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Old 12-07-2010, 07:53 PM   #1
MOKE1K
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Engineers Assemble In Bologna To Work On 2011 Ducati MotoGP Bike
Submitted by David Emmett 2010-12-07 16:50 Nicky Hayden Valentino Rossi Ducati MotoGP

If anyone thought that the media storm surrounding Valentino Rossi's switch to Ducati for the 2011 MotoGP season would die down once the announcement had been made official, the were to be proven utterly wrong. First, there was the saga of whether Yamaha would release Rossi early from his contract to allow the Italian to test the Ducati at Valencia, then there was the excitement and drama of the Valencia test itself.

Rossi ended the Valencia test 15th fastest, with only MotoGP returnee Toni Elias and MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham behind him, unleashing a tidal wave of speculation surrounding his test result. Rossi's slow time was put down to his still injured shoulder (for which he had surgery a few days later), and in wanting to get acquainted with the Ducati Desmosedici, rather than focus on trying to put in a fast lap.

While both these explanations are undoubtedly true, there were also a few of signs of panic among the Ducati team, despite team manager Alessandro Cicognani professing that Ducati was "not worried" about the times. Speaking to the press after the test, Ducati Corse director Filippo Preziosi described the test as a "bad test" and spoke of Rossi's lack of feeling with the front end. But the Ducati team had taken plenty of positives from the test, with Rossi expressing himself to be impressed with the engine and the rear grip, something he had complained about on the Yamaha just about all year.

As a sign of how seriously Ducati are taking Rossi's critique of the Desmosedici, Jeremy Burgess and the rest of Rossi's crew are currently at Ducati's Bologna factory, discussing the direction the Desmosedici needs to take for 2011. While the mechanics are spending their time familiarizing themselves with the bikes (learning how to assemble and disassemble the machines at speed, as Alex Briggs explained on Twitter), Burgess is joining Preziosi and other Ducati engineers and designers to analyze the data taken from the Valencia test and the data the test team collected at Jerez, riding with the Moto2 bikes there.

Their main priority is to improve the front end of the machine. The Desmosedici only really starts to work when the front Bridgestone tire gets up to temperature, a process that requires a lot of physical effort from the rider. Once the tire is up to temperature, the front end provides the necessary feedback, but until then it tends to feel vague, as if it is about to wash out. Ducati is working a new front subframe (the Desmosedici uses the engine as a load-bearing part of the chassis, with a separate front and rear subframe holding the steering head and the tail unit and fuel tank) featuring altered stiffness characteristics, making it less stiff in some directions. Though no details are available, lessons from the other manufacturers suggest that the new subframe will be less stiff in the vertical direction, allowing the front end to move a little more. The new chassis is expected to feature a revised weight balance and a new swingarm as well, with all of the changes aimed at making the bike much easier to ride.

The extent of the planned modifications is a surprise. Back in August, at the press conference where Ducati CEO Gabriele del Torchio announced the signing of Valentino Rossi, he told the media that Rossi's main focus would be on developing the 2012 bike, rather than the 2011 machine."Valentino will operate with us mainly for the 2012 bike, because the 2011 bike will be ready by the end of the season," Del Torchio told the press. It was expected that development on the 2011 machine over the winter would be minimal, as Ducati is a relatively small company with limited resources, despite several generous sponsorship contracts. Ducati Corse simply does not have the resources or the trained personnel to just throw more engineers at a problem, and the rule changes for 2012 are already absorbing a large part of Ducati Corse's efforts.

Rossi's times and Rossi's feedback appear to have radically reshaped Ducati's priorities. Casey Stoner's success aboard the Ducati had lulled the Bologna company into a false sense of security: after all, how bad can a bike be if the team's lead rider just keeps on racking up the victories? The struggles encountered by the other riders appear to have counted for less - Marco Melandri complaining that he was sent to a psychologist when he asked for changes to the bike during his miserable 2008 season aboard the Desmosedici - but now that Valentino Rossi, a rider whose talent is beyond question, is struggling with the machine, Ducati are starting to listen.

The bike that takes to the grid at Qatar is likely to be radically different to the one Rossi rode at Valencia. How those changes will affect development of the 2012 Desmosedici remains to be seen, but a bike that is easier to ride will surely benefit Nicky Hayden and the rest of the Ducati riders as well.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:47 AM   #2
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My take. The new frame mods will be the prototype for the 2012 1000cc bike. So, why not start now and test the changes on the 800 during the season. I would not expect drastic changes. Rossi, through Burgess, states that the rear sticks great and you can get great drive off corners. But unless the front tire is up to temp it wants to slide. Well, that's a load thing under braking. So, Rossi wants the front to load and the only way to do that is change the balance. Completely understandable. Nick and Casey washed out many bikes this season. As for times- Burgess states that Rossi's strength was zapped by the time the test occured. If the dude can't wrestle the bike through the turns then he's not going to have decent times. Everyone that's ridden the machine has said you have to muscle it. If your shoulder's blown out that just isn't possible.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:57 AM   #3
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Cool article Mokely; you're doing a great job as Race Mod.

So Rossi is a human being after all. Wow, I did not see that one coming; they had me convinced he's from another planet. Then again, he did get Ducati to consider changing the bike, so maybe he's an alien after all.

I love the irony that all the gripes from previous riders are suddenly validated as more than just whining. And you have to wonder about Stoner...is the guy a brilliant rider who has been limited by a flawed bike, or a brilliant rider but also a putz who can't focus enough to win more than a few races a season? I guess we'll find that out next year when he stokes up a Honda fattie.
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:49 AM   #4
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Ben Spies had said one person he would be worried about in 2011 was Stoner. I think he's right who knows maybe that's where all his arm pump problems were coming from, wrestling the bike week in and week out. Thanks Ken! Haven't had much time if any these days. RV sales ya know!
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acecycleins View Post
My take. The new frame mods will be the prototype for the 2012 1000cc bike. So, why not start now and test the changes on the 800 during the season. I would not expect drastic changes. Rossi, through Burgess, states that the rear sticks great and you can get great drive off corners. But unless the front tire is up to temp it wants to slide. Well, that's a load thing under braking. So, Rossi wants the front to load and the only way to do that is change the balance. Completely understandable. Nick and Casey washed out many bikes this season. As for times- Burgess states that Rossi's strength was zapped by the time the test occured. If the dude can't wrestle the bike through the turns then he's not going to have decent times. Everyone that's ridden the machine has said you have to muscle it. If your shoulder's blown out that just isn't possible.
Agreed on the frame mods! Heres my thing though if Rossi falls prone to the bikes problems or it takes a lot of changes it will make Nicky get a ton of respect and hopefully more attention on his setup. I'm assuming the wall in the garage will be down ( it was never up in the Ducati garage) and the riders will share set up changes. Exciting possibilities for Nicky. He will emerge the only rider to survive the Ducati's lack of traction up front. Be cool to see them dominate the season,... if they can get it right. I'd first start by making the seat height higher and sliding the forks down two millimeters just to start.
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOKE1K View Post
Haven't had much time if any these days. RV sales ya know!
How many of those $750,000 Mega Land Crushers have you rolled off the sales floor so far, Moke? I couldn't help thinking that if you can make it selling RVs now, when the economy picks up you'll be rolling in the dough!
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:34 AM   #7
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It's amazing that RV sales are good. Those evil rich folks should be paying rent for the "less fortunate".

But if that happened then Moke would have to find a different gig.
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morbo the Destroyer View Post
How many of those $750,000 Mega Land Crushers have you rolled off the sales floor so far, Moke? I couldn't help thinking that if you can make it selling RVs now, when the economy picks up you'll be rolling in the dough!
Actually I can only sell coaches that are in the 250k range and down. I have to become certified to sell Crown Club coaches. These are coaches that start at 250 and go up to 780k.
It is weird its like were in a bad economy free zone or something, really odd. But I'll take it!
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acecycleins View Post
It's amazing that RV sales are good. Those evil rich folks should be paying rent for the "less fortunate".

But if that happened then Moke would have to find a different gig.
And theres not to many gigs I qualify for these days, I just wonder how the boys are doing back at the motorcycle shop,...Dooh!
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MOKE1K View Post
... I just wonder how the boys are doing back at the motorcycle shop,...Dooh!
Still not good, eh?
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