Filippo Preziosi Debrief Transcript: "Today's Test Was About Ducati's Future"

Shortly after lunchtime at the MotoGP test at Brno, journalists were given an opportunity to talk to Filippo Preziosi, Director General of Ducati Corse and the engineering genius behind Ducati's MotoGP project. Naturally, the question of a traditional twin spar chassis came up, as well as what Ducati was testing on Monday, both questions that Preziosi deflected rather gracefully. But he also talked about the role of the Bridgestone tires in development, and why he would dearly love to be able to race a twin in MotoGP. 

A transcript of the press conference follows, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Jensen Beeler of Asphalt & Rubber, who transcribed it for us:

Q:What were you testing?

The test of today was based on understanding what are the main directions for the future, for the mid-term and long-term future. So we tested very different setups in order to check the preferred weight distribution, center of gravity, stuff like that for Vale. For the mid-term. So, in order to give the design people the targets for the new bikes.

Q:When you say mid-term, how far out is that?

One year.

Q:Are you testing these changes with the existing components, or are there any new parts on the bike?

We supplied some prototype components in order to make it possible to make these big changes. Some tests are just, me let say, theoretical tests. You would not run the bike with that configuration…

Q:But you need data from that configuration…

Exactly. The data, the feeling, to understand.

Q:Recently Jerry and Valentino said that they would perhaps like to see Ducati working on a parallel project, alongside the GP11.1, which kind of suggests perhaps you need to explore an aluminum frame. Is this something that you are exploring?

We are exploring different solutions, though I don't think material is the key point. But for sure, shapes, stiffness, distribution of the stiffness through the length are concepts that we want to explore in order to build up knowledge. So, this is something we will do, and of course, every time you put something new in the truck, you have to compare it with the existing solution. This is nothing new or special, and is the same as what we did in the past. When we changed to the monocoque frame, we brought it to the Barcelona race test for Casey, and asked him if he preferred the old one or the new one. So we just have to do what we did in the past, just with a different type [of frame].

Q:With the monocoque frame, do you have enough options to explore all those parameters that you're looking at? Does that give you enough options to test?

We test some different option, and we build up some knowledge from that. So now we are doing other modifications to the bike that are related to the stiffness, but not necessarily related to the frame.

Q:The shape of the engine itself, the "L", limits to a certain extent the changes you can do with the weight distribution. Are you also looking at the shape of the engine? Or is the engine set...

At the moment, we have never reached a configuration in which the engine was the limit. Typically, one limit could be where you are trying to put more weight on the front, and you touch the front wheel to the cylinder head horizontal cover. But we are away from that limit, so at the moment we can modify the weight distribution without any constraints coming from the engine. So we are in the middle of the adjustment.

Q:You are working parallel to other solutions. Are they more radical or more like the solutions the Japanese are using?

We are open-minded. We are ready to use what we believe is better. For me, when first came to MotoGP, we decided to race with a four-cylinder, even though the two-cylinder was allowed by the rules. The reason was because we think that in the rule it is written [implicitly] that the four cylinder is more performing in the lap time. I personally believe that the two-cylinder is the best engine if you are not constrained by rules. So for the market, it's the best, but if people who write the rules write with different numbers, between the two and four cylinder, it pushes the technician in one direction or the other.

And for me it is the same, for example, for the tires. The tires, the kind of tires we are using, push the technician in using one kind of stiffness or another. There are other rules for example. the weight limit is another thing. In the market, you have no weight limit. So if you are designing a lighter bike, you will have the advantage. Usually in the race category, there is a minimum weight. So if you have a lighter solution, you may not have an advantage. So sometimes you use a solution, the right solution, depending on what's written in the rules. So for me, we are open to use what we believe is better.

Q:If you could use the two-cylinder in MotoGP, in what ways would it be better?

For me, the two cylinder has a good drivability. When I read about more torque, I'm laughing, because what is more important is not the crankshaft torque, but the wheel torque, and because the total ratios between the four-cylinder and two-cylinder are different, because the revs are different, it's enough you put a street bike on a dyno, and you make a measurement of the torque at the wheel, and you easily discover that for example, a four-cylinder 1,000 has more torque than a two-cylinder at the same bike speed. So this is just mystification [myth-making] from my point of view. But the rideability of the two-cylinder is easily the good point.

Q:How much has the single tire design constrained you from developing in a particular direction, tires will be changing next year, the construction will be a little bit less stiff, how much does that affect your thinking?

I was speaking about the difference between the Bridgestone MotoGP tires and the sport bike tires. The Bridgestone MotoGP tires are a fantastic product. They're developed to resist the amazing forces that this kind of bike and this kind of riders can apply, especially in the front, and for the specific needs for the race. You can reach the best performance at the end of the race, you can use the same rubber in a lot of different tracks, with a lot of different temperatures. So this kind of tires are the pinnacle of tire technology. But to reach that performance is completely different from the tires for the normal riders and the normal bikes, which have other needs.

For that reason we are in a single tire rules, and we have to adjust the bike. We are not any more working with the supplier to have the best package. The tires are that one, we have to do the bike that allows the tires to have the best performance. So it's possible that the stiffness or the weight distribution or the way of the bike is moving that are optimal for the Bridgstone MotoGP tire are completely different from other applications. I am not talking about the difference of this year and next year, that will be i think the same philosophy, the same small difference.

Q:It will not force you to change more than you want to if you do if you had the same tire?

We are interesting in developing the bike. Because only if you develop you build knowledge for the company, so we are happy to be forced… if we fix everything, there is not any room for improvement, there is not any result for R&D department, so a lot of engineers lose their work. So we hope we are forced by the rules to change and change.

Q:Is Ducati missing Casey Stoner more than you expected.

I miss him from a personal point of view, because we worked years and years together, but now he is the enemy and we have to do all that is in our hand in putting Vale in doing in what he show he is able to do: winning

Q:Valentino has talked a lot this year about the problems with the front, and he tried something this weekend that was an improvement and he was able to get the bike into the corner. Do you have any evolutions in the same direction that will offer an improvement in the near future?

For me, we did a small step yesterday, this race weekend. Not a huge step and for sure not enough, so I believe still the main problem is the turning and the confidence entering the corner. So we are focused on making other steps. We are pushing for that and as soon as we have something available for that we will put it in production. We cannot know now if is for this year or for next year, but of course we are focused on that.

Q:You said you missed Casey from a personal point of view, because you worked with him. Are you missing him from a performance point of view?

Casey is a really fast rider, but we have a nine-time World Champion, so I think we have good material in our house.

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...and in the midst of all that, he managed to deflect and tap dance around any concrete answers. I'm not sure I know too much more now than I did. Perhaps he should consider a future in politics?

It sounds as if he is thaaaaat close to not minding the fact that they haven't gotten the bike working properly, for the sake of the engineers keeping their precious jobs in the problem-solving department.

And I somehow do NOT believe that a twin would do as well as a four. More torque? Yes. Top end? Not so much.

Perhaps the biggest thing I take from this article is:

1) They think they are on the right track
2) They see no reason to mess with their engine configuration
3) They enjoy that there are problems, as that makes it more challenging (fun? job security?) for their engineers
4) Because of their level of self satisfaction, there likely won't be much revolutionary change to come with Ducati

Then again, I may have TOTALLY misread the whole thing...

Preziosi tried exactly to get that misconception that a twin has more torque than a four cylinder out of the way, but apparently this is one thing that is almost impossible to get out of people's heads. A 1000cc twin does NOT have more torque than a 1000cc four. It does however have a lower rev ceiling and therefore a lower maximum power potential.
Since you can not rev as high, you tune the engine for lower rev ranges and that means it will make more torque and power in those lower rev ranges. But because you need a taller gearing to get to the same speeds, that low-end torque at the crankshaft does not bring you any advantage, like Preziosi already says.
So yes, as top-end goes you are right. When the rules say twins and fours get the same capacity, a twin does not stand a chance on power. Unless they would use far superior materials to everybody else, so that they would be able to make at least as many revs AND get the same valve area as a four (to name the two most important parameters). But then, with that technology, they could make an even more powerful four to blow everybody away, so then again they would logically make a four. Under the current rules at least. agree with you any more enthusiastically than I do. As I said, rumerz' comment was tasteless and inappropriate. Most of them are. My best friend is confined to a wheelchair after an automobile accident, and he makes comments much worse than that, about himself, all the time. As it happened to him only a few years ago, he works through his anger with the situation by laughing at it. So, I guess I'm used to stuff like that. It's just my own life experience, and as ever, I never intentionally harm or offend people. I'm just accustomed to Glenn (that's his name) cracking jokes about that stuff.

As far as Preziosi, I personally never think of him as having any type of a handicap, unless somebody brings it up. That just doesn't enter into it. I just think of him as the director of Ducati Corse. His wheelchair hasn't kept him from accomplishing ANY of his goals in the racing world. As I also said, I think his ONLY handicap is not physical; it's the fact that he doesn't seem willing to make more radical changes to his design. It's his baby, though, and I understand his wanting to be different...

As far as I can tell, rumerz was pointing out that someone else may have been accidentally insensitive. Rather than bluster about bigotry, he issued a comical reminder that someone should perhaps mind their cliches. I thought it was clever way to avoid the morally superior tone that others seem keen to embrace at the first opportunity. I too thought the tap dance cliche was a bit odd in reference to Preziosi.

If you don't mind, I think we should stick to the business of talking about motorcycles. We've killed the messenger for long enough to convince any member, regular, or passerby that MM is useless for resolving matters of social decorum.

Hahaha I didn't even take notice of that comment until you mentioned it...

He neglected to say the twin would need to be 1500cc.

You're right, he didn't say much. What stands out to me is that he plans on staying the course and trying to make his idea work. Typical engineer. It's impossible to get them to admit that they're wrong.

That's true, the twin would need more capacity. But in a way he admitted that, saying he thinks the character of a twin is very good, but it is not fast enough under the current rules (i.e. every engine the same capacity).

Still, in 2006 they managed to win the Superbike title with a 1000 cc twin against 1000 cc fours, while there were no restrictors on the fours anymore. So that was pretty impressive! That was partly possible because the 999R was and still is extremely oversquare for a 'road bike' (104 x 58,8 mm!). Apart from that, all they had to compensate for the lack of cylinders was that they were allowed to use bigger throttle bodies than standard and more valve lift. And they used a large amount of Baylissium of course.

In MotoGP that stunt would be impossible though, with all bikes being technically already extremely on the limit.

Although they are struggling a lot with the D16, I must say that I like the fact that they dare to build something completely different. That way you might make serious leaps forward in bike design. And that makes it very interesting. Also, this site would have a lot less discussion going on if Ducati was simply making the same sort of bike as the rest. David must love Ducati for that.

you easily discover that for example, a four-cylinder 1,000 has more torque than a two-cylinder at the same bike speed. So this is just mystification [myth-making] from my point of view.

Beautifully put :)

He says lots of sensible things... about the weight limit for example, which really seems excessive to me..

But for sure, shapes, stiffness, distribution of the stiffness through the length are concepts that we want to explore in order to build up knowledge. So, this is something we will do, and of course, every time you put something new in the truck, you have to compare it with the existing solution.

And that is one of their big problems. Various people have suggested they should change one thing at a time... but they don't have arbitrarily large amounts of time because of the testing limits. Especially if you consider that sometimes pairs of things behave differently to what you'd expect from trying them separately... interactions, in maths/stats jargon. Think about ride-height, swingarm-angle and countershaft sprocket position as a relatively obvious but already complicated issue. So a lot of the time they are going to have to make a guess and jump... So taking the opportunity to push all the adjustments to the outside of the envelope to see what happens seems like an excellent tactic, even if it's less useful for who's-got-a-big-one lap-time braggadocio...

Sounds like they finally looked at DOE (Design of Experiments) so that they can test many changes at once to see how they interact, and from that determine the impact of each change

Also, seeing as the test riders seems to be giving different feedback then Rossi on changes, then Ducati has probably done all the exact same tests with their testers, to try and get their feedback aligned with Rossi's as ultimately it doesn't matter what their lap times are or what they think of the bike, the test riders need to be able to give feedback in regards to what Rossi thinks of it (without Rossi doing the test)

Rossi was testing so many experimental and extreme settings, "theoretical tests". "You would not run the bike with that configuration", what does it mean for the Ducati test riders?
Isn't it their job to run the "theoretical tests", test extreme case to gather data and then it's the rider's job to refine those settings at race pace?

I understand Ducati are in a very tricky situation but comparing that to the Yamaha "1000" so fast straight out of the box when both official riders test it for the first time, maybe they don't get the same quality of informations from their respective test riders?

We haven't had a test team so active in MotoGP in years with Guareschi and Battaini running at least 5 or 6 private tests since Rossi arrived (compared to 0 for the other manufacturers) and riding hundreds and hundreds of miles on the prototypes, so they have tons of data (probably around half a racing season worth of data considering a GP weekend is just a little over 3 hours of riding time) yet no one can be satisfied with the current outcome.

I also remember Battaini stating during the off-season that he liked the screamer better and that he thought Rossi would choose it because it reminded him of the brutal 500's but Rossi quickly discarded the screamer for the big bang after only a couple of sessions.

What's your opinion David, do you think they have a problem with their test team?

I think the Japanese do have private tests in Japan just like Ducati in European tracks.

Of course the Japanese test riders have private tests in Japan, the difference being they don't test on official MotoGP tracks.

This year Ducati tested 2 or 3 times at Jerez (once or twice with Abraham as well, not an "official MotoGP rider" yet at the time) and a bit more at Mugello (their home circuit).

You won't see the Yamaha test team at Motegi (or Jerez or Mugello for that matter).

Testing on MotoGP tracks is not forbidden and should give Ducati more valuable data.
But that's odd because they are the only team to do so and even them haven't done that before, which goes to show how dedicated they are this year, pouring much more efforts into improving their bike.

Do you know which tracks they test on? I thought Honda owned Motegi and Suzuka, kind of weird they aren't using Motegi.

Yamaha at Fukoroi, the defunct Kawasaki MotoGP team at Autopolis, Suzuki maybe at Ryuyo near their Hamamatsu HQ, it's systematically referred as "Suzuki’s private test track" in press releases which makes it difficult to identify.

Though this year Honda had its shakedown test for the 1000 at Suzuka instead of Motegi due to the earthquake affecting Motegi.

So I typed a bit too fast, indeed 2 teams hold private tests on MotoGP tracks, Ducati and Honda.

The main differences being that Ducati had private tests on their home track plus another MotoGP track and their tests are at least much more publicized if not more frequent (which is difficult to verify).

A few years ago there used to be an official Ducati Bridgestone Tyre Test team. IIRC they tested at every track a month or so before the GP to ascertain what compounds Bridgestone should bring to the race. This was on top of their normal testing schedule with their main test team. So they have tested more often than they have this year.

We're just hearing about Ducati's tests more this year because of Rossi and his woes.

Kosuke Akiyoshi, who subbed (in a round about way by taking over Aoyama's bike while AoH took over Dani's) for the injured Pedrosa and Taddy Okada are on the HRC payroll and test privately for Honda, whilst Wataru Yoshikawa (who subbed for Rossi post leg break 2010) and (another fine fellow to remain nameless until my 43 yr old memory does it's job) do the deed for Yamaha. I recall Suzuki recently almost having to use Aoki for a scheduled MotoGp test because Bautista had a visa or passport issue, which was only solved at the last moment.

Somewhere on Youtube there is an old vid of some Yamaha test riders ripping up brand new TZ125's at Sugo, looks like they are having a ball. What a job huh?

I understand Ducati are in a very tricky situation but comparing that to the Yamaha "1000" so fast straight out of the box when both official riders test it for the first time, maybe they don't get the same quality of informations from their respective test riders?

Alternatively, it might mean that if you start with an 800 that already has superb handling, and you swap the engine for a 1000 with roughly the same weight, about the same maximum power but a slightly wider delivery... it will work straight out of the box.

Whereas if you start with a cantankerous, hard to set-up and harder to ride 800... the process may be less simple.

but hypothetically, if Honda or Yamaha had similar problems, do you think you would see them handing Stoner, Pedrosa or Lorenzo parts they would never use in a race just for the sake of testing extreme cases and basic understanding of the bike physics?

Dunno. Hard enough to work out what is happening in this universe, let alone the alternative ones.
It's what I would tell a student to do if s/he was trying to get a handle on some model/system... see what it does at the extremes, to find out what the limits of behaviour are. Because if you find that what happens there is not what you expected, then you have some serious head-scratching to do. It's pretty much what any mathematician or physicist would do, either experimentally or looking at equations... so it appeals to me as an experimental process.

It all suggests that Preziosi is not the dogmatist that I feared: going back to test the basics is not what a dogmatic engineer does; it's what an open minded pragmatist does.

If the accusation is that he is dogmatic for not dropping CF: there is a whole bunch of material science that says, so far as I can find (it's not my area), that the behaviour of structures is governed quite precisely by their first-order stress-strain relationships, so long as you don't stretch or bend anything close to the point at which it breaks or stays bent. In which case if you can achieve the same linear response with CF as for aluminium, then believing one will work better than the other is delving into the occult.

Questioning your assumptions is fine, questioning the established "laws" of physics is madness.

my point is just that it's an odd job to give to your official rider at round 11, seems more like the job to give to the usual test rider.
If Rossi is doing the test rider's job, then what is the test rider doing?
For sure he's not doing Rossi's job.

Tried to edit this into comment above, but system didn't allow it...

PS: it's interesting to make the historical comparison with the bike Honda built with the fuel-tank under the motor. That was a case where people thought they knew how bike physics work, and they built what should have been a better bike if that understanding had been correct. Unintenionally, they tested an extreme case and found the understanding was wrong. We now realise that a bike pivots about its CoM, not its contact patches, so the correct idea was mass centralisation not mass lowering. But getting it wrong was what led everyone to see it. Like most correct but difficult ideas, in retrospect it looks obvious :)

There's also Yamaha's famous attempt to build an ultra-rigid frame. Once again, the received wisdom was shown to be wrong by going to the extreme. If Honda had just incrementally lowed the CoM by a few mm, or Yamaha stiffened the frame by a few %, it would have taken much longer to work it out.

So it could be that Preziosi will learn something really basic and important that none of us have realised before... and which will one day seem incredibly obvious. And that I find quite exciting :)

re: "So it could be that Preziosi will learn something really basic and important that none of us have realised before... and which will one day seem incredibly obvious. And that I find quite exciting :)"

"Success is 99% Failure..."

- Soichiro Honda (1906-1991)

... but it was Spencer who showed that the upside down Honda didn't work, it was Lawson who showed the super-stiff Yamaha was the wrong idea.

Just how it is I guess... there is a PhD thesis in psychology of test riders there :lol:

Honda did something a little similar last year. Honda complained that the riders weren't giving good feedback so they purposely built the bike with faults to get the riders crying for more and start using their heads. Seemed to work as the bike just kept getting better last year.

re: "but comparing that to the Yamaha "1000" so fast straight out of the box when both official riders test it for the first time,"

probably best not to compare ANYTHING to the yamaha. not even the honda. the M1 is fast because that displacement already won titles in '05, 06, and 3 production titles in '09 and '10 in WSBK, BSB, and AMA. data on a crossplane running at 1000cc (or near) is old hat. it's the reason they could leave off their 2012 testing till the last minute. advantage yamaha.

Firstly. Thanks David for the feed over the past 5 days. Brno GP,1000 testing and all. I believe, it was in one of your posts that Fellipo said that going to the steel trellis frame in conjunction with the L-4 was not an option, essentially because Marco Melandri's experience with the combo was a disaster.
Utmost respect for Fellipo's D16 Brainchild and his engineering acumen.
However, to divert from the trellis to CF monocoque on account of Marco's failure to perform with said winning kit, beggars belief,comming from him.
Capirossi,Barros and a host of others had their consistent moments in 800 GP with the trellis D16. The whole project turned pear shaped with monocoque and politics. Fellipo referring to Stoner as the enemy is tongue in cheek. They always had a great rapport and I believe still have. Fellipo towing Del Torchio and Marlboro's corporate line,no doubt. Rossi/Ducati HAVE to succeed or Ducati go under as a GP entity at any rate.
More cobwebs and steel trellis. Convenient that things turned backwards in SBK and GP at Ducati when Suppo and Tardozzi fell foul of the heirarchy by openly acknowledging Stoner as something special.
Well, we have a 9 time world champion in our house. They also have a 1 time world champion in the house. Sadly they won't have another anytime soon.
Enjoyed his take on the L-Twin and the outright torque/HP issue vs 4 cylinder.
He knows what he's talking about. Sadly, he has to tap dance around so many questions.
Fellipo's a brilliant engineer,but not a media guru. Nor is Stoner a spin doctor (except with a 200 rear Bridgestone).
But,I sure did love that combo's success in conjunction with Livio Suppo.

When Silvio Berlusconi decides to call it a day the parties involved could do much worse than draft Filippo into the running for PM.

What we witnessed in this interview was classic, political media manipulation!

It's almost like he gave us the answers that we wanted ------

-------- but not quite!

... as those who won't read.

What we witnessed in this interview was classic, political media manipulation!

I thought everything in the transcript was completely clear. When communication fails, it can be due to a faiure on either side.

but my take is CF remains the future for him and Ducati given he does not believe material to be their biggest issue.

"We are exploring different solutions, though I don't think material is the key point. But for sure, shapes, stiffness, distribution of the stiffness through the length are concepts that we want to explore in order to build up knowledge"

So the 90 degree engine and CF chassis remain. I for one am happy. Ducati can make this combo work. It sounds like the autoclave might be working overtime though!

Ducati is not Ferrari, they can not change the rules in order to favour them (which has been sometimes the case in SBK in order to allow non japanese companies to compete)

Frustration probably and a lot of work in perspective for sure

I can't imagine a champion like Rossi leave the Grand Prix without at least 1 victory ... but who knows

>>We are open-minded. We are ready to use what we believe is better.

Is this a translation glitch? To be open minded you usually use what is proven to be better, not what you believe to be better! And if they never make and test an aluminum chassis they will never know.

I think they can make the CF subframe idea work because they really have not done any development on it until this year. With Casey it was one chassis design per year and that's no way to develop new technology. Now that they have actually made and back to back tested stiffness variations (4 versions in 1/2 season) they may start to understand how the bike works. Although it does seem weird that now, 3 years into the CF experiment, they are doing tests to determine the bike's response at extremes of adjustment. Oh well, better late than never. I hope it is not another false dawn but Nicky's immediate improvement on the GP11.11 bodes well.

His philosophy is certainly interesting, at least for me.

>>if we fix everything, there is not any room for improvement
I thought improvement was fixing the things that are wrong! And it's a pretty big assumption that they or anybody would be able to fix _everything_.

>>so a lot of engineers lose their work
It is the engineers that fixed the problems and would continue to fix the new problems that inevitably come up with increasing performance. Did they ignore rider feedback for years to keep people employed at the factory? That's Italian labor management for ya.

>>So we hope we are forced by the rules to change and change
I would hope to be forced to change and improve by the increasing competition, not arbitrary rule changes like the choice for BS as the spec tire. If it was Michelin the tire behavior and resulting issues would be completely different. In fact the use of spec tires is likely the biggest barrier to decreasing lap times/increased performance and the development of new technologies.

I hope his faith in Rossi is validated. The problem is that Honda and Yamaha are making rapid progress in producing faster motorcycles and Ducati have an ever increasing gap to bridge. If the data they have now will help in 1 year, does that mean mid-late 2012? If they can only hope to be competitive for the title in 2013 Rossi will be what, 34? That is old for a top level GP racer. Yes, Baliss won until he was 39 but that was in WSB, and even Crutchlow said he was surprised at the fitness level in GP and he's young.


Ducati should hire Colin Edwards as a test rider.
He has long motogp experience, knows Rossi well, has great tire expertise, rides the front end hard and as the fastest satellite rider has racing pace. Hell, he could even ride with checa in the unofficial sbk racing squad.

For me the most informative answer of all is the first.

"...So we tested very different setups in order to check the preferred weight distribution, center of gravity, stuff like that for Vale."

Could this test be just as much about (if not more about) "the preferred...stuff...for Vale" than about optimising the bike itself?

Certainly they're trying to characterise the bikes behaviour across a range of settings, but at the same time are they also trying to understand exactly what it is that Valentino wants?

This would help explain why Valentino is doing this type of characterisation and not the test riders.

And the most surprising answer I think is that medium term = 1 year. A full year! Wow, if they're really going to suck it up and write off this year and halfway into next (so basically next year also)... that's even more faith in Valentino.

re: "But we are away from that limit, so at the moment we can modify the weight distribution without any constraints coming from the engine. So we are in the middle of the adjustment."

thank you "phil precious" for putting this issue to rest.

"Usually in the race category, there is a minimum weight. So if you have a lighter solution, you may not have an advantage."

In other words they are not allowed to build a light racing bike. The statement about using a twin cylinder engine becomes a lot more meaningful when seen in context of the weight issue. How light could Ducati build a 1000cc twin? You can rest assured that it would be very easy to go under the 135kg limit.

Myth number one, weight limits:
Of course, to the uninformed, the "company line" about weight limits helping to keep costs down will be seen as a rational argument, and yet people are building road bikes that are lighter than MotoGP machines. NCR have released a road going version of the 4 cylinder Desmosedici that weighs 145kg. That road bike breaches both the weight and bore limit of the "prototype class". Are any bells ringing yet?

Myth number 2, bore limits:
Ducati have been at the forefront of pushing boundaries with their twins in the field of bore/stroke ratios. This type of development is exactly what the premiere class is supposed to be and yet the rules exclude road bike engines as being too exotic. Something is rotten in Denmark.

Myth number three, electronics and costs:
Naturally aspirated engines are inefficient and not suited to the task of powering a competition machine. They require expensive electronics to control the peaky power delivery. In contrast a supercharged engine supplies a linear power curve and is a lot cheaper to produce. To see what a modern supercharger does have a look at this chart which shows the performance an old Honda road bike. 

To me this is just unacceptable but the silence is deafening. I am unaware of any journalist questioning these glaring inadequacies. Why is the premiere class lagging developments in the real world? One can only assume that politics require that any questioning of those in the upper echelons of power must follow the prescribed line or be banished to journalist's limbo. Perhaps it is more along the lines of the emperor's new clothes. Everyone else thinks that the rules are good, so they must be. A fine example being the introduction of the 800cc limit. I knew this would result in costs spiraling out of control, but the majority swallow it, hook, line, and sinker. Just as forced induction is banned? Why? Can anybody on planet Earth give me a valid reason?

I am convinced that light weight and forced induction are two necessary elements of successful competition vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. I will gladly change my mind if someone can give me any evidence to the contrary.

I'm always skeptical of weights from NCR, but as I've mentioned before, Thorsten Durbahn has built a 136kg 1098 in his (rather impressive) shed, while using the standard frame. He did use a 999 swingarm though...

Does an 800 really need to be 20kg heavier than a moto 2 bike with its production crankcases, plastic airbox etc etc?

It seems to me the current minimum weight privileges technological solutions like high pressure fuel pumps (10 bar is already pretty damn high) over simplicity. Do they really need a separate lambda sensor on every cylinder of an IL4? In real life, there is a weight penalty in building a V4 compared to an IL4, shouldn't that make itself felt?

Of course one should be careful what we wish for. If we have forced induction and only fuel limits, we might end up with turbo diesels...

Great comment. I edited it to include the chart from the A&A Performance website inside the post rather than as a link. I hope they don't mind us embedding this image, but it is very useful as a visual aid.

As to your point about journalists questioning the current rules, you may be interested in a series of articles I wrote a couple of years ago now, identifying the problem, the reasons and the solution to costs in MotoGP. None of which has been adopted, I hasten to add...

Weight limits (minimums) are more about leveling the playing field then anything else. You still always build a bike as light as possible, especially any rotating masses. The "extra" or "dead" weight is used to place the center of gravity precisely where you want it. It really doesn't matter what the weight limit is, as long as it is the same for everyone (as per cylinder count)... obviously there's a reasonable range that can be debated for various engine types, but overall it doesn't prevent innovation or development.

I always thought WSBK should just let the twins be lighter then the 4 bangers and keep the hard cap of 1000cc for everyone.

As for forced induction, I'm all for it in MotoGP. Although I'm sure the engineers at Bridgestone would have a coronary.

Your post supposes that the production market is a relatively sane place, but I don't see the production market as any less screwed up than prototype racing.

Bikes with short service intervals. Ducati homologation specials with no competitive purpose so they sit in living rooms and garage-mahals. Japanese sportbikes littering the globe b/c they have been cheapened into junk commodities. 800lb lumps of iron being sold to baby-boomers who try to achieve salvation by purchasing everything they wanted as kids. Few repeat buyers in any segment and no more first time buyers. Reversal of short term global currency trends.

The production market has pandered to these temporary consumptive trends on such a grand scale that they can't even get back to basics without retooling the entire manufacturing base. The only solution is just to leave the West to rot, and focus on emerging markets in the East.

MotoGP is screwed up b/c it's run by the same people who dominate the production bike industry. Everything was sweet until about 2000 when the Japanese got this idea to eliminate bespoke superbikes and devolve SBK into it's original AMA format. The SBK racing industry has essentially collapsed. At the same time, they tried to turn GP racing into F1, but their only plan for controlling costs was cutting fuel capacity to reduce the rev ceiling. MotoGP has essentially collapsed.

The rules could change tomorrow, but the problems will persist until the perverts who imagined the current international racing format are dismissed, and their business arrangements are unwound. In other words, the FIM need a strong leader who can organize a decent group of technocrats to administrate the rulebooks and the homologation papers. The manufacturers and marketers must get busy marketing and racing, instead of manipulating the rules. I'm sure the FIM thought they were avoiding the F1/FIA situation by giving everything to the manufacturers and commercial rights companies, but now they face a situation twice as difficult.

First of all thanks to David for your kind words. I had read those excellent articles you referred to, but it was too long ago. I hope you can raise those issues if you get the chance to speak to the powers that be in the future. As for the comments that followed, all make good points.

Diesels, ok bring it on :)

"I always thought WSBK should just let the twins be lighter then the 4 bangers and keep the hard cap of 1000cc for everyone."
I concur. There was a time when I would take the usual line and argue against that. However, Ducati are now going to produce a road bike with a bore that is approaching double the stroke and valves as large as dinner plates. They are already winning with a bike that has less power. When will the 4 cylinder bikes sacrifice some of that top end to make something that cuts better lap times?

Phoenix1's comment raises a lot of valid points. The bespoke superbikes! That is right on the money. We don't need 200bhp road bikes with exponential power curves.


"I always thought WSBK should just let the twins be lighter then the 4 bangers and keep the hard cap of 1000cc for everyone."
I concur. There was a time when I would take the usual line and argue against that. However, Ducati are now going to produce a road bike with a bore that is approaching double the stroke and valves as large as dinner plates. They are already winning with a bike that has less power. When will the 4 cylinder bikes sacrifice some of that top end to make something that cuts better lap times?

Agree absolutely. I was just reminded that 20 years ago the minimum weight for twins in WSBK was only 140kg! So in fact progress since then has been concentrated on getting more power... which no one can use on the street and very few can use on the track. It's even more ridiculous here in France where all the bikes are in principle limited to 102hp. If the same sort of effort had been put into reducing weight, I think we'd have much better road bikes... which wouldn't need traction control.

However, hp is an easy sell...

Those 4 ponies make the hell lot of a difference!

If you ever want to buy a liter bike in France, you get half the power for your money. The Japanese manufacturers have to find a way to cut half the power just for our tiny market!?
Plus you can't buy any bike (over 106 hp) anywhere else in the world because it would be next to impossible to have all the papers to homologate it in France, and obviously you would have to pay to modify it to lose the extra power...

And the price tag...ZX10R $13,799 in the US (9,650 €), UK 11,999£ (13,800€), France 15,899€
That's right, 160% of the US price, it would still be cheaper to buy it in the US and get it shipped in France, if only we could homologate it.
It's even worse for the Ducatis made in one of our neighbor countries and much much cheaper across the ocean.
Basically a 1098/ZX10R is cheaper in the US than a 848/ZX6R in France...

Sorry for the rant and the off-topic conversation, back to normal life.

I am surprised that there doesn't appear to be much testing being done on frame and suspension interaction. In formula 1 most (perhaps all) teams use multi-post test rigs. Does any one know how many of the top motoGP teams own and use such a rig?

I've seen video of a motorcycle suspension test rig, but it worked only vertically. I think the interaction of interest is lateral flex when the bike is at a big lean angle. That in turn is influenced strongly by tyre construction (when the tyre hits a bump at lean, how off-centre is the impulse transferred to the bike?) and the rider (who is probably the heaviest individual component attached to the frame).

In any case, I'd say various types of flex testing would be the domain of the factories rather than the teams, since teams do not develop bikes at that level (despite Kenny Roberts' brave attempt to change the paradigm).

GrahamB29, I think your technical coomments are spot on. A proper test rig to take into account frame flex when leaned over is I think key and simple shock dynes don't even begin to examine these issues.

I think carbon fibre is the way to go as you can tune lateral frame damping and flex. As mentioned by others the short length of the frame elements may be a limitation.

re: "Does any one know how many of the top motoGP teams own and use such a rig?"

probably all done virtually now-a-days for a fraction of the cost with 98% of the results. at their level anyway. the modeling packages for things like statics, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, etc. are all rather mature now. been to ohlins 7-post. only the biggest money efforts like nascar, F1, lemans, etc. are willing to shell out for the rent time to confirm what "skynet" already told them. same as using a wind tunnel. when you want to play you have to pay.

Interesting that one market segment that still seems to need real wind-tunnel time is... cycling!

You can simulate wind flow around the frame tubes, but despite all the marketing it makes less difference than leaving the zipper on your jersey down when it gets hot. So you need to get the rider in there and work on his position.

I suspect that motorbicycles are at an intermediate point, for the same reason of the relative importance of the rider's weight and shape... in both aerodynamics and suspension.

Regarding Ducati's design dillemma, I thought that was the best interview published so far. Moreover, he told us what he could. They are not close to a silver bullet so they just keep working at it looking for gains on the margin. They're not going to change the shape of the motor and not ready to discard the monoqoque chassis.

He seems stubborn, but what else can they do? They've got too much invested to start over.

They should have done this before but limited testing prevented it. What is funny is a prototype series where you can rarely test anything. Doesn't make much sense to me.

At the end of the day the goal of the series is to sell bikes. So MotoGP/Dorna/Carmelo/MSMA came up with this limited testing schedule to save money, at least that is their excuse. So if you are trying to fix your bike, and you cannot test with your factory pilot, then you are putting off fixing the bike, putting off getting it on the podium and/or winning, and putting off selling motorcycles in the stealers. So how does this save money again? Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

Preziosi did the right thing and I found the interview informative. They flipped that bike upside down. Valentino said they did 3 days of testing in one day. They are all busting their collective asses. Good on 'em.

A prototype series with limited testing really is a strange combination... which must swing the advantage towards evolution rather than revolution. Stuff you can test in the lab, like engines on the dyno, rather than chassis on the track. I guess the problem is that if you want to test in winter under realistic conditions, you need to go to the southern hemisphere... and that is going to pile up the bills.

BTW, I've been living in France too long... is chassis plural of chassis?

re: "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday."

ok, so maybe thursday if we're lucky...? still one of the best contraptions ever conceived by man (ie. the motorbike). worth the wait. worth every pound. castiglioni (RIP) wrote the book.

Thanks again David, between this interview and the test updates we've been spoilt. Good to hear Presiozi talk.
Was interesting to hear they haven't pushed the engine all the way forward yet . Couldn't help but think when I saw the honda 1000 that, with the fairing on mind, I had never seen a bike that looked so mass centralised..
Hope they avoid the current Honda /Yam solution to get to where they need to be and can't wait to see what they come up with.. Go Rossi!! Go Ducati!!

I'd like to suggest a different alternative for Ducati's involvement in MotoGP for next year:

Back out as a factory team - take a year off. Become a supplier for CRT teams, supplying engines for them. Not just any engines, but Desmo engines that are a full 1000cc, taking advantage of 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines a year, and likely a displacement advantage over your factory rivals thanks to that added fuel. Leave the chassis sorting to FTR or Suter or Kalex or whoever. Sit back and laugh as CRT teams with a "powered by Ducati" sticker on the side of their bikes motor past the factory bikes down the straights. Send Rossi and Hayden over to Superbikes for a year to capture a title. While they are doing that, let them test your GP project to your heart's content while you sort the carbon chassis.

Yeah, I know that's nowhere in the realm of possibilities, but what if it did happen? I would guess that after Dorna failed to prove that Ducati was in charge of the teams in the background, the fuel limit would be gone.

Maybe this would be a better plan for Suzuki.

That's far more ingenious than the simple thought that occurred to me reading Preziosi's interview. Sounds like one of the Ducati problems is that they have so much more to catch up in the chassis game. The limitation of testing and resources for parallel paths of development ensure that small steps is about all they can do. I suspect that the test riders can only give feedback up to a certain point. It's that last Nth degree that the top riders take things to that makes them the top riders instead of factory test riders. This is pure fantasy territory so don't start anything but what if Ducati/Rossi mutually terminated his contract for early release effective immediately and booked him as full time development rider. It would be like a champion fighter withdrawing from competition to train for a comeback. Ducati then hit the gym so to speak with Rossi to test without restrictions and re enter the championship in 2012.

he's currently working out all the kinks on the new WSBK Superquadratta or whatever they are calling it and his name is Troy Bayliss.

I'm very surprised that he hasn't or hasn't been seen riding a GP11/11.1/12. The man can still ride at the limit and has GP experience.

I'll bet a bottle of beer that in fact every engine out there next year will be 999cc or bigger :)

with the first generation M1, so it's safe to say they haven't waxed their chest hair this time.
Ducati are probably producing rods and crank pins once more, not to destroke the GP16 though but to increase the capacity of their purported 930 following the scare they got on Monday!

Anyone else see the head on photo of the duke from the Brno test, minus the front fairing and wheel?? It was on crash monday afternoon, tried to enlarge it and nothing happened, seconds later it either disappeared or I dreamt it all in the first place, not entirely sure which now..

If only the final question had read thus: "Q:You said you missed Casey from a personal point of view, because you worked with him. Are you missing him from a results point of view, given Casey's wins and podiums on the GP10 and Valentino's comparatively poor results?