Ducati Preparing Major Changes For Estoril MotoGP Test

It has been clear for some time that Ducati have a lot of work to do on their Ducati Desmosedic GP11. Where Honda and Yamaha have made huge steps forward over the winter, all of the Ducati riders have struggled during testing, with all six riders crashing during the final winter test at Qatar, and then only the two Marlboro Ducatis in the top 10 at the opening MotoGP race in Losail, with Valentino Rossi the best finisher in 7th.

Rossi's technical debrief was a perfect illustration of just where Ducati is at this moment: After speaking to the press after the race on Sunday night, Rossi went back into the paddock hut housing the Ducati team for a technical meeting with his pit crew and Ducati engineers that went on for what seemed like a very long time indeed. Ducati clearly has a lot of work to do.

But the presence of Rossi and his legendary crew chief Jeremy Burgess may start to pay off soon for Ducati. Speaking to the Italian TV channel Sportmediaset, head of Ducati Corse and engineering guru Filippo Preziosi revealed that the team would be bringing a host of new parts to be tried at the Estoril MotoGP test, due to take place on the Monday after the Portuguese Grand Prix. Some of those changes will be "radical and visible," Preziosi asserted, whilst others will be just as important though not as visible. 

Among the changes will be a new chassis, Preziosi revealed. The chassis will continue to be a carbon fiber subframe, however. "You can radically change the behavior of the bike without changing the shape of the elements," Preziosi said, though adding that changing the elements could also help to change the bike.

One of the biggest changes will be in the engine, Preziosi added. The aim was to make the engine respond a lot less aggressively in the corners, especially when leaned over hard. Making the bike easier to turn and control in corners is a key aim for Ducati.

As for a new gearbox, to match the performance of the Honda's instantaneous gearshift, Preziosi was cautious. Where Valentino Rossi had hinted at Qatar of having a new gearbox to test at Estoril, Preziosi insisted it was not that simple. "You can't just decide you want to build one and then use it," Preziosi told Sportmediaset. But it was definitely something that needed to be thought about, the Ducati boss added.

The changes for Estoril will be just the first batch of changes due to be phased in during the season. The Ducati Desmosedici looks like undergoing a major change throughout the 2011 season, to make it easier for everyone - not just Valentino Rossi - to ride.

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After I read this article...in case anybody hasn't read it..


I am not saying that Ducati is trying to copy Yamaha, but as long as every single bike has its own + and - .

The best solution for the Ducati riders is to adjust their riding styles to the bikes they are riding, though it is very difficult, but it is not impossible,....

However, it is also making sense that when the bikes can turn better and easier on the corners, the riders will ride them better...

David, you may also have not read the article on speedtv, which I put the link on my comment, just guessing after reading your posting on this issue,

I mean this, " to make it easier for everyone - not just Valentino Rossi - to ride" Rossi himself was saying the other way around in the article.

Yes, I read that. But there is room for interpretation there. Burgess, Rossi and Preziosi will not be turning the Ducati into a Yamaha. But they will be trying to make the Ducati a lot easier to ride than it is now. Ducati had all its eggs in one basket with Casey Stoner, and needs to change course quickly.

I thought Ducati had stated last year that they were trying to make the bike easier to ride for everyone but that hasn't seemed to be the case yet. I'm particularly wondering what issues Hayden was having at Qatar cause he didn't seem fast at all.

Hayden had too much ground to make up and too many people to pass as he started last because the pramac boys collided in front of him. His pace over the weekend is similar to last year where he was 4th. Unfortunately everyone got faster.

His pace this year was significantly slower than last year. In 2010, he ran nearly the entire race at mid 1.56s (with fast lap of 1.56.157). This year, he ran race at high 1.56s (with fast lap of 1.56.600). He essentially went half a second slower this year. Certainly some of that time difference in the race was due to fighting through traffic but Hayden's overall pace through practice sessions as well was markedly slower this year. I can't really speculate as to why.

Essentially it remains the same bike fundamentally. A bright idea here,a quick fix there and keep the fingers crossed.
The D16 has never lacked anything in the torque/HP stakes. The platform went backwards with the introduction of the big bang 800 as requested by Nicky and backed by Valentino.
The 'easier to ride' for everyone is a noble sentiment,but transformed the bike into a less competitive racing package.
Now they plan to soften it up even more.
Is it not ironic that HRC got crucified by Rossi for the famous 'its about the bike not the rider' statement. Fast forward to Ducati GP 2011 and 'its about the bike not the rider', according to Valentino.
No wonder Stoner is so magnanimous towards Valentino in the press concerning Rossi's potential at Ducati.
Personally,I reckon Ducati should lend more of an ear to Barbera,Abraham and De Puniet.Not that Valentino and Nicky are old,but they are pretty much set in their ways. HRC and Yamaha are bristling with input from riders not stuck in the rut of past glory.
CF chassis and L 4 Desmo it remains. Adjust the rider,not the bike.
Can't stand the heat,get out of the kitchen. The Valencia test,VROOOM and the big bash in Bologna's square,right now seem to be the Ducati GP 2011 highlights for the season. Hope it changes. The sport needs it. Sadly for Ducati,even with the tragic events in Japan,I don't see HRC and Yamaha waiting for them to catch up.

What you're not factoring into the equation is that since Rossi left Honda, a total revolution has occurred in MotoGP, albeit one that has passed under the radar of most. And that revolution is electronics. When Rossi left Honda, a rider could still make the difference, as Rossi proved in his first year at Yamaha.

However since that time the pace of change in respect of electronic aids has intensified and accelerated to the point that now, unless the rider has a competitive package bike-wise, he simply cannot make the difference; not even a rider as talented as Rossi.

So your request to 'adjust the rider, not the bike' is an outmoded notion. Without a competitive package no rider, no matter how talented, can run at the front. This is the legacy of the electronic age, unfortunately.

It really isn't a case of riders 'stuck in the rut of past glory'. It's a case of fixing structural problems with the Ducati that Stoner's brilliance and banzai spirit masked. He was ever the only rider that was able to make the Ducati work; nobody else could do it. And even he tired of the remorseless personal input required and decamped to somewhere where the grass was greener and he didn't need to put his neck on the line every session.

IMHO, of course.

but you forgot the Stoner factor.
He has always been blindingly fast where everyone else on the Ducatis was looking stupid. And there were many many Ducati riders during those 4 years (Capirossi, Melandri, Hayden plus all the satellite riders), all riding much slower than Stoner, even taking into account the riders difference in riding skills.
While obviously none were as talented as Rossi, clearly the rider still makes a big difference, at least on the Ducati.

If you read my comments, I stated that "It's a case of fixing structural problems with the Ducati that Stoner's brilliance and banzai spirit masked. He was ever the only rider that was able to make the Ducati work; nobody else could do it." That doesn't sound like forgetting the Stoner factor to me.

But Stoner's incredible pace on a bike that no-one else could get on with actually set back the Ducati development. While Stoner was riding round the problems, Ducati had less incentive to fix them. Now they're having to make up for lost time.

In Stoner era, he was pretty much ending the season on the same bike that at the beginning right? Barring some aerodynamics modifications such as winglets or pinching holes, I don't recall any major changes or new parts ready during the season.
I remember him talking about this after his switch to Honda, he considered it one of the downside of working with the smallest factory involved in MotoGP.
Last year when he was struggling with the front end, Ducati did not show up with new forks, did they? He had to try working with previous forks with his crew.

Ducati don't make forks, they can only use what Ohlins have. Also, as I remember Casey was swapping back to earlier forks mid season...

But, so what? Two things seem clear to me: the Ducati was not a competitive bike in most rounds last year except under Stoner, and only then because he rode it on the very edge of disaster. The bike is not competitive this year with any of its riders.

So to say that the riders should just adapt to the bike seems a little... naive. I think most of them have been trying for some time to do just that. The bike needs to change. Maybe it would have been good if they could have realised that earlier, but there is little point wishing the past was different.

It's good that they have acknowledged the need for change, although as mentioned above it remains to be seen how much they are willing to change it. They're not going to show up with an inline 4 in a beam chassis...

maybe the forks were a bad example but what did Ducati do to help Stoner? He was going against their advice running old forks, did they show up with any new parts to solve this front end problem during the year?
And now we read that they will show up in Estoril (only the 3rd round!!!) with tons of new parts, I'm jsut pointing the huge differences in rider treatment, that's all.
While Stoner certainly does not have the aura of Rossi, his comments were likely to be ignored because he was still doing a hell of a job on the red bike no matter what. Since Rossi is not way better than the other Ducati riders, now they get to think twice about it.

This issue with Ducati has gotten me to thinking about when I was a Ducati fan way back in the Fogerty WSBK days and with the factory not having a factory team in WSBK anymore you would expect their MotoGP to be much more competitive than it has shown so far. At least I would. I know Rossi said he thinks his shoulder is costing him about .5 seconds a lap but I think they may just be wishful thinking.

Hey Folks,

Just a quick word of thanks for the high quality/info in the forums on this site. I just found it, and am looking around.

Having read forums on other sites, racing and non racing. I came to expect rediculous replies and comments. Therefore I never revisited. You guys are the exception. All the posts and replies and very much on point and insightful


Rubber side down

You mean it's clear Ducati have work to do so Rossi can compete on the bike for race wins, right?

Looking at the recent past, while Stoner was claiming poles and winning races his teammates were, more often than not, really struggling on the same machine.

So it's not clear where the problem lies.

I'd like to see what Stoner could do on that bike. I'd expect he'd be racing up at the front, as he always was on the Ducati.

David, how many engines has Rossi had "sealed"? I would guess maximum of two, in case of damaging one in a crash, allowing four engines to be developed of a new specification.
Interestingly, (especially in Ducati's case) the engine restrictions also limit their freedoms on redesigning the chassis, as changing the overall shape of the chassis would most likely require moving the mounting points, which eats into their engine allowance. I'm thinking of the evolution of the RC211V and how the engine mounts migrated further down toward the crankcases over the years.
Due to the engine limits, one would have to think Ducati are pretty much stuck with all the "hard points" of the D16 for this year, so in essence the chassis can only be changed in detail. Perhaps there is enough freedom in the construction of the CF sub-frame that they can make significant changes within the current hard points?
Or perhaps things are such that they need to roll out a revised engine/chassis to run alongside the current version while the first engine/s are "used up"?

Small company or not, I think many are too quick to write off the force of will (and cash) behind making Rossi win on this bike. Certainly interesting times for both Rossi and Ducati, and also we fans.

There is something not considered here, that is the Ducati won MANY races in wet and flag to flag wet dry races. IF the front had major issues that would not be the case. Stoner was certain the falls were more caused by his old injury tugging on th bars to much and the 48mm TR forks being to stiff. The forks and Stoners ride position and bars changed he came out swinging in Aragon.
So it's back to what Pit Bull mentioned, it just has not been ridden fast enough the fixes have amounted to naught(wittness Nicky Hayden's struggle). Now they are developing while racing.Not a good sign.
Soon the only thing left to change will be the 90 deg L design which will define for Ducati, if the dog is wagging the tail or vice versa.

It's interesting that Stoner seems to finally be getting the recognition he deserves from fans for his ability to win races on the Ducati. In fact he won more races than anyone during the 800cc era as we all know, yet now, all of a sudden the bike has all of these terrible issues that make it uncompetitive.

I would suggest that it is exactly what it always was. If anything it has gone backwards a little as Rossi and his team search for the optimum setup, which Stoner had probably pretty much already found.

What I don't understand, and perhaps most disappointing of all, is why none of the media (at least to my knowledge) have had the guts to ask Rossi why he has not been able to ride the bike anywhere near as fast as Casey did. I would have thought it's an obvious question, yet nobody seems to want to ask it. It is the elephant in the room that all of the journos are ignoring while they continually run stories about Rossi's excuses.

Will someone ask the question? Please??? I'd love to see Rossi's response, especially after he last year chastised Stoner and said he wasn't riding the Ducati hard enough...

He'd just point to his shoulder.

It's a shame he is carrying the injury, because I think you'd find he would be off the pace irrespective (and Haydens results seem to show exactly that).

But we will never know because he DOES have that excuse presently.

Ducati want to fight for the championship... something they haven't done in the last two(3?) years.. and didn't look like doing anytime soon. Rossi/Burgess and Preziosi aim to cure that. However the last couple of seasons Casey whilst being very quick on the duke, has been a lowly 4th both seasons, last year being a real kick in the teeth, when both Rossi and Dani missed several races and rode several more(all but one in Rossis case) injured and both still finished ahead of Casey.
Casey/Ducati despite all the talk were going nowhere fast, and neither had a future if they stayed together.. This way both Stoner and Ducati have a future fans should be more upbeat..

What makes you so sure Ducati has a future? Sure, Stoner has one now, and your point about him finishing 4th the last 2 years is correct, but are you seriously suggesting that Rossi has been able to fix anything? Stoner's results varied according to his health (for a couple of months) and whether he could actually get the bike to work at a particular circuit. But at least he made it work sometimes. I think the two championship 4th places he gifted Ducati were more than the factory deserved given the machine they gave him to ride. Certainly nobody else (including a couple of former world champs) was able to do anything with it.

Ducati have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at that bike in the last 6 months (something they refused to do for previous riders), and they have gone backwards. They have thrown all their eggs in the Rossi basket and allowed the best rider they've had to move to Honda. Risky proposition if you ask me.

I think you'll find that the kitchen sink is still attached to the wall, but the mechanics are now starting to loosen the fixing bolts....

Ducati haven't been chucking new parts at the D16 in the last 6 months, they've been trying to figure out what new parts they need to make it work for Rossi (and hopefully all the other Ducati riders). I think you'll see a lot of new stuff (possibly even the kitchen sink) at Estoril. By that time Rossi should have healed more and be better able to test the parts at 10/10ths.