Ducati urged to try radical revamp of Desmosedici

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Ducati has been urged to consider a radical revamp of its factory Desmosedici MotoGP contender after Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden were left completely underwhelmed by a latest test on the Bologna factory’s experimental ‘lab’ bike in Mugello recently.

The revised Desmosedici offers barely any improvement on the current GP13 that Dovizioso and Hayden are racing in MotoGP and once again the single biggest complaint of both is a chronic understeer issue that has haunted Ducati’s engineering group right back to the days of Casey Stoner.

Comments in Catalunya earlier today by Dovizioso and Hayden have been heard repeatedly from the mouth of nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi in 2011 and 2012, with the Italian demoralised after a futile fight to make the Desmosedici competitive in a disastrous two-year stint.

A huge management shake-up, which saw long-term Filippo Preziosi removed, and the promise of financial and technical investment from Audi has not yet yielded any significant improvement from Ducati.

Dovizioso is currently the highest placed Ducati rider in the standings in fifth on 50-points, but that is one point less than Rossi had accrued at the same stage in 2012.

Dovizioso and Hayden both said the lack of improvement from the new ‘lab’ bike clearly illustrated that Ducati needed to look at more radical tweaks in the future.

The ‘lab’ bike was mainly designed with revised chassis stiffness to try and rid the bike of its long-standing understeer issue, but when asked by MCN if a more radical revamp was required, Hayden said: "I've told the engineers yes because the areas we've been looking at we haven't found the results.

We've messed a lot with stiffness and that was the whole target of this lab bike, which was to adjust stiffness. But we haven't really changed the right pieces yet to help the bike turn and go around the corners. The lab bike I tried in Mugello last week was a more of real bike and finished version compared to what I tested in Jerez, and we didn't understand why but the difference was even less than when we first tried it. 

We have to understand that why when they built the new bike we lost some of the positives which brought it back very similar to our current race bike. It is true that at this point with all the time and effort, and the test team has worked unbelievably hard, that they haven't found a way to make the good step forward that we hoped for."

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Hayden said solving the understeer issue was still the main priority for Ducati and the 2006 world champion added: “We want to fix the front of the bike and make it work better. It was definitely a little better when we first rode the lab bike in Jerez. The lines were different and we closed the corner better but last week's Mugello test that wasn't the case. And now we have a problem with pumping back with the new bike.”

Dovizioso agreed with Hayden when MCN asked him if more sweeping changes were needed to make the Desmosedici more competitive.

The Italian said: “The improvement with the lab bike is not as big as they expected but anyway we couldn't use it here because of the logistics to prepare the bike.  So we will race the same bike and on Monday we will test the lab bike here and take a decision. The difference was very small and even with some the positives the lap time was similar, so it is not the step we need."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt