Ducati have officially confirmed that they will race as Open class entries in the 2014 MotoGP season. Speaking to the media at Sepang, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna announced that all four Ducati machines will be entered under Open regulations. The decision has been the worst-kept secret in the paddock for some time, with rumors emerging earlier this year that the Italian manufacturer would abandon Factory Option status to switch to the freer Open class.
Dall'Igna described the switch as 'the most interesting option for Ducati in the current situation'. Given the nature of Ducati's problems, they were left with virtually no option but to switch to the Open class. The engine freeze in place for Factory Option entries make it impossible to make significant changes to the bike layout, as the engine cases are fixed, right down to the engine mounting points. The freeze limits both engine development and chassis development as a result.
The disadvantage to choosing to go the Open route is that teams are limited to the spec software supplied by Magneti Marelli. Having tested with the software at Sepang with both Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, Ducati found that the disadvantages are far outweighed by the advantages of more testing and engine development. The spec software - referred to inside the paddock as the championship software - is already very sophisticated, despite it being less complex than the software used by the factories.
Ducati had already caused a bit of a stir prior to the second Sepang test. A new software update was made available to all of the Open teams ahead of the second test, which was such a large step several of the teams had been daunted by its complexity. The file containing the specifications of the software which Magneti Marelli sent out to the teams still had the words 'Ducati Motor Holding' in the header, Magneti Marelli having neglected to delete the name from the file. There is nothing in the rules preventing Ducati making their software available to Magneti Marelli, the only proviso being that the same software is available to all teams equally. However, as a factory, Ducati has both the experience and the electronics engineers to get the most out of the more sophisticated software, something which the smaller teams simply cannot afford.
Below is the official press release announcing Ducati's decision to go Open:
Ducati Team to compete in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship under the Open option
- Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso will race their Desmosedici GP14 in the Open configuration.
- Open option gives more freedom for development during the year.
- Ducati Corse to keep developing their bikes during the championship to improve competitiveness.
Ducati Team has announced today that they will compete in the 2014 MotoGP Championship, taking advantage of the Open option.
The new MotoGP regulations, introduced this year, give each manufacturer the possibility to choose between two technical options: Factory and Open.
While in 2014 all bikes in the championship – Factory and Open - must use exactly the same Magneti Marelli ECU, the Open option also includes the obligation to use the standard DORNA software, however allowing more freedom in terms of engine development.
Ducati, after carefully considering the two options, has decided that the most suitable one for the current needs of the Bologna-based manufacturer is the Open one, which gives the possibility to the race department to continue the development of the bike and the engine throughout the entire season.
Recent tests carried out in Sepang by the Ducati Team riders, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso, gave a positive feedback to the Ducati engineers and therefore, on the deadline of February 28, both riders have been entered into the championship with their Desmosedici GP14 bikes selecting the Open option.
The other Ducati contracted rider, Andrea Iannone, will also race for Pramac Racing Team with the same bike and option as the Ducati Team riders.
Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, commented: "We have carefully studied the new technical regulations and have concluded that the Open option is the most interesting for Ducati, in the current situation. This year we have to keep developing our bikes throughout the season to improve our competitiveness, and the Factory option appears to be too restrictive for our needs. We are confident that the electronics package provided by Magneti Marelli and DORNA has very good quality and will allow the correct management of all the main functions of the bikes".