Engineers Assemble In Bologna To Work On 2011 Ducati MotoGP Bike

If anyone thought that the media storm surrounding Valentino Rossi's switch to Ducati for the 2011 MotoGP season would die down once the announcement had been made official, they were to be proven utterly wrong. First, there was the saga of whether Yamaha would release Rossi early from his contract to allow the Italian to test the Ducati at Valencia, then there was the excitement and drama of the Valencia test itself.

Rossi ended the Valencia test 15th fastest, with only MotoGP returnee Toni Elias and MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham behind him, unleashing a tidal wave of speculation surrounding his test result. Rossi's slow time was put down to his still injured shoulder (for which he had surgery a few days later), and in wanting to get acquainted with the Ducati Desmosedici, rather than focus on trying to put in a fast lap.

While both these explanations are undoubtedly true, there were also a few of signs of panic among the Ducati team, despite team manager Alessandro Cicognani professing that Ducati was "not worried" about the times. Speaking to the press after the test, Ducati Corse director Filippo Preziosi described the test as a "bad test" and spoke of Rossi's lack of feeling with the front end. But the Ducati team had taken plenty of positives from the test, with Rossi expressing himself to be impressed with the engine and the rear grip, something he had complained about on the Yamaha just about all year.

As a sign of how seriously Ducati are taking Rossi's critique of the Desmosedici, Jeremy Burgess and the rest of Rossi's crew are currently at Ducati's Bologna factory, discussing the direction the Desmosedici needs to take for 2011. While the mechanics are spending their time familiarizing themselves with the bikes (learning how to assemble and disassemble the machines at speed, as Alex Briggs explained on Twitter), Burgess is joining Preziosi and other Ducati engineers and designers to analyze the data taken from the Valencia test and the data the test team collected at Jerez, riding with the Moto2 bikes there.

Their main priority is to improve the front end of the machine. The Desmosedici only really starts to work when the front Bridgestone tire gets up to temperature, a process that requires a lot of physical effort from the rider. Once the tire is up to temperature, the front end provides the necessary feedback, but until then it tends to feel vague, as if it is about to wash out. Ducati is working a new front subframe (the Desmosedici uses the engine as a load-bearing part of the chassis, with a separate front and rear subframe holding the steering head and the tail unit and fuel tank) featuring altered stiffness characteristics, making it less stiff in some directions. Though no details are available, lessons from the other manufacturers suggest that the new subframe will be less stiff in the vertical direction, allowing the front end to move a little more. The new chassis is expected to feature a revised weight balance and a new swingarm as well, with all of the changes aimed at making the bike much easier to ride.

The extent of the planned modifications is a surprise. Back in August, at the press conference where Ducati CEO Gabriele del Torchio announced the signing of Valentino Rossi, he told the media that Rossi's main focus would be on developing the 2012 bike, rather than the 2011 machine."Valentino will operate with us mainly for the 2012 bike, because the 2011 bike will be ready by the end of the season," Del Torchio told the press. It was expected that development on the 2011 machine over the winter would be minimal, as Ducati is a relatively small company with limited resources, despite several generous sponsorship contracts. Ducati Corse simply does not have the resources or the trained personnel to just throw more engineers at a problem, and the rule changes for 2012 are already absorbing a large part of Ducati Corse's efforts.

Rossi's times and Rossi's feedback appear to have radically reshaped Ducati's priorities. Casey Stoner's success aboard the Ducati had lulled the Bologna company into a false sense of security: after all, how bad can a bike be if the team's lead rider just keeps on racking up the victories? The struggles encountered by the other riders appear to have counted for less - Marco Melandri complaining that he was sent to a psychologist when he asked for changes to the bike during his miserable 2008 season aboard the Desmosedici - but now that Valentino Rossi, a rider whose talent is beyond question, is struggling with the machine, Ducati are starting to listen.

The bike that takes to the grid at Qatar is likely to be radically different to the one Rossi rode at Valencia. How those changes will affect development of the 2012 Desmosedici remains to be seen, but a bike that is easier to ride will surely benefit Nicky Hayden and the rest of the Ducati riders as well.

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With no additional testing until Feb do you think they can or will make radical changes for 2011? Different layering or orientation of the weaves in the CF 'chassis' can change stiffnesses but I would not consider that a radical change. I think Rossi and Co. will have a hard time making the Duc handle like the Yam. Crank rotation alone is a huge factor in how the bikes feel. I think Rossi's safest move will be to get healthy and gain strength so he can adapt his style to ride the Duke like it needs to be ridden, muscled around. Having the factory significantly revise the bike on the data from 2 days of injured riding is a huge gamble. I'd be surprised if come February we can visually tell the difference aside from absence or presence of the side winglets and the graphics.


I think Rossi's safest move will be to get healthy and gain strength so he can adapt his style to ride the Duke like it needs to be ridden, muscled around.

Look at it from Rossi's viewpoint, seeing how immediately fast Casey was on the Honda, looking at the list of toast riders the Ducati has spit out over the years, you then have to acknowledge Casey's skill to get as many wins as he did. The sum of all these parts, imo, points to the fact that the Desmo cannot be relied upon like a motogp bike needs to be, no matter how skilled the rider is. With the 2011 bike as the Ducati bosses planned (unchanged from 2010, with the radical changes hoped for only from 2012 onwards), it seems like the best Rossi could ever hope to do is just repeat Stoner's win-it-or-bin-it record. That's only good for a top 5 in the championship, and certainly not a win against Lorenzo or Stoner or a healthy Pedrosa who are all going to compete hard for the #1.

Rossi is in this to destroy, and probably believes that "better the devil you know than the devil you don't" is not worth it if he can't win on this particular devil. Time for massive, radical changes to the bike: Now, and not in 2012.

Great stuff as always, David!

Could not have said it better.

Thanks David!

I don't think it is a matter of muscle. Stoner dosen't look to be super strong. I think he was just riding it better.

I know why the engineers are back early, to try and find new reason to tell the press why Rossi carnt win on the Ducati.

They didnt listen to Stoner for the last two years. Poor guy no wonder he got sick and didnt want to ride in 2009.
The Ducatic GP has more kills of riders than any other bike out there. what was the list up to? 14 riders?
Kalio, Marco, Sete, Guintoli, Espargaro (was the best of the rest), Capirossi, Canepa, Elias, Barros, Silva, Davies, Hofman,Itoh, Fabrizio
did i miss any one?

Number one rider for four years and backward facing results..
Ducati have done it to spite him, doncha know..

Perhaps they just got fed up with the antics.

"Kalio, Marco, Sete, Guintoli, Espargaro (was the best of the rest), Capirossi, Canepa, Elias, Barros, Silva, Davies, Hofman,Itoh, Fabrizio
did i miss any one?"

Troy Bayliss got swallowed whole in 2004 by the Duck

Spies for President

I guess flattracker was referring to the 800cc era, Bayliss rode the 990.

So I'll be more interested in seeing how the satellite teams may or may not benefit from these development efforts. Practicing taking the bikes apart and putting them together will go a long way toward making efficient use of the testing time - especially if the weather goes bad. I had not wanted to think MotoGP is like American NASCAR until now - pit stops may matter to get through a long list of test & tune items.

I'm guessing this will *generate* some discussion. Will the factory changes propagate out to the satellite teams in time for the next test?

Thanks for the updates.

I really think that Duc wants a competitive bike from factory to satellite teams. They want more then one bike in the top 6. Rossi will not be content to run around in the top 5, working on developing the bike. Therefore, I think Duc will radically change the geometry, to get the front end to 'bite' and get it competitive. The trickle down will be that all the Duc teams will benefit from the change.

It's interesting...the image of Ducati in MotoGP is always as a small factory - but I've just heard from a rather well-informed source that Ducati actually spends more on MotoGP than Honda, by a considerable margin. Could this be true?

"The struggles encountered by the other riders appear to have counted for less - Marco Melandri complaining that he was sent to a psychologist when he asked for changes to the bike during his miserable 2008 season aboard the Desmosedici... "

Funny but true.

Burgess toured Ducati Corse 'Racing Headquarters' and said....
"Where's the Torsional (or add your axis here) deflection test data?"
"Where's the rolling road tire and deflection coefficient data?"
"Where's the...(fill in development test here)??"
"You build this with WHAT???"

Presiozi and Ducati management said;
"Holidays?? Vacation?? Get all those engineers in there and GTFTW!" (Get The *@$# To Work)

I have every faith in the Ducati "Skunk Works" with the right brains guiding them
and the Rossi Fever cash cow funding it.

Casey Stoner's success aboard the Ducati had lulled the Bologna company into a false sense of security: after all, how bad can a bike be if the team's lead rider just keeps on racking up the victories?

Many, many comments on the web exist emphasizing that Ducati w/o Stoner was *nowhere* during the last 4 seasons. How could *this* escape a team at this level when even the TV audience realized it?

The bike that takes to the grid at Qatar is likely to be radically different to the one Rossi rode at Valencia.

If they're really taking this step, this is very risky. Yamaha has repeatedly told the press that from season X to season X+1 their changes to the bike have been just incrementally. If it's so easy to just iron out all glitches on the drawing board why didn't Suzuki ever succeed or why did it take Honda 4 seasons in the 800cc era?
Ducati might land a coup with a radically new GP11 frame but it can also be a total disaster.

I think it's much more probable that Rossi will try out some radical new frames during test days but eventually ride a slightly modified GP10 frame/setup during the 2011 season.

Granted, that might be exaggerated but what David describes sounds a lot like "hoping for the lucky shot". I consider it remarkable that a professional team would do something like that.

at least they have something to choose.

Lets just assume among the various frames Rossi tries out during the Sepang test there is one that looks promising.
What does that mean? Will this frame perform on all/most of the other tracks? What about the tire, telemetry and setup data Ducati has collected over the last years, can they be used with the new frame?

If this "lucky shot" new frame is really radically different, Rossi will arrive at each track with basically nothing but a (hopefully) good base setup. With this situation I think it's "optimistic" to expect Rossi to challenge for the title in 2011. And what else would a 9x world champion want at this point of his career?
Put in some development year when he'll probably end his career in 2 - 4 years?

My guess is that Rossi wants to have WC's on three different brands. So if the 2011 championship feels like a long shot I'd say he is aiming for the crown in 2012. A developmental stage seems unavoidable, and who knows, could turn out to be a whole year.

This is going to be fun watching the GORT (greatist of recent times) and Ducati get the GP11 sorted.

I suspect it will take several races but it is only a matter of time before Vale and his boys begin nipping at Mr Spies heals. (smile)

Is this an indicator that the 2011 and 2012 Ducatis may initially not be that far apart in design from an engineering perspective? Ducati must want a return on investment from Rossi very quickly but to pour all that effort into a redesigning a bike for a single season doesn't make sense given the changes for 2012 and would lead to financial ruin quickly (unless there was additional support coming in for the effort). If the thinking was to incorporate the structural changes into the 2012 bike also then it would make sense.

Stoner has proven to be more talented thatn people have given him credit. Personally, I feel he was this talented even when he was crashing all the time. The satellite team he was on was way down the pecking order for Michelin. IMO they gave him BS tires on race day. Even DePuniet stopped crashing as much when everyone was forced to race Bridgestone only. There has only been one other person to be able to ride the new 800 Ducati up to his full potential. Nicky Hayden. Even though he was World Champion a few years ago, I think the level of talent has gone up considerably which to me means he is at his maximum level of riding. He may do a little better with an easier bike to ride, but not much. Maybe another win in the USA. No more titles though. But he is the only other rider to adapt to an 800 Ducati. Before the 800 Engine they seemed to be easier for people to mesh with.

Ducati Rossi said in his book seemed to have a similar attitude as Honda. That is why he went to Yamaha instead. And judging from how they have ignored other riders pleas of change, it seems that way. They are famous for saying, "Nothing is wrong with the bike." With everyone except Stoner and Hayden floundering in the back of the pack. Seeing Hayden adapt to the bike gives me faith that Rossi will adapt, quicker, not instantly if the changes are not made. But he has shown that he can find more speed while racing than in testing or qualifying. Ducati will probably bring at least 4 different frames with gradual changes in the frame stiffness, so it is not one frame guess. Rossi will be able to change frames and feel which one works the best for him.

Rossi has always shown that he is a Master Feedback Rider. He has helped to makes bikes Championship level in two different factories. Honda was foolish, and Yamaha made a decision for the future. Ducati may get mobbed by all of Italy if they get it wrong with Rossi, a proven champion through Ups and Downs that may have ended many a rider's career. To write him off so soon is a mistake. He may be getting older. But he has always ridden like a sly old fox in a young fox's body. Over and over again he proves he can win or at least beat someone that is faster. Motegi '10. And can you ever forget Laguna '08, (I was there by the way. He messed with Stoner in almost every corner. Braking early, late. Going to the inside, braking on the outside turning into Stoner's line. Every straight away you could see stoner eat up bike lengths catching him, clearly faster even in the corners. Rossi taught a masterclass in how to keep a faster opponent behind.)

So. If he can get within half a second of others in testing and practice, he will be able to get to at least the podium from what I have seen. But still cannot weight to see the DRAMA. Next year. 'cause if he cannot win, there WILL be drama!

whonda, thanks for that elegantly phrased, thoughtful and insightful post - the sort of post that makes mtm a great site. Your unbiased commentary on Laguna '08 from first-hand experience of what went on is particularly welcome as it has been the stuff of legend and considerable myth (not to mention passion) for such a long time now.

And 'for sure' if Ducati can give Rossi a bike that's within half-a-second of the top at any circuit he's dead likely to be right up there.

Hey, hey. Thanks guys. Just another Motogp Addict. Running my mouth on what I think.

A few details worth clarifying:

  • RdP had experience riding on BridgeStones prior to his installment at LCR.  In his Ninja-RR days, he was launching the bike into the scenery with alarming regularity, while alternately threatening for pole in QP.  In reality, he only spent one year as a hind-teet Michelin "customer".  While it's entirely plausible that the 'Stones of the control tire era may be a signficant improvement over what he had in the 'Saki days, some of the credit must certainly go to LCR for figuring it out, too.
  • I also wouldn't push the 990's "...seemed to be easier for people to mesh with," very far.  Ducati's 990cc successes were inextricably linked to their development with BridgeStone; the two companies executing a plan to "infiltrate" the schedule a couple tracks at a time.  A look at the '03 (when they were a Michelin customer like everyone else) season suggests how temperamental the bike was to ride.

Ok. I cannot argue the point of RDP crashing like mad on the Kawasaki. But, by the time Bridgestone had been made to be the single tire supplier, Bridgestone had at least become very consistant. Which is how they ended up beating out Michelin over time. From what Casey Stoner and others said, they did not have the ultimate grip Michelin's would have when Michelin's worked. He did not say this part, the Bridgestones were far more consistant over different temp ranges as was noticed for two years before they took over as the Control Tire of the Championship. See Rossi changing over and Pedrosa in the middle of the season! Michelin was very tiered in their providing of the best tires to the top, and giving the lower something less. A good deal of the non-factory riders complained of the race rubber not being up to par, (forgive me I have no names or articles to quote on that one.) And I would not discredit LCR for finding something to help RDP and his different line around the same corner everytime he comes around style.

For the 990 comment about the Ducatis. That is why I used "seemed to be easier." But if I use racers to talk about it. Bayliss, Capirossi won on the 990. Even Xaus, a KNOWN crasher of bad to good bikes, was able to get a podium. Gibernau's big problem was not the bike. It was his mind. Messed up by a Valentino Rossi. But he seemed to be able to ride the bike just fine. There were multiple podiums for the 990s.

So far in the 800 era for Ducati. It seems, and I could be wrong, that Stoner has been the only person that seems to be able to win consitantly on it. Capirossi one time on an 800. Compared to multiple times in one year on the 990. Barros was able to get a podium. Nicky Hayden has been the one to bring podiums back, but even still it is a struggle. And there are more riders on Ducati, but less results. In '03 Bayliss had 3 podiums and Capirossi had a win and several podiums. That was the first year!?!?? It seems with the change to 800s they lost something in what makes most of the riders comfortable to push.

...of an argument in to this.  I am helping you narrow your case:

Your last sentence is true of all the bikes since the 800cc era began.  This fuel limit gets the primary blame for this, but smaller, peakier motors will draw that criticism, anyway, because of the loss of torque.  Whether Ducati would have ended up in this same position, if the 990cc era had continued, is unknowable.

Ducati's success in 2003 (while on Michelin) was spectacular, all things considered.  But, they were not consistently great and there was still a lot of experimentation happening.  After that, their success was, essentially, married to BridgeStone's; they succeeded or failed together, to a large extent.  (All of that would be according to Neil Spalding.)

I am not arguing against the stellar abilities of both Rossi and Stoner.  And, I join you in hoping Ducati bring enough options with them to Sepang to develop a winner.

Not meaning to argue. As I enjoy reading many of your posts. Still, cannot wait until next year. Already going crazy with speculation

Hi whorida002000.

Very enjoyable post. Im new to the site, and probably should have directed my comment here to you first. If you wouldn't mind reading it, its on the 2nd page of comments.



Hi David

Just recently found your website and registered. Love the indepth articles and the discussions amoungst members. Gives great insight into the sport we all love. Good stuff.

On topic:
Isn't all this a little insulting to previous riders of the Ducati. The front end issue of the Ducati is well known. If we can see the issue on our TV at home then it must be obvious to the team. Now Vale is onboard it seems they are trying to fix the problem. Does this mean Ducati didn't beleive the other guys? or is it just because Casey was doing such a good job on it?


It would be very interesting to hear Casey, Livio and Nicky's take on this. Any chance of some interviews? I know Casey will be gagged at the moment and Hayden would have to be watching his words carefully, but Livio could give some good insight into how the development process works.

Livio most likely had nothing to do with development, being more concerned with marketing and team management.
Preziosi would be the brain to pick. His comments about Rossis' first test were gushing about Valentinos' detailed levels of feedback. Perhaps previous riders weren't able to articulate their feeling/problem clearly enough?

I think it was more a political reason to emphasize Rossi's development skills. It's a bit like saying "Now we have a good development rider we can make the bike properly".
Personally I think all fast riders are good "development" riders. If they can't get a good setting then they're not going to be fast.

In fact, it's not just Rossi. I think Burgess is quite probably more influential than Rossi regarding development.

Knowing how close Colin and VR are, let's see if he will spill the beans on his boy! if anyone is going to tell the truth it is #5!
I know that would never happpen though!

Spies for President


Have to think that from design to build is down to a day or 2, with the advent of the latest software application. Nick Wirth who built Richard Bransons F1 cars does not have the budget to use wind tunnels so uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).
Imagine if you will being able to design every part on a new F1 car at a work station , now imagine being able to test it to race ready without driving it on a road, and not even require a wind tunnel, seems to much to imagine ? maybe ?

Now imagine your parent company Ferrari, has a stake in the outcome of this experiment with Vale Rossi - and consider they spent $415 million usd in 2008 developing the new car ? and that technology is also using Marlboro sponsorship money as well, and the engineers at Ferrari are also available to help out with, well anything the GP team requires ?

Back in 1982 at the pre season test's Graeme Crosby the great NZ rider goes to Team Agostini Yamaha and can't get the YZ ow60 500 to handle worth a crap, it is unrideable says Croz?
This is the bike that Yamaha had built specifically for Kenny Roberts with all resources put at it, and no expense spared.
Croz and his mechanic Dave Radar Cullen ,scratched their heads and knowing it was all or nothing in pre season testing ,they cut the frame at the steering head and made the geometry identical to Suzukis 1981 XR35 RG!! the changes turned it into a weapon, Croz was now happy and fast enough to finnish 2nd in the championship and Yamaha never knew what Croz's team had done and why he could be faster than the other factory Yamaha riders,worst of all for Croz? beating the Yamaha God of racing that season Kenny Roberts .

I was there in 1982 to see what 1 smart Kiwi rider / wrench + 1 clever as Aussie wrench (the very best in the racing world in Australia then ) with tools and really no money could do to a crap factory bike in 1982 .

2011, I see 1 really clever Italian rider + 1 dead clever Aussie with tools and unlimited Ferrari computer design center, and 100's of engineers, a budget God would smile at and 3 months up their sleeve, and having made the Yamaha M1 what it is today having every single piece of technical data ever produced on disc and more in workbooks and more than that in his head, I really don't think Jeremy Burgess is stressing out bad enough not to really enjoy Christmas in Italy with his wife and child .
See JB's history in his stats here, can you honestly think that Ducati will fail in this attempt ?
> Winning machines prepared by Burgess range from the Suzukis of Randy Mamola to the Hondas of Ron Haslam, Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi to the Yamaha of Valentino Rossi. Since July 1980, these riders have won 159 GP/MotoGP races (as at 2 November 2010) and a total of fourteen World Championships on motorcycles that "JB" has either prepared himself or whose preparation he has overseen as crew chief. Burgess's machinery have achieved over 290 podium finishes.
Merry Christmas Ducati
Merry Christmas JB
Merry Christmas Valentino
Santa thinks that you have all been very good this year

We all get 2 million dollar 2 day F1 tests for winning Motogp Titles and when your mate is Lapo ? GMAFB . Fiat signed a 6 million dollar per season deal with Yamaha that should have cost them 15 million and suddenly Rossi's front page tax problem just vanishes.
Looking for links between Fiat Ferrari and Ducati ? sure doesn't take very long to put that conspiracy theory together . Go to Ducati Motogp home page >
Go to the Home page across to the right and see sponsors, click on the ones that sound familiar .


Valentino's friend best friend as I have heard and read enough times is the man who put together the Fiat brand with Vale - Elkann Lapo grandson of Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli and a stepson of Russian count Serge de Pahlen,now-motogp-sponsor-wants-...

a) Ferrari does not own Ducati, they are not Ducati's parent company and have no stake in Ducatis or Valentino Rossis success. No for-profit business on earth is going to simply give away engineering and technical resources and Ferrari wouldn't have invested in resources or put people on the payroll if they didn't already have some revenue-generating work for them to do.

b) hundreds of engineers? Ducati only has about 1,200 total employees worldwide including production, sales, marketing and corporte. in the past Ducati hasn't even had the manpower to go racing and do in-season development at the same time.

HRC, on the other hand, was a couple years ago able to put three separate engineering teams to work developing three new 800cc engines at the same time, in the middle of the racing season... the conventional valve spring motor, the pneumatic valve motor they eventually adopted and finally they even had a team working on a desmo valve motor.

For a post there, I thought I missed a memo. The factories are close to each other but I don't think they share much of anything besides Shell, Marlboro and red.

Everyone was waiting for Rossi's first laps on the GP10 and it's obvious expectations were high but I personally have no doubts Rossi and Burgess and Ducati will come up with a VERY fast and RIDDEABLE Ducati and that Rossi will be winning races next year.

Of course, Rossi would have loved to make Lorenzo and all look stupid by posting amazing times, but I think he quickly established the danger zone was too risky at this time of the year (with the surgery on hold) and instead moved on to gather as much feedback as possible. What was worst ? Crashing on lap 15 and injure yourself even more and come back with NO DATAS or slowly establish what you want and how you want it ? If he wins races in 2011, it will only enforce the Legend, and if he looses, well, let's wait for the GP12...

Now, they have three months to come up with something new. Or with a few something new as i think (someone pointed that already) they'll have a two way approach to this: small changes bike, and radical changes bike. It wouldn't suprised me if they come with something radical (for Ducati), twin spar frame jumps to mind, but they will ride it along something just slightly changed: let's not forget that GP10 was winning races and put Nicky Hayden up there a few times so this is no Suzuki....

And this test proved at least one thing: Stoner is a great, great rider.

Fantastic site - great article as usual. Finally had to register!

I have to wonder how many of Ducati's woes are down to their insistence on sticking to an L twin with a nearly horizontal front cylinder bank. That must make the packaging and weight distribution more difficult for them, particularly when the trend seems to be for extended swing arms and stubbier fronts. Or have they rotated the engine somewhat?

I'm sure they could always go back to their steel trellis frame if they have to, although I thought they had stated it was just as easy to tune flex, etc, with different laying up of the carbon fibre frame (such as it is). Are they also having issues because of the complete inflexibility of the rest of their frame. It's the engine isn't it? Not much lateral flex in that...

Maybe they could approach Motocysz - they had some pretty radical forks on their prototype if I recall correctly. they could be tuned for horizontal flex. There was an article about them, which included bolting a Motocysz front end onto the front of an R1. The claim was that it was good for about a second a lap I think. Maybe they will be able to enter GP in 2012? I'd have loved to see how it went as they had some pretty novel engineering on it. I still think it's a shame we haven't seen more radical frame/suspension in MotoGP, or Moto2 where I thought some teams might have sought an advantage.

Respect is due to Stoner, and the highly underrated Hayden for their ability to ride the Duc as well as they have in its current form!

I wish they would listen to their riders more. I think they completely wasted Bayliss. When they finally let him use the forks he'd always wanted to (in his gift ride in Valencia) he wiped the floor with the entire field!

"...Are they also having issues because of the complete inflexibility of the rest of their frame. It's the engine isn't it? Not much lateral flex in that..."

There it is... in simple words we've all been overlooking.

It's a little too easy to say this, but I think the reality is they don't really know all the variables and forces at work in their design so - and this is the point of prototype racing - there's a lot of trail-&-error built in to what they're doing.  It appears this coming year they may be more willing to put more effort into the "trial" part and learn more from the "errors".

Ducati had a pretty stellar entry season in 2003. Capirex leading in Sepang,the win in Catalunya. Bayliss did pretty well,all things considered.
Then for 2004,they radically changed the bike.Result:a black year for them in GP.
2005 was equally bad,but they did go about things incrementally and in 2006 they had a very good Championship potential winning bike.
In my humble opinion Rossi must get to grips with the basic D16 and Ducati must move it little by little,like they have done with Hayden's input.
I wonder if Capirex is also at the think tank in Bologna.
Poor old Nicky,I guess he'll just have to ride the wheels off Rossi's tailor made suit,like Dani's one circa 2007.De Puniet certainly will.
Roll on Sepang.

Well spotted Shog and backed by Rusty_Bucket. The L configuration is fantastic for many reasons,but a liability in other areas. Cooling of the front pot was always an issue. Love the configuration,the primary balance of the engine.In the old days we would dump the flywheel as it was not needed. Balancing of the chassis loads,relevant to circuit or stretch of tarmac...well,that was always an issue.
On top of the world today,down in the dumps(gravel) next week.What Stoner achieved in 800GP with the D16 is a testament to his doggedness and skill as a racer.
Will Ducati change it for the sake of Rossi winning the Championship for them ?
I reckon that remote possibility has as much chance as Ducati getting rid of desmo valve gear.
Rossi,I reckon,will just have to adapt.

I completely agree about the inflexibility of the 90 degree V (or L) engine configuration. The front cylinder is always a problem as it forces the engine to be set further back in the frame than is ideal for weight distribution and (particularly) weight over the front wheel. Put it in the ideal place and the front wheel smacks the cam covers on all but the smallest deflection.

It's no coincidence that Aprilia chose a 65 degree V configuration when doing a blank sheet of paper design for their RSV4, nor that Honda allegedly use a very similar layout. While it's fascinating to hear all about the tricky stuff that Ducati Corse are doing to mitigate the drawbacks of their chosen engine layout, I can't help but feel that they will only truly become consistently competitive when they jettison their 'historic' 90 degree V/L engine layout.

Everything else is really tinkering around the margins, IMHO.

Well thanks (blushing) :)

I guess its tricky for them. They wanted to retain Ducati traditions as far as possible, even though it's a four and not a twin. Didn't they make a four in the past?

They may have to think hard about the L configuration. When does a Ducati become not a Ducati to the purists? Would a 65 degree V4 with Desmodromic valves not be traditional enough? Maybe they wouldn't want to be seen to be copying other factories.

Whatever, I don't see them changing the engine for 2011 - if at all. But I don't think they can afford to ignore the issue or they will be struggling with the 2012 D16 as well. They would be better fixing the problem now and carrying that forward to the 2012 model. IMHO.

"I can't help but feel that they will only truly become consistently competitive when they jettison their 'historic' 90 degree V/L engine layout."

To me they've already proven that they could be quite competitive with Stoner scoring the most wins (23) in the 800 era but more importantly being consistent over the course of an entire season and winning by a big margin the 2007 world championship (10 victories, 5 poles, 14 podiums), sounds competitive to me.
With the screamer engine by the way.

I agree that the Desmo is a race winning bike, but during 07 in the hands of Casey, it destroyed the whole field. This season in the same hands of Casey, it's running with the pack, occasionally brilliant. "Destroyed the field" was taking shape in Yamaha for the next 2 seasons and now rightfully own by Yamaha Factory for this yr.

From a different perspective, the Desmo would unlikely be the most winning bike if the rest did not get it wrong from 07. The Desmo was the best from 07 but it kindda improve a little more each year whereas M1 & RC212V went above and beyond.

Lots of "what if".....what if HRC kept Casey for cheap on the RC212V back in 07? Lol!!!


Seems that the reported changes are not that far from what they have done in the last few years to fine tune the thing. I don't think that a guy with Nicky's riding style could ride that machine to the second or third fastest race lap time at P.I this year if the bike is that far from the "ideal" set up in cool conditions. I've seen the Ducati race dept. and clearly it's staffed by smart guys to have come this far.

With Rossi there anything is possible including putting the carbon frt. subframe back on the shelf.

"Valentino will operate with us mainly for the 2012 bike, because the 2011 bike will be ready by the end of the season"

I think they made the best decision possible for now. Focus on the front-end issue and chassis right away, and not next year. Surely if you improve that you will have a much better season in 2011, but also a better basis for the 2012 bike.

Absolutely. Progress made now will be carried forward to the 2012 bike. Get it sorted as early as possible and get the benefit in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Why wouldn't you?

Honda and Yamaha have already stolen the march. Fast data to work with from Casey,George,Simmo,Ben,Dani,Dovi,Nicky and Randy. Even Alvaro on the Suz box.
General concensus is always,'It's only testing'. Testing of componenents gets done in the factory,and on track by test riders,not by contracted riders.
When they bring all their kit to Sepang,testing translates into a race,not against a team or rider,but against the stopwatch.Any failure to be at the sharp end at Sepang's conclusion,means failure pre-2011.
I remember Stoner being blindingly fast in 2006/7 winter testing.
Rossi will have to do the same on the Ducati in 2011 testing or it's tickets.
Ducati are painfully aware of the situation. Hence,winter meetings.
Again,great article David and yes...A long winter in Bologna.
2012 bike be damned...'escape hatch comment'.
The expectancy from Marlboro/Ducati/AMG etc is huge. Failure to deliver by Rossi at the 2011 Sepang test may well cripple their GP efforts forever.

My memory of 2006/7 testing was somewhat different. While Casey was generally at the pointy end, he didn't dominate. He left that for the first race (and the rest of the season) when nobody saw which way he went. But part of the Ducati's 'advantage' that season (apart from Casey being blindingly fast) was the fact that Ducati were the only front-running factory to be using Bridgestone tyres, and they were thus designed for the Ducati's particular characteristics.

Plus they had a rocket-ship of a motor.

I think you're being a bit black and white with your prognostications for 'what if' Rossi doesn't dominate in Sepang. Sepang is only testing. I really don't see how failure to top the timesheets in Sepang could 'cripple their GP efforts forever'. That's hyperbole run riot. It's what happens when the flag drops on the first race (and thereafter) that counts.

From what I 'seem' to be reading here, many of you see the pressure on Rossi to deliver Ducati a WC and winning bike. 95% of the pressure is on Ducati, and its engineering team, to build a bike that Rossi & Hayden can win on. Rossi is "not" the issue---he's fast as hell! Rossi's resume is unquestionalbe: he changed Yamaha from a mid-pack bike to what it is now!

Ducati/Ferrari/AMG/etc are betting 'their $$$$$$' & reputations, that they can deliver a bike to Rossi! I also believe that they will. Burgess has done this before and as someone posted above, I don't think he's sweating and losing sleep over this 'new' project. He's been there so many times he knows it w/out looking at the sheets. 2011 will be interesting!

Stoner has won more races on his Ducati than Rossi on his Yamaha this past 4 seasons.
Unlike the Yamaha in 2004, the Ducati is a proven winner (won half of the last 6 races this season, double podium in Aragon).
Obviously the Ducati has some issues but the package is already up to the task, therefore pressure is on the rider whereas for the Yamaha switch all the pressure was on the manufacturer.
The departing Ducati rider, Stoner, is going to win races in 2011, no questions about it as he was blindingly fast for his very first try on the Honda.
On the other hand Rossi's test has been very disappointing, this is why pressure is on him.
The very first step would be to be faster than Hayden and De Puniet, let's see about that in Sepang.

2011 is only a few blocks down the road. Anyone thinking that HRC and Yamaha are celebrating the festive season in olivion, whilst being generous,time wise, in anticipation of Ducati....and particularly, Rossi, catching up. Dream on.
Now,we are getting very 'previous'.
Never was one for fortune tellers,but as the subject has been breached,let's step up to Quatar,round 1.
circa 2007...rocket ship motor...posted to chequrered flag in a majority of one.
As a 9 time World Champion first time out on a new bike with enormous resources behind him,am I wrong to expect a repeat ? Surely,I am.
Old 'cop out'....Only testing.
I always saw testing as a race against a stopwatch. And that,sad but true is how development and improvement are propelled.
'IF' is not part of this equation. Sepang,pointy end or bust.
The flag will drop post Quatar,and my take is that should Rossi fail to podium,at least,the glory days are gone.
Nevertheless,many years ago I asked an old Bike Tuner 'what do I need to go faster?' Reply was...'How much have yee to spend?'. Question answered in a way.

Testing is testing. No prizes are handed out (unless you count the odd BMW). If teams choose to engage in a shootout when they should be honing their 'new' bikes to the point of readiness for the coming season, that's their choice. If teams choose to go for bragging rights rather than using a precious and very time-limited resource to improve their machines, that too is their choice.

I think the approach shown by Ducati, Burgess and Rossi in the Valencia test indicates that they intend to maximise their use of testing and leave the racing until Qatar.

"...engage in a shootout when they should be..."

I am sure ALL teams value the precious testing time and are trying to get the most out of it. The approach may be different, but I don't think they are a bunch of adolescent amateurs spilling time.

Test or no test, someone is always going to be the fastest.

@ 3B43

Thats fair enough, but I think the pressure really is on Vale. The Duc is fast and can win races, Casey proved this. Vale said in his book that the move from Honda to Yamaha was to prove that the rider made the difference not the bike.

So we have a fast bike and a fast rider who says the rider makes the difference.

Can't wait to see what happens next season.


I know that this may be cynical, but Rossi is the master of the mind game, and we do know he had a bung shoulder, maybe he just made it look as if he was not so fast and then he will come out next year and do what Casey did back in 2007 and blow the rest of the field away. I think we will just have to wait and see, but I think if Casey is fast and Jorge does what he did this year hopefully it will give us some good racing to watch and not some drawn out parade, and even Dani might be able to keep up occasionally.Anyway everyone take care on the roads over the holiday period and have a great Christmas.

PIT BULL:"Old 'cop out'....Only testing.
I always saw testing as a race against a stopwatch."

Hmmm...., is that why the fastest guy in testing hasn't gone on to win the title in about 7 years now?

Referring to an earlier comment about Rossi v Stoner Laguna 2008. Poster mentioned various 'race tactics' which in my limited experience are frowned upon. Tactics such as 'brake checking' are regularly criticised by commentators during the races and by rider's who have been victim to the practice.

Is this kosher? Ive only ridden two clubmans races in my time, and can only go on what I hear and read as to what passes for race craft or cheating.

Brake checking, using riders as berms, passing under a waving yellow, etc, are all frowned upon unless it is Rossi doing the checking or berming or passing.

The Laguna race was mostly impressive but after Rossi overcooked the corkscrew, had both wheels in the dirt, and nearly ran Stoner off the track when he rentered it and Dorna had nothing to say only reinforces that we are watching entertainment and as long as the entertainment is good the rules can be overlooked.

Rossi is always given the benefit of doubt and then some and in my mind that only takes away from his skill as a racer and sportsman. Its a shame as he is good enough to win most of the time without questionable moves.


Hey twistgrip. There were many moves Rossi made that will go down as dangerous and cheating. But for most of the race, he did not do what would be illegal. For instance, when he overcooked it going into the corkscrew then slammed back on the track running Casey wide. If it were another rider, there may have been a penalty given. But most of the race he did things from what I saw from different angles than the camera caught that just messed up Stoner's rythm. Sometimes braking early for turn. Other times braking late. This inconsistancy does not allow the rider behind you to feel like they know what you are going to do. Stoner, did not know what to expect. As they would go into some corners with Casey right on top of Rossi he would brake early causing Stoner to have to check up adjusting his line, loosing time. That under the rules is part of his right to keep someone behind him. He did not brake so early it was ridiculous. But earlier than he would normally brake. And Rossi, is one of the hardest people to beat on the brakes. So it would stun Stoner when he would break light, then hard, then let off. You could visibly see the surprise by how Stoner would sit up or stiffen on the bike. Not looking comfortable. Hell, before he crashed, he looked downright pissed in his positioning.

But if you barge someone, like Rossi did Gibernau in 2005, that is outright against the rules. Or you head into a corner and t-bone someone because you were going WAY to fast, not just a little fast, then it will come under scrutiny.

So to answer. Yes one move in particular could have fallen under illegal. But most of his moves were hard racing. But Rossi, given his talent in bringing money by making a good show, will get away with anything short of sending someone to the hospital. So Rossi uses Real Racecraft. But he WILL cheat to beat people too.

Barged Gibernau, or Sete late braked and cocked up when he came back onto a line that Rossi had taken. A viewpoint always depends on where you stand.

LOL, so now were at LS 2008 again? Rossi did ONE dangerous move in that race, I can think of at least three from Stoner on top of my head. 1. Leaning on Rossi while passing him just before "the" move, much more dangerous considering the speed is triple. 2. Missing the brake mark into turn 11 3/4 laps before his crash and almost collecting Rossi. 3. Missing the brake mark into turn 11 and almost collecting Rossi in the crash.

There is no evidence of deliberate brake checking from Rossi, just allegations from bitter Stoner fans or Rossi-haters who can't accept that Stoner just couldn't handle the pressure that day. It's tactically stupid too; had Rossi started to brake earlier in the passing points and Stoner wouldve surprised him, the race was over. Stoner wouldve just gapped him before sector 1 making it impossible for Rossi to pass into turn 5.

VR and TB have nothing to prove.

There is nothing odd with a company preparing for the coming season (as they should).

Laguna 08 (I was there) was nothing more than good ole fashion racing, two riders forgetting everyone else and just wanting to win.

I' am not with the (Malboro Ducati) team and will not assume that the engine, frame, or whatever is the single source of the issue(s).

Thank you Motomatters and co for a great site, I have been a long time follower but this is my first post.

Took many, a while, to figure the L runs backwards.Cuts out a gear in the interests of forward propulsion.Genius that was Taglioni.Backwards to go Forward.

Actually,I can't place it,but it was a shootout back in 1973 between THE bikes of that era at Willow Springs. It took the testers 2 days to figure out that the old GT750 Ducati's mill, in fact,did run backwards. After the test on a Dyno in which the Ducati came in about 5th of 7,they noticed the pleated intake hoses were jammed shut.So,they took off the hoses and the Dyno readings propelled it up a nose behind the Mach4 2 stroke Kawa and Z1 900.That wasn't even the Desmo version.That's the Ducati anommally.
I presume,Preziosi has informed Jerry that the thing has run backwards since its ingenious inception.Obviously I have no data on the current D16,but I do suggest that the chances of the backward rotation are as 'stet' as the desmo valve gear coupled to the L format.Just going to have to ride around the bane and boon of the lump.