Ducati Test Team Testing Modified GP11 At Jerez

As announced during the briefing by Ducati Corse chief Filippo Preziosi at Ducati's Wrooom! launch event, the Bologna factory's test team has headed to Jerez to continue work on the modifications made to the Desmosedici GP11 based on the input from Valentino Rossi after the Valencia tests. The list of changes is impressive: different forks, a revised front subframe/chassis with more flex, altered triple clamps, a different swingarm, a different electronics package. Enough to keep test riders Franco Battaini and Vito Guareschi (taking off his team manager's hat to make way for his test rider's helmet) busy for three whole days at Jerez.

No times were released - as is so often the case when the test team rides - and the times set would not be a true reflection of the state of the Ducati, as both Guareschi and Battaini are a tick or so slower than a MotoGP regular, but the press release issued from the test spoke of progress being made. The emphasis is clearly on improving the front end of the Ducati, it's weak point almost from the inception of the 800 project, and Vito Guareschi reported some improvements in that area, while Battaini worked on the electronics. Just how fruitful the work has been will only truly be visible at Sepang, once Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden take to the track again for the first of the official MotoGP test at the beginning of February.

Here's the official Ducati press release:


A three-day Ducati MotoGP development test began today in Spain, at Jerez de la Frontera. Two teams, under the guidance of Technical Director Filippo Preziosi, supported official test rider Franco Battaini and Vittoriano Guareschi, who temporarily replaced his Team Manager duties with those of a rider.

The test is being carried out to speed up the setup work of the Desmosedici GP11 for the two factory Ducati Marlboro Team riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who will take to the track themselves at the Sepang test in the first week of next month (February 1-3).

It was a sunny day, but with high humidity in the morning, as is often the case at the Andalusian circuit, and Guareschi and Battaini were only able to get on the track around midday.

"It was a very productive day," said Vittoriano Guareschi after completing 50 laps, "even though the track's grip was really bad, in part because of the high humidity and in part because the F3 test that took place until yesterday left the asphalt quite dirty. As planned, ‘Batta' (Franco Battaini, 60 laps) and I divided the responsibilities. I worked on the chassis with the goal of improving turn-in, while Franco concentrated on the electronics, including the new anti-wheelie and anti-spin systems that we're testing and adjusting. I think I found a couple of interesting things with set-up that help with the front-end feel. We worked on ride height, seat position, and on many aspects of bike set-up that will help with all of the data-acquisition work that are necessary to be ready for Malaysia, when Vale and Nicky will ask us to change the bike in various ways. It's a refinement process that will proceed for the two days in order to speed up the factory riders' work in Malaysia."


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So the three days of test in Spain will help update the Ducati simulation perhaps, test-sim-test. I would guess Vale can "ride" with the changes from the Jerez and get an idea of what to expect next month. I hope folks get/stay healthy. Two more weeks.

Surely at this point there is no more speculation about where Ducati is choosing to spend its development dollars. With the "factory" superbike team not racing this year, it is good to see that they are pouring effort in to another project, rather than just hording the cash to better weather the economic storm.

Official Lightweight Battery Supplier of Yoshimura Suzuki, KTM North America, and Rickey Gadson.

Looking at the sponsors on board already and still lining up I don't think Ducati have any money worry issues.
However considering the two test riders, these are the guys behind the rather unpleasant gp8 gp9 and 10 and I would have liked to have seen some fresh blood as I get the impression they tow the corporate line. If not then the bike should have changed somewhat a couple of years ago.
As with yam sticking with it's signature inline 4 I would love to see Ducati back with a trellis frame and can't help thinking it would be an immediate improvement.
Constantly struggling with the engine sub frame thingy smacks of digging heels in.
Can't wait for the first test and to see Rossi on the duke I sense more history being made in the next few seasons and can only thank the stars that this is happening in my 'era'.

Battaini is pretty new to the Desmodeci adventure, he only came when Guareschi was appointed team manager with the departure of Suppo last year.
Furthermore Ducati is the only team to have a team manager also acting as a test rider with should very much improve understanding of the bike and of rider's complaints since he's actually riding the beast!
To conclude, Stoner won more races than anyone else with this (these) bike(s) these last 4 years so the design cannot be that bad. It's fresh, new and innovative so obviously easy to criticize, has its drawbacks but also advantages (both well proven by Stoner) but MotoGP is about prototype isn't it?
Treillis frame have been abandonned decades ago in racing, maybe it's better to try new solutions/concepts rather than digging up old ones?
Rossi said it was a "proper prototype" compared to the japanese bikes more or less derived from production machines, sums it all!

...that it was a true prototype, I don't think he was meaning to pay a compliment. I think he was being diplomatic. It sounded to me like he was saying that it was nowhere near as polished and easy to ride as the Japanese bikes.

Yes, Stoner won more races, but he was the only one who could make heads or tails of it. I personally believe he won by riding around problems, making use of the superior horsepower he had at his disposal.

Trellis frames have been abandoned, but Yamaha has more "non-innovative" tech than most others, hardware/arrangement-wise. An inline 4? BORING! Alloy frame and swingarm? Production bike! I jest, of course. It's been the belle of the ball, while being rather staid compared to the D16, tech-wise. I've been wishing Ducati would dump their over-engineered setup for a long time.

I DO respect your opinion, as well as their pioneering spirit, but for me, Ockham's Razor applies to more than just philosophical questions.

There is a really drive in Ducati (short) history in MotoGP: they need to try different solutions.

Because there is no way they can compete with the likes of Honda and Yamaha by replicating the very same technological solutions these 2 have been developing for decades in GP without the enormous R&D departments (and 40 years of experience in Grand Prix racing).
Since the beginning, Ducati has been trying to find a technological edge because you cannot defeat the japanese giants by using the same techniques they've been developing for years, you need something fresh, something new, just take a look at Suzuki or Kawasaki (much smaller than Honda and Yamaha) success in MotoGP with "not over-engineered" approaches.
Ducati has been successful from the beggining, 1st win in MotoGP after only their 6th race in 2003!!! But then after 2 years they dropped Michelin for Bridgestone. Why? To get an edge, to get Bridgestone to develop exclusively for them and try overcome the Honda-Michelin and Yamaha-Michelin with a different technical solution. By that time Michelin was piling up the world titles so why would you bother chose a supplier that barely racked a few wins?
Then a few years after Ducati dominated the championship in 2007, with Stoner on Bridgestones. Rossi and Pedrosa switched to the japanese brand the next year and in 2009 (so 4 years after the Ducati-Bridgestone collaboration began), Bridgestone were dominating the championship and began the exclusive tire supplier.

Plus Ducati are in MotoGP to promote their brand image, engineering prowess and to develop new technologies, test new concepts, they can't brag about adopting an alloy frame in MotoGP when they have chosen for so long to ignore this technology in their production motorcycles. But to me that comes second to the first point described here, you can't defeat the japanese giants by just copying them, you need your own weapons.

Thanks for the interesting discussion (never heard of Ockhal's razor before, learnt something today!).

Ducati road bikes need to be different from the competition as well, and always have been.
At some stage Ducati must have to start selling D16 road bikes based on the GP bikes and these will need to be differentiated (including against Aprilia) to justify their price premium.
The CF frame members, stressed engine and 90 deg desmo motor should be the key elements of this differentiation, hopefully plus some Italian style.

While the sponsors have indeed lined up for the MotoGP team, this does not seem to be carrying over to their other divisions.
In the US, Ducati has all but abandoned the IMS consumer motorcycle show schedule, LA and New York aside. This is not something that a company with well padded accounts does...

I always try to remind people that Ducati has no ancillary business to help offset costs. Honda and all the rest have all manner of alternative revenue streams from generators, boats, musical equipment, etc...while Ducati has...bikes.

Official Lightweight Battery Supplier of Yoshimura Suzuki, KTM North America, Rickey Gadson, and Orient Express Racing.

on the chassis side of things. There are a number of factors to consider here;

1. What does Guareschi get around Mugello at - about 3 secs slower than the factory's racers? Lets say 3-5% slower than the big boys on any given track. Significant problems normally only manifest themselves at 10/10th.

2. Bridgestones. We constantly hear the refrain that they need to be pushed to operate in their optimum temperature range. I understand that range is relatively wide given the tyres are spec and need to be broad spectrum. But does this include Guareschi's pace?

3. Riding style / body position. A motorcycle is such an ever changing dynamic. Different body shapes and sizes weighting a motorcycle in a different manner. A one size fits all scenario is very hard to achieve.

4. A rider is in constant search for that ever elusive perfect 'feel' sensation. What one rider determines is his optimum set-up can vary wildly to the next - even for riders of similar proportions.

O.K the test team can certainly provide some information and ideas to the regulars but it's highly unlikely they'd hit upon the magic bullet. Otherwise Stoner wouldn't have had such a torrid 2010, or Honda wouldn't have brought 5 chassis and 3 swingarms to the Qatar G.P for Pedrosa 2010!

Hugelean and Nostrodamus have said it all. Last year,if I recall correctly, Karel was faster than both of them in Jerez testing and lets face it,what experience does he have of MotoGP bikes,let alone the notoriously difficult to ride 800 D16.
The plus side of this testing is that its happening in Jerez,a circuit where the bike has generally not performed over the years. A decent step forward by the test riders in Jerez,should give some encouragement given past and currently collected data.
The judge of true progress will remain lap times between Sepang 1 and Sepang 2 testing with the factory riders on board,but you all knew that anyway.
Sepang has generally been a good track for Ducati and Rossi 'owns' the place.

But are these statements of near obvious caveats questions of the teams ability to conduct testing and interpret results? I have a feeling they know what they are doing.

You and I have agreed AGAIN, PIT BULL! That's TWICE in under a year! :)

Hugelean and Nostradamus have indeed said it all.

OOOOOOOOOOH, but how I hope they're WRONG.

Of COURSE tests cost money, and they are beneficial, but I don't think they offer enough feedback...at least, not for an unruly beast like the D16.

Again, I hope we're WRONG about that.

It's always the same story, if any "test" rider was able to ride at MotoGP race pace, he would be racing MotoGP, not a test rider, don't forget that!
So there's no point complaining that a test rider is slower than the rider, it's the way things are and always will be, if you're able to match Stoner's, Lorenzo's or Rossi's pace you won't waste your time doing some "testing". You'll get your ass out there and race these guys! Plus 3 seconds of the pace is basically 1 second of the pace of last grid riders, can't reasonably ask for more.

In the current set of rules, it's pretty clear that since official test are strictly limited, test riders are there so that the actual riders don't waste their time finding a setup to start with. The test rider will test brand new parts to evaluate them and define how to improve them, discover some "general trends" in setting up the new bike, find stuff that works in a certain way or another and THEN the rider, during one of the few official tests, will have the ability to test the refined new parts, fine tune things according to his riding style, body characteristics etc...on the basis of what the test riders found out.
A rider may like a certain type of setup or another but knowing if it corresponds to the test rider style is irrelevant. A test rider goal is not to go as fast as possible with the best setup for himself but to gather data and understand the bike behavior. In any case data from the test riders will help the rider to determine his first setup before he jumps on the bike and hopefully help him to set up his bike more efficiently and quickly towards what he likes.

A test rider is not a racer (though often an ex-racer, sometimes a future racer) and is not intented to be one.

There are many ways to drop those extra (say) 3 seconds between the racer and test rider, especially around a highly technical track like Jerez. So even if the overall lap time doesn't match there will still be many areas where the tester will have the same pace and the bike will be reacting the same way as it does for the racer.
For instance.. it's highly probable that Guareschi is losing a few tenths under braking at the end of the front straight; ok, so his feedback probably won't mirror Rossi's (the ultimate late-braker), but the team are experienced enough to discard or at least discount that information and that exact instance.
But exiting the long uphill righthander and cresting over the hill before the back straight I'll bet Guareschi and Rossi are both probably very close about when and how hard they get on the throttle--and Guareschi will be able to talk knowledgeably about how the bike reacts in that instance.
The teams are now so precise (with GPS etc) that their data readouts will be telling them exactly where on the track at any given moment the bike is weakest, and the riders--both racers and testers--will be focused on those areas. It's not about overall lap times; it's about breaking down each individual lap into tiny increments and figuring out how to optimise the bike at that precise moment.
Also, Rossi likes a bike that's easy to ride above everything else. The testers will be able to supply useful information on that, I'm sure.
Excellent thoughts guys, thank you -- I enjoy discussing this stuff.

Test riders are valuable because they can test parts in isolation.
In the 990 days, when Vito was involved in the development of Bridgestones for the Ducati, he would ride the same mechanical spec bike all year and only the tyres would differ. Thus any improvements in lap times were down to the tyres alone.
Racers do not have the luxury of enough time to do this (and this is even more pronounced in these days of restricted testing).
If a new part makes 1/10th of a sec difference for a test rider, then it is probably worth bringing to the racers test.
As for the variance in style between riders, isn't on of Ducatis goals with the GP11 to make it a better bike for more than one rider?

There is limited time for the racers to ride the bike as a system of parts. The testers - even if they make the parts work at a fraction of a the racers' limit - are collecting data of how the parts work together. The engineers can them compare the numbers to the prior system and see if the predicted changes occurred. No, it is not the same as the racers' pace, but the GP rules currently limit racers' seat time. When the racers finally do get to test, engineers can compare racer comments to the parts/system data and find a better direction to improve the bike.

Given a choice, which would you think is most valuable to get *first* when comparing to the prior bike for engineering development:
a) the data from the sensors/telemetry/etc.
b) getting verbal feedback from a rider
c) an umbrella girl
d) something else

All the manufacturers have to do the engineering to get the bike to perform like the riders suggest (or at times the engineer/management desires in spite of the rider's input). Since Rossi and Hayden can't ride until next month, test riders - even at less than 100% is a good thing. Riding at 110%, then crashing brings a sudden end to data collection.

I'd be interested to know how they measure the increased deflection of the flexi-flier fork compared to the early 2010 hard-shafts.