Ducati Flex Package "The Way Forward" Says Vito Guareschi

During winter testing, there was a great deal of mystery surrounding Ducati's so-called "flexi-package", a selection of parts designed to produce more flexibility and response in Ducati's carbon fiber chassis. The package had been aimed at improving the front-end feel of the Ducati, and it had been tested by Vito Guareschi and Franco Battaini, and taken to Sepang for the Marlboro Ducati riders to test during the MotoGP tests.

After that, the story became more confusing; it was reported that Nicky Hayden had tested the package, but discarded it in favor of the standard package first tried at Valencia. The reports said that Valentino Rossi had never even bothered testing the softer package, preferring instead to concentrate on finding a setup for the standard package.

At Qatar, Ducati team boss Vito Guareschi explained the situation to MotoMatters.com in detail. The flexi-package consisted of just a special forward subframe, which the Ducati uses in place of a full chassis. The rest of the package consists of the new triple clamps with a slotted top yoke and the 2011 48mm Ohlins forks. Ducati already has a choice of three different rear swingarms of different flexibility, with both Rossi and Hayden having plumped for the medium swingarm. The new subframe, Guareschi said, was "one step" softer than the standard, though Guareschi could not specify how much that was: "I don't know the numbers," he said.

Guareschi revealed that far from being discarded, Nicky Hayden was currently using the flexi package at Qatar. As there were only two chassis subframes available, Hayden had fitted them to his two bikes, while Rossi continued to work on setup on the standard package. But the flexible package is the direction of the future Guareschi said.

"It takes three weeks to prepare a new carbon fiber chassis," Guareschi explained, adding that once they had two more chassis subframes, these would be passed on to Valentino Rossi's crew to start using. That would not be before Estoril at the end of May, he added.

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As it stands Hayden is 14th(FP3) only rookie Karel slower..and this is the way forward?

3 weeks makes it mid-April, not the end of May?..something is not adding up here and is indeed very confusing.

Going full circle to only end up as a parts tester for Rossi again. Rossi is running normal operating procedure, gets a full time rider to test parts for him before he deems them ready to use. I wonder if he pays Nicky's salary out of his pocket. Edwards is probably laughing in his helmet.

Nicky seemed to be getting to grips with the standard package last year, what's the benefit for him to test the flexi package when he could be sort of competitive with the stiff version?


This is so utterly frustrating if what you speculate is true. I am a fan of both Ducati and Hayden and to see him reduced to a factory parts tester has got to be more than demoralizing to him. I hope there is more to the story and this is not entirely the case. He is resiliant though and a grinder. Considering his times on the new stuff, it may not be that bad. 13th on the time sheet certainly looks bad but he is only off 6th palce by 3 tenths. By the way, this is pretty normal for Hayden. He seems to go about the weekends in this way. First, off the pace, then gets better in qualifying and near the front during the race. No one really knows what goes on behind the scenes but he would probably be better served if he was a little more vocal in the dissapointing times. Same story when he was at Honda as we have seen this before. He always seems to come up a little short when it comes to getting things specifically for him. Always the other guy first. Squeaky wheel usually gets the grease. Hopefully the flex stuff comes good. Flex it or wrex it.

I've seen many documentaries about CFRP (including behind the scenes at the Red Bull F1 autoclave), and the time required to make parts with it, but I've never, EVER heard if it taking so long... The new McLaren MP4-12C has a one-piece tub for its chassis, and that is made in a matter of a few hours. What's with the three-week figure?

The new McLaren MP4/12C Sports car uses a special process where the tub is injection moulded. This process would not be used for the Formula ! cars, because of the low volume produced.

I read that McLaren went this way with the new sports car because it reduces cost and for speed of manufacture . Normal method of manufacture with carbon fibre involves laying up of the carbon in moulds and is very labour intensive and time consuming.

I thought F1 chassis were "carved" out of a solid "block" of carbon fiber. Perhaps its different w a MotoGP chassis. Who knows?

They dont have " solid blocks " of carbon fibre. It comes in rolls and is laid up in a mould. By laying it at differnt angles, they get different stiffness.

I am not an expert, but, have read about it on the net.

Have a look here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_fibre
The process by which most carbon fiber-reinforced polymer is made varies, depending on the piece being created, the finish (outside gloss) required, and how many of this particular piece are going to be produced.

For simple pieces of which relatively few copies are needed, (1–2 per day) a vacuum bag can be used. A fiberglass, carbon fiber or aluminum mold is polished and waxed, and has a release agent applied before the fabric and resin are applied, and the vacuum is pulled and set aside to allow the piece to cure (harden). There are two ways to apply the resin to the fabric in a vacuum mold. One is called a wet layup, where the two-part resin is mixed and applied before being laid in the mold and placed in the bag. The other is a resin induction system, where the dry fabric and mold are placed inside the bag while the vacuum pulls the resin through a small tube into the bag, then through a tube with holes or something similar to evenly spread the resin throughout the fabric. Wire loom works perfectly for a tube that requires holes inside the bag. Both of these methods of applying resin require hand work to spread the resin evenly for a glossy finish with very small pin-holes. A third method of constructing composite materials is known as a dry layup. Here, the carbon fiber material is already impregnated with resin (prepreg) and is applied to the mold in a similar fashion to adhesive film. The assembly is then placed in a vacuum to cure. The dry layup method has the least amount of resin waste and can achieve lighter constructions than wet layup. Also, because larger amounts of resin are more difficult to bleed out with wet layup methods, prepreg parts generally have fewer pinholes. Pinhole elimination with minimal resin amounts generally require the use of autoclave pressures to purge the residual gases out.

A quicker method uses a compression mold. This is a two-piece (male and female) mold usually made out of fiberglass or aluminum that is bolted together with the fabric and resin between the two. The benefit is that, once it is bolted together, it is relatively clean and can be moved around or stored without a vacuum until after curing. However, the molds require a lot of material to hold together through many uses under that pressure.

Many carbon fiber-reinforced polymer parts are created with a single layer of carbon fabric, and filled with fiberglass. A tool called a chopper gun can be used to quickly create these types of parts. Once a thin shell is created out of carbon fiber, the chopper gun is a pneumatic tool that cuts fiberglass from a roll and sprays resin at the same time, so that the fiberglass and resin are mixed on the spot. The resin is either external mix, wherein the hardener and resin are sprayed separately, or internal, where they are mixed internally, which requires cleaning after every use.

For difficult or convoluted shapes, a filament winder can be used to make pieces.

I believe McLaren have a special method of creating their CF parts. I seem to remember an interview with Gordon Murray on the last page of a recent Car & Driver where he talks about the huge advances McLaren have made in that regard. But even so, three weeks does seem like an awful long time, even door to door

Thanks, just read it, I've always lived in hope that Murray will get a commission to design a race bike ..........

It would be interesting.

Rossi's stiffer package, when combined with soft rubber, provides a subtle stimulus to the grips of his ride at the front and traction on the rear end.

Hayden's flaccid package limps around the track proving neither the rider or the ridee much satisfaction at completion.

oh, there is that line... behind me.

Nicky was a parts tester the year he won the championship. Remember that clutch he was using? I lost so much respect for HRC that year because of what they were putting Hayden through.

on the whole 'Stoner as a good/bad development rider' issue, I feel. As things stand, Hayden's times are showing that a more flexible Duc may well be a more predictable Duc but is also more compromised - and slower.

This I believe shows that the supposed fault of Stoner in preferring a 'hard' set-up - and one that was extremely difficult for any other Duc rider to master - has been clearly the only way to make the Duc competitive for wins. Unless the flexi-package suddenly shows reliable competitiveness, it will remain a more rider-friendly bike toddling around mid-back of the pack while its riders beat themselves to death trying to get it to the front. Other than for wet races, this doesn't look like the answer to any maiden's prayer, and wet races were never a particular problem for Stoner so the advantage is surely minimal.

I'm stuck wondering why Ducati doesn't take a peek at what Czysz did for the C1's front end instead of looking at making the subframe and triples more flexible.

From all accounts (including Jeremy Mcwilliams) they provide a lot of feedback and are designed to flex laterally while on the tire edge. You'd think that they would at least test the concept and see what it does. Or would Ohlins poo-poo the idea since it uses something like a rear shock instead of the standard forks?