Rossi Testing Ducati GP12 At Mugello, Alongside New Ducati Superbike

The return of the 1000cc MotoGP bikes in 2012 is keenly awaited, and testing for the 2012 season is now well underway. Ducati has had two days of testing at Jerez back in April, while Casey Stoner put in two days on the Honda at Jerez earlier this month. 

As they did for the switch to 800cc back in 2007, Ducati is getting a lot of work done early, as Valentino Rossi is back on track at Mugello today (Thursday), testing the GP12 again, according to reports at Rossi's test day will be the third of the eight days testing allowed with contracted (i.e. current MotoGP) riders on the 2012 machine, and as suggests, is a clue that the emphasis for Ducati is very much on being competitive from the start of the 2012 season.

Given the limited resources that the much smaller Ducati has at its disposal, the Borgo Panigale factory simply cannot afford a double-pronged attack on both 2011 and 2012. However, the pressure inside Italy on the Italian dream team of Valentino Rossi and Ducati to win has meant that the factory has been forced to invest heavily in 2011 as well. The factory riders already have a new chassis to use, which they tested at Estoril and raced at Le Mans, and a new engine is waiting once the first engines are rotated out of the six-engine allocation sometime around Silverstone. The focus of Ducati's development work would seem to suggest that the best they can hope for in 2011 is a couple of wins, while the goal of 2012 will be to aim for the championship.

Rossi will also be sharing the track with another new Ducati, also reports. Ducati's new 1200cc Superbike, the replacement for the 1098, is also being put through its paces at the Tuscan track. On board is Danilo Petrucci, the Italian youngster currently campaigning a 1098R in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup for the Barni Racing team. Thursday is the final day of testing for the new machine - believed to feature an ultra short-stroke engine and an aluminium monocoque subchassis similar to that used on the Desmosedici GP11 and 12 MotoGP machine, though the Superbike uses aluminium instead of carbon fiber used on the MotoGP machine.

The new 1200cc bike is being tested in both Superbike and Superstock specification, to assess its competitive for next year, and the test is being overseen by Ernesto Marinelli, former factory Ducati Wold Superbike engineer, currently crew chief for Carlos Checa in the putatively privateer Althea Ducati squad. But while preparations continue for the racing machines, the as-yet-unnamed road bike that is to form the basis of Ducati's 1200 WSBK machine, has still not seen daylight, currently still undergoing tests on Ducati's dynos in Bologna.

Back to top


Do the motogp riders get 8 days of testing each, or does the team get 8 days?
Are they allowed to let Rossi test by himself 7 days now, and then Hayden 7 times (with Rossi watching his data and helping out)?

The agreement is that each manufacturer has 8 days of testing with contracted (read, MotoGP) riders. So that's 8 days' total, no matter who they put on the bike: 8 days Rossi; 4 days Rossi / 4 days Hayden; 2 days Rossi / 2 Hayden / 2 Capirossi / 2 De Puniet.

In reality, though, it will be something like 5 days Rossi, 3 days Hayden. As Rossi lives just a couple of hundred kilometers away from both Bologna and Mugello, it is much easier for him to test the bike.

That's what I thought, but now both Honda and Ducati were testing with only one rider for different reasons obviously and I wondered about the logic behind this.
If they only have 8 days as a team, I didn't expect them to test with just one rider at all. Wouldn't you gather almost twice the data if you were running two riders?

Even if they only have one bike available you would think they want Nicky there in case Rossi gets injured and they lose a whole day.

It's a dilemma. Two tests are already predetermined: Mugello and Brno, where there will be two riders riding (which is four days). The factories may want to have tests further apart, so they can test progress more often. If you have one rider doing a one day test, you use less of your 8 day total, and can take the data away to make improvements, then bring those to another test later on.

You mean that 2 official riders testing on the same day would count as 2 days instead of 1???
I thought it was 8 days of test total, irrespective of the number of official riders on it (1 or 2) but some people also understood 8 days for each rider...
was the official communique specific or are these all interpretations of a very vague statement?

The official press release from the Grand Prix Commission reads as follows:

Machines Eligible under 2012 Regulations- “1000cc Machines”.
During the 2011 season teams may test for a total 8 rider/days with their contracted riders. This will apply retrospectively for the 2011 season.

In other words, it is the equivalent of 8 days testing with 1 rider.

So indeed Honda did not "lose" 1 day of testing because of Pedrosa's injury.
Sure his early input would have been valuable but they have not lost any day of testing over this.

No, but Honda used up 2 days of testing because Stoner rode on both days.

Is it a matter of practicality that they don't have 2 test bikes and have both riders ride them on the same day, thereby only using up 1 "test day" out of 8? Sort of like spreading themselves too thin in terms of getting the most out of the test? Or are there rules that state "only 1 rider can test per each test day"

The bike is still being developed, so there's no point building two complete chassis, it would double the cost for little added benefit. Better to wait for Mugello, when there is a 1 day test. They will then need 2 bikes to test.

Ducati had a solid base to work off heading into 2007,right now they don't and the competition will not be caught sleeping. As a small outfit Ducati perhaps cannot launch a 2 pronged attack 2011/12,but surely they have to weigh in behind the 800 2011 bike in order to gain a solid launch pad for 2012.
Lets face it,not much will change fundamentally.Same old fuel limit,electronics etc.
Best get the skates on with the current bike. Makes it easier in the transitional period.
I'm still a little confused about the 8 day testing rule. I thought that only factory riders contracted for 2012 enjoyed the luxury.
Nevertheless,right now,Ducati using Valentino and Honda using Casey is the way to go.Fastest rider within the manufacturer's team certainly provides the best data.

And the world of armchair racers set their sights to take on the new debate on who is a better developer for the new class. Would it be VR#46 who is able to turn around the woes of the GP12, to make the Ducati really rider-friendly? Or would CS#27 guide Honda and their engineers down the dark side, turning the "RC213V" from a top 4 factory team to a solo, single rider rideable machine?

Coming to a theater near you, Feb 2012.

Why would Stoner lead Honda down the wrong path? Its not as if Ducati designed the GP7 around his preferences. For 2007 CS was a 3rd choice #2 rider that happened to gell with the bike and with the confidence the BS tires gave him he dominated. Don't blame him for being able to ride a beast. From all accounts since then (Capirossi, Hayden, Menaldri, Stoner, and crew chief to the gods JB) Ducati thought their bike was fine and any problems were with the riders. Didn't they have Melandri see a sports psychiatrist instead of changing the bike? Now that they have gone though many other good and great riders of varying backgrounds without any noticeable improvement in the machine they simply don't have the option of telling Rossi that it is all in his head.

From what we have read so far Rossi's feedback is in the same vein as what previous Ducati riders all agree on: chassis is too stiff, front end response is to vague at the limit, the bike does not respond consistently to setup changes. From this feedback alone if he were allowed to any competent bike designer would be able to produce several chassis with variations in these behaviors to see which one the riders like best. Or at least to get a bike that consistently responds to setup changes. From 2007-2010 I do not remember Ducati showing up at any test with various chassis to evaluate. Swingarms, engine configurations, forks and electronics packages-yes, but no new chassis for testing until 2011. That is unacceptable for a team that wants to win the championship. Stoner has complained several times that the bike he starts the season on is the same bike he finishes it with. How many chassis, swingarm and clutch redesigns did HRC go through in 2006? It seemed that Nicky was riding a different bike each week. Yamaha made multiple chassis in 2006 to combat chatter issues. The 2010 RCV went through multiple revisions during the season to visibly improve from a headshaking nightmare to the best bike on the grid. That is what a factory race department should be doing if they have problems. Stoner left Ducati because he felt they didn't have the resources to develop a bike during the season. That says a lot to the level that these bikes are at. The smallest design 'error' needs to be corrected ASAP if you want to remain competitive. Ducati were only ever competitive due to, as JB puts it, Stoner's willingness to ride with less of a margin of error than we would like to have on a bike that Valentino rides.

Maybe Rossi's feedback is more detailed than other riders, but if the factory is not making any new parts to test then the best feedback in the world is useless and Ducati has shown a talent for consistently ignoring their riders' feedback.


How much of this lack of change was due to budget and how much due to obstinance? With Rossi coming on board, the money angle can no longer be valid. The fact the 1st iteration of the 2012 bike still seems to be much the same as the 2011 might point to the latter, unless they were just using the early 1000 test to fine tune the 800 chassis revisions (getting around testing limits). But then, they compromise their launch into the new regs if indeed they are planning on swallowing pride and changing the engine architecture, chassis design, etc. By the sound of it, not only are they not revising the chassis (which thus far has been proven to not work as well as the opposition), they are rolling a similar concept out into their WSBK and street bikes.

I think some of it was Italian obstinance. Isn't Ferrari blaming their uncalibrated wind tunnel for their poor aero performance in F1 this year? God forbid they design a crappy car!

When you consider the budget of a MotoGP team for a season how much could adding a few extra carbon fiber parts that are about the size of an airbox cost? Reduce the cost of crash spares by having your leading rider crash less and maybe you save cash! And your backup riders may at least be in the top 6. Or just cut back on the espresso machine.

From another perspective they may be more cash strapped with Rossi as his salary is likely 5-8X what Stoner made.

Now that I've thought about it a bit maybe they are also in a bit over their head on a technical basis but refusing to admit it. The GP7 was a shot in the dark in a lot of ways. A bullseye shot but one in the dark nonetheless. They may not know why it worked so well and have had a hell of a time trying to improve it. The CF chassis was an attempt at leapfrogging Japanese technology but maybe requires a lot more R&D. With all the sensors on the bike and the huge amount of data they collect it must be very difficult to discern a pattern among all the noise. People get PhDs for working out how to interpret this stuff.

Or maybe they are just moving past what a rider traditionally expects in feedback and these are the teething pains. From a very simplistic view any natural frequency equation shows that as you decrease the length of a component and/or increase its stiffness you increase its resonant frequency. Their subframe chassis is much shorter and stiffer than an aluminum frame so the bike can be giving feedback different than riders have come to expect. Maybe this higher feedback frequency regime is harder for the rider to interpret. Or maybe higher frequency feedback naturally has a more abrupt limit making it harder for the rider to sense it.

Either way, Ducati is taking a stand by not wanting to go back to a metal frame. Whether that is obstinate or visionary is up to interpretation. And next year's results!


From a very simplistic view any natural frequency equation shows that as you decrease the length of a component and/or increase its stiffness you increase its resonant frequency. Their subframe chassis is much shorter and stiffer than an aluminum frame so the bike can be giving feedback different than riders have come to expect. Maybe this higher feedback frequency regime is harder for the rider to interpret. Or maybe higher frequency feedback naturally has a more abrupt limit making it harder for the rider to sense it.

I agree that what racers describe as "feedback" has to be the vibrations originating from the tire/tarmarc interface transmitted to the "human interface" points, that is handle bars, seat and food pegs.

The interesting thing is, the handle bars, probably the most important human interface point for front end feedback, are directly mounted on the fork. So vibrations from the front wheel travel through the fork legs directly into the handle bars, they don't need the subframe as a transmitting part.
So how can a different material or the size of the subframe make a difference in the feel of the front end?

But maybe it's not just the vibrations from the front wheel that racer interpret as feedback, but also the interaction of movements of the front wheel to movements of the rest of the bike. A bump or slide at the front will have a counter reaction on the rest of the bike.
And here the characteristics of a frame/subframe will make a difference.

Nice balanced view of what is happening with Rossi and Ducati.

Next thing ,they will be manufacturing an inline four (4) engine as well. :-)

There are tons of "beating the dead horse" debates in the history of MotoGP, so what I am trying to say is, I foresee one coming up in the near future! Bear in mind I said "Would CS#27..." not "Why CS#27...". Look at the collision between Dani and Sic recently, fans of MotoGP are divided into their own camp of thoughts and strongly believe in what they wish to believe. I think the results of the GP12 and "RC213V" in 2012 would be one such topic and even expect there will be some people that would deny CS#27 of his credits when the Honda are fast out of the box come 2012.

I'm not impartial. I like CS#27 ever since he rode the Desmo.


From this feedback alone if he were allowed to any competent bike designer would be able to produce several chassis with variations in these behaviors to see which one the riders like best.

Possibly this wasn't/isn't so easy for Ducati: because they can't develop the frame and engine independently, a change in the frame part would either change the geometry of the bike or they would have to change the engine to leave the geometry where it is.

Or at least to get a bike that consistently responds to setup changes.

My impression is that all teams are struggling with this to a bigger or lesser extend, Ducati obviously to a bigger. I expect it to be a very complex interaction between tire performance and bike characteristics like weight transfer, flex of the frame and other factors.
Apparently this area is technically very challenging and not every team is able to handle it.

Did the 2007 Ducati have the CF airbox/frame or was it still a steel trellis then, like the 990s? The steel trellis Superbike is working well, with a 50% win rate this season... Also, when Troy Bayliss raced the 990, did he not have problems with the team refusing to adjust the bike to his requirements? Wasn't that why, when they asked him to race the final race of 2006, he insisted on taking his Superbike crew with him to set up the chassis? The result was he led from start to finish to score Ducati the last 990 race win, and with Capirossi second, it was the last 1-2 they have had in the MotoGP class.

for the '07 and '08 bikes, then cf after that - there's an excellent picture and diagram of the differences on p.8 of the 'Ducati goings on' thread in the forum.

I thought Troy Bayliss was the official test rider for the new Ducati Superbike? I believe I read something where he stated as much and Jonathan Green talked about it during his commentary at one of the races this year.

From his interviews he really misses riding, so I am surprised.

Maybe they are waiting for the bike to be a little further along in development?

What do you think sounds better:

Our new superbike was developed with 9time World Champion and living legend Valentino Rossi


Our new superbike was developed with 3time SBK World Champion Troy Bayliss

This first outing was given to a young Ducati STK 1000 rider but Bayliss and Checa will handle the next tests.
Bayliss has been and still is the rider in charge of test and development of this superbike.
So far Rossi did not ride it and his contribution must be minimal if any.
But surely when the bike will be at a later stage of development he may try it and give his opinion to Ducati. Obviously he is likely to be heavily associated with the bike for PR purposes, public launch and so on.
There are already some rumors of a "Rossi setup" or "Rossi spec" premium version that would be available to the public.

This is the perfect opportunity for Ducati to deliver the often talked about Rossi vs. Bayliss Superbike race. One on one on the newest Ducati Superbike. They both now have ties to the same brand; what better way to introduce the new Superbike?

...that Ducati, now having obtained their "ultimate prize" rider, are choosing to stick to their guns and keep plowing on with the same old same old. I can't help wondering how long it will be before Rossi gets first frustrated, then completely fed up with their determination to do it "their way".

I understand, and have said before, that they want to do things with the characteristic "Italian passion and flair", but losing with "Italian passion and flair" still losing. Yes, they've made changes, but Nicky and Vale have both said that, while it's a step in the right direction, it's still "not enough".

Ultimately, how badly do they want to win? As I understand the situation, it's no longer a matter of budget. By most accounts, they have all the money over which they can say grace, but a BILLION dollars behind a flawed design (or even a "good-but-no-longer-good-enough" design) is still not going to cut it. I believe that if they would start with a clean sheet design, consider ALL options, actually take ALL of the feedback from two of the smartest, hardest-working, best bike-development riders, they might come up with a package that could beat the "big boys". They have an engine design that has proven to be one with the potential to make the most power, but hobbling it with an impressive, yet fundamentally-flawed, technological tour de force chassis my opinion--sad. Pride can produce some impressive results, but it also is often followed by the proverbial "fall". Hubris, on the other hand, rarely produces anything BUT a fall.

It's an incontrovertible FACT that a chassis must have lateral flex. An engine as a stressed member is NOT going to provide enough of that. An airbox theoretically can provide some, and possibly enough, but trying to make F1 technology work for a Moto GP bike isn't necessarily the best idea. I would've thought that Aprilia made that abundantly clear with the Cube.

How badly do the boys at Borgo Panigale want to win? Badly enough to do an aluminum frame? Badly enough to actually listen to their riders? They've taken baby steps which "aren't enough", so will they take a LEAP? I hate to say it, but I kinda doubt that they'll do something truly radical (like making a chassis that ISN'T SO RADICAL).

I ardently hope that I'm WRONG...

this is what Ducati is probably paying right now. It is a risk worth taking maybe, but that is always decided further down the road, when it is already too late. By making the leap to create a radical chassis - engine configuration, they also undertook the risk walking through unproven roads. If they succeed, everybody will copy them "free of charge". If not, they'll have spent resources much too valuable to replace maybe. This is what's happening for example with the small upstart electric bike manufacturers. They delve into unmapped territories and few if any of them will survive. If they succeed, the big companies will step in and harvest the rewards with much less pain and risk.
All in all, whatever the outcome, the Italians are brave, and we need this kind of attitude and thinking, for it makes racing more colourful and interesting and spectacular. So regardless of politics and marketing and budgets, I think the current situation is preferable to a stable, steady and grey circus with the same old tricks that everybody's seen a hundred times.

I mean what is it, 0.5 secs off the Honda's around an average length track. Whilst that is a reasonable margin it remains very much ballpark. Ducati still has plenty of motor. Sure the chassis' not perfect (none are) but the lead rider by his own admission is not yet riding the thing as he should. It's just a little tweaking on all fronts to be competitive once more. admit that I an absolutely, positively WRONG in my appraisal of the stressed-engine/CF-intensive chassis ideology. If I prove to be wrong, nobody will get the chance to tell me so, because I'll be shouting it from rooftops, mountaintops, and anything else of great height that I can scale. I'll look like one of the guys in the Ricola adverts... :)