At Assen, Ducati MotoGP Project Director Paolo Ciabatti revealed that they too will be offering bikes for non-MSMA teams in 2014. While Honda is selling a simplified production racer version of the RC213V, and Yamaha is to lease M1 engines, the package Ducati is offering could turn out to be very interesting indeed.

Instead of producing a separate machine, Ducati will be offering the 2013 version of the Desmosedici to private teams, to be entered as non-MSMA entries, and using the spec-electronics hardware and software package provided by Magneti Marelli.

Although the current 2013 machine is still far from competitive – at Assen, the two factory Ducatis finished 33 seconds behind the winner Valentino Rossi, and behind the Aprilia ART machine – the special conditions allowed for non-MSMA entries make the Desmosedici a much more interesting proposition.

Though the main difference between the MSMA entries (i.e. factory and satellite teams, using bikes run directly from the factories) and non-MSMA entries (i.e. privateer teams, using any bike they like) is in the choice of software for the spec-ECU (MSMA entries get to write their own software, non-MSMA entries have to use the standard Marelli software), the amount of fuel (20 vs 24 liters) and the number of engines (5 vs 12), there are a couple of other differences which are also significant.

The first and most obvious difference is the use of the softer option tire, which is only available to the CRT teams, and which will continue to be available to the non-MSMA teams for 2014. One of the Desmosedici’s biggest problems is that it goes well with a new tire, which still has plenty of grip, but fades badly once the tire wears and the rear starts spinning too much.

The softer option tire could help cure part of the Desmosedici’s problem, with more grip throughout the race, allowing them to maintain the same pace throughout the race. Nicky Hayden has repeatedly shown an interest in testing the CRT tire, and has stated his belief that that tire could help the Ducatis to go faster.

The second difference is that while the MSMA entries will be subject to an engine freeze, with no engine development allowed from the first race of the season until the end, that is not the case with the non-MSMA entries. Those teams have been given the ability to keep developing their engines throughout the season, to help get them closer to the factory machines.

The option to keep developing engines could allow Ducati a back door to help solve their problems with the Desmosedici. While much of the work done so far on the bike has been related to chassis stiffness, some of the weight distribution problems could be related to the engine design.

While the 90°V layout is probably not the problem – the success of the Honda RC213V, which is also a 90° V, would seem to confirm that – the rest of the physical layout of the engine could be an issue. The Ducati lump is said to be larger than the corresponding Honda and Yamaha units, and the gearbox layout is less compact and much longer than its Japanese rivals.

Thanks to the engine freeze for MSMA teams, any development on engine layout cannot be introduced until the following year. Supplying Desmosedicis to non-MSMA teams would allow Ducati to experiment with different engine layouts and test how they work in practice, getting the fundamentals ready to be included in the factory bikes the following year. With an allowance of twelve engines, two or three different layouts could be tested throughout the year.

Using non-MSMA entries, and accepting the limitations of the spec-software, Ducati will be able to continue the work that needs to be done in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Although having a test team is valuable, having the opportunity to test changes in a race is even more useful.

Providing the machines to teams at a cost – unknown at this time, but likely to be around the million euro mark, in line with the informal demands from Dorna – will also help cover at least some of the cost of this development. Racing with the softer CRT tire will help tackle another area where their current bike is weak, and provide yet more data on a key area of development.

Of course, using this approach is arguably a violation of the spirit of the rules, which are intended to keep factory support out of privateer teams. But to withdraw non-MSMA status from a team requires the support of the majority of the Grand Prix Commission members, and would be submitted by the MSMA, of which Ducati is a member.

The Japanese factories are unlikely to demand the retraction of non-MSMA status from a team using the Ducati Desmosedici bikes, partly as a matter of honor, and partly as they also realize that the series needs Ducati to be competitive. Ducati’s plan to supply non-MSMA teams with Desmosedicis is a de facto extension of their development program, and given the gap to Honda and Yamaha, it is badly needed.

Source: MotoGP.com; Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

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

  • sideswipeasaurus

    Well how bad can it get? I imagine the Japanese would far rather turn a blind eye to a little proxy tinkering of a privateer outfit than do what Yamaha did back with the Cagiva an outright lend them technical help. No?

  • Don

    I wonder how Spies would go with softer tyres and a hotted up engine? Hmmm…

  • CTK

    I can get with this! The only question is, how much faster will the non-MSMA Yamis and Hondas will be with the same tires?

  • paulus

    I guess they have to find a way to sell off all the different prototypes that they made for Rossi. LOL

  • Norm G.

    omg, more regulations. crew chiefs are gonna have to get law degrees from Harvard just to keep track of all these regulations.

  • Norm G.

    re: “The softer option tire could help cure part of the Desmosedici’s problem”

    yup, sure could be. could also be another DEAD END…?

    and if it is, like Connery’s Malone said to Costner’s Ness as he lay dying on the living room floor…

    “What are You Prepared to DO”…!?!?

  • TexusTim

    um…no the crt tire is not going help any satalite team anymore than it is right now and after 2014 much of this analysis wont mean anything again……what is wrong at ducatti wont be cured by getting more bikes and riders to have a misserable time trying to race it…it doesnt work and a softer tire isnt the complete answer, that wont be around long enoungh for them to realize any small advantage in the first 15 laps after that there wont be much advantage then by 2015 what will they rely on ? engine layout and design can be done by factory test riders like pirro who’s last race seems to be the “ring” I dont think more is the answer, the apprilla engine!! that is a better choice and will be beating the ducattis next year…sans espargo beating innone and pirro just last weekend..If I was crt bound the engine would be apprilla not ducatti…and the ducs frame is another problem that art seems to be able to build for the aprilla and make competive in a short time…somthing ducati cant do after years and the whole “rossi experiment” maybe they should stuff an aprilla engine in the ducatti frame and try that…they have tried everything else including this softer tire crap….no offense.

  • Slangbuster

    The new bike will be called the Ducan’ti and Audi technicians have decided to install a seamless reverse gear to it’s new transmission.

  • Smart

    So they wil build an even slower bike!!!

  • Westward

    Now that Audi has a little more experience with Ducati, I am sure they will be closer to sorting things rather than not. On the technical merits of this decision, I will bet they are more informed as to the potential success of this direction than any of us online technical experts.

    It seems to me, that any tyre that benefits the Japanese bikes wont benefit the Ducati and vice-versa. The next question is, if it does so much that a non factory racer is battling for victories, then what…?

    What if Spies or Edwards ends up on one of these and with a Kalex chassis dominate at the front, do they abandon this decision mid way thru the season, or watch it unfold til the end…?

  • smiler

    Many handbags and long nails girls.
    Ducati until last season was a fraction of the size of the other teams. It entered in 2003 and has won a world title and many podiums. The spec tire rule favored by the Japanese factories supplied by a Japanese company suits the Jap firms. Stacey Coner did not like the steel trellis frame. So Ducati for his benefit adopted a new frame. Which worked out not well.
    Ducati was a CRT outfit. The original Desmo was 2 v twins bolted togther and a development of the 999. A CRT bike if you like. With middling riders they made a big impression. It was certainly not a prototype like Yamaha and Honda.
    As Rossi and Burgess said, Ducati were featuring one new frame a season whilst Yamaha would have nine and even several at one race weekend. As for Honda they are on another planet regarding development.
    So anything that allows them to develop a more competitive package, is to be applauded.
    They have outstayed Kawasaki, Suzuki, Illmor, Suter, KR, Petronas and lets face it have bigger balls than BMW, KTM, and Aprilia, whose Cube was a disaster and now fart about supplying engines.
    Audi as with all German companies will be very pragmatic, get the team sorted, engender quality then start to approach the engineering.
    Anyone who thinks Suzuki will be the miracle alternative in 2014 is mistaken. CRT’s are a passing phase. Without Rossi , MotoGP has 2 interesting riders. Merguez and Cal. Cal will not be there for long.
    So better Ducati in to provide some entertainment. They will be successful in the way that Porsche took the Beetle and made it into one of the most successful race cars ever, the 911. In the same way Audi approached Le Mans. That BMW built the best sports bike out of the bag.
    Personally having a V4 Ducati beating up the massive Jap factories makes MotoGP much more interesting.

  • TexusTim

    @ westward..why have kalex mess around when art is doing a great job in just a handfull of races.
    @ Smiler..suzuki wont be in motogp till 2015.by then ducatti will have two riders.get past your love of ducatti to see that nothing there doing right now is making anything better,even there top two riders are past fustration,,this hanging on to what “stoner did” is exactly why there getting nowere,engine claiming rule is now cancelled effective………. right now ! http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2013/gp+commission+announcement

  • @TexusTim:

    “why have kalex mess around when art is doing a great job in just a handfull of races”

    Kalex have already expressed an interest in supplying frames to MotoGP. Their performance in Moto3 and Moto2 are beyond question. There’s good money to be had in being involved in the premier class. But, yeah, your point about the ART is a good one. Espargaro sure has managed how to ride the wheels off of his.

    “engine claiming rule is now cancelled effective………. right now !”

    Only for bikes running the Magneti Marelli ECU hardware and software. The claiming rule still applies, for example, to the ART bikes, as they’re still running the Aprilia units.

  • TexusTim

    Trane…all teams that means all…is there even a spec ecu yet or just the agrement for one in 2014? the engine rule takes effect today..that means all crt’s no matter the ecu at the moment. correct me if im mistaken but as I understand it the spec ecu software is still under develpoment. I know kalex has expressed enterest in many combinations..but the art aprilla combination just whipped to ducatis I’d say there comming on faster than the ducati development with a little less budget and a lot less time at the program….I wonder why collin went with kawaski ? but it’s getting better as well but not like the aprilla….just think about it there a small player in motogp and kicking some factory ass..isnt that what we want to see ?

  • @TexusTim:

    “all teams that means all…”

    Yes, but …. Quoting from the article in your own link: “The engine claiming rule is cancelled for any CRT entry using the official Magneti Marelli hardware and software.” That means that the Aspar ART bikes, which are running the Aprilia ECU, and any other bikes running non-Magneti Marelli control software are still subject to the claiming rule.

    “correct me if im mistaken but as I understand it the spec ecu software is still under develpoment.”

    It’s still being developed, but it is being used on track. NGM Forward Racing is running the Magneti Marelli ECU hardware and software on their FTR this season. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the PBR (non-ART) bike is also running the spec ECU complete package. There may be others. I haven’t really followed the spec-ECU adoption all that closely.

    As for NGM Forward Racing going with Kawasaki, I guess they just preferred that motor over the Honda. FTR builds the MGP13 chassis for both engines, as supplied by Ten Kate Racing Products.

  • Cpt.Slow

    Corse can maybe loan engines to Kalex, Suter, etc as a R&D side project. With the stipulation, the best chassis wins the contract to consult the factory.