Ducati confident in old bike strategy

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Ducati is confident its surprise strategy to kick off preparations for 2013 using an old version of its factory Desmosedici machine is the right approach to help it threaten Honda and Yamaha’s domination of MotoGP in the future.

Although the bike unveiled by Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso in the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort is badged a GP13, it is heavily based on the GP12 model that Valentino Rossi ended his nightmare two-year spell at Ducati on last November.

Ducati has resisted the temptation to make radical changes to bridge the gap to Honda and Yamaha, firmly believing that the old concept has not yet delivered on its true potential.

New Ducati boss Bernhard Gobmeier said the emphasis was on evolution and not revolution in a season in which the Bologna factory will try and win a race for the first time since the end of 2010.

The German said: “We see big potential with the current bike and we still have to tap into all of its potential. There are a lot things we can do in terms of adjustment of springs and geometry and stiffness. Not everything has been explored and until we explore all of this I would hate to go to something new and unknown and do some experiments just for the sake of experiments.

We are also working on the engine side to improve torque delivery and rideability and there will be new strategies on both hardware and software.  We are utilising a lot of the extensive know-how in the company in terms of electronics.  The heart of any riding behaviour of any MotoGP bike is in the software, so we are having a lot ideas to improve the riding dynamics, to improve the handling and control of this "beast".

When you have this kind of horsepower and torque on two little patches of rubber it needs a lot of control. And we definitely have to help the rider to keep control of this and there is more in the software than the hardware. The first step is to explore the potential and to modify this bike so that it reaches its optimum and simultaneously we have a couple things in planning for the chassis, electronics and the engine. 

These have to be proven first of all before they become the next step of evolution into the current bike. One of the things I would like to do and it is one of the reasons why we have established a much stronger test team is that we will check everything with the test team first, prove that it is to the benefit of the performance and reliability of the bike before we hand it over to our race riders. 

I believe the race riders have been confused in the past with a lot of changes and I believe it is better not to confuse the riders, not to confuse ourselves with solutions that are not proven yet. So this will be a new approach in the development this year's bike."

With no technical revolution being undertaken, Gobmeier said Ducati wouldn’t deviate from its 90-degree V-angle engine concept in the future.

Many have pinpointed the V-angle for being the cause of a chronic understeer and cornering issue that has plagued the Desmosedici and was a constant complaint of Rossi’s in 2011 and 2012.

The engine concept will remain untouched and Gobmeier added: “The current engine configuration will remain and we will improve it, so there is nothing wrong with it. Actually I would say just the opposite. We see from the analysis that the current V configuration is the way to go to have the best compromise between performance and of course we still have to work on the rideability.”

Gobmeier also said that Ducati would continue to work with its traditional Desmodromic valve system. "We don't see any reason to change the existing and very well working technology into something which is not the DNA of Ducati.

Desmodromic is part of Ducati and we will stick with it unless some new rules will not allow it. There is a rumour that one of the problems of Ducati is the Desmo system but having seen the facts, from a purely engineering stand point there is no reason to elaborate on this, "he said.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt