Filippo Preziosi On The New Ducati Engine And The New 1000cc MotoGP Formula

One of the most notable things to emerge from the post-race tests at Valencia was the new firing order being tested by the Marlboro Ducati team. The difference in engine note between the new engine and the old one, still being used by the satellite Pramac team was striking, with the GP10 sound much more like Yamaha's M1 - and a return to Ducati's original big-bang roots - than the pure screamer currently in use in the Ducati Desmosedici. And although it was obvious that the engine was not using the original "twin pulse" configuration, which saw the two vertical and horizontal cylinders firing almost in unison, the cylinder pairs were clearly no longer firing 360 degrees apart either. The sound had everyone speculating, wondering just how Ducati changed the bike and why. was fortunate enough to be part of a small group of journalists who had a chance to talk to Ducati Corse's General Manager and engineering guru Filippo Preziosi about the GP10. In the few minutes we had with Preziosi, he covered the new firing order, the rationale for making the switch, and what he thought of the proposed 1000cc engine regulations due to come into effect in MotoGP in 2012.

Question: So, it looks like a positive test, both Casey and Nicky very happy?

Filippo Preziosi: Yes, I'm very happy, because all the new parts we provided to the rider that were approved by Vittoriano (Guareschi) at the last tests in Mugello are good for the riders. So that's very good for me because both the riders gave me the same comments, and that makes me more comfortable that we are making the right choice. So now we start building the bike for 2010, and the same bike that is approved by the official riders and by the test rider Vito will be provided to the satellite team, for the first test in Sepang. So, now it's time to work again in developing the bike starting from that stage.

Q: Can you explain a little bit about the firing order, because it sounds completely different to the GP9?

FP: Yes, it's funny because it's enough to change a little the delay between the left and right cylinder of the same group, vertical or horizontal, and the sound is completely different. But of course what we were searching for was the driveability, and we found that there is an improvement in that area. Of course we will lose some power, but of course what is interesting for us is the lap times, not the top speeds. I think all the rider are enjoying it so we will go on in that way.

Q: Casey said it smooths the bike out and it's made it tamer. Because of that, will you look at revising the chassis?

FP: I think with the new engine, the optimal setup will not be the same setup you choose for the old engine, because the riding style will be completely different. Even the riders will have to change their riding style. So that make me even happier, because we reached a good lap time without changing the setup, so I think there is some room for improvement.

Q: You have switched between the screamer and the big bang before at Ducati, now this seems more like a big bang engine, why did you decide to change the engine concept at this stage?

FP: Because I think we have to test continuously different things to improve the performance. At that stage, it was really interesting to test the different firing order.

Q: What was the main target to increase performance? To make the bike smoother to ride for Casey or to improve the rear traction or what?

FP: No. I discussed with Casey a lot what we need for the bike, and he was asking for a smoother bike. I'm sure that when we do something for Casey, even the other riders are faster. And that was exactly what happened today. So we never found something that Casey asked us to do that was not also good for the other riders. So we never have a conflict.

Q: Is the goal also to use less traction control and save more fuel so you have more fuel at the end of the race?

FP: Yes, for sure. The engine is smoother, so it is easier to ride and this is a small advantage.

Q: Because you can hear it kicking in a lot less...

FP: That's true.

Q: There's been some talks about the 1000cc capacity coming back in a couple of years, based on production engines, what's your opinion?

FP: It's not production based. Is 1000 cubic centimeters, with a maximum stroke that allows production engines to be used without a huge difference. But still, a prototype engine will be faster. So I'm sure that top teams and manufacturers will produce completely prototype engines. Other manufacturers can start from a production engine, using some parts and modifying others without a rule that will force you to use this part or the other part. So it's not production-derived, it's completely free, just the stroke, just the bore and stroke must be the same.

Q: Have you started work on a 1000cc engine? Have you even started to think about it?

FP: No. First this one.

Q: Do you think it's a good idea to go back to 1000s?

FP: It's an easy way to have a higher number of riders on the grid, because you don't need the prototype engine, you can use some in-between engines. But I think the top riders will be the same, the top manufacturers will be the same.

Q: What about next year, your riders will only be allowed to use 6 engines for the whole championship, so one engine may need to last 2,400, 2,500 kilometers. Have you had to sacrifice some performance to achieve reliability?

FP: For sure there is a compromise between durability and performance. We are working and we are trying to lose as little performance as possible. We will decide at the first race what level of detuning we need. We will try to do all the winter tests in the most powerful condition in order to check the durability, but we will check the durability on the test bed and we will decide where to put the rev limiter.

Q: Is the easiest way just to reduce RPM?

FP: The rev limiter is the medicine which will solve any durability problems. But unfortunately it also reduces the performance.

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"The rev limiter is the medicine which will solve any durability problems".

I wonder how many Dyno rooms around the world are screaming away day and night trying to eek out that last couple of miles before leakdown or mechanical wear start to get out of line with the test parameters? Several years ago I almost bought a Ducati ST4S. I wound up not buying that particlular bike because the hard surfacing on the rocker arms (which there are lots of) was a known weak point in the older Desmoquattro. The Desmo valve train on the Desmosedici (with its 32 rocker arms) would seem (at first glimpse) to be more susceptible to mechanical wear than a pneumatic valve train that most (if not all) of its competitors are currently running. Will be interesting to see how the engineers combat this.

At the same time, the Desmo valves work under a far lighter load that any spring valve motor so I would expect the rocker arms on everyone else's motors to see far greater wear.

Ducati rocker arms are hard chromed and have been since the days of the first singles. I have worked on Ducati motorcycles for over 20 years. The damage that is caused to the rocker arm is a result of incorrect clearances. Bind is what leads to premature failure. As a matter of course we always checked the clearances on new machines before they were released to the customer and followed through on the first service. If you have heard differently then you did the right thing in not buying a Ducati from that source.

I read a statement about an ideal race machine that said it "should fall to bits the moment it crossed the finish line, otherwise it was over-engineered". So are they building non-ideal race machines or is the finish line just in a different place than it was before?

Bore/stroke rules?

C'mon FIM! Engine configuration creativity is everything in prototype MOTORsports. I'm not an elitist by any stretch, but their are much better ways to get to teams involved in the sport. Ban technologies that have no relevance to the production market like pneumatic valves and exotic metals. Rev limits would be better than stroke rules b/c as Preziosi points out, reduced revs means more reliability so maximizing power at a given rev amount has relevance to the production market.

Prototype racing is supposed to produce great manufacturing companies, but for the last 2 or 3 decades, prototype motorcycle racing has been a cemetery for manufacturers who were bled dry by the exorbitant cost of participation.

Is there some explanation somewhere of what that bit about bore and stroke is all about?

I just want to know when they are going to put an official seal on the 1000cc change . You dont have to be a rocket scientist to see the benifits of the change outweight the inicial cost being the factories have exsisting plans. The 800cc machine was always looked at as the poor cousin to the once mighty 990s. The motoGP fans approve and have been waiting on the change . The 1000cc production engine ruling is just icing on the cake to help the program along with filling the grids . Again something thr GP fan would love to see as a rivalry . They might not win but people love to root for an underdog . If you owned a Honda 1000cc cbr, Kawasaki ZX10 ect would you like to see what it could do against a factory MotoGP bike if it was worked to the hilt? Of course . Right now the series just seems to be a shell of its former glory . With these new changes together with The Moto2 class the series will better than its ever been

I expect the 1000cc change will be made official some time next year, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will happen. Every party inside the Grand Prix Commission is in favor, so this will definitely happen. They are just working out the details now (which may prove more difficult than we might hope for).

@jbond - no, no more details, it's a proposal to IRTA. I am working on this now, but it will take a while.

I like the idea of a bigger grid, but not at the cost of having a 2 tier race. You may as well just run moto2 and MotoGP in the same grid like the Macau GP does with supersport and superbike classes. I see the it more like the 990s were the inbred oafs of the family where the 800s are the refined athletes. I can't think of an analogy cool enough for the 500cc two strokes.

Though this will just give an excuse to the rest of the grid why they are not doing better. It just adds to the excuse book and makes another four to six on the end of the grid that will lament the lack of equal machinery and the inability to get sponsorship due to never being seen on TV. Maybe a three tier grid then.

There it was, in the last question, the reason for the switch to long-bang (was that your question, Dr. Krop?):  reduced RPM and durability.

When he said they "will lose some power" in changing the firing order, seeking driveability instead, that power is lost at the top end.  They have already done the math on making the engines more durable and came up with a lower rev ceiling.  This essentially forces the development of different power and torque curves to work under the lower ceiling, with another side-benefit being a little less fuel consumption.  They will have to run taller ratios (for the final, at least), so they will need the engines to make more torque lower on the tach.

This means they knew they were getting back what they had traded away to get the lofty peak HP and RPM figures, so they went ahead and worked on a broader torque delivery.  That is, until they can develop an engine to get on the "other side" of the trade off again; a design that will make more peak HP and last for half a season, even if crashed... ;-)