Nicky Hayden seeks solution to understeer issue

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Ducati must try and find a cure for the chronic understeer issue that has plagued its factory Desmosedici to have any hope of challenging Yamaha and Honda’s domination of the MotoGP world championship.

Speaking during a press briefing at Ducati’s team launch at the spectacular Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in Italy this morning, American Hayden said a key development focus for Bologna technical staff is to find a solution to the long-standing understeer issue.

A switch to a conventional aluminium frame failed to completely cure the understeer problem that became the single biggest complaint of Hayden and teammate Valentino Rossi in 2011 and 2012.

Understeer became a frequent part of Rossi’s vocabulary in a nightmare two-year spell with Ducati that saw the 33-year-old fail to come close to winning a race.

Asked in which area Ducati needed to focus on improving in 2013, Hayden said: “The two main areas are the understeer and making the bike turn better. We made some step with the aluminium chassis for more feeling and feedback, which was important. But we have not really solved the turning problem.

A lot of the turning problem leads to problems on the corner exit and you can’t steer the bike. You can’t lift the bike up and you don’t have as good traction and tyre life is not as good.  That is the big problem.  And also we still need to smooth the engine on the bottom to make the first touch of the throttle in slower corners more connected to the rear tyre.

There are lot of ideas with the engine management and that is one thing we want to focus on to try and make the bike smoother. At any level it is not easy but certainly in MotoGP when you are at the very top, to make little steps is very difficult. That is why you have make little steps to gain. It is not like you can make small changes and improve one second. That just doesn’t happen.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt