Ducati cagey on GP12 changes

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Ducati technical guru Filippo Preziosi did a great job of revealing very little about the radical new GP12 Desmosedici that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will debut when winter testing kicks off at the Sepang track in Malaysia on January 31.

In a press conference that lasted close to an hour at Ducati’s 2012 launch at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort, Preziosi declined to reveal specific details of the changes to the new 1000cc machine.

He was repeatedly pressed on whether Ducati had narrowed the V-angle of its 90-degree four-cylinder motor to help solve a persistent front-end issue.
But throughout he expertly dodged giving precise information.

What was confirmed as expected was the bike has been completely re-designed from the GP12 version Rossi assessed at Valencia in early November. And it will retain the conventional twin spar aluminium frame that Rossi used at the end of last season.

Although visually the bike that will be unveiled in Sepang will look almost identical to the spec used in Valencia, underneath the fairing is completely new, revealed Preziosi.

One of the key targets for this year’s bike was to have more adjustments and set-up options, with last year’s GP11 too restrictive before Ducati ditched its carbon fibre chassis, which used the engine as a stressed member.

The changes Rossi and Hayden could make last season were too limited, which restricted them from experimenting with a range of set-ups to improve the performance of the Desmosedici.

Preziosi said: “The main goal of this new bike is to have a range of adjustments based on what we have defined as the ideal target. Last year we were using the bike always on the more extreme end of the adjustment and this did not allow us to go where our riders desired or where it was necessary to be competitive. The new bike we are going to take to Sepang is going to start with a range of adjustments that are going to be in the centre of the range of possibilities for each adjustment. In other words, we’re going to have a bike that’s going to allow us to have many different set-ups. And that’s where the difficult part is going to come, because of all the possible set-ups with the bikes, these bikes are extremely adjustable in many of their parameters.

“On this new bike to do this we had to re-design the entire bike. We change the chassis, the tank, and the seat support. We made some changes to the engine in terms of casting so that it can be hosted within the position we considerate it more suitable. The bike that you are going to see in Sepang¸ let’s say from a visual point of view is very similar to the bike you have seen in Valencia because it’s the bike with a perimeter-style frame in aluminium. So the fairing from an aesthetic point of view is very similar to the one you have already seen. However the commitment and the amount of work and the number of new components which are on the bike is much greater as against the difference which we had in Valencia.”

When asked about the V-angle of the engine and whether it had been modified he joked: “I’m going to answer when someone is going to ask me what is the angle of Honda. So it will remain a secret. At times people have asked Ducati for information that others do not give. I’ve never heard anyone ask Honda what is the angle of the 1000cc engine? I’ve never heard Nakamato answer any such question.”

The 90 degree V-angle is a Ducati tradition and asked again if there had been a change, Preziosi said: “We are the company that brought success with the twin cylinder engine in sports bikes in all of the championships. But when the regulations favour a four- cylinder engine we can race a four-cylinder engine with no problems in terms of our marketing position. So should we conclude technically and not from a marketing or managerial point of view, that one technical solution is better the other, we have shown in the past that we have problem abandoning one over another if it proves successful. So we’ll use the angle that we consider best.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt