With the 2011 MotoGP season concluding in Valencia this weekend, the 2012 MotoGP season got underway with its first testing session, also held at the Spanish track. A glimpse into the re-established 1,000cc era, perhaps the most anticipated unveiling was Ducati Corse’s aluminum perimeter-style frame, dubbed the GP0. Just one step in the long process of addressing the Ducati Desmosedici’s front-end feeling problem, Ducati Corse’s latest incarnation of a MotoGP chassis has been rumored for some time now.
With all eyes in the GP paddock looking to see if a the conventional frame design would be the silver bullet to Ducati’s woes, the testing sessions in Valencia have been interesting to say the least. With everyone playing Monday Morning Pit Boss over Ducati Corse’s issues, the past two days of tests have been important for Ducati Corse to understand the issues inherent in their design, as well as establishing what the teams does, and does not, know.
There is a lot at stake for Ducati Corse, both in racing and outside of it. It is worth mentioning that the Bologna company also happens to have released a superbike this week that’s been derived from the original frameless chassis design. While there are a variety of ways you can disassociate any issues with that production design from the ones currently in MotoGP, it does prove to be a sticky talking point regarding the Ducati 1199 Panigale.
From a racing perspective however, the biggest challenge for the Desmosedici could be Ducati keeping Valentino Rossi once his two-year contract expires after next season. Rossi is not used to winning races, he is used to dominating them, and it is clear that the nine-time World Champion did not think his challenges in the Ducati Corse garage would be this monumental of an undertaking. With Stoner’s star rising in MotoGP, talk of Rossi’s decline has been quietly growing inside and outside of the paddock. Whether that is true or not, the situation at Ducati is certainly not helping the matter, and there has to be at least the notion that if the Italian went back to Honda or Yamaha, then he could silence his critics once again.
With Valentino Rossi sixth fastest over the testing sessions, his teammate Nicky Hayden had to sit out the Valencian test after discovering that he had fractured his wrist as a result from his Turn 1 pile-up at the Valencian GP. Substituting for Hayden was Ducati Corse test rider Franco Battaini, while the American followed the test’s progress from the team pit box. While a lot can be made from the two-day test, Valencia remains just another step in that process to figure out the Desmosedici’s enigmatic code. Gathering important data at the Spanish track, Ducati will now go back to Italy, and begin work for its next incarnation of the GP12 race bike.
“These were two important days of testing because we needed to collect a lot of data for the next few months of work, which will be crucial,” explained Valentino Rossi. The positives of this bike are certainly the engine, which I like, and the fact that it handles a bit better than the previous one. It’s definitely more fun, in part because you can get sideways more. The frame isn’t bad, but it needs work. We have to improve the braking, because I need to brake harder and later, and we need to improve traction under acceleration. Filippo has many ideas, and now we have a little time to apply them before next year’s tests.”
“We were lucky to have sun and generally much better conditions than what we had over the race weekend, and this allowed us to take full advantage of both test days. Unfortunately, Nicky wasn’t able to ride, but at least he’ll have plenty of time to recover before the first test at Sepang next year, said Ducati Corse Technical Director Filippo Preziosi. ”We asked Valentino, Franco (Battaini) and the other Ducati riders to carry out a series of comparisons between different solutions, as there are still chassis parameters that we have to define for the project we’re working on. It has been really hard work, but we’ve collected a lot of information that we’ll now use for the design that we’ll be doing in the coming weeks.”
Source: Ducati Corse