Ducati to test twin spar aluminium chassis in Valencia

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Ducati has confirmed that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will give a public debut to Ducati’s new twin spar aluminium frame during the traditional post race test in Valencia tomorrow (Tuesday).

Desmosedici designer Filippo Preziosi confirmed the switch to a conventional frame during a special press debriefing at a cold and wet Ricardo Tormo Circuit this morning.

Rossi and Hayden have both tested the new frame in separate sessions at the Jerez circuit recently as Bologna factory engineers desperately seek a cure to a vague front-end feeling that has hindered Rossi and Hayden throughout 2011.

MCN obtained a world exclusive shot of a CAD design of the twin spar frame during the Misano MotoGP round back in early September.

Preziosi said: “The bike is not the bike we will use for the first race. The bike you will see tomorrow is an experimental bike, a real prototype to give to our designers the targets to design the bike for the future. We don’t expect that at the test we will have a step in performance because the bike is more or less the same as the current bike but with a different technology. But this is really important for us to grow up our knowledge of this technology. We strongly believe we are moving in the right direction but our competitors have an advantage and it is not easy to say if and when we will join them but for sure we will give all our energy to try.

"We believe that the engine-based chassis is a good idea in general but we believe in MotoGP there are some constraints that suggest doing the choice we did. The tyres are very good for me from a technical point of view and the amount of energy they can put on the front tyre they can still do their best times of the race on the last lap. But to reach that result this kind of tyres are completely different and they require special chassis stiffness.

"The other point in pushing us to choose this kind of frame is the number of engines are limited. So when you have an engine-based chassis, if you want to change some dimensions or weight distribution, you have to re-design the tooling to do new parts for a new engine and this is a big effort from an economical point of view but it is quite impossible to do in MotoGP with only six engines. We had to use a seventh engine just because we wanted to change the front frame and this of course is not the way to win the championship. For that reason when you know very well where you want to put everything, the solution of the engine based frame is very good, but when you have to work continuously in developing a bike according to the development of the tyres or the requests of the riders, the only way to do it is with a complete frame and we had to do that."

Preziosi said much of a disastrous 2011 campaign in which Rossi and Hayden only scored one podium each had been sacrificed to test new parts to cut the gap to Honda and Yamaha.

The Italian said: "We decided during this season to sacrifice the sporting results using the racing weekend like a test. If we decided to keep the bike of the Qatar race for the whole season then for sure Valentino and Nicky could have achieved some better results. But the negative point of doing that is you haven’t built up the knowledge to design the bike of the future."

Rossi’s Australian crew chief Jerry Burgess recently told MCN: "We need to understand what a more conventional frame offers. Ducati have put in place the right people to understand these concepts and to deliver to us at the race track various concepts and gain an enormous amount of knowledge that will help the race department for years to come. The fact that in the last two or three months that Ducati have changed so much and so quickly is an indication of how keen they are to get the project to the pointy end. We don’t want to go too radical too quickly because that could actually be detrimental to the project but there’s a long time between now and the first test and even longer to the first race and plenty of time to explore what designs they feel they should."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt