Ducati to Race as an “Open” Entry in MotoGP for 2014?

01/08/2014 @ 3:23 pm, by David Emmett28 COMMENTS

Ducati to Race as an Open Entry in MotoGP for 2014? Friday Sachsenring German GP MotoGP Scott Jones 01 635x423

After a year of evolution in MotoGP which brought them few rewards, Ducati looks set for a radical shake up for next season. Respected Italian website GPOne.com is reporting that Ducati is considering racing in MotoGP as an Open entry, instead of under the Factory option.

In practice, Ducati would be free of the engine freeze in place for Factory Option teams in 2014, have 24 liters of fuel instead of 20, and twelve engines per season instead of just five. In addition, they have more freedom to test with factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.

In exchange, they will have to forego the freedom to develop their own software, and will run the spec Dorna-supplied software instead.

GPOne‘s source is impeccable, quoting Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso. The two bikes – the GP13 in factory configuration, and in the Open configuration with more fuel and the spec software – have already been tested back-to-back, at the test in Jerez in November.

However, those bikes were ridden by test riders, and not by Ducati factory men Dovizioso and Crutchlow. “The real test will come when we test the bike,” Dovizioso told GPOne.com. That test is set to happen at Sepang, at the first test of the 2014 season from 4th to 6th February.

One of the things which was said to be improved was the engine response when running with more fuel. An aggressive throttle response is something which Ducati riders have all complained of in the past, and having more fuel available could alleviate.

Switching to an Open entry offers Ducati a lot of advantages, which far outweigh the disadvantage of using their own software. Right now, what Ducati needs is testing and development, and by removing the software from the equation, Ducati are free to concentrate on engine and chassis.

The fact that Open entries are not subject to the engine freeze in place on all engine internals for 2014 for Factory Option bikes means that Ducati are free to change engine configurations and internals when they want.

With twelve engines for the season, they can test a lot more variables, playing with crankshaft masses, valve timing and sizes, the configuration of the V, tilting it backwards and forwards, and rejigging the layout of gearbox shafts, should they so wish. In effect, Ducati can circumvent the engine freeze imposed on factory entries and try to catch up with Yamaha and Honda.

To catch the two Japanese factories, Ducati have a lot of development work to do, and the engine freeze is a massive impediment to doing just that.

Racing as an Open entry has two more major benefits. The first is testing, which Open entries have much more freedom in. Dovizioso and Crutchlow would be free to test at any circuit they like, rather than having to rely on test riders at all but the official test days, as Factory option entries must.

Though there is a minor difference in tire allocations for testing, the net result is the same, with 120 testing tires each for Dovizioso and Crutchlow.

The race tire allocation is the other benefit of being an Open entry. So far, it looks like Bridgestone will continue to supply the softer option rear tire for the Open entries, which is not open to Factory option entries. The softer tire offers more rear grip and more performance, and allowed Aleix Espargaro to be extremely competitive last year on the underpowered Aprilia ART bike.

No decision has yet been made on the softer tire for the Open class, as Bridgestone has concerns over the durability of the tire when used by the new Open class bikes, which are much more powerful than the old CRT machines. A final decision is set to be made after the Sepang tests, once more data has been collected.

If Ducati do decide to enter as Open entries, this looks like a stroke of genius by new Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna. There are many benefits to be had from racing in the Open class, especially in the field of engine development, which is what Ducati needs most right now.

Given that the bike is a long way from being competitive right now, they have very little to lose by giving up the right to use and develop their own software.

With Dorna and IRTA pushing for all entries to use the spec software from 2017 onwards, this also gives Ducati a head start on the possible new rules. This is a sign that Ducati are very serious indeed about trying to return to the front.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. k1200Rider says:

    Well played Ducati!.. well played. It’s time for the company to put ego aside and focus on what is really important. This should be an interesting 2014 season indeed!

  2. Cru Jones says:

    I can’t help but think that this is a sad day in Ducati history. Basically admitting your bike is such a POS that you are seriously considering taking DORNA’s spec ECU to have the other perks to hopefully make your bike competitive.

  3. jet says:

    I was keeping an ear on this for awhile.I must say it’s about Time…..Awesome new’s..

  4. Will says:

    Sounds like a recipe for getting beaten by whatever aprilia decides to campaign to me.

  5. kev_32 says:

    Great move by Ducati, there software is shitty anyway… Better to let someone pay to develop it and reap the benefits of an open class entry. Two potential problems I see (sarcastically):
    1. Is Crutchlow still a “factory racer,” a title he said was important?
    2. Who does Crutchlow complain to about his bike being a P.O.S?
    They can all point fingers at each other instead of taking the blame.

  6. Mort says:

    Won’t make any difference to the results. The other factory & Japanese satellite teams will be ahead of Ducati and the rest (Ducati satellite and old CRT teams) will be behind. Just like last year. It does give them options to improve though…

  7. Jan Thiel says:

    Great idea from Gigi Dall’Inga, I wish him the success he deserves!

  8. ninja niner says:

    CRU:
    I see it differently, its a great day for Ducati,
    When you can finally admit to yourself that you need to rebuild, a very tough decision.
    only once you honestly accept your failures can you progress.

    considering the push to force all teams to use Dorna software by 17, its inevitable you might as well get on board early..

    but hey, what do I know, that’s why I’m sitting on my sofa, and not in a factory race team.. heck ANY race team for that matter… .

    cheers

  9. phil says:

    Sounds like they’ve admitted defeat and now looking for a possible way out slowly.

  10. “It does give them options to improve though…”

    Indeed. In fact, if they were to manage the rather difficult task of solving their issues while also using the spec ECU software, we could actually see an open class win in MotoGP. Could you imagine Honda’s and Yamaha’s reaction to that? It would be priceless.

    I wish Ducati ALL the luck in the world to pull this off if it is the direction they choose to go.

  11. smiler says:

    Nice analysis there Cru.

    Hinda will lose the battle about spec ECU’s. Magnetti Marelli developed the ECU, guess who privides Ducati with their ECU’s for racing and road?
    The GP03 was a CRT bike in any case and Stacey Coner ensured a wrong turn by demanding a new frame that was more consistent. Since then Ducati have lost their way because the only frame they knew was the Scaffolding frame.
    Audi said last year would be, processes and personnel and development of the GP bike within the paramters of the exisitng bike. That done. 2014 all about development and heading for a decent bike in 2015.
    So this move I think has been reported before but it makes a great deal of sense. The road bike line up is now well developed. Audi cash and engineering capacity will allow Ducati to focus engineering on producing a proper prototype that they do not have to sell or have to use elements of in the road bikes, for the first time.
    Great idea. Hope it provides Dovi and Cal the bike they can really start to show their skills on.

  12. L2C says:

    Wow — I have to say, I see Gigi’s move as a “masterstroke of genius” too! That is, if he decides to go through with it. But even just to hear that Ducati is considering something like that is great news. Not much else to say, except that Dall’Igna is obviously a man who knows how to go about his business. Seriously.

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “Ducati is considering racing in MotoGP as an Open entry, instead of under the Factory option.”

    translation: we’ve imbibed far too much wine over the holidays and have made zero progress on building new kit. the CAD screens are ice cold… same as the Vino and the Lambrusco.

    fwiw, while I don’t personally like it, I actually think this is a good idea (for them). my only question is this even allowed…? can a big time manufacture just up and choose to run SOLELY in the open class…? thought that was limited to satellite teams and underfunded CRT ex-pats…? I guess this is the “driver” Dorna’s put into play.

    if it’s legal for ducati to step down…? then theoretically it’ll be legal for Suzuki to return and NOT step up. pretty obvious they’ve got a snowball’s chance of making 5 engines last of a design they’ve never raced and are unfamiliar with. they caught hell when they had extras of their old narrow V4, and aside from one overhaul during the 990 era, they’d been running that same config since day 1.

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: “Hinda (Honda) will lose the battle about spec ECU’s.”

    but win the WAR over control of grandprix.

    re: “Magnetti Marelli developed the ECU, guess who privides Ducati with their ECU’s for racing and road?”

    technically true. DMH was in bed with MagMar long before anybody knew from MagMar. however (comma) it should be noted they have since smartened up and embraced FAR less crappy suppliers like Siemens and Mitsubishi. iirc, when it came time to provide electrics for the crown jewel D16RR, Magnetti Marelli didn’t get the contract. (yiikkeess!)

  15. Norm G. says:

    re: “With twelve engines for the season, they can test a lot more variables, playing with crankshaft masses, valve timing and sizes, the configuration of the V, tilting it backwards and forwards, and rejigging the layout of gearbox shafts, should they so wish.”

    been there, done that… over the past decade and 3 different displacements… both virtually and now real time. we call “NO JOY”.

    right then, time to stop muckin’ about and sort the chassis.

  16. Ducati should think about leasing some Honda’s next year.

  17. DareN says:

    Norm,

    re:Hinda (Honda) will lose the battle about spec ECU’s.”

    but win the WAR over control of grandprix.

    How so? Can you elaborate on this? Thnx

  18. Norm G. says:

    re: “Can you elaborate on this?”

    certainly… (Curly Howard voice)

    #1, big red supplies the M2 engines.

    #2, big OIL (Repsol) sponsors Honda.

    #3, Marcus (cash cow rising) is a construct of the Repsol/Honda collaboration.

    #4, Ross (cash cow exiting) bids us “adieu” in 2016.

    Honda for the WIN…!!!

  19. Ed Gray says:

    This seems like a really good idea to me!

    The Ducati needs some significant development, and the testing option for “factory” teams is severely limited. This will give them the opportunity to test a wider array of options with GP quality riders (I think this as been a major problem in the past) testing the stuff. I would think the added fuel could give them a nice advantage on the longer tracks.

  20. John Rossi says:

    I would think every factory would run “open” when it offers so many more chances to modify, tweak, and wholesale swap out up to 12-engines per year. Software is only as good as an engine/chassis configuration can handle. So if that DORNA chip is fixed, so be it. A factory running “open” is still gathering all the stats in the process of testing 12 engines and countless frame and chassis configuration. So, if the year of racing and data collection prove fruitful . . . a factory can always go back into a more limited mode as a factory team. After all, MotoGP is the experimental class and if your experiment is limited from the start . . . . well, you can’t expect much in terms of latitude to reach and advance toward the new horizons that lie ahead in 2-wheel motor-sport performance. Onward – unbound.

  21. NEiL says:

    Strange.. Isn’t the idea behind the push to Dorna Spec software based on a desire to reduce costs? I wonder what would cost more, writing your own software or using 12 engines per year, using more tires and doing more testing..? All of which were banned…… to reduce costs.

  22. NEiL says:

    Oh and either way, good luck to Ducati, I would love to see them back at the front!!

  23. Norm G. says:

    re: “Isn’t the idea behind the push to Dorna Spec software based on a desire to reduce costs? I wonder what would cost more, writing your own software or using 12 engines per year”

    SURVEY SAYS…!!! (*ding, bell sound*) 12 tangible engines. virtual 1′s/0′s can’t hold a candle.

    neil smells what the rock is cookin’… and the irony.

  24. Norm G. says:

    re: “I would think the added fuel could give them a nice advantage on the longer tracks.”

    and really piss off MGP journeymen like Poncharal, Cechinello, and Martinez in the process. allowing a factory in this category defeats the purpose. ie. a fighting chance for CRT ex-pats.

    Cuzari (principal NGM Forward) was overheard saying…

    “if wanted to continue spending money to subject myself to needless abuse…? well I could stay home with the wife and get my fill.”

  25. Norm G. says:

    re: “I must say it’s about Time…..Awesome new’s.”

    no worries, I’ve put a stop to this so nothing to see here, move along. (rent-a-cop gestures towards exit with Mag-light)

  26. Spamtasticus says:

    NormG. If only you knew how expensive developers who can write mechatronic machine code and operating systems are. Then of those few, separate ones that can actually speak to other humans and have productive discovery/design interactions about real world problems and it starts to get super scarce. Now that you even know the names of these few, you must offer them massive ammounts of money to steal them away from industries that actually make billions instead of MotoGP teams that loose millions.

  27. Norm G. says:

    re: “If only you knew how expensive developers who can write mechatronic machine code and operating systems are.”

    I do know. and I’m here to tell you it PALES in comparison to acquiring just the raw materials (ally, steel, ti, etc). this, before a single camshaft has even been ground, a cylinder has been cast, or a piston CNC’d. you’ve never (nor will ever) see 12 engines being “grown” out back in the thickets on the short.

    re: “you must offer them massive ammounts of money to steal them away from industries that actually make billions instead of MotoGP teams that loose millions.”

    sorry, dime a dozen them. can’t throw a rock without hitting one.

  28. Spamtasticus says:

    Please enlighten us on how much billet aluminum costs and how it is more expensive than a developer who can code an operating system from scratch.