Valentino Rossi Testing Desmosedici GP12 At Mugello Today - Is It The New Aluminium Chassis?

If you head down to Mugello today (Thursday, September 8th), you will be lucky enough to hear the mighty sound of Ducati's 2012 Desmosedici GP12 engine pounding out the laps around the classic Italian circuit. And unless you are very lucky - or highly ingenious - that is all you will get to see. The test of the GP12 is being held behind firmly closed doors, with observers extremely unwelcome.

All this just adds to the mystery of exactly what Rossi and Ducati are testing on the Desmosedici GP12. When asked about it at the Misano round of MotoGP, Rossi remained vague: "Something for the front, and to help turning." The manner in which he casually dismissed the parts to be tested was meant to suggest that the test was of only limited significance for the moment, Rossi adding that the goal of the test was to work for 2012. Of course, Rossi's brilliance as a communicator - both in the positive sense of getting across his point with humor and insight, and in the negative sense of hiding information that he or the team wish to keep a secret - makes it impossible to evaluate the sincerity of the claim. After all, "something for the front," could be a new set of triple clamps, a revised offset, a new subframe, or a completely new chassis.

However, despite the vagueness of Rossi's pronouncements, it is almost certain that Rossi is today testing the aluminium twin spar chassis which has been built for Ducati by a Moto2 chassis supplier. That chassis was completed some time last week, has learned, and is now in the hands of Ducati's technicians. The aim of the test will be to evaluate whether the twin spar chassis provides a clear benefit for Rossi's more precise corner style over the carbon fiber subframe currently being employed. If the chassis shows potential - the chassis has almost certainly been designed internally by Ducati, with only the production having been farmed out to an external party - then work will begin in earnest on preparing the chassis for the first public test of all of the 2012 MotoGP bikes, directly after the final round of 2011 at Valencia.

Rossi fans hoping for an earlier appearance of the aluminium chassis will be disappointed: a twin spar chassis requires completely different engine mounting points to the current subframe being used, and modifying engine casings would mean that Rossi would need to take 2 new engines. As the Italian has already started ot use his 6th engine at Misano, that would mean starting races from pit lane twice, an unacceptably high cost for the R&D it would provide. Rossi's insistence at Misano that the parts to be tested were for 2012 would seem to substantiate this supposition.

At Misano, Filippo Preziosi denied emphatically the rumors that either FTR or Suter were producing an aluminium chassis for Ducati. Chassis and swingarm were part of Ducati's core competence, and components that Ducati would always keep in-house, as the knowledge required and gained in the process was an important part of Ducati's intellectual property and would help them in building and designing the road machines that help to fund the racing project. But Preziosi also said two things which contradicted his own denial. The first was to admit that Ducati's trademark steel trellis frame was also manufactured by an external manufacturer. And the second was to tell the press quite frankly that Ducati would never be completely honest about what it was developing or not. "We will never tell you what we are building," Preziosi said, half-joking. Honda was secretive, Yamaha was secretive, so naturally Ducati was secretive. They would tell the press what they felt was appropriate, Preziosi said, adding "but sometimes, we lie!" It is a safe bet that this is one of those times.

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.... to hear Preziosi say its not FTR nor Suter, but there are so many other great companys in Moto2, Kalex been at the top of the list.

Who's to say that the Legend Guy Coulon might not have some involvment? Yes he works for Tech 3 but like some many in line of work, is he not a contractor? Self employed? We hear he is been employed to make / design a chassis for Edwards & Forward in CRT next year, whats to say he has not been asked to help Ducati.

I guess we know the truth ( or what Ducati want us to think is the truth) when they see fit.

I for hope that Ducati / VR / Burgess can get things to work better in 2012 as the races this year have been very dull. Im not saying thats because VR has not been up at the sharp end, its just that things need to change and having VR up there is always a good thing.

Lets hope the new 1000cc ( or whatever cc they really are ) + the CRT bikes will bring back some great racing battles, but they have alot to compete with againest Moto2 for great racing & close battles.

Good luck to the RED team.


Prezioso was quite clear that the chassis should be designed by Ducati... what does it matter who does the fabrication? If they are capable of following the plans, using the specified materials and welding competently, it should make no difference who builds it.

There may however be an issue of who they want to share their design with. Both FTR and Suter will be competitors next year via CRT bikes*, and it would be a great resource for them to know exactly how the Duc chassis is built and then watch how it performs. Not quite as good as getting a debrief direct from Rossi, but a free experiment all the same. So... Tech 3? They're very close to Yamaha. Motobi/TSR? Probably too difficult for logistic reasons, and maybe a bit too artisanale in their approach.

Guess that leaves Kalex? But somehow I think it might be FTR anyway :)

(*) Note cunning avoidance of "CRT Team" connundrum

10%? 90%? How much the constructor is involved in the design, we will never know. Ofcourse Ducati will always say they designed the frame, but at this level design and construction go hand in hand.

It would be a great resource for FTR & Suter IF they were going to be building a chassis for a 90 deg 1000cc 'L'4 ... Event he Aprilia has a somewhat different layout.

I'm sure he has a contract with Yamaha and/or Tech 3. There is unquestionably a non-compete clause in that contract, like every business personnel contract includes.

There is no way Coulon can be involved without the express consent of his employers, which, especially in a business like MotoGP, would be unheard of.

I do not understand one thing!
Rossi/Ducati have vary bad season. Bad, since they used to win races.
How come they won't use last few races to test "whatever new component" in order to make it better ASAP???
Now they will wait until November and winter testing to make it work while HRC and Yamaha already got near perfect bikes.
They avoiding starting from the pits? Really, is Rossi going to benefit from qualifications he would miss if starting last?

I think they should put the "new part" to use ASAP and try to develop it in last fice races (fp1, fp2, fp2, qp, race times 5) and then to fine tune it during winter.

I was thinking the same thing. This season is a complete loss. I wouldn't care if he started in the parking lot. As long as they got some good data for 2012.

Why are you not calling the shots at Ducati!? Neither Ducati factory rider is in contention and even though I believe the engine rules penalty is starting from pit lane with a 10 second penalty that seems like something Rossi at least could work his way back up close to where he would finish anyway so the penalty vs the risk would be negligible imo. With testing time at a premium I don't see why a small factory like Ducati wouldn't test test test during FP and QP then try to get a race setup and just develop the bike race by race. That's the only way I see Ducati closing the gap on Honda and Yamaha.

The MotoGP announcers mentioned during the Misano round just briefly that the penalty for taking another engine beyond 6 was changed and that the rider would start from the back of the grid, which as they mentioned was not that big a deal for either factory Duc considering how they have been qualifying lately.

So why do I keep reading that they would have to start from pit lane? I am I the only one who heard that comment or did I misunderstand the comment? Maybe they were just pontificating.

This seems prima facie to be somewhat illogical: surely if they were testing a completely new chassis it would have been in the hands of the test riders first to see if it is even in the ball-park? And if it isn't the new chassis are they wasting a test day on a GP.12 iteration that may well be discarded?

If this happens to be ready at a time convenient to the actual riders to test, then why not? I wouldn't say that test riders seem to have been able to provide the necessary feedback so far...

I think judging by previous tests and comments, the GP12 was not good enough, they have nothing to lose in my opinion.

Good point Oscar - sadly the test riders will be well off the pace of the regular guys (just as Vale himself was in early season testing) so a true evaluation would be difficult to apraise.
My feelings are that it will most certainly be the new chassis - hence the "closed door" policy at Mugello.

Knowing the lie of the land I see the possibility of someone with a high powered lens taking some pics from a remote hillside above fence height though! ;-)

I cannot believe that Ducati is seriously testing / will switch to an aluminium chassis. Because of 2 reasons:

1. Next year 1000cc will be ridden differently. As Rossi stated the GP12 handles better than the GP11, so why take the risk of 'starting from scratch' with a aluminium chassis.

2. With the introduction of the new Superbike, marketing-wise it is hard to believe they will ditch the same concept they will likely sell as the next step in frame technology.

I don't think this is a cause for consideration. This is a prototype MotoGP racing machine... not something that will ever make it to the road, nor will anything similar.

Ducati have more to gain in terms of marketing by having a rider stood on top of the podium than by having a 'concept' running at the back of the pack. People won't be buying a Ducati because of the frame, they will buy them because they are Ducati's and they look sexy enough to seriously consider the exhaust pipe... ahem.

Rossi didn't stated it handles better. The front end problem is less of a problem because of the different riding style needed on a 1000. The problem is still there though....

I wonder if Ducati go through the trouble of covering the twin-spar with Carbon Fiber stickers to disguise it from the probing cameras that will be around the track. If it works, will folks apply aluminum tape over their Carbon Fiber bikes?

Ducati can always spin the carbon frame thing for the Superbike as "developed in MotoGP" and market it that way; it doesn't necessarily have to be what's used by the current Desmo. In the end in GP they need to win, and whatever it takes to do so is useful, even if it is simply ruling out an aluminum frame as an option. The extra torque of the 1000 allows Rossi and Hayden to "ride around" the problem, but the front end vagueness is still there.

The same problem may not exist on the SBK as the tires are very different. Both Spies and Crutchlow have gone on record to say that the key in WSBK is to avoid loading the tires, where in GP it is the opposite.

There are many things between the throttle and the footpegs - frame, engine, rider. If you meant the latter, it'd be great to have one article where we can avoid the "Rossi sucks" comments.

Not 100% sure they meant the problem is Rossi but I have noticed that some of his more vocal detractors seem to be showing the same rabid devotion to a certain other rider as they so dislike in Rossi's more zealous fans.

I reckon Rossi is a big part of the problem at the moment, and he has even said it himself that he is unable to ride it how it needs to be ridden to be competitive. Instead he wants wholesale changes to try and make the Duck a Yam (which they said they wouldn't do.. but hey, they said a lot of things that have blown up in their faces this year).

No amount of 'moderation' or post deletions by David will change my opinion (or my right to it), so as I stated before - I feel that a big part of the problem is in between the throttle and the foot pegs.

When JB is flying the white flag you know you're in a world of shit.

...I understand your comment now you have expanded it, but the fact remains that there are no riders on a Ducati that are performing as well as Rossi come race day... and of course he is not performing well enough either.

Out of all riders who have sat on the bike, they have had relative success with one of them... surely this is an indication that fundamentally, "something" on that bike is not as good as the competition in MotoGP.

We've discussed on the main forum how progressively the performance of the Ducati has declined against the other manufacturers prior to Rossi's arrival so to simply say that Rossi is the problem, is extremely narrow minded considering the complaints made by Rossi are no different to those of every other rider who has sat on it.

Fair call, and I know the debate runs alot deeper than my post puts it (mainly to avoid re-hashing over the same facts again and again).

I still feel like Rossi is riding to get his changes, and not for results. "Don't change the bike? That's fine, I will take no risks in that case until you do."

Hearing him say that he wasn't prepared to ride around the problems and/or take the risks required surprised me is all. I really thought he was passionate about winning at all costs, but this year has proven otherwise. As the apparent GOAT - I expected more.

...but I wouldn't say that any rider past or present should have to ride a bike on the verge of falling off. It's indeniable how well Stoner did on the bike, but he rode it on the ragged edge and achieved 4th place last year. On that basis I fully understand why Rossi, at 32 years old, is not willing to risk injury to ultimately still finish behind the top Yam's and Honda's.

However, I also expected more from this season and perhaps expected more fight with the bike than we have seen. But I do think that Rossi must feel extremely certain that the bike requires wholesale changes if he's willing to sacrifice a whole year of racing to produce a better bike for him and anyone else who hops aboard the fickle beast.

At the end of the day, if Rossi's stubborness to take too many risks does eventually result in a more all-round competitive bike, then I would say it's beneficial to Ducati and MotoGP.

There was a Soupcast a few years ago with KRJR talking about the Suzuki (Hopkins was his teammate at the time). He basically said that he told Suzuki he wasn't willing to ride the GSV-R as hard as he could because he took a good chance of binning it and risking injury; he would be fine if he was doing so for the win, but he would have to ride at that level to finish 7-10th, and he wasn't willing to do that. From his perspective the best the GSV-R could finish was 7th, and he wasn't willing to risk himself to do so. Pretty sure this was near the end of his stint with Suzuki. Maybe Rossi is feeling along the same lines, the difference being that Ducati is willing to work with Rossi to make the bike rideable for him.

That is a mere by-product of his inability to compete on the GP16. He was in 2011 for the title! I do wish people would stop contorting the disaster 2011 has been for Rossi and Ducati into some sort of master plan for 2012 and the future. It may be that now, but that was never the case when pen was put to paper, or when the lights went out at Qatar.

Ten crashes on the GP16 this year also suggests that Rossi is most certainly trying, so give up on the not risking injury line too. That's also a nonsense.

And finally myth number three. Rossi likes developing nice soft cuddly bikes all can ride. Tosh! Where in Rossi's past has he ever wanted a competitive team mate? The man is a quintessential selfish racer - 'give me what I want and be damned the rest'. Burgess may come out with the box of fluffies from time to time to burnish his own credentials, yet I've never heard Rossi utter he wants a machine others can ride too.

Is it logical for Rossi to ride the Duc past the point of front end feel in hopes of finishing maybe in the top 5 in the same year that the Honda and Yamaha are clearly 2 steps ahead?
Isn't it true that Ducati are asking Vale to develop a bike that all of their riders can be successful on? Wouldn't riding the bike beyond the ability of everyone albeit one rider make this impossible?
It would only take one hard low side to re-injure Vale's shoulder. With the 2011 title all but wrapped up in either CS27 or JL99 why on earth should he make that kind of risk? Considering the first half of this year he spent still nursing that injury, surely the 2011 championship was given up on probably after the first 3 races when they saw how blisteringly quick Casey and Jorge are this year.
Vale is doing exactly what Vale does. He gets changes done so that the bike suits him. Bikes that suit Vale tend to suit everyone else.
When Ducati start making Rossi happy on the bike, expect Rossi to make Ducati happy about having Rossi.
Let's not forget who was on the podium 10 times last year while missing 4 races with a broken leg and returning sooner than expected.

Bang on fly there isn't an intelligent argument out there that supports riding it like Casey unless your objective is to be further down the order each season and risk serious injury.. At any other factory Casey would have got the sack for underperforming.. The fact that the duke is such a bad bike has deluded some folk into thinking 4th place on a factory bike is a magnificent performance, especially considering the rest of the bikes occupied the back of the grid week in week out.. It isn't, it's piss poor especially for an alien(look where he is on the honda) and massive change was needed at ducati. Whether they have the stomach for it the jury is still out, up to now they're as deluded as some of the poster we have to re-read everytime Rossi or duke get a mention..

So can we expect Rossi to be sacked for finishing what? 6th or 7th? How many millions of dollars will Ducati have spent to get Rossi such a remarkable result? Riding it like Casey rode it gave Ducati their one and only world championship. That's as intelligent an argument as it is possible to find. And a senior member of this same Ducati factory in a recent interview called Stoner a genius. Rossi cannot ride the Ducati the way Stoner did, as he has acknowledged publicly, he doesn't have Stoner's skills. The whole MotoGP world, including Rossi, now knows what a remarkable job Stoner did on the Ducati. And as to whether the current Ducati is a bad bike we just don't know. Even Preziosi recently said that he wished Stoner could ride the bike now so they could know just where they stand with it. A quite remarkable comment for him to make in the circumstances.

The 1199 has an aluminium chassis, remember. So if an aluminium beam turns out better than a carbon+stressed engine design, they can say the 1199 uses an advanced aluminium chassis as will the upcoming 2012GP bike.

Otoh there are already rumours from people who've followed 1199 around Mugello that in fact it does have similar issues.

Interestingly there was a picture of a CAD drawing of the rear chassis on MCN and it disappeared very quickly...
I guess it means it was the real thing!
Now all you can see is the same picture posted earlier on GPone.
The html adress still reads "Ducati chassis plans spied" but the article is now entitled "Ducati chassis spied"
Talk about secrecy!

Going by that the new chassis is made from a new alchemy derived material which I call call 'Blue' in honour of Percy of BlackAdder II and his discovery of a wonderous new metal 'Green'. So we're all wrong and Preziosi is waay ahead of us.

I can't believe they made this 'blue' of which you speak in... errr... blue.

This kind of marketing faux pas would never have happened in Livio Suppo's day ;o)

"So, Precy-iosi, you think there is a market for bikes which look like vintage cheese mould, do you?!"

I think the article on MCN changed because they had been out-done by GPOne. Saying "We've got a picture of a CAD drawing of what part of the frame might look like" somewhat loses its impact when another site says "And here is a photo of Batta riding the complete bike."

I think MCN shot themselves in the foot by not releasing the 'CAD' image yesterday. Oh well, at least it gave us something to speculate on for a few hours.

Because now they display the exact same picture than on GPone, where you only see the bike from a distance (and with the fairings you can't see much), instead of the CAD shot.
I don't think they have been outdone by gpone at all, I think someone made them remove this picture because CAD drawings are far too much compared to what Ducati is ready to show to the public at this time.
A picture from afar where you can't see anything might be ok for Ducati, certainly not the CAD one and a close up.

This photo has already been printed in yesterday's MCN, so it's a bit late to worry about that.

And for those of us that aren't engineers, a photo of a complete bike on track is far closer to it being 'real'.

Right now they are all rumors, I`ve read somewhere else he crashed in the CF version (if there actually is a CF and an aluminum version running at Mugello).
Let´s hope there is some actual information by tomorrow.

Was that photo of a Ducati personnel holding a CAD drawing genuine or a fake?
Strange how it disappeared, to me the focus of the CAD drawing to the rest of the photo was wrong.

You can see border lining where the CAD image meets the tech's hand.

Just my opinion, though.

David hinted at the problem in his technical article and I don't think its related to frame material or rider. From a rare side view photo of the engine in the frame on the GP11, taken with a wide angle perspective, the crankshaft center seems to high. Many bikes where riders have described the problems in a similar way, combined with an unusual number of "unexpected" front crashes, have the same issue of crank center being too high in the chassis. The problem will remain if its not lowered. Its not an easy job because everything else around it must be moved.
A more traditional frame for testing can at least allow greater movement of the engine location to find the range in which the performance is improved. The bolt on sections of the GP11 frame makes moving the engine around a nightmare because everything bolts to the engine.
Of course lowering the crank center from the current location will also have to take into consideration the weight bias and cg. Not an easy job. There seems to be plenty of weight on the front already with one symptom being the high front tire wear which can be exascerbated at certain circuits. Other evidence is the recent setup change on Rossi's bike to a higher sitting front with a lowered rear, although it seems like they reached the adjustment limits of this set-up.
Next years Superbike with the CF frame should have no issues if the geometry is the same as the trellis frame.
Anyone know what the GP11 weight bias is with or without rider?

while designed in-house, once they reach production, the majority of components at ducati are either built or sub-assembled by outside contractors and then shipped to borgo panigale. it's been this way for years/decades. eaton, magnetti merelli, siemens, verlicci, brembo, etc. the grandprix kit is certainly an in-house affair, but as a tiny-tini niche manufacturer for them to outsource something is no revelation.