Ducati race boss Claudio Domenicali has given some insight into the significant changes made to the Bologna factory’s new GP10 MotoGP challenger.
The new bike was officially unveiled today at Ducati’s annual team launch at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort, with Casey Stoner in particular hoping he can end the recent domination enjoyed by Yamaha’s YZR-M1 machine.
Domenicali first gave his views on the challenge of engine durability for the forthcoming season.
To save costs, a rider can only use six engines for the 18-round world championship, with one motor now having to last for three races.
The new regulations created a major conundrum for MotoGP engineers in how to make an engine last longer without sacrificing crucial performance.
Domenicali said: “To go almost 2,000 kilometres with every motor, with a motor that goes over 19,000 rpm isn’t a simple a assignment.
"Filippo (Preziosi) and his boys had big challenges in this area, and I’d say that with time, we’ll start the races with something that’s radically changed from before.
"All of the principal parts were redesigned—pistons, rods, crankshaft, the basics. It’s a motor with which our main objective was to minimise the loss of power to increase durability.
"It was a change that will be very useful and interesting, also because normally in racing, durability isn’t the principal objective.
“Perhaps this new objective has enabled us to perform a series of experimentations that will also be interesting for the new production motors that we’re developing, because at this point, they become almost comparable.
"For a production motor, 2,000 kilometres of track use is a severe challenge, so we start to think that the race motor durability is comparable with production motors. This is also a very interesting point.”
Another big challenge for Ducati’s technical experts was to try and make the Desmosedici more user friendly, less aggressive and easier to ride.
Only Aussie Stoner has enjoyed any significant success for Ducati, including his stunning domination of the premier class in 2007 when he romped to the inaugural 800cc series with ease.
In order to make it easier for Stoner to continue his impressive form and enable other Ducati rider’s like Nicky Hayden and Mika Kallio to get closer to the top six on a consistent basis, Ducati will campaign a radically revised engine in 2010.
The V4 motor will feature a Big Bang firing order instead of the Screamer version Ducati has previously campaigned in the 800cc era, Domenicali added: “The second big news isn’t related to the rules, but to our attempt to make the bike more rideable.
"This has to do with the firing order. We have a motor that, since the switch to 800s, utilised a Screamer setup.
"This has permitted us to have maximum power, which was very important and was probably fundamental with the results that we’ve had in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
"But at a certain point, we began to wonder whether it could be worthwhile to re-test a way that we’d already followed in the past.
"The last 1000cc motors that we made in 2005 and 2006 used a big-bang firing order, and this gave us important rideability.
"We re-tested that way, first trying it on the dyno, then with Vittoriano Guareschi in his previous role as test rider, and then with Nicky and Casey. We think we have a bike for 2010 with better traction, and that therefore makes it easier for us to find a good setup.
"Perhaps it’s best to ask Nicky and Casey what “easier” means in this case, but it’s part of the work to in some way increase the ability of the bike to adapt to different tracks and have a more repeatable setup.”
Ducati’s alterations for 2010 aren’t just concentrated on engine durability and a smoother engine to help with traction.
The chassis had been modified too and Domenicali added: “Another part of the work was dedicated to the chassis.
"In the pursuit of ease of use, we’ve worked to eliminate the bike’s squatting, which is why the entire rear portion of the bike was redesigned.
"This bike has a rear structure that carries the rider—which we call the seat support—and that also supports the swingarm.
"That part was redesigned to have six mounting points instead of four, and this makes the bike more rigid in some way, and guarantees a better rideability and improved rigidity.
"With respect to the bike we introduced last year, this bike is also aesthetically different because of the redesigned fairing, but we already saw that at Estoril.
"At Estoril, we used a different fairing, and some different components—because we made a new package at mid-season.
"This fairing is less sensitive to lateral wind, and also makes the bike more manoeuvrable, and this was retained for the GP10.
"This package, in addition to a series of minor modifications to the electronics represents the improvement.
"We have a group of over 100 people who work continuously on the improvement of the bike, so the principal modifications are the indicators, but in reality, following the riders’ input, we try to continuously adapt and improve the bike.”