Ducati To Debut Aluminium Chassis At Aragon

Valentino Rossi is to use the new aluminium chassis at Motorland Aragon this weekend, which was first tested last week at Mugello on Ducati's 2012 1000cc machine.  The Italian told the press conference at Aragon that the test at Mugello had gone very well, and the new chassis - built by British Moto2 manufacturer FTR - had improved the feeling from the front end of the Ducati. As a consequence, they had decided to use the new chassis at Aragon this weekend, to use it as a development platform for next year.

Rossi told the press conference that the test had gone well. "It was not so bad," Rossi said. "We tried something different in the bike to improve the front feeling, to improve the front turning, and the lap time is not so bad. I was a bit faster than the last time, but especially the feeling is quite good. So we're looking forward," Rossi told the press conference.

The new chassis is not a twin spar, as was previously believed, but merely an aluminium version of the previous chassis, with much longer frame spars (visible in the photos Toby Moody posted on Twitter). "It is not a frame," Rossi explained, "The philosophy of Ducati remains the same, but the front part of the bike is a bit different. It is in aluminium and not in carbon like before." The reason for the switch was to help speed up the process of understanding the bike and finding a good setup, something that Rossi and his crew have struggled with all year. "About the material, it is especially a question of time, because we have to work, to try to understand the bike, and with aluminium, this takes a lot less time compared to the carbon." The change helped, but there was still work left to do, Rossi said. "The feeling improve a bit, it's just a first step, we keep working, and we have to try to come back to fight for the front position."

That is unlikely to happen this weekend, though. Speaking to the Italian press, including GPOne.com, Rossi dampened expectations: "I'm not expecting anything miraculous. The other riders are all in good shape and have their bikes going very well. From last year, it looks like the Ducati can go well here, but we'll have to see tomorrow. We have hope." The only doubt is whether the chassis will also work with the 800cc engine, which has different power characteristics to the larger capacity GP12 tested at Mugello. "We need to see if the new chassis has the same advantages with the 800 that it had with the 1000."

Nicky Hayden was also positive about the new chassis. Even though he had not tested the bike himself, he had been kept in the loop. "[Ducati] kept me informed," Hayden told MotoMatters.com. "I spoke to Filippo [Preziosi] a couple of times, and it seems real positive. They're pretty happy around there. So we'll see how Valentino goes." The overall impression after the test was positive, Hayden said. "They were pretty happy with how the test went. We'll see how it translates on the race weekend, and we'll see how Valentino goes with it." Hayden did not expect to get the new chassis for himself this year, however, as there were not enough parts for the American to use the chassis as well. "I probably won't be getting it this year," Hayden said, adding that it wouldn't be until the Valencia tests that he would get a chance to try the new chassis.

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He has been at least...6 races on a bike identical to Rossi's this season.
Ok, that was round 1 to 6, a long time ago.

Rossi switched to the GP11.1 at Assen (round 7), at Brno (round 11) Nicky races the GP11.1 for the first time and Rossi gets new "magical front end parts" (not available for Nicky), Aragon (round 14) Rossi gets the "GP11.2" with aluminum chassis that Hayden will get for 2012.
Look on the bright side, maybe Nicky finally gets the front end parts that Rossi got 1 month ago.

Sometimes I feel that Nicky is too much of a good soldier...

"Sometimes I feel that Nicky is too much of a good soldier..."

Hah exactly. On one hand you have the polar opposite of say JT, who certainly ruffled feathers through his demands and crew chief drama, but at least got what he wanted. On the other hand, Nicky's dependability & extreme loyalty has probably done quite a bit to secure his factory seats, even when perhaps he wasn't exactly a solid top-5 in the standings. Even when Honda was making him guinea pig despite his 2006 leading-the-championship standings, he didn't really say boo and just rolled with it.

I suppose Nicky knows his place and knows how to deal with the 2nd-born son scenario to his best advantage. He really would have nothing to gain by complaining and calling people out at Ducati, so like his fans behind him, it's Grin & bare it ; )

Hayden knows he 's getting a tow on the development. Without Rossi, a lot of this wouldn't have happened. They sure wouldn't have put this much in resources behind Nicky, no offense to him. He'll be in a much better spot for sure if this gets straightened out.

Hayden's contract also runs out next year, with no guarantee at all that the bike will be "fixed" or be at the level of the Honda/Yamahas by then.

Remember, he joined the team when Stoner was there, and a Rossi/Ducati marriage was still just a fond dream in the Italian press. He's not there begging for a tow by Rossi's coattails, he's one of the only 4 world champions currently in the series for the past decade.

True, they would not spend the resources on Nicky, but neither did they spend it on Stoner, who brought their only MotoGP world championship to date and ARTICULATED the exact same change requests that Ducati is now fulfilling for Rossi. It's taken a Euro-15,000,000 Italian hero to get Ducati to swallow some pride and start to make radical changes to their passionate but painful unicorn. So I don't share the sentiment that Nicky is blessed and lucky that he might get in on the good end of some much needed development.

I'll believe it when I see it, whether his patience bears him fruit. Until then, I'll watch every racing weekend and enjoy the honest hard efforts he puts in every session; it's what a good fan does regardless what place the rider's running around in.

Nicky did a 3rd at Aragon last year. Let's see what 2/3 of a season of Rossi-focused development has done for him. So far in 2011 I'm sure Nicky wishes it was still last year. He already knows he won't get this quick to produce aluminum chassis that bolts directly to the existing GP11.1 engine until next year. I'm sure when next year they give him Rossi's 2011 Aragon chassis he'll be somewhat happy. And Rossi will be running something completely different.

With all the bitching Rossi has been doing about limited testing affecting development he has been surprisingly reluctant to have Nicky act as his new CE. It's been all the new parts for Rossi and nobody else to test.


It looked like Ducati hit the groud running when they introduced the GP9. If not for Stoner's illness and missed races, there certainly was a lot more to be achieved that season. Outright speed definitely wasn't a problem.

I wonder what could have gone so wrong form the GP10 onwards. Was proper CF development beyond Ducati's budget? Have the very strict testing regulations hit them harder than everyone else?

Who'll be the next manufacturer to have a go at a CF bike?

So on Sunday they will use a bike with the 2012 engine turn into an 800, the rear of the original GP12 project and an aluminum front that is supposed to be very early testing and probablly won't end up on the 2012 bike?
Now that's what I call prototype racing!
Let's hope this frankenduc doesn't eat it's creator.

Give him more cake! CF morphed to Alloy. Who cares really ? Stoner won Aragon last year with an L-4 D16 in CF. I fully expect by now,Rossi should do likewise. He's had 8 months and 80 days. Hayden is merely incidental. Marketing in a decrepid and failing USA banker greed economy. I hear Rossi is Motegi comitted aswell. No harm in making an extra buck. Ducati won Motegi last year too.
Merely dark humour this one....
'So Valentino consulted his GP bible for inspiration and flipped it open. His eyes fell on the verse...(and Judas hanged himself). Believing the flip could not be inspirational, he flipped the GP bible again. His eyes fell upon the verse... (Go thee and do likewise.)'.He sure did by failing to confront Lorenzo on equal terms.
Seriously, Aragon is Marlboro/Ducati's biggest race of 2011. Questions are going to be asked from bike to rider and everything in between should they fail to deliver anything less than close to 2010 results.'Backyard moves', notwithstanding'.

I really hope it works out for him - they say when the going gets tough the tough get going and given time he'll be back up there - that having been said, it's been a tough year to be a fan - if it continues into next year, I might have to get going myself :)

Perhaps Dorna can introduce a rule where a rookie can only ride a Ducati, then when they have a years experience they can move on to a proper motogp bike..That way Ducati won't be wasting any good riders and someone will actually want or at least HAVE to ride a Ducati.
Rossi/Marlboro would make a great branding exercise, I still have an old AGV helmet in marlboro racing colours, they just need a serious manufacturer to tie in with.

At the rate their going Ducati are going to be a CRT entry down the road.

Well their L4 certainly makes enough power to be top of the CRT heap... and it sure seems like Kalex or Suter could do better than Ducati when it comes to building a winning chassis. Perhaps Ducati should poach a Moto2 chassis designer and Preziosi could go design scooters? He's not much chop as a MotoGP chassis designer.

So given that Preziosi is adamant (as many others are) that material is not the issue in terms of the desired flex, then I'm disappointed to hear that aluminium has been used with this new longer spar chassis - the previous versions shortness of which most fingers seem to have been pointed at.

Sounds like a case of the "I'll get what I want" 's to me. I wonder if Preziosi acquiesced to the request or was told to met the demands from higher up in Ducati & Marlboro?

I'm happy though, as this layman picked the nature of Preziosi's next design, if not the material.

I'd like to see the carpet that Ducati must have thrown the stuff that did not work, under. I hope it is a big pile of stuff. I would hate to think that THIS is the best they can do and tried a **** load of stuff away from public eyes. Ducati may say in all honesty that they don't have the experience thatthe Japanese do with twin spare frames, but they didn't with V4 engines either. They have to start some time. Their only other option is to have an open call in the Australian outback and find a rider like Casey who can ride their bike as is. Maybe cheaper and less embarrassing in the long run.

The carbon sub-frame, and the original steel trellis, both bolted to the centre of each head. This version bolts to... the rear of the rear head?

I know this has been discussed before but what' s the point of a testing limit if you can test components on a slug Ty different spec bike and use it on the current bike. This must be a joke. Is that the GP 11.2

I think aluminum will help a lot with the changes they make to the bike.

It is so much faster to manufacture than CF and it is possible to modify those parts after they have tested them. They can make design changes and cnc-machine the new parts in a day and try them the next day.

There is a wealth of expertise in Al design and manufacturing, and a huge knowledgebase of material application experience to call on.

CF is far more specialised, and not the material to be using if you need to be making basic design/layout changes, when there is also so little available data on the specific material application.

Reduce the unkown variables. Get it working with Al first, then substitute a CF version... if the CF version performs differently, you know the cause and can work on it.

So ftr is making the Ducati chassis. Assuming this thing works like it should I wonder if we'll be seeing an ftr crt bike in the near future with a stressed engine and no twin spar. Surely ftr must be learning things from the specs that Ducati gives them to manufacture.

The only engine in a production bike that is engineered for that is the D16 road bike.
Unlikely, I think...

So Rossi gets the AL chassis in a mad rush with almost no time to sort the settings, just in time for Aragon. The same race where Stoner started his hot streak last season.

It almost makes you wonder how desperate Ducati and/or Rossi were to avoid the inevitable comparisons by playing the 'its a completely different bike' card, still in development, etc. - they were on a hiding to nothing to come out of the weekend looking good versus 2010.

(yes, this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek but geez there is a lot of meat for the conspiracy types with this announcement. I'm assuming if Hayden isn't going to see any of the new stuff this year that he now might as well be riding for Pramac, he's getting nothing for the CF bike)

Hayden is the comparison point of interest for this race, not Rossi.

Last year: qualified 4th, finished 3rd.

However, times are really what matters this weekend, not positions.

If Hayden is faster than last year, Ducati can at least avoid total embarassment by pointing to that progress marker.

If Hayden is no faster or... heaven forbid, slower... I would think the post-race meeting with sponsors will be extremely difficult.

After leaving Honda or getting the boot from HRC, however it went down and from whose version of the story you want to believe... Nicky Hayden deserves more credit and respect! He's a Top-6 rider in the 800cc Era. He has always been the company-man even when being dogged by HRC to be a test-rider when wearing the number 1 plate on his bike. I must admit, for awhile, I wondered where his place was in the MotoGP paddock after having a few bad years as a rider. (I went back to watch the 2006 MotoGP season) It's rare that he speaks negatively about anything... unless he's really upset... like in 2006 when Dani wrecked him. His talent as a rider is hindered by the 800cc machine... he's a better rider when on a larger capacity machine. But besides his track abilities, Hayden knows how to market himself behind the scenes! He works hard for his career whether it be on the track or doing promos! Many riders would love to be in his place as he would love to be in Rossi's shoes. Hayden knows his role very well and he's 1 of very few that's been on factory equipment most of his career. Ducati loves him for playing his role and for his marketability. How many riders have you seen get a production bike(s) made after them?

Pity that he hasn't won more than three races in nine (9) years in MotoGP.

Won his last race when Stoner had won none.

"How many riders have you seen get a production bike(s) made after them?"

Rossi and Hayden, Ducati Monsters.

Hayden Ducati 848.

Fogarty, Monster S4 Foggy.

Bayliss Ducati 996 (?).

Capirossi, Monster 620 Capirex.

Probably a couple more....

Given their comments about alu being quicker to develop, I wonder if they will develop it until they work out what the correct stiffness is, then make a CF version. Just so they can say "we told you it wasn't the material"

I think Ducati are playing it smart - they might role it out and it might not work (GP11.1 anyone) - no point in doing so for two riders - Rossi is willing to take the gamble and change from 3 different machines in one season. This is why Ducati hired him, to improve the bike.

Nicky is very smart & understands his role in the team, he will get the new frame next season. Two reasons, he is flat out of engines & has limited time with these, this means less track time. Rossi is already on the line as is, but has an engine up on Hayden. Secondly, because it is a huge price / gamble to make & if it doesn't work, well I wouldn't want to spend all that money & time twice - I think Nicky's FP's will be cut shorter to preserve engine life. Nicky also knows that by Rossi doing this work he will benefit come next year when they role out four even bikes that are a lot better then the original GP12.

If lap times are anything to go by at Mugello - it should not be too bad. Hopefully they can find a base setting really quickly and JB can work his magic & try to make a bike with podium potential. You got to remember, it must be very tricky going out, being a guy who has won more than 100 races & knowing that you cannot go out and thrash the bike as you need to collect as much data as possible, not bin it. Rossi's job hasn't been fair this year - he should be able to hop on the bike and ride at 99.9%. This has been the issue - to much time spent finding a setup. Both Casey & Rossi have said the Ducati is to hard to setup & is like a guessing game. Both totally different riding styles as well.

I know all the Stoner fans are going to say "well Stoner did it" - yes you are correct, credit when it is due 100%, but did he do it with the consistancy that he has this year? Looking at a study GPone did a few weeks back, Rossi has been faster than Casey on the Ducati at more than half the tracks. The point is Yamaha & Honda have also taken HUGE steps forward this year which really makes the Ducati's look worse than it is...

Lets hope for the sake of motogp that this new frame gives the guys in red another .5 second at base, then we can hope to see some close racing at the upcoming races!

Where did you get that information about Rossi being faster than Stoner this year, at more than half the tracks? I have been monitoring the lap times, all from official MotoGP site, and that statement is wrong. Pity that I cant post attachments, or I would put up the excel spreadsheet that I have.

It covers all practise , warm up, test and race sessions since both riders changed teams at in November, 2010.

Comparing Rossi's times with Stoner's just fans the flames of rider adoration/bashing which have already ruined what should have been a discussion on the technical/engineering arguments of this approach.

Looking at Hayden's times in each season would give a better marker of development progress, although you still have to take into account changing weather/track conditions.

Basically, a comparison of this type isn't helpful, which is why the 'two riders on identical machines on the same track at the same time' (Rossi/Lorenzo in 2010, Stoner/Pedrosa this year) are the only real way of separating rider influence from the bike they are riding.

that the RCV and M1 have supposedly taken over 2010.

As I understand it HRC have a gearbox worth approximately 0.2 secs per lap. Check, Ducati have that. Electronic upgrades. Check, Ducati have had these. Pedrosa is still supposedly on his 2010 chassis.

The M1 same story, with Lorenzo supposedly having reverted to his 2010 chassis.

This huge step forward is nothing but a red herring hung out there by the Rossi apologists. The M1 and RCV are very mature designs. Improvements this year have come primarily from tyres, electronics and riding personnel this year.

As an aside I was musing last night. There's every reason to suggest the 2007-2009 RCV was the equivalent of the 2009-2011 Ducati, perhaps even worse. It was orginally down on power, hampered by Showa that didn't work as well as Ohlins, a 'rough' electronics package not as polished as MM of Ducati & Yamaha, and Dani didn't get the 'stones until after Stoner and Rossi. Dani still won races though on the third best bike on the grid........

Nostro there's a good article from closer to the start of the season that is probably still available where Shuhei(Honda) is interviewed about what the journos perserved at the time to be a huge step forward for Honda, he said that they had made many small improvements of which the gear box was just one and this added upto a big improvement overall. Agree though the Honda also made a big step in the second half of last year..No question the two big steps are why there are 4 hondas in the top 5 almost relentlessly now barring mistakes.. Every honda rider will have a better season than last year even including the shocking starts both Dani and Sic had.
Credit where it is due, major qudos to Honda this year, and of course their top riders.

To me, one clue that Honda made a big step forward this year is watching Spies, Dovi, and Simoncelli. Last year Spies was spanking Sic with ease, Dovi not so much, but still usually beat him in head to head battles (think Aragon last year)...

But, this year, Sic is consistently faster than Spies (Pace wise, not results). The only quantifiable difference is the machinery. Of course it may be completely down to rider, somehow Sic found pace over the winter Spies can't match, but take that variable out and I think that is a good clue on how good the Honda is this year versus last year.

But, I do agree, if there is a such a huge step forward by Honda mechanically, what are the big differences versus last year's bike?

My guess is that, as usual, it is a combination of everything. Stoner without a doubt 'upped' everyone's game at Honda, making them push harder and help them see the limit of the bike is more than thought. While Honda made incremental mechanical changes that the other manufactures can't match. Keep in mind we are talking hundredths of a second per lap difference here. But, those small changes add up, and this HUGE leap forward everyone claims are really a combination of small things, but when the times are so tight, and it seems like ALL the factory Hondas are going so well this year, it is easy to perceive it as a HUGE leap forward.

I would also guess Honda have poured everything they have into winning this last 800cc title. No slight to Casey, I know what kind of wrath that might bring down on my head. But overall, the Hondas are running far too much as a group up front for it to be a coincidence.

With both versions of the current Ducati engine having mounting points designed for a separate front and rear subframe, it looks as though they made a new aluminum subframe that bypasses the front mounts, thereby mounting to the rear engine/subframe mounting points, making essentially a 2 piece twin spar chassis(?). Given engine use restrictions ie no time or allotment left to cast up new cases with revised mounts, this looks a very temporary/resting one off, which is likely why there are no parts for poor Nick. I'd love to see the engine mounting, but as the engine was designed to be a stressed member, it may well be that they are hanging it off the rear mounts only (????) . Wild mid season stuff going on here...

Typically the idea of a twin spar is to have two beams that connect the headstock to the swingarm pivot, with vertical strength all the way in between.
It's nicely illustrated by the Suter MMX chassis:

Now if you join two subframes together at a single point, it's not really a twin spar since it will collape in the middle if you remove the engine. It's sort of a hybrid-truss frame where some elements of the truss are provided by the engine. The Bimota M2 chassis last year was of this type, as are things like the Bott and the proposed Tigcraft M2 chassis:
(although in all those cases the front subframe is a trellis, but it's functionally equivalent).
The current Ducati superbike frame is close to this: while the frame is one piece, without the engine in it is pretty weak, since front is connected to back by a single un-triangulated piece of tube:
The same is true for the tubular MZ chassis (now abandoned in favour of a re-badged FTR).

However in all those cases, the swingam pivot is still partly connected to the steering head by the (sub-)frame, with part of the triangulation provided by the motor. Exceptions to that, where the engine provides all of the connection for some part of the way from pivot to head-stock, is much rarer. There is the Duc 888 (although some of the later race bikes had a 916 type extension added), a few Honda street bikes, the Britten, the first twin crank version of the NSR250 (abandoned after one season), and the D16. There were rumours of some late versions of the 990 adding some direct, 916-1198 style bracing to the outside of the swingarm pivot, but I don't know if they were ever verified.

Graham, it looks like (and this is from a tiny glimpse from an odd angle...) that the mount where you see the aluminum spar comes out from behind the fairing, actually goes outside (bookends) the rear subframe, thereby connecting the front and rear subframe at at least on mounting point. If this is indeed the case, then whether by welding or bolting together, the front and rear frames are joined together and not only by using the engine as the centre frame component. If they do this at the lower mounting point as well, then the frame does essentially become a twin spar. albeit bolted to a very large carbon rear section rather than cast to a cast or machined rear engine mount/swingarm pivot. If they use a smaller upper spar and bolt the lower
front mount to the head or cases then it would be the hybrid as you describe.

Given the limited view so far the lower/front mounting, it's all just conjecture on my part at this point.

An interesting interview with Stoner in the latest AMCN

On the subject of changing to an aluminium frame for the Duke's, Stoner said that at the end of 2008, he tested both an alloy and a carbon fibre front sub frame with almost no difference in performance so Ducati opted to go with the more modern material.

What he didn't say was whether the sub frames were attached to the current mounting points or not.

Interestingly he said "if they think the C.F. frame is bad, they should have tried the old steel trellis frame"

This would seem to verify my observation in 2007 at Phillip Island that when riding, he looked like he was wrestling a bag of cats

But what a sight it was. Both Stoner and Capirossi on that beast of a machine, wrestling it through the corners and onto the straights. You really could see what a handful that bike was.

I read that but his results seem to suggest the exact opposite, in that his results dropped off considerably when they went to the cf bike and when he said they made big improvements at the end of 2009, 2010 was his worst season by some way.. The guy's either trying to have dig at Rossi, or has got the old rose tinted specs on..I suspect it's abit of both..

Maybe the opposition got better? Or perhaps the single tire rules evened the playing field? Why is it not possible for all the bikes to improve, but Honda/Yamaha made a bigger jump than Ducati?

Look at this season - we heard that the GP11.1 was an improvement over the old GP11 but there has been no significant improvement in the results. We heard the new AL GP11.2 was an improvement over the GP11.1, but Rossi was slower than two CF Ducatis in FP1. You can improve but still be worse compared to the opposition.

Have Ducati not pushed the limits again on the rules for testing bikes outside of race weekends? Once again a 1000 testing day ends up with a new chassis in the 800 class, I know we all want to see it sorted, but this is a bit rich.

Ducati have stayed perfectly within the rules, testing the chassis with the bigger engine for next year. The problem with the rules is that it is impossible to prevent exactly this situation, as, in the most extreme example, they have been testing this year's wheels, brakes, suspension as well.

And as Ducati found out with the GP11.1, the fact that something works well on the GP12 doesn't mean it will work well on the 800cc bike, so it's always a risk.

I would submit that this year is an anomaly because normally contracted riders do not test next year's bike before Valencia. The change to the 1k has provided an opportunity, and Ducati is just taking advantage of that hole in the rules.
Now if they try the same thing next year, the other MFGs should call foul. I'm sure if Yamaha had a deep pocket sponsor this year they would've tried that to catch up to HRC.

The testing rules for next year won't allow this situation to happen again, as there won't be any extra test days allocated for development of the 2013 machines.

Yes Ducati's approach has been against the spirit of the rules, but as long as they are complying with the letter of the rules, does anybody except fans with their colours pegged to an individual rider really care?

This is prototype motorcycle racing, and watching those prototypes develop is all part of the entertainment.

You are supposed to push the rules. Not taking full advantage of the letter of the rules is about as silly as going out with an overweight bike or a 5 speed gearbox, or not passing in a tight spot because it might upset the guy you are passing. This is not the Olympic games circa 1905...

Agree they aren't doping, or cheating in anyway, they are simply using the testing as they see best for their assault on the series and within the rules.. Whether having no days left at the end of the year and I suspect still a bike they are clueless about is an advantage is open to question..