Testing at Mugello today and tomorrow, Ducati has very discretely (like that could actually happen) begun testing its Desmosedici GP12 “EVO” – a modified version of the GP12 that features an aluminum frame made by FTR. Replacing Ducati’s innovative carbon fiber “frameless” chassis, the twin-spar aluminum frame is an attempt by the Italian factory to bring more front-end feel to its riders (read David Emmett’s analysis of the Desmosedici’s troubles here). Testing today with Franco Battaini, we get these first photos of the Desmosedici GP12 “EVO” (or is it GP12.1?) testing at the Italian track.

Getting feedback and initial setup values from its test rider Battaini today, Ducati is expected to have Valentino Rossi to swing a leg over the new GP12 tomorrow, and give his impressions on the improvement (or lack of improvement) the new chassis brings to Bologna’s MotoGP machine. Unable to test GP11/GP11.1 further, the new chassis is expected to be a 2012 modification, and make its planned public debut at the Valencia test at the end of the 2011 season.

Photos: Mirko Lazzari / Sportmediaset

  • AK

    Swing-arm look shorter then GP11… .I may be wrong.

  • hoyt

    “Unable to test GP11/GP11.1 further, the new chassis is expected to be a 2012 modification, and make its planned public debut at the Valencia test at the end of the 2011 season.”

    Why are they not able to use this bike this season? (i thought the teams could do whatever since it is a prototype series…or is the GP12 using the liter motor?)

  • I won’t say that the GP12 is a liter motor, but it is certainly more than 800cc. The bigger issue is that the GP12 motor mounts differently than the GP11 (note: the GP11.1 motor is based off the GP12 motor, and thus mounts the same).

    The speculation is that the GP12 EVO has different mounts from the GP12 motor, and perhaps more importantly, Rossi and Hayden have already taken their sixth motor for the season. Meaning using the new chassis requires a new motor, which in-turn means they’d start from the back of the grid if they used the new chassis. That sort of negates the hope of pushing at the front of the grid.

    Never say never though.

  • Frenchie

    Apparently Rossi is testing today at Mugello, not tomorrow.
    In my opinion if Ducati ever succeeds to help Rossi being competitive in 2011, they’d better roll the bike and run top6 qualifying times and starting from the pits hopefully overtaking a few riders than starting straight from the back of the grid with the GP11.1…At least they’d show they have a competitive bike and Rossi would gain his confidence back.
    Question: do you have a reliable info concerning the FTR aluminum chassis?
    This FTR info is all around the web but no one added any substance or precisions to this, just “they are testing with a FTR chassis”. So far it hasn’t been confirmed by any of the interested parties, is it speculation taken from italian media or is it a legit info that you got from reliable sources?

  • AC

    How can you tell that this is the aluminum frame version? /silly question

  • Mark

    I doubt that the Aluminum frame is going to make much of a difference. The problem is one of weight distribution due to the 90deg. L4 engine. Ducati will never improve the bike enough to win, until they design a new motor with a narrower v angle to move it closer to the front wheel. Rossi and Hayden both are saying they are having trouble getting enough heat into the front tire. I don’t see how a different frame material corrects this problem.

  • ML

    @Mark: Because they don’t have enough feedback from the front, they cannot push the front of the bike hard enough thus the front tire never gets enough heat (or it takes a really long time for it to eventually heat up, but by then, the rest of the fast guys are long gone).

    The idea is that if they can get more feeling from the front, the more confidence they’ll have to push it harder so the tire warms up faster/hotter.

  • SBPilot

    I’m not sure why Ducati would go hire a frame builder to make an Alu. frame when they could simply go modify their tried and tested steel trellis frame. Ducati has so much wealth of informatin on their steel frames, it has been proven that the steel frame set up isn’t “only Stoner can ride” design, since Capirossi, Bayliss and of course Stoner won on that design, and took a title as well. Unless of course they already ran some simulation in a computer and have found that the steel design would not work with the current Bridgestone tires.

  • MikeD

    Time for Ducati to steal an RC212 and…….see what are they doing wrong on the GP12 ?
    Im with Mark here, 90* V Twins are just dang long(no matter how much u tilt it), i own one(SV1000N) and is plain easy to see just how far back the engine is placed to allow for wheel travel-front cylinder valve cover and header clearance issues.
    Time to go I-3, I-4 or 60* V4 OR tighter like the Horex ?
    Meeehh. what do i know…lol.

  • MikeD

    I guess they won’t be using the “Frameless like our Moto GP Prototype” Card anymore when the time comes to start selling their new V4 UFO (1199).

  • ML

    This is just my opinion, but I kinda think Ducati is too much of a marketing company than a racing shop. They seem to want to stick to technology that sets them apart from the rest of the field so they have a unique marketing angle to help sell their bikes. However, I personally wouldn’t care if a production ducati didn’t have the same technology as their GP bike.

    I really think a winning record will do more for moving their bikes off the showroom floor than having unique tech (although having a winning record with unique tech would be a bonus but its clearly NOT working). But I guess they need to appear as an ‘exotic’ brand to help sell their bikes and accessories.

  • Minibull

    I think its still all because of the spec tyre rule. In a racing series where tolerances and timings are so close, the riders seem to be able to pick up on the smallest of details. Add to the fact the Ducatis is an odd one out from the rest of the field, it makes sense that the spec tyre works for the majority of the bikes, which are beam framed, and not for the strange Ducati. Spec tyre in Moto2: all generally the same frame types/bike design. It works. Same in F1 which has a spec tyre, the cars are virtually the same, no major radical differences like with the Ducati compared to the rest. Its an example of why rules like this hinder racing “development”. On the other hand, having multiple tyre makes has a bit of a gamble with it, as one manufacturer could make duds compared to the other. How is that hub center bike going to fare in Moto2? If it could have its own manufacturer to cater to its needs then it might do ok, but I just dont see it with the current regs. As Phillipe said, the current rules favour a 4 cylinder V engine, and I think the tyres do the same for the frame, a beam one.

  • SBPilot

    @ ML

    Ducati has never put marketing first and racing second. The thing is “their’ series was WSBK, they used WSBK to sell their bikes through in through out for the longest time until they decided to do MotoGP in 2003. Their WSBK record is untouchable, and their current I dare say factory team is walking away with the championship.

    Ducati’s bikes for the public are great race bike platforms as shown in WSBK even today. People forget that MotoGP is very far from just about everything we get our hands on. Ok, maybe the electronics have now trickled down to the road because all electrics can be made so cheap nowadays, but mechanical stuff doesn’t trickle down. In all fairness though, not much has changed in the mechanics, still using telescopic forks, a rear shock, an alu. frame, etc. The engines are not amazing, V4’s have been around for a long itme. Like Minibull said, spec rules (tires) hinder development and it’s a big paradox because prototype racing is suppose to be exactly focused on development!

    It’s interesting how Checa called out to Rossi to race against him, because Checa’s 1198 times are apparently that of Rossi’s GP 11.1 on the same track. GP’s have stopped developing so much that a production bike can go just as fast (or very very close)

    Sometimes I wonder, if Stoner/Lorenzo/Ped/Sic was riding the factory BMW S1000RR or Aprilia RSV4 (the big power bikes with alu frames, esp the BMW) running the GP Bridgestone tire, which were then set up for the ultra stiff Bridgestone, I wonder how close the times would be. The BMW is interesting as they have had massive tire problems in WSBK, chewing the Pirelli’s to nothing cause of the power they have, and not lasting race distance. Now just imagine the Bridgestone on the S1000RR.

    The SUTER BMW’s last test at BRNO with Kallio was only 3.9 seconds off from the top tester, Mr. Stoner on the 213V. I read so much flak about how 3.9 seconds is crazy amounts of time. I am willing to bet that at least 2 of those seconds is rider, and the other 1 point something is the bike. Constantly people compare only the bike, but conveniently forget that Stoner is a riding god, and Kallio is a mid fielder Moto2 rider at best, usually a back marker. 3.9sec at Brno too, which is a very long track, is quite good I think, with Kallio as the pilot. I think the CRT teams, at least the Suter BMW isn’t far off, which is very impressive.

  • SBPilot

    Sorry, my post about Ducati morphed into CRT, but just trying to confirm what Minibull has said. The Alu frames suit the tires best. The only way to save from the boredom of MotoGP are the new CRT teams. The very high level of tech/power in the current production superbikes can seemingly compete with the GP V4’s now.

    Back to the post. If FTR made the frame and Ducati the engine, isn’t “their” GP12.1 a CRT bike?

  • Westward

    They aren’t going to win the title anyway, so who cares if they have to start at the back of the grid… The data is the most important, and the lap times are what you want to really know… I would love to see them start from the back, just to see how high they eventually place… One thing is for sure, Rossi will still finish in the top eight, at least…

  • hoyt

    @Mark – is Checa having problems with a twin cylinder in this configuration? Not by a long shot….especially compared to aprilia’s 60-degree v4

    I doubt adding two more cylinders to the 90-degree configuration is the sole culprit to what is going on. Definitely not enough to justify abandoning the advantages of a 90 degree configuration and adding the expense of a new engine design.

    Frame material has a huge affect on many other design elements when pushed to this level. It is not as though you just replace one type of the design and expect perfection. Engineers have been tinkering mm by mm over decades and have not identified the holy grail combination of geometry, frame material, engine characteristics, tires, etc. etc..

  • Nerve

    @ML :

    What everybody seems to forget is that at Eicma 2011, the flagship 1199 bike will have this failing frame too.
    Marketing wise a friggin disaster. that’s why it took ’em someone with Rossi’s stature to force them go down another road. My bike has its radiotor at the rear. Like in the Burgess Shale, some designs prove superior and survive. The 1199 won’t be the Pikaia Gracilens of vertebrates, as my bike wasn’t. Still very interesting to ride though :).

  • Mark

    @Hoyt, the success of the Ducati 1198 90deg twin in WSBK comes despite it 90deg L-twin handicap.
    The 1198 has the advantage of 1200cc’s of smooth and predictable power which is easy on the rear tire, and more torque for faster corner exit speed. If all WSBK machines were 1200cc twins, the story would be much different. When Honda decided to build a twin for WSBK (RC51), it rotated the engine into a proper V to move it closer to the front wheel, which ended up giving it an advantage over the Ducati.

    Ducati doesn’t have that advantage in MotoGP, so any small handicap becomes huge.

  • hoyt

    “Despite its handicap” and then you cite 2 significant advantages (smooth and predictable power) followed by 2 significant positive results (“easy on the rear tire” and “faster corner exit speed”). Doesn’t sound like too much of a handicap. I’ve heard the WSB commentators talk about how Checa can turn the Ducati tighter than the aprilia. So, consider mentioning the front wheel in your comments too.

    If every WSB was a 1200cc twin the story would be different, but not solely attributed to a 90-degree twin. Narrow angle twins wouldn’t have the airbox and intake tracts compared to a 90 degree twin so they have that “handicap” to sort out.

    Every mechanical engineer will tell you every mechanical design has a tradeoff. To chalk up the current challenge to the 90 degree configuration is ignoring proven race success while simultaneously ignoring they are working with relatively brand new frame construction.

    Why is Honda racing an i-4 in WSB now and not a 1200cc version of the RC51 when Ducati has been so successful the last 5 years with its twin?

    It will be interesting to see this all unfold. I still don’t see a reason to abandon the trellis frame

  • Minibull

    Said it on the last Desmosedici thread… Trellis is not great in the MotoGP as there are so many welds which results in various frame stiffness. Welds, by there nature, can never be perfect and are uneven. Not good in the ultra focussed GP world, where the bikes are so highly strung. Especially when the rider wants fairly consistent feedback from the bike.

  • Well it is obvious that Ducati have to do something drastic and if they are testing a spar aluminum chassis then good on them, it works for all the other brands and Rossi has more than proved he can ride with that set up.
    @ Hoyt – The Aprilia V4 is a 65 degree angle! The RSV Mille vee twin was 60 degree :-)

  • Beary

    Bollocks! Ducati don’t need WSBK to sell any of their bikes, cashed-up punters who want to buy their bikes do it for the name and snob value, and sheer good looks – Ducati do make very pretty bikes. (saw a matt black ’11 Monster with twin termi’s today, and it gave me a chubby.)

  • DucRacerX

    @Beary exactly!! The queers and leghumpers buy their bikes now and the past 6 yrs every since a Ducati motorcycle has became a fashion assesory. Like a Luois Vuitton handbag on women. Its all a load of BS! The new generation of dorks that buy Ducs are not riders. they are posers!!!

  • david

    oh and mark, the honda rc-51 was a 90 degree twin; ironically the ducati superbikes established their reputations on sweet handling, they were never the most powerful (kind of hard to be with two less cyl). I see it as a tire issue, bridgestone (ironically) no longer work on their bike, can’t move to another brand..

  • Rob

    Wonder if Ducati made the same changes for the GP12 as they did for the 1199?

    Engine architecture
    With the engine designed to be a fully stressed member of the chassis, its architecture has been completely re-calculated to provide the best possible vehicle construction for layout, weight distribution and strength. The cylinders, which remain at 90° to each other, have been rotated backwards around the crankcases by a further 6°, until the front cylinder is 21° from horizontal. This has enabled the engine to be positioned 32mm further forwards for improved front / rear weight distribution in addition to perfectly positioning the cylinder head attachment points for the 1199 Panigale’s monocoque frame.