Ducati ‘lab’ bike gets lukewarm reception from Dovizioso and Hayden

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Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden tested Ducati’s ‘lab’ bike in Jerez yesterday (Monday) and both reported only minimal gains over the factory Desmosedici GP13 they are currently racing in MotoGP.

The development machine features a revised aluminium chassis and has been ridden extensively by Michele Pirro in private testing.

And the Italian raced the experimental bike to a respectable 11th place as a wild card in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The ‘lab’ bike was never going to be the miracle cure to all of the problems Ducati needs to solve to make its factory Desmosedici a competitive force in MotoGP, but the improvements hardly had Dovizioso and Hayden buzzing with optimism about the future.

A long-running understeer issue remains despite an improved feeling on corner entry with the ‘lab’ bike, which Dovizioso rode to seventh fastest in yesterday’s one-day test session at Jerez.

American Hayden was one place and 0.119 further back in eighth.

Italian Dovizioso, who finished 0.700s off the quickest pace, said: “The lap time is quite good. But our problem is the second and third fastest lap are too far from our fastest like in the weekend. We compare the chassis and the difference is so small unfortunately. The entry is a little better in the fast corners and the feeling in the middle of the corner, especially in the slower corners is better. When you put a lot of power on the front tyre and when you arrive on the limit and the front closes, the new chassis is more predictable.

But it is nothing special and the lap time didn’t change so much. But we have to study the data to understand something more than what I feel. Sure it will not be enough to reduce the gap but we start to work.”

Hayden said he too had only felt a marginal step forward on the GP13 he is currently racing.

“It went decent and it was important to at least do a few laps to compare the lab bike that Pirro rode with my bike from the race. You always hope there’s going to be one big and huge step and knock off a second but that wasn’t really the case. There were some positives and it confirms they are working in a good way and working well. This is still a bit of a test bike and not really ready to go racing but hopefully they got some more really good information, so when the bike comes back next time it will be ready to go, “said Hayden.

Explaining where it was better, the 2006 world champion said: “It is easier on corner entry to lay it into the corner and you don’t have to fight it as much. And it improved the turning a little bit but mainly because on entry you can make the apex. So on the exit like in Turn 4 I could keep a good exit and get a good drive off the inside.

The understeer is still there in the long corners but is a slight step in the right direction."

The new frame is marginally wider than the current version and that had caused some issues for the Kentucky rider.

He added: “I was dragging my right boot much more on my toes which is something we definitely have to look at. The footpegs are the same but the frame in that point is a little bit wider and it is my toes that are out. We are only talking 15mm but it was enough and I was losing some traction with that.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt