New MotoGP testing rules that allow factories to use their contracted riders much more in 2012 will be a major boost for Ducati, according to Valentino Rossi’s crew chief Jerry Burgess.
Under previous cost-cutting testing restrictions, Ducati could only use Rossi and American team-mate Nicky Hayden on a limited number of designated testing days to try and improve the Desmosedici machine.
Ducati felt the limits on testing were far too restrictive, as it had to rely on test rider Franco Battaini and team boss Vittoriano Guareschi to develop and assess new parts this year for the GP11.
Rossi too spoke frequently about how much Ducati was handicapped by the testing restrictions.
Ducati tried several radical solutions to fix a lack of front-end feel with its last 800cc contender and by the end of the year, the Bologna factory’s new 1000cc GP12 was fitted with a conventional aluminium twin spar chassis.
But for 2012, the MotoGP field will be allowed to test more often after new regulations were agreed last week at a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Madrid.
The new rules allow Ducati, Honda and Yamaha an allocation of 240 (120 sets) Bridgestone tyres to use with their contracted riders, which is a move welcomed by Burgess.
The Aussie told MCN: "For us to be more competitive we need to be able to test with our best riders. We have an obligation to Ducati fans and Ducati itself to be absolutely competitive and if we are behind we need to do testing with our contracted ridees. It is the only way we can go forward. Other companies will have the same rules and if you don't need the testing you don't have to do it. We just want to be closer to the front. We have our test riders but with the greatest respect they are only capable of taking the bike so far and we really need the input from the GP riders. And that’s not just Valentino but all the Ducati riders. We need to work together and lift this bike up very quickly. When you are at the bottom you need to accelerate more quickly to the top.
"It is right to say that Ducati's movement forward in recent years hasn’t been as quick as the other companies because in 2007 Ducati won. But in 2008, ‘09 and ‘10 they didn't and Yamaha did. So Yamaha obviously improved. Honda didn't win in those years so they were in the same boat as Ducati. Dani (Pedrosa) didn't win many more races than Casey (Stoner) in that time. The Yamaha was the standout bike for a period and probably the standout bike of the past ten years and I was pretty proud to have something to do with that but maybe Honda is going to be in that position for a few years. Ducati has to be there and not be running at the back of the group."
Last month, Ducati technical boss Filippo Preziosi told MCN of his satisfaction at the tweaking of the testing rules and he said: "For sure in an economical situation like we have now, to have Valentino Rossi sleeping in his room paid by us instead of riding our bike and giving us the information we need, doesn’t seem the most efficient way to use our money. We have to save money so there is a rule that makes the limit of the tests you can do because you can only use 240 tyres for the year. That makes a limit on the rent of the track, fuel, engines and spare parts. In this limit if you ask your test rider to ride the bike or Valentino, it won’t cost one Euro more because both are paid, so that is the logical way."
In the interest of fair competition it was also agreed by the Grand Prix Commission that other MotoGP class riders could exclusively test their team machines with a limit of 120 tyres per rider.