitely not the carbon fiber frame as much as people cite it to be.

That’s a really tough thing to be confident about unless you are Preziosi - and look what happened to him.
The consensus seems to be that the shortness and stiffness of the Ducati CF makes it difficult to ‘tune’. If it was a CF version of the alloy beam frame that may not be such a problem as other relatively long CF equipment like fishing rods proves. But when it’s as short as Ducati tried (and it seems to be Preziosi who championed the idea and defended it against all critics) then it’s relatively very stiff unless you make it dangerously thin. It may be ‘elegant’ as an idea, but it is clunky in practice.
CF technology/processes are moving ahead all the time but I don’t think anyone has even hinted that Ducati are still looking at this.
Just because it works on a street bike, national racing, or even WSB (which will be interesting to watch this year)the MGP tyres seem to put such higher forces into the chassis, especially when leant over and the suspension isn’t working as well, that the only flex is the frame. And if that frame is two short pieces of CF (or anything else) and an engine case you have great difficulty tuning the flexure to suit racing at this level. Prezioisi himself acknowledged this around 2011/12 – stating that only by redesigning the engines /mountings for different stiffness could you effect change. And that meant new engines, which you are limited on numbers per season. Even if it could work the rules precluded a sensible solution.
Given that you would expect the riders to support the team and only ask for ‘big’ changes we are unlikely to find out what they really think about particular elements of the bike. We are told (here) that their contracts preclude them ever talking about these issues or personalities etc.
To me, Stoners solution was to throw it in so fast, sideways, that the need for extreme lean angles as we are now seeing was something he ‘rode around’. Or crashed into. It was probably why he could also work with the Honda’s chatter – if it’s sliding you don’t have such a problem as when you are trying to ride it ‘250’ style like Pedrosa, or most others.
Right bloke, right bike, right tyres, right team, right time (once). It’s all moved on though - as did Stoner.
I agree that the frame is not the only thing (and I'm including the swing-arm in that) - but it has to be that or the weight distribution/engine as they are the only relevant model-specific parts in basic terms, IMO.

More than that I think the monetary constraints coupled with the way the management works and communicates is the bane (the main one). I'm not saying there weren't any flaws with the way the bike incorporated CF or the engine design.

Another reason I feel they did win the 2007 championship was that they had started preparations quite early. If i remember correctly Preziosi had claimed that they had already built 20 variations of the 800cc engine midway through the 2006 championship. Motivation does pay off.

Honda was in a similar situation around thirty years back. Their determination to stick to 4-strokes led them to develop the exotic NR500. And look where it left them.

But as far as frame-building is concerned, no one got it right in a day. The level of accuracy the Ho-maha couple have attained is through decades of tearing out hair and lots of money paid to get it right (and staple back the hair). I'm not saying the Desmosedici's core design ideology is correct though.

Bring back the tyre war. Any fool and his dog knows that the black magic is where the action's at over race duration. Get rid of the one supplier rule and Ducati/Audi will not have to build a new bike to suit current rubber that Yamaha works so well on. Transition phase,this 2013 season. BIG changes are needed,not only Ducati specific but MGP specific. Lets face it. 2013 is 80% likely to be a title battle between 2 Honda's and 2 Yamaha's. Yamaha will probably prevail. 2nd tier sattelite entertainment with Bradl ruffling that group up on occasion. Ducati easily fending off the ART's as the season progresses,but falling further back off HRC/Yamaha.Then we have CRT and really who the hell cares outside of the promoter's. Then there exists the Dorna spec ECU class. How many winners will we see per class this season. Sad,but true. On the shiny side I look most forward to Moto 3 and 2 and SBK this year. Good on the GPC as a whole with their collective and fastidious planning. Word on the street is that VW will not fund testing in Austin alongside HRC/Yamaha. Not surprised. Gobmeier accepted a poisoned chalice I guess. Oh yeah,Stoner's gone fishing. Saw this whole mess comming. Outside of V8's he might try his hand at clairvoyancy.

the problem with Preziosi’s concept is that it takes a very good, perhaps suitable, material and uses it in the wrong way. Glass is great for windows and a lot of other things, but it makes a lousy hammer.
I don’t know why, but they never tried a full CF frame as far as I know. It was (is?) perhaps too difficult to build it precisely in the way you can metal. Metal gets cast/forged and then machined. The CF technique seems to be lay-it up, cook it, use it. Machining allows fine adjustment and if its welded you can de-stress and adjust alignment. Perhaps CF just isn’t well-suited to building full chassis’?
The engine as a stressed member is another ‘elegant’ solution, but it clearly does not readily give a race team the flexibility it needs for bike development at the speed it needs to happen.
I’m no race bike historian, but has a stressed-engine chassis ever won much?
If not, why would you go/stay there? One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and wonder why nothing changes.
The engine/chassis combination is their problem – not one thing, two IMO.
Maybe tyres can fix it, but that seems as remote a chance as a rubber hammer being good for knocking nails in.
Some of the best riders in the past 10 years have proven that it's a 'poor' design (in MGP terms) that is almost unrideable at race-winning pace.
The damage being done to their reputation means that Audi have to take a clean sheet and abandon all their engineering history, get logical and only put the past technology to use where it makes sense.

I'm kind of getting sick of the "Stoner won a WC on a Ducati but Rossi, Dovi, etc etc couldn't/won't." People don't realize that Stoner was World Champ in 2007, which is a lifetime in MotoGP development. We still had a tire war back then. The Bridgestones back then are not the Bridgestones of present-day. The Ducati back then is not the Ducati of present-day. It's apples-to-oranges. Please, people, stop being so naive.

Right about that. However, Stoner did score 9 podiums/3 wins on the Duc in 2010, just before handing it over to Rossi. None of the other guys even comes close, so it seems fair to say Stoner could ride the Duc like no one else. So yes, he will (unfortunately?) always be the benchmark.

Yet despite casey being at the end of 4 years hardworking with the same platform and rossis team turning up with a new bike every weekend and all that that entailed Rossi was only twenty points further behind the winner last year than casey was in 2010,20 points.....
In 2010 casey was 4 and a half race wins behind Jorge after 9 races. Both were poor in terms of factory number one status and there is no doubt the japs took a big leap in 2011but the young lad edged it over the veteran no question..now if Rossi hadn't changed the duke well his performances were getting better. I dare say it would have been even closer though Rossi would still struggle to win a race but would have found 20 points through consistency I suspect with ease....

Not entirely true. Please know that I'm not putting down Stoner's achievements on the Ducati. It was nothing short of a miracle that he did so well on such a rudimentary piece of machinery. Just remember that in 2011, Rossi had to compete with very, very, very, very fast riders on well-groomed machines. Jorge was on a championship-winning M1. And Pedrosa and Stoner were riding a soon-to-be-championship-winning RCV. The bar was set higher. The Ducati stayed stagnant.

Borgo Panigale's got ONE thing going for them - most of the blathering on here revolves around them...lots of self-proclaimed experts who seem to think they could fix Ducati's problems in a couple of hours! I think it's important to consider the different marketing angles, Ducati vs the Honda/Yamaha. First, let's remember Ducati has yet to have a giant engineering staff and boatloads of money to spend like their rivals - the fact they're competitive at all (or should that be WERE?) is an amazing situation. Second, consider what they sell vs the others...expensive, limited-production, exotic motorcycles, more or less a two-wheeled Ferrari. They don't make anything else so their racing MUST promote those products and have some connection to them. I don't think they could get much out of a red bike with Dovi or Hayden on it that had little or nothing to do with what they sell in the same way a maker of all kinds of motos, not to mention power products, musical instruments and other consumer products can. Step back a bit and look at the situation with a bigger-picture mindset. The new owners of Ducati need to make a competitive machine for sure - but making a carbon-copy of what is already competitive does little to nothing for their marketing efforts - and in the end, that is ALL MOTOGP is to the makers of these products. The new owners of Borgo Panigale have a huge challenge ahead of them...I hope they're up to it or they bail out and forget it about it quickly - floundering around out there will not likely help sales of the bikes.

may once have been able to choose to bail out.
However, Audi probably prefer not to and, seemingly, will not. If they thought it was the best option they could have shut it down over the winter. They tried to get Rossi to stay, and I doubt that was on the basis of him trying to make the current bike win; or giving 3 new riders 2 year contracts and employing test riders etc.
Like most ‘manufacturers’ they will be there for R&D and marketing reasons. The tech has already, allegedly, trickled-down to the street bikes.
There is no need for a carbon copy (pun not intended). They need to do one thing – build a bike that can get on the podium and win often enough to be credible. Saying it cannot be anything like a UJM is ignoring the positives that following successful design and development offers.
It can already be said that the current bike is nothing like a street bike (that’s WSBK territory). It’s winning that counts in MGP, IMO. If there’s a rider up there spraying champers around with Ducati on his leathers that will be enough for most, and the marketers, I suspect. MGP bikes may be closer to the retail item than F1 is to cars, but they are light years away in terms of sophistication.
The rider’s title is important in MGP, but it would also be good if, for once/again, Ducati had a bike that at least two people could win on, and therefore get close to the manufacturers title too. Most people will not look past the fairings.
I prefer to hope that the only way is up, not out for MGP, and believe that the brand engineering risk is more in WSBK.

Is very simple:

If they like to say they're Irish, they're Irish. If they like to say they're British, they're British. If they don't talk about their nationality, just leave it alone.