Ducati And Honda 2012 MotoGP Testing "Completely Legal"

The combination of extremely limited in-season testing for the current MotoGP machines (introduced as part of the cost-cutting measures in response to the global financial crisis) and expanded testing for the 2012 machines, allowing 8 extra test days for the 1000cc machines, was always likely to leave the factories open to accusations of bending the rules. After all, with the differences between the 2011 and 2012 machines being limited by the rule changes put in place (limiting the 1000cc bikes to four cylinders and an 81mm bore), and testing taking place in private, the opportunities for testing the 2011 bikes unseen were all too obvious.

The announcement yesterday that Ducati are due to race a radically revised version of their 800cc Desmosedici GP11 - dubbed the GP11.1 - based on the lessons learned while testing the GP12 has not so much fueled the rumors of cheating as turned them into a five-alarm conflagration. How, journalists and fans (especially those of riders other than Valentino Rossi) from around the world have been asking, can we be sure that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden have been testing the GP12, as allowed, and not the GP11, as prohibited under the rules? And how, other fans have been asking, can we be sure that Casey Stoner has been lapping at Jerez with the RC213V which Honda is planning to race in 2012, and not the RC212V which is currently being raced this year?

The answer comes directly from the horse's mouth. In an email exchange with MotoMatters.com, MotoGP Technical Director Mike Webb has revealed that his office (in charge of ensuring compliance with MotoGP's technical regulations) has been closely monitoring the tests of the 2012 machines. "Actually we had already foreseen the possibility of controversy surrounding 1000cc tests being used for 800s," Webb said, "so the inspector at Ducati's Mugello test was in fact my technical assistant responsible for MotoGP engine sealing and tracking."

Having the man whom Webb describes as "the man in the paddock with most intimate knowledge of what and where each MotoGP engine is" monitoring who was riding which bike and what capacity the bikes the contract riders (in this case, Rossi and Hayden) were riding was Dorna's guarantee that the rules were being respected. The Ducati test was complicated by the fact that while Rossi and Hayden were testing the GP12, Ducati's official test riders Franco Battaini and team boss Vittoriano Guareschi were testing the latest iteration of the GP11, the machine that Rossi is to race at Assen, so to ensure that they were being totally transparent about the test, Ducati invited Webb's assistant into their garage for the full duration of the test. "He stayed there from dawn to dusk every day," Webb told MotoMatters.com, "observing who rode which bike and when. He was given full access to inspect whatever he wanted, with full cooperation from Ducati. This also includes measuring the GP12 engine to confirm that it was not an 800 engine in disguise."

Webb also revealed that his team had been monitoring the Honda tests at Jerez as well. "We had an observer at HRC's 1000cc test as well," Webb said. "But as they were not testing the 800cc Honda at the same time, we relied on visual and aural differences there rather than measuring capacity directly. With no 800s there, there was less chance of confusion between the different bikes."

Perhaps the most interesting detail from Webb's response was that hint of clear "aural" differences between Honda's 1000cc and 800cc machines. The design of the 1000 is believed to be broadly similar to Honda's current 800cc machine, yet Webb's suggestion that it sounds different to the smaller bike raises some very interesting questions. We shall have to wait until the Monday after Mugello before they are answered, however, when the first public test of the 1000cc bikes takes place. Then, it will no longer be possible to hide the sound of the new bikes (the Honda, Ducati and Yamaha are all expected to be there) from the media and the fans.

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Thanks for that gem David. I never did think Ducati would so blatantly try to slip one under the table.
I do believe that they are extremely concerned about getting a 'no nonsense',
well earned result in Mugello with Valentino to justify their decision to scalp hunt him in the first place.
Much to play for in Assen. If the GP11.1 gets drilled by the red and white Yamaha's and the rest. Did I say that...the rest??
Another poor result relative to the winners race time must surely bring into question their potential threat as a factory team in 2012 and resultant sponsorship.The next two races will be telling a lot about the start of the 1000cc era.

Thanks David I hope this article squashes at least some of the conspiracy theorists inane banter. Although we all know this still won't squash them all.

David, isn't the reduced RPM ceiling of an 81mm bore bound to result in an aural difference to the 18k+ RPM 800cc screamers, or do you suspect a change to the firing order too?

Lower revs will definitely sound different. A change in capacity may have a slightly different tone as well. I don't know, and given Webb's well-earned reputation for utter incorruptibility, he wouldn't let any more slip. We'll find out soon enough at Mugello!

if they are not facilitating the full bore at the 800's but use them with the <1000's they might even end up with an engine with the same stroke. That would mean the same max rev would be achieved and hence the same frequency in sound (in theory at least because the valves possibly have to have a longer lifting stroke so that might limit the max rev).

But then again, even if the new engines have the same max revs they are pushing out more exhaust with 1 stroke so that should change the sound anyway.

Announcements like this would seem a lot more effective if done before a factory decides to make a move like this. As it is, whatever the truth of the matter, it looks like Dorna changing the rules after the fact, allowing the factories to do whatever they want.

I have always though the testing ban a bit stupid - it's like asking an NFL team to only practice 4 times in the offseason and only 2 days before each game.


ok, so neither factory rider rode the GP11.1 or any 800cc bike at the 1000cc test. But that solves that question but not one I've read from others and have a question about myself.

From what I've read, the 1000cc test was to develop and work on the 1000cc bike with the factory riders, correct? But what Ducati has done is used that test to develop a chassis and DST for THIS year. They have used factory riders outside of the allotted test days for the manufacture to use factory riders for the 800cc bikes to develop not something small or minor but a chassis and DST for the 800cc bike.

Is that not outside of the spirit of the rules? Or are all the manufactures doing it so no one really cares?

It's impossible to enforce the spirt of the rules, only the letter. The truth is that only the entire bike is eligible to be raced, and so only the entire bike (including engine) is what is restricted by testing. In theory, you could have two identical machines, the only difference being engine capacity (say, 799cc vs 801cc) and there would be no restriction on testing parts for the 2011 bike on the 2012 machine.

If you think about it, though, that's completely logical. After all, if you are not allowed to test any parts that might fit a 2011 machine using a 2012 machine, you wouldn't be able to test the brakes, or the wheels, or the axle nuts, or the forks, or the throttle cables, or the radiator cap washer. The only way to prevent that would be to have an exhaustive list of parts, which would immediately create a raft of cheating as parts get renamed ...

Apart from that, even though Ducati may have gained a lot of valuable date for the GP11 from testing the GP12, you can't just take the GP12 parts and bolt them to the GP11. The engine characteristics are such that the parts will need to be subtly different to cope. What you can test is a concept, what you can't test is the exact combination of frame, swingarm, suspension and suspension settings. That takes time on the 2011 bike.

But to me it seems a bit of a farce to be able to work on development for the current bike when that time is set aside for the future bike. It seems like the manufacture are getting around the rule of factory riders testing limited for this year bikes. But like you said, it's impossible to test bikes without something that transfers. I would bet the next time MotoGP changes formula they won't separate testing time for current and future bikes - more like X amount of days to test for during the year and teams could test what they like.

There is nothing wrong with applying lessons learned for the future to today if possible. To prohibit this would be like telling the teams they would have to have completely separate development efforts with an information firewall for next years bike. If I learn something new while developing next year's bike and see a way to implement it on this year's bike (within the current year's testing rules) what is the problem?

None of this would really be a topic of discussion if it was not for the fact that Ducati refused to roll out a completely new mid-season bike (new subframe, new engine, new swingarm, new shock linkage) for Stoner or Capirossi or Melandri or Hayden for years yet Rossi gets one 1/3 of the way into his first season. I don't want to hear the BS about Rossi having godlike feedback skills and other riders not knowing squat. Ducati listen to nobody but themselves until backed completely into a carbon fiber corner of their own construction. All Rossi would had to do is threaten to tell the press 'weeeeell, I need new parts to be able to go more faster but Ducati won't make them like Jerry and I need.' Mobs with torches and pitchforks would materialize around Borgo Panigale and new parts would happen ASAP.

This GP12 has had minimal input from Rossi (he's only been 100% fit for the last race?) yet he thinks it is a big enough improvement to abandon the current bike. I wonder what those testing times were. If it really is is a great bike it would be yet another example of Rossi swooping in and taking most of the credit for development.


Indeed I recall an interview with Paul Denning when he said that they could easily do extra engine testing with the factory riders just by using slightly larger or smaller wheels, but that would not be in the spirit of the rules so they don't do it.

I'm sure Mugello has a lot to do with this move but I see this as the ultimate sign that Ducati have given up on 2011. I know VR wants to win, and a win at Mugello would be huge for everyone in Italy, but I see this as Ducati putting everything behind the 2012 bike. If the GP11.1 is really so similar to the GP12, then every track session for the rest of this season is esentially a "test" session for next year. I'm sure this will not be the last updates they have this year...

Personally I feel what Ducati has done is well outside what the rules regarding testing were designed for. They have used a factory rider to test parts for this year's bike. Outside the sanctioned 800cc test sessions. The engine capacity of the bike he was riding is irrelevant, as that is not the change that was being tested. But regardless...

My question is though, my understanding is that the engine required changes in order for the new rear end configuration to actually fit, so Rossi will be using a new engine at Assen. I understand this will be his 4th engine for the year. I assume then that the three engines already used will not fit the new chassis, so Rossi must complete the season on his remaining three engines.

My question is, if those three engines are not enough to reach the end of the year (which is quite possible) will Dorna allow Ducati to modify the already used engines to fit the new frame, or will Rossi be forced back to the old chassis. Or do you think they will just put in a new engine and take the grid drop penalty?

It is within the rules as clearly explained by the technical director. Whether it's not within the spirit of the rules is only important to the others that may be part of a gentleman's agreement that now have the option to also live within the letter of rule, or not.

But the engine rule just may come into play. I predict that they will just take the penalty. This is the calculated risk of the effort.

...."or will Rossi be forced back to the old chassis"

Precisely. The sealed engines cannot be modified in any way shape or form.

The ever growing amount of restricting rules in GPs are giving me unpleasant bowel activities. Instead of being highly excited about new technical developments, people are now complaining about manufacturers breaking rules. This is not right.

totally agree the factory teams have to spend nigh on 30 mil a year and for that have to take a b because some of the others aren't capable of getting any better. Surely they would be better advised to come up with some sort of agreement where factory improvements made their way to the satellite bikes more quickly.. It's not like anyone is under the false pretense that the sat bikes are actually gonna win anything because they can test the bike the same as the factories...If anything improved development could give a satellite team the same situ as honda with simo(more input into them), but we had to wait nigh on 5 years for that to happen it's too long a turn around.

Has it really come to this? Are people really so anti Rossi?

If Ducati had introduced a new chassis mid season and said it will probably use it or part of it for 2012 nobody would have said a word. Thats the end of it for me.

Call is the 2011b, or whatever. People change and update things all the time. The fact that it may have been originally intended as a 2012 project really means nothing. Those that want to complain are saying more about their lack of perspective than anything else.

The Ducati is an extra 0.5 seconds off the pace compared to last year. Stoner is awesome, but he too wouldn't be winning on this year's bike. Hayden in the benchmark and he is lower down the field. Come on people, use your heads. Be fair in your analysis of the whole situation