Filippo Preziosi Interview: On Ducati's Four Riders For 2013, Future Developments, And The Spec ECU

Ducati Corse director and Ducati's engineering guru Filippo Preziosi was a busy man at Misano. Besides overseeing the race weekend at the circuit and preparing for the test on Monday, Preziosi spent a lot of time talking to a number of journalists. was one of the lucky few who were offered ten minutes with Preziosi, and so we jumped at the chance. In the interview, Preziosi covered a number of topics: the Ducati junior team strategy, Ducati's four riders for 2013, the current and expected developments for next season were all among the subjects discussed. Preziosi also talked about the effect of the spec ECU which will be introduced for 2014, and gave the impression he was not necessarily opposed to the idea. Below is what Preziosi had to say to us: Next year you have the Ducati junior strategy in place. Can you explain how you see that working in terms of development? Will you have four equal riders or two riders who get equipment ahead of the other two?

Filippo Preziosi: I think the main difference between next year and the years before is that we agreed that every development that will be developed by the company will be supplied to the satellite team by default. In the past it was an option that the satellite teams had, but there are some commercial issues, so sometimes they did it, sometimes they didn't. Now we are more close, so when we develop something for our factory team, we want to supply to the satellite teams, if the riders like the changes. So we would like to be as strong as we can.

MM: Having four riders helps?

FP: It's not a commercial issue now. In the past, it was mainly a commercial issue, now it is something that is more linked to the company.

MM: The statement announcing the signing of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone for the Pramac junior team was issued by Ducati Corse. Does this mean they have contracts with Ducati, or with Pramac?

FP: I don't want to go into commercial issues in depth. But for sure, they are really linked to the company.

MM: Can you explain how having four riders on the same bike fits in with working with Audi? Do you expect the pace of development to increase because of the assistance from Audi?

FP: For sure now having two different bikes between the factory team and the satellite team, it is difficult to compare the data. Of course if you have similar bikes, also in their specs, for all the riders, we can compare the data easily from an engineering point of view, so it helps to develop the bike.

MM: You now have four different riders: Andrea Iannone, who is young, inexperienced, but fast; Nicky Hayden, who has a lot of experience with the Ducati; Ben Spies, who has experience of the factory Yamaha; and Andrea Dovizioso, who has experience with both the Honda and the Yamaha. Was it important to have that mix?

FP: It's a good mix. We were speaking with different riders, but we believe that the riders that we have contracted add real value to the company, so this is important for us.

MM: What do you expect to get from Audi, and in what kind of timescale?

FP: It's too early to speak about that. They just started to have a look at the company and at Ducati Corse. For sure I'm very proud to be part of a company that has such a high level of technology.

MM: But you haven't spoken about how they can help you and what you need from them?

FP: We are just at the beginning of this collaboration.

MM: Do you have an idea of how the bike is going to change for next year?

FP: For sure we will develop the bike during the end of this season. We have some material we tested two weeks ago. We have some material to test on Monday, and based on the results of that test in terms of rider comments, lap times, and data, we will do the next steps. For me, the crucial point will be the Valencia post-race tests, because based on the comments we can collect, especially from Dovi and Ben, who are coming from a bike that is performing at a very high level, we can understand what their riding style needs and in which areas we are strong and in which areas we can improve the bike.

MM: So the bike which Valentino Rossi is riding here at Misano will be the basis for the bike at Valencia?

FP: We changed the technology one year ago [when Ducati switched from a carbon-fiber monocoque subframe to an aluminium perimeter frame - MM] and we are developing the bike keeping this technology. So for this moment, and if you look at what the other companies are doing, it is very similar. Of course we are ready and we did it, because in Mugello, we tested something that we called a different bike, because we had different electronics in a different position, different fuel tank, different frame and different swingarm. So considering that the front fork is the same for every company, and the wheels, it means the bike was different. But we will keep the small wheel in the front and the big wheel in the back [laughs].

MM: I saw also your reaction yesterday to the interview which Masao Furusawa did, speaking of the meetings you had. I understand you were surprised to see the details of those meetings published.

FP: Surprised means that I was not expecting this. Because usually I spoke with Masao, and I spoke with other guys without that [being published]. But I'm not angry, because what he told was good words about me, so I'm happy about that.

MM: The impression I got was that he was very impressed by your attitude and your commitment.

FP: He should not be surprised, because he is the same. I like Masao very much, because as a person, he is someone who has a real passion for motorcycles. So we spoke with him, even in the past when we were competitors, we had discussions with him even about technical issues, of course never giving away secrets, but sometimes we would speak like you would speak over a beer.

MM: In 2013 the spec ECU will be made available for anyone who wants to use it, and it seems like Carmelo Ezpeleta is determined to introduce the spec ECU for 2014. How do you see the spec ECU for 2014?

FP: I told many times that from the point of view of costs, and to close the gap between manufacturers and small assemblers, a spec ECU is very effective. On the other side, from the technical point of view, you have not any more to develop strategies and better understand in the chassis the vehicle dynamics you have to control. So it's a trade-off. Depending on the economic situation in the world, you have to go in one direction or the other. So we will discuss inside the company and we will decide our position.

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Does anyone know Ducati's displacement?

I believe there has been speculation that Ducati is using smaller displacement, like maybe 930 cc. to get higher revs from 81 mm bore. I believe all manufacturers are locked into keeping existing bore and stroke as well. If so, it would seem that a 15,500 rev limit would hit Ducati particularly hard.

Depending on how tightly the engine is packaged, they may be able to drop in a new crank + con-rod kit and jump to 1000cc without further ado. (Of course they'd also need different cams, software, etc.)

I think its just the bore that is fixed @ 81mm. The stroke can be whatever they like. But since manufacturers are limited to 4 cylinder-maximum engine, then the stroke will fall into a narrow realistic range of 45mm (for 930cc) to 48.5mm (for 1000cc).

Bore is not fixed as such; the rules state a maximum bore of 81mm is permitted. There's nothing to stop a manufacturer going less than 81mm (although there aren't many compelling reasons to do so).

Wrong, v4racer. The global MotoGP formula sets max bore at 81 mm, but in addition to that maximum, each manufacturer is limited to maintaining their *current* bore AND stroke without any change. This rule went through earlier this year in an effort to reduce engine development costs. David Emmett confirmed this earlier today on twitter. However, he pointed out that the locked-in bore & stroke period is only through 2013, so with the rev limit/spec ECU scheduled for 2014, it seems not to be a serious problem, IMO.

For 2014 (with revs capped at 15,500, and electronics reduced, and fuel *presumably* increased) every motor will want the full 1,000 cc displacement, IMO. It is widely speculated that, for 2012, Ducati shortened the stroke below 48.5 mm to allow higher revs and thus higher peak HP. Clearly this doesn't work with 15.5 rev limit.

I remember hearing about that rule, but am still unclear when it kicks in. Was it with immediate effect, scheduled to activate at the end of the year, or?

With Ducati's supposed need to tweak the countershaft location and other engine parameters, possibly including displacement, I assumed the freeze wouldn't take place immediately.

re: "Does anyone know Ducati's displacement?"

it's a 1000. ducati doesn't bring knives to the proverbial gunfight when it comes to engines. we learned this back in '07.

I would kill to know what Rossi is thinking.... "fak, I should've waited." ?
On the other hand there is no doubt that his corner entry is better and that his tires didn't seem to be skating all over after the 3rd lap... but I want to see the next races.
The coincidence that no one had real set-up time and the fact that they tested here 2 weeks ago makes me doubt of the race outcome... with regular practice time:
-Lorenzo's lead would have been bigger? (he said he didn't have good race pace compared with Pedrosa)
-Dovi's race pace would had been faster?
-Bradl with better set-up wouldn't have faded away as he did because he couldn't feel his front tire at the end?
-Cal would've had better front stability and maybe not crash?
-Karel's bikes would have failed in practice instead of the race?
I do really hope the bike is better and that Vale has a good end to the season after these 2 years, more that a 3rd competitive bike on the grid....
BUT just not totally convinced yet.

Maybe Super Sic's ghost was just pranking everyone... Pedrosa isn't laughing though.

What was interesting was comparing times from last year to this -Rossi did a faster race lap time on the 800. Overall race time was extremely close taking into account a slow first and last lap and taking off the extra lap. Almost identical.

Nearly everyone else's race time was slower. People pointed out that they only had one session for practice and qualifying so were slower than last years qualifying. What was comparable was the first session last year (when they were not "going" for a time) - they were only 3/10ths faster this year.

Amazing what all that extra power buys.

Maybe the track was slower outright - less compound on it. Dovi also mentioned the slowing effect of this year's Dunlops fitted on junior classes..

re: "I would kill to know what Rossi is thinking.... "fak, I should've waited." ?"

no, he's thinking, "can't wait to ride a full 1000cc crossplane", "since i've only ever ridden a 990 and a gut-less 800, right then, this ought to be MEGA".

As an American all our chips are on the Italians and Germans to make our boys competitive. Say what you will about their riding abilities, the 4 Ducati riders will need a capable bike under then next year to be competitve and this weekend is at least a beacon of hope.

Glad to hear that all he needs is a top rider (or 2/3/4) with experience of high-performing machines to guide him on what the bike needs...
I think a top rider bringing a good tech team might speed the process up as well.
I just wonder why no-one thought of this before......someone please offer me the job of Director of Blue Sky Thinking @ Ducaudi. 150k Euros a year and business travel should do it (my wife tells me that my legs look good in shorts).

Clocks are popular - Mr P could design one: double sided, made of carbon/Ti, one side runs fast for lap timing and the other slower for R&D.
As well as writing the story of the past 2 years he could sell these too.

If I was Rossi I would be thinking of calling in favours from the Bologna mafia.

The above are a tribute to Mr P's press conference - a joke.

How could anyone say that he said nothing? He's telling you how next year all the bikes will have the latest changes incorporated, unlike what is happening now, and how Ducati will now have more data relative to the same bike to study.

It's evident to me that the current method of getting the feedback just from the factory riders..........ain't a cutting the mustard ( I ref two years of mediocre performance).

Ducati need to listen, and act. Having loads of data, isnt any use unless they make use of it (i.e. send updated designs to the CNC machines on a frequent basis, not riders to the 'shrink'). I think many are pessimistic because Ducati has been playing this game for more than 2 years (Melandri, Capirex etc).
The strategy should be developing a bike that all 4 riders feel they can win on, and feeding meaningful parts to them each test/race until that happens, not finding a rider who can ride what Mr P (or anyone else) thinks is a good bike.
Burgess and Rossi clearly think that hasn't happened, and all the signs that I can see are that they are correct. Karel Abraham seems to have a strong view too.
Time will tell......

re: "Ducati need to listen, and act."

what ducati needed was CASH.

re: Having loads of data, isnt any use unless they make use of it"

having loads of data, isn't any use unless FINANCING is in place to make use of it. when's the last time you saw a ducati scooter, generator, MX bike, ATV, snowmobile, or watercraft...?

I thought that was a great interview because it absolutely confirmed the so-called 'Junior Team' is a strategy being deployed to specifically speed the development of the bike with four competitive riders testing every time they make laps. Until now, it was mere speculation. Filippo said that all four will have access to the latest development parts if they want them. He also suggested that four fast riders would more likely produce advancements because they will share data. Of course we suspected this, but it's nice it came from the boss.

In effect, Ducati will have two separate teams fielding four factory machines, and supported by factory engineering. This is a further step than any other OEM on the grid. He also suggested that money was no longer a constraint. That sounds like a formula for success to me, even without a true alien. If Ducati can gain a half second on Lorenzo and Pedrosa, they'll be in the mix for wins. I expect they will.

Meanwhile, the Yamaha seems to have stalled its development while HRC continues to find new speed. That might not continue, but Yamaha seems to be missing Masao Furusawa. That could open things up for Ducati as well. Anyways, I am hopeful and as Nicky say's, I am "All In".

I better get my old Superlite out of mothballs and show her some new love. :-)

Lets see. Two years ago a very fast rider with intimate experience of one of the best sorted bikes (M1) went to Ducati and tried their bike. He had some things to say about it which are pretty much the things he still says about which are pretty much the same things the rider before him said about it. Now They're getting 2 new riders with intimate experience with one of the best sorted bikes (M1) coming over to Ducati. Any guesses what their impressions will be? Let me look into my crystal ball. "vague front end", "turns like a truck", "overly aggressive power delivery".

i would be interested to see an offset displacement for varying engine designs like wsbk and other orgs have.
i think it would be a little more interesting to have twins, triples, 4s and 5s out there rather than either a v4 or an i4...


If we're going to have CRT shoved down our throats, at least allow the manufacturers to bring a variety of engines. I want to hear Triumph's triple vs. Kawi's screamer I4 vs. a possible BMW I6 (I can dream!) vs. Aprilia V4 vs ...

Then you get into an ongoing balancing game of trying to level the playing field between the different engine types. Look at how well Ducati did for all those years in WSBK with their extra displacement. Now they've had ballast added to try to offset that advantage.

re: "i would be interested to see an offset displacement for varying engine designs like wsbk"

or just watch WSBK...? V2's, V4's, I4's, I3's (wss 675, benelli, petronas), etc. bringing you engine variety for 25 years.

Displacement offset isn't necessary. A rev limit would create parity for engines with different cylinder counts. A stroke limit would achieve roughly the same outcome.

If we had a rev limit and capacity limit, the bore/cylinder regulations could be dropped. Probably won't happen ATM b/c the engines would be redesigned at great expense, but it is at least possible.

Didn't Rossi come from a bike that was at a 'very high level'..?? Honestly. I'll not get that minute back.. Presiozi had a golden opportunity with Rossi and couldn't see the wood for the trees till someone took a bulldozer to them..

Finally Ducati has come to the table with actual performance improving parts, after almost a full 2 since the arrival of Vale. Kudos. It only took you 2 years.

And lets seriously evaluate the legitimacy of their improvement. The Ducati was tester there 2 weeks ago, and given the lack of setup time by the other teams over the weekend, that is a clearly massive advantage. Secondly, lets not forget that both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were basically absent from this race which would bump Vale back to 4th.

For those that have suggested that Vale is second guessing his decision to go back to Yamaha I think you need to keep reading Prezioso's complete inuendo interviews and may go back to religious text books...

The Yamaha still won the race. Easily. If anything Vale deserves to win a race this year, spittin in Ducati's face for lack of improvement over the last 2 years. Go read the article on autosport...Vale is still extremely content with his decision to go back to Yamaha citing the miserable lack of progress.

We'll see next year when Spies, Dovi, Hayden are all scrapping for 6th behind Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Marquez, Bradl, all of whom will be on factory equipment.

The issue of whether Ducati or Phillip Morris were able to stump up the cash has been raised by me and others before. The Co. sale process may also have stifled things a bit. The purchase by Audi was a key move to enabling them to both invest and fast-track development.
However, I have seen no real evidence that Ducati didnt have sufficient cash to go racing. They closed their SBK team (even if Checa is on a factory type bike) to help, I understand.
The issue from this interview is not about cash it is Mr P's attitude - what he said about the riders etc enabling him to make the necessary decisions is almost exactly what he said 2 years ago.
To say that he would listen to rider feedback to shape the product of his deliberations has been shown to be almost complete and utter nonsense (insert word with 2 'L's as appropriate) and was proven by several riders before Rossi (although I am not such a close follower of the sport and its people that I know when he took over this lead role). What is clear is that Ducati have had this problem for a long time. Also seemingly clear is that Mr P has not not learnt one important thing from his experience.
I have had designers working for me in a different industry, and what I have always said to young engineers is that they are allowed to make mistakes - just don't make the same one twice.It's a sacking offence.
I havn't had the pleasure of meeting Mr P and he may be an entirely different type of person to the one I perceive, but I am not impressed by what I see and hear and it is a serious enough issue for me to feel very frustrated about the apparent lack of a credible plan. It's people who make the difference over everything - the bike is just a product of those people.
I truly hope that Ducaudi is a very different team and product. We need that Italian stuff to be the best. This winter will be their big test. They need successful racebikes to sell those streetbikes and maintain the brand - or else.