Thursday Summary at Silverstone: Of Frayed Nerves, Stopping Marquez, & Hayden’s Quest for Carbon Fiber

08/30/2013 @ 12:24 am, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Silverstone: Of Frayed Nerves, Stopping Marquez, & Haydens Quest for Carbon Fiber Silverstone Circuit Scott Jones 635x422 635x422

As the last of three back-to-back races, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone sees the teams and riders looking a little more tired and frazzled around the edges than when they first convened after the summer break at Indianapolis. Tempers are a little shorter, stubble is a little longer, and eyes are a little redder.

Add to this the fact that Thursday at Silverstone also plays host to the Day of Champions, and the teams and riders have a lot more PR duties to do, going up to the stage to help sell some of the items up for auction to help Riders for Health, and you have a group of tired and irritable motorcycle racing followers all clumped together in a room.

Despite the weather, the overwhelming consensus is a positive feeling going into the weekend. The track is widely loved, every rider I spoke to singing the praises of the circuit. What’s more, the forecast of fine weather has also had a positive effect on the general mood. In the past, Silverstone has inspired dread among the paddock, as it has all too often been cold and very, very wet.

Moving the race from June to late August/early September has been a masterstroke, however, as the chances of warm dry weather are vastly improved. Nicky Hayden even half apologized to the waiting British journalists for having given them a hard time about the British climate.

Three races on three consecutive weekends may be tiring, but it does allow for a series of extended discussions between rider managers and teams. The first of the expected deals was made official today – Scott Redding announced at Gresini, to ride a production Honda for 2014, and the factory prototype in 2015 – but more are clearly in the pipeline.

Nicky Hayden said talks were still ongoing, and he didn’t expect an announcement any time soon, but some of the top Moto2 rides vacated by the departing Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro could soon be filled. Unsurprisingly, the two top Moto2 teams of Marc VDS and Pons are chasing the top Moto3 talent, with interest in both Luis Salom and Maverick Viñales.

The teams are also keeping a keen eye on Alex Rins, though the young Spaniard has consistently said his first aim is to stay in Moto3 for another year, and to try to win a championship.

At the press conference, all eyes were on Marc Marquez, naturally enough, and the stunning debut the Spanish prodigy has made in the class. What would Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa be doing to try to stop Marquez? “Try to win races and finish ahead of him,” Lorenzo said.

When asked what his strategy to beat Marquez was, he reiterated it would be the same as at Brno: try to get a great start, break Marquez early, and get away. But Lorenzo looked resigned when answering the question, not holding out much hope that such a strategy would succeed. As far as he was concerned, the Yamaha could not compete with the Honda, suffering too much under the advantage the Honda has in braking.

Would changing his strategy, trying instead to follow the Hondas and then attack later in the race, give him a better chance? Not with this bike, Lorenzo said. It might leave him with more energy at the end of the race, but the Honda’s superiority in braking left him few options to attack.

The strong point of the Yamaha is the fast corner speed, but he needs a clear track ahead of him to exploit that, Lorenzo explained. Until they get a new bike, complete with seamless gearbox and a modified chassis to handle braking better, Lorenzo had to charge early and hope for the best. The look on his face did not hold out much hope, however.

Over at Ducati, while Nicky Hayden is yet to find a new ride, he had some comments on the state of the Ducati. One thing he regretted, Hayden told reporters, was the fact that the ‘frameless’ carbon fiber chassis was abandoned so quickly. The American had tested the 1000cc version of the bike at Jerez late in 2011, and had immediately been fast on it.

Hayden claimed to have posted a 1’38.1 on that first version of the GP12 at Jerez, at a test where he had been drafted in to replace Valentino Rossi after the Italian broke his finger in Japan. That time is faster than anything Hayden has ever done at the Spanish circuit, and is actually inside the pole record for the track.

The carbon fiber frame “had a lot of potential,” Hayden told reporters. It did not have anywhere near the understeer of the later aluminium frame, he said, but the choice for the aluminium had been made in his absence. His first-corner crash at Valencia – taken out by Alvaro Bautista – had seen him break a hand and ruled out of testing, leaving Valentino Rossi to decide, the Italian plumping for the aluminium frame over the carbon fiber frameless design.

Hayden was frustrated that he had never been able to match the lap time he set on the carbon fiber bike since, and that he wished Ducati had pursued that avenue a little further. “Ducati has had the most success when they went in their own way,” Hayden said. “A Ducati is a Ducati, and it needs to be ridden in its own way.”

What was frustrating, Hayden explained, was the fact that Ducati had never brought the CF frame back to the track to be tested. They had brought a bunch of other parts, including stuff he had already rejected, Hayden explained. Yet the CF frameless design is one thing which Ducati had not brought to be tested again.

2013 Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso and 2014 Ducati man Cal Crutchlow were not interested in trying the carbon fiber frameless design, however. Dovizioso was downright dismissive: “I don’t think this is the future,” the Italian said.

As for Crutchlow, he revealed he had already had extensive talks on the progress of Ducati’s 2014 MotoGP project, and was optimistic without looking at the CF frame. He could see further down the road than the current riders, Crutchlow explained, as the only topic of conversation he had with Ducati was the 2014 season, while Dovizioso was largely focused on this year.

Crutchlow is optimistic that Ducati will have something to help solve the problems of the bike, the Englishman said. For his sake, I, and millions of bike fans around the world, hope he is right.

Photo: © 2012 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. Silas says:

    Jorge has made his bed and now has to lie in it. He’s responsible for pushing the Yamaha so far away from being a late braking bike and managed with it without the likes of a late braker like Marquez (or Rossi for that matter) to challenge him. There is no way that you will ever be a great in the modern sport without being able to brake very, very late. Essentially Jorge, because of his style will never be a Rossi or what a Stoner might have been or what a Marquez probably will be. Sorry Jorge, that’s just how it is.

  2. BrianZ says:

    @Silas-I think where the M1 was before Rossi left was a much more amenable to most riding styles type of machine, much like the RC211V was. So I agree with you in the thought process of where Jorge has led them pidgeon holed into a specific riding characteristic. Thus is the nature of a rider that rides in a very distinct style that can or may be unique in comparo to the rest of the grid when you are the “lead development” rider. I do agree with you that the situation is a bit exascerbated a bit by the lack of an upfront challenger to exploit any/all of the potential weaknesses. Honda has been on the flipside of this developing against exactly with that in mind and had the prowess of Casey Stoner and now Marc Marquez to aid in showing that they did exactly that. Yamaha have no choice but to figure out how to make the front of the bike ( with their new incarnation of stressed front frame member) comfortable for braking as well as figuring out how to up the HP without affecting engine reliability/durability. This is alot of work for the tuning forks to accomplish along with the seamless gearbox, and I don’t think we will see much of any of it tackled to any completion for this year.

  3. Mark says:

    I think Nicky may be onto something with the carbon fiber idea. Ducati is a small company (OK, maybe not so small if you count the parents at Audi), so if they choose to do what everyone else does and use an aluminum frame, it’s unlikely they’ll ever be able to match the better funded opposition. But they might be able to make something happen with a more limited budget by going their own way. Assymetrical warfare, in other words.

  4. JoeD says:

    @Silas&BrianZ-Good assessment. I also believe Nick is spot on. The current frame is crapola and no amount of tweaks will fix it. Go back to the carbon and develop it. This year like the last two are dead ends for Ducati. If every one is thinking the same, no one is thinking.

  5. JD says:

    Yes I agree at this point ..dazzle them with brilliance, not baffle them with bullshit!

  6. kev71 says:

    What….. another story with some comment about “Bowling Ball Bautista” (not my line) taking another rider out…… SHOCKING! I know it was last year but Come On, how many times has this guy done this? Is anyone keeping count ’cause I’d like to know? I know it’s totally off the subject.

    As to the article: Honda will finish 1-2 with Lorenzo 3rd and Rossi, Crutchlow and “Bowling Ball” fighting it out for 4th-6th (or until “Bowling Ball” takes someone out). Hayden and Dovi will “battle” each other for 8th-9th. Same Results, Different Track!

  7. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Of course Dovisioso will be dismissive–he’s a total tool.

    What I’m finding disappointing about Crutchlow is that he is showing his true colors-that he really could care less if the Ducati sucks.
    Why did you choose Ducati Cal? “I like the color.”
    What will it take to make the bike competitive? “dunno”
    What’s the future hold for the Ducati? “Dunno, they’ll make the bike better somehow.”

    paraphrasing a bit with the last two, but it’s the gist of what Crutchlow is thinking.

  8. kev71 says:

    @Chaz, couldn’t agree more. I read the Road Racing World interview with Crutchlow and he sounded adamant that the performance of the bike would be the main factor in determining where he went. Of course he mentioned that money was important too; however, it seemed as if the bike was most important. Well, I guess he chose the $ over performance. To me he is a Big Mouth that constantly complains…. ” I need the factory spec fuel tank to win!” OK you got it….”well, Yamaha did not get it to me in time to do enough set-up.” Wait ’till you’re at Ducati and you get updates that are few and far between. Hope the $ was worth it Cal ’cause you won’t be performing any better than Hayden or Dovisioso. You wanted to be a factory rider, you’re getting your chance…next year you need to just SHUT The F$#* up and eat the shit sandwich you made for yourself by signing with Ducati. Oh, and I’ll bet Dovisioso beats your ass in most of the races (just like he did when you were both with tech3).

  9. Slangbuster says:

    Boy…Nicky sure appears to be an unhappy guy these days in his interviews and Dovi appears even more smug than usual. I’m sure Ducati and “Race Direction” had a little come to Jesus meeting with Hayden after rubbing on their little Dovi at Indy in the last turn. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that room….. A shame really.

    Kev71…As far BBB, “Bowling Ball Bautista” goes, it appears he’s learning how to ride quickly near the front without knocking anyone down lately. The medication must be working.

  10. L2C says:

    Stoner rules!

  11. dokterdewe says:

    I agree with Hayden more than anything… carbon fiber frameless chassis should be the way… this is MotoGP.. a prototype world class race… not something has to make special achievement in special way…

    V. Rossi time in Ducati really has made them changedore than anything… too bad it was not positive change…

  12. SBPilot says:

    I agree 100% with Hayden about Ducati, they should have stuck with the frameless. I doubt it was really Rossi full decision, it was probably his engineers, Burgess and Co. making that decision for him because they must have thought that with all the alu. frame experience the crew has, as long as the Ducati had one, they could set it up. They were wrong. In the end, in an interview one of the engineers stated it wasn’t the CF frames issue…. the truth will hidden for years.

    Bautista is seriously stepping it up, and considering he’s not even on a factory bike, one that’s far from the LCR one, especially on the suspension and braking side, he’s doing very well. I hope he lands a good ride from 2015 onwards.

    Cal….next year will be entertaining watching his interviews.

  13. jet says:

    Guess dumpcati never wanted to listen to the american who already won a motogp championship.Guess they cant afford Carbon Fiber,idiots…

  14. Minibull says:

    Love how we seem to flip from one end saying that the carbon fibre frame cant flex as well/doesn’t resonate like Alu does/cannot ever hope to replicate Aluminiums’ properties, all the way right back to carbon is the way to go, nothing wrong with it and that it is the future.

    Ducati with a steel trellis. Well documented by the riders that is was terrible for this level of riding. Stoner said every single frame he got was vastly different when ridden back to back. IE the second backup bike, new frame from the factory, etc. That is the uncontrollable nature of welding, especially when there are as many as the trellis has. Not good when these guys are right at the edge of what the bike and tyres can do. Tyres can be custom made though, which was alright at the start. Seemingly, as other manufacturers swapped over to Bridgestone, seems as though the results for Ducati started to drop.

    Ducati with a carbon airbox type frame. Stoner pushed for this design, as it seemed like the problems with the trellis could be eliminated. The idea of having a frame that can be tailor made and controlled in terms of the weave and flex, etc.
    At the same time (2009) the spec tyre rule came in. In 2010, engine limits were imposed. Seeing as the engine is part of the whole assembly, large changes they may wish to make to the airbox frame or swingarm would require new cases. With engine limits though, that kinda restricts what you can experiment with during the year. They needed to get rid of that restriction.

    Ducati with Aluminium frame. Engine is no longer part of the “backbone” of the bike, can tweak and alter the frame and swingarm as much as they want. Engines can be sealed at the start of the year for the development freeze and not have any/much effect on frame developments or experiments. Trouble is they are playing catchup on decades and decades of work done by both Yamaha and Honda.

    To me, the current rules with the spec tyre and engine limits is what has caused Ducati massive problems. In 5 years they have pushed through 3 different styles of frame design, with what seems like hardly any time to nail things down and sort things out.

    All the above is just my interpretation though… :)