Ducati completed an extra day of testing at Misano on Monday, with both Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden turning laps on a range of new material brought to the track after Sunday's race at the Italian circuit, while Ducati test rider Franco Battaini worked on developments for the electronics systems of the Desmosedici. The test was judged to be very positive, according to the press release issued after the test, and for once, there was probably more truth than PR spin in that statement.
Rossi tested a new swingarm and a new chassis, with identical geometry but revised stiffness to the frame he raced at Misano on Sunday. The frame, the third to be tested this year, was not a complete success, helping in some areas but creating new problems in others. But the swingarm was a big improvement, providing the edge grip that Rossi had lacked and helping to calm the rear on corner exit, one of Rossi's two major problems with the Ducati.
Nicky Hayden, meanwhile, did two short exits on both his existing and the chassis raced by Rossi on Sunday, comparing the two chassis back to back. Despite not being able to push at 100% because of his hand injury, Hayden noticed a marked improvement with the new chassis, which helps with braking, corner entry and turning. Hayden had to call it a day after those two outings, his hand not capable of bearing any more strain. Andrea Iannone, who had been standing by to test if Hayden had not been fit enough, ended up not riding the bike.
The Ducati is showing signs of real progress, though there is still some way to go. More is still to come, Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi stating his aim of providing a fourth iteration of the chassis for the final race at Valencia. That chassis would incorporate the positive aspects of the third-generation chassis tested by Rossi at Misano, with some modifications to fix the negative points highlighted by Rossi.
Preziosi's statements in the press release appear to be aimed at countering the criticism aimed at the Ducati Corse boss, some of which has been emanating from Jeremy Burgess himself, who had accused Ducati of not providing updates fast enough to keep Valentino Rossi's motivation up. Preziosi made clear that changes were both being provided and that more were on their way, but he also made a point of stating that the rate of development would be stepped up a gear, with new parts arriving faster.
After two long years of struggling, Ducati is showing the first signs of a revival. The decision by Andrea Dovizioso and Ben Spies to sign with Ducati was initially met with incredulity. Now, though, it is starting to look like a fairly shrewd move.
Below is the Ducati press release issued after Monday's test:
Promising test for Ducati Team at Misano
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden returned to action today at Misano for a one-day test that the Ducati Team spent doing chassis and electronics tests.
The American, who only rode in the morning due to his still-healing right hand, tried the frame and swingarm that his teammate had used in yesterday’s race, and he had a positive first impression. Meanwhile, Valentino tried a version that had the same geometry but a different stiffness.
Franco Battaini work on testing electronic developments.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 53 laps
“It was a good day. Today we tried a different chassis that had a different stiffness, but honestly, I didn’t like it a lot. It was an improvement in some areas, but we had some new problems in other areas. In the end, it’s not a real improvement, so I don’t think we’ll use it again. But the positive thing is that we tried a new swingarm that I liked a lot because it gave me more edge grip and more rear grip under acceleration, and it helps the bike to stay more stable on corner exits. So of the two things, one worked. I think we’ll use the new swingarm starting in Aragon, so there we’ll see what our potential is on another track.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 14 laps
“In order not to stress my hand too much, we only did two runs today—one with basically my race bike, and one with the new frame—but it was nice to get an idea of the chassis. I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to notice the difference, but I could actually feel more than I expected. I felt better with it, for sure. I had more confidence because there’s better front grip for braking into the corners, and because of that, also better turning. I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction, straight away, and I’m happy with the work Ducati has done. Because I was able to brake a bit differently, I’ll probably need to stiffen the fork spring a bit, but already, it was a good step. I’m quite happy, and at Aragon we’ll start to work on the setup.”
Filippo Preziosi, Technical Director
“It was a very useful test: We had prepared a chassis that was the same as that used by Valentino in yesterday’s race in terms of geometry, but different in terms of rigidity. Valentino gave us feedback that will allow us to design an evolution that has the positive characteristics that he noticed, and which match what we expected from the calculations we had made, but without losing precision. We also had a different swingarm that Valentino liked, so we’ll bring it to Aragon. Nicky did his first comparison between the pre-Misano frame and swingarm and those used by Valentino yesterday. His initial comments were positive, but we’ll have to check again at Aragon when his physical condition is better. Based on the data we gathered today, we’re speeding up production of the next step of the frame, which could arrive before Valencia.”