With the news that Ben Spies will skip  the upcoming race in Jerez, and instead nurse his injured shoulder, Ducati has unsurprisingly tapped its GP test-rider Michele Pirro to help replace the American for the Spanish GP.

Taking one of his three planned wild card rides this year, Pirro will not only help maintin the ranks in the Ducati squads, but will also campaign the Ducati Desmosedici GP13 development bike during the race weekend for Ducati Corse.

A rolling testbed for Ducati’s technical developments in MotoGP, improvements made by Ducati Corse for the Desmosedici make a final stop on Pirro’s test bike before they make their way into the MotoGP teams’ garages.

A former GP-rider himself, Pirro is one of the few test riders capable of putting the GP13 under the same intensities as the four MotoGP riders in Ducati, and thus his laps and input are critical factors in developing the GP13 for Ducati Corse.

Spotted in the pre-season during the official MotoGP tests, Pirro’s development GP13 has been seen with noticeable differences to the chassis, and presumably even more modifications hidden within the engine and electronics.

Ducati corse says he will test a number of new parts on his machine during the weekend, which should bring some valuable data back to Bologna for the engineers. What will be even more interesting to see is Pirro’s results, and how they compare to the other three Ducati riders.

Source: Ducati Corse

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    This would sound hopeful, great, and exciting if only it were.

    Aren’t Honda and Yamaha doing pretty much the same, except their baseline is with a fast bike? Thoughout the season they test stuff, try new parts, etc.

    This is frustrating. What is the magic bullet(s) ducati is looking for? Why are they only better than the CRTs??

    Stoner won the whole thing only 6 years ago in convincing fashion and the next year he was still pretty dominant. Were it not for Stoner being sick or fragile he may have won the title again.

    When Nicky started with Ducati he could pull a 4th place any day of the week. Now 4th place is the impossible dream.

    So what the heck happened?

  • smoke

    @chaz: tires.

  • CTK

    Hoping and praying.

  • david

    @smoke:bingo, nail on the head. spec tire SUCKS

  • james

    I heard that Pirro will be riding for the factory team as official ‘wildcard’ status, therefore not using up Ben’s engine allocation…

  • smiler

    Changes in the frame from trellis to carbon to aluminium, tires, and engine capacity changes.
    The irony is that Stoner asked for the new frame at the end of 07 and it debutted in 08.

    As well as Ducati focusing on expanding it’s range of road bikes. Same thing now happening to McLaren.

    Personally I think it is positive. Once they have a decent architecure for a bike. then Audi can start pushing funds in more rapid development of that baseline. Now there is little point.

  • Faust

    I’m so sick of hearing about Stoner. What he did on a trellis frame 800cc bike six years ago has absolutely nothing to do with the 1000cc aluminum framed bike today. Ducati hasn’t been developing their bike in a vacuum. Honda and Yamaha have gotten faster. In Qatar on Stoners championship season, he won the race with a fastest lap of 1:56.5. Marquez’s fastest lap of the opening round this year was a 1:55.4, and he came in third place, well off the leader. The bikes are not the same. If you look at the hard numbers, the Honda and Yamaha in their current forms are just plain faster, and putting Stoner, or anyone else on this current version of the bike will not instantly fix that. This conversation is ridiculous. You could just as easily claim that Bayliss could come back and sort out the current bike because he won on the 990….. Stop living in the past people, these bikes are under constant development.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels


    I was thinking of McLaren too, ironically. Time to pull a “McLaren.” Time for Ducati to send their spies (or in this case their “Spies”) into the Honda garage to steal their playbook.

    I’m sick of talking about Stoner too. But how can it be only 1 man on planet earth could ever make their bike the fastest? Tires.–see how this sounds like that Abbott and Costello skit?

  • Faust


    You really don’t know what they are talking about? Ok, rather than respond with the dissmissive post I was about to write, I’ll actually tell you what they mean. They are saying tires, because it IS tires. Back in days of old, you had multiple tire manufacturers involved in GP. Dunlop, Michelin, and Bridgestone were all trying to get people to use their tires, and had very intimate working relationships with the factories and teams. Your chasis setup too stiff to run good at Jerez? No problem, we’ll come up with 5 special compound tires specific to THAT bike and selected by THAT rider to help fix it! (See where this is going?) The cost to use tires as a way to make up for chassis issues with the bike was high. So high in fact, that they started limiting the number of tires you could use in a weekend as a cost cutting measure. In 2007 there were still 3 manufacturers making GP tires but then the numbers per race weekend were reduced (although this number was ammended in 2008), but 2007 was the last year for Dunlop in the series, running on the Tech 3 team. In 2007 and 2008, there were some issues with the durability of the Michelins, which prompted riders like Rossi and Pedrosa to switch to the Bridgestones. As you may remember, 2008 turned out to be a good year for Rossi and he didn;t have the tire issues from the previous year. In 2009 they went to a spec tire for the entire grid. They offer you a few selections of tire per race weekend, then the team just chooses. Gone are the days when tire development was as critical to bike performance as developing the bike itself. If you note the years I listed above, you can see how as tire choices became more and more limited, issues with the Ducati’s chassis became more and more evident. So no, it does NOT in fact sound like an Abbott and Costello skit, and what people are saying makes a lot of sense. Understand now? The moral of the story is that the spec tires and how a rider adapts to them is a huge part, and as the bike changes it must be taken into consideration. Notice how last year when they went to the 1000cc bikes, all of the sudden Honda had all those problems with chatter? In 2011, there is no doubt that Casey dominated the sport. The next year the bike changed, and all of the sudden he wasn’t so awesome. As a result, there is NO WAY a person can claim that Stoner would be great on the current Ducati. It’s just not the same.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    No, you misunderstand me. I know all that. We all do.

    I’m saying Ducati is the Abbott and Costello skit. The spec tire rule applies to everyone so how does Ducati find itself so far behind the others? Why couldn’t they adjust? Why can’t they find any answers? How did they fall so far behind?

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    Also before I forget, not a fanboy, trust me…but Stoner was all that. Like the article about Stoner recently, can’t recall where, he cut his teeth on crap bikes as he rose thru the ranks. Even in the days before spec tires he was making magic happen on that Ducati…lest you forget nobody else could during that time.

  • Faust

    In the days before spec tires, he WAS making it happen. Exactly. Not so much afterwards. See why people keep saying the move to spec tires are making it harder for Ducati? What did stoner and Rossi used to say about the Duc? No front end feel. What are the guys saying as well now? That its hard to control the rear. Sounds like tires. It would seem that there is an issue with the chassis, since in the past several years they went from trellis to carbon fiber to aluminum. Nobody else on the grid has made changes like this. And what are the guys saying about the new version? That it only runs good on new tires. I have no doubt that there is a team of skilled people working on how to make the bike faster, and I don’t doubt that they are making progress. To say they will find it and suddenly be competitive is to ignore that Honda and Yamaha have even bigger teams working on how to make their bike faster as well. I would love to see Duc catch them, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

  • ctk

    Yea I dont know what the exact budgets are, but I would bet Honda and Yami are spending 10x what Duc is on chassis development. They can probably model the molecular interactions between the new tires and track surfaces and optimize things like the chassis’ natural frequency etc. The limits are endless.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    I follow…it’s a money issue. Or is it? Isn’t Ducati shaking the bejezus out of the Marlboro money tree, and soon add to that the Audi money tree?

    Why is money the issue? Ducati sales have been really strong for several years in a row now while the Japanese continue to struggle. Is Ducati really that far below Honda’s budget? Wouldn’t you think the bean counters at Honda are running a tight ship and pinching the pennies of the motorcycle racing branch of the company?

    Could it just simply be Honda and Yamaha have better engineers and better ideas?

  • Faust

    Of course Honda has more money to burn, they are the worlds largest engine manufacturer. They also make just about everything, and have a massive sponsor. Ducati’s sales are strong, but they are a tiny company compared to Honda and Yamaha. How many Ducati pianos have you seen? How many Ducati personal watercraft have you seen? Industrial equipment? Atvs? Passenger cars? Stereo equipment? Don’t tell me that just because they have been selling more bikes that they have enough money to compete with the other two. Audi purchased all of Ducati for 1.2 billion (and they were in debt). Honda made 1.7 billion in profits in the second quarter of last year….. I mean, seriously. The inject of money and the desire to win in motorsports from Audi will definitely move them in the right direction though. Will it be enough? We ll see.

  • Damo

    @Chaz Michael Michaels

    Did you really just insinuate that Ducati has even close to the budget of Honda or Yamaha? You’re talking rubbish man.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    I hear that Ducati doesn’t have anywhere near the budget of Honda or Yamaha.

    Well, before I accept an assertion with no analysis…I wonder.

    Honda and Yamaha have bean counters too you know. I’m willing to believe their budgets are bigger but should I be led to believe their budgets are exponentially bigger?

    Also, what’s the end game of the “budget excuse”? That Yamaha and Honda will always have bigger budgets and therefore will always be better, way better, than Ducati? If that’s the belief then I vote for pulling the plug. Why bother.

  • It’s all about resources and $$.. Honda pulled all the stops to win the last 800cc title using/testing over 30 chassis in one year and blowing a $50 million budget.. Word around the paddock is Yamaha caps the budget around $30 million and Ducati spends $20 million including riders salary. Honda spends more in a 1/4 season than Ducati does the whole year.. Pay to WIN that’s what it comes down to who wants it more $$$..

  • ZootCadiilac

    As I said in comments on the previous story when he announced not running, Spies will not be replaced. His bike will not be run. Pirro will race under his wildcard admission and will be running the development bike but it’s for Ducati not Pramac.

    Small distinction but it does mean Spies’ engine is saved for a round.

  • Erik

    It’s all money and geography. Ducati does not have anything resembling the budgets of Honda and Yamaha at their disposal, and last I checked, Bridgestone is not a European company. This isn’t rocket science. I’m glad Ducati is now under the Audi/VW umbrella, and I’m hoping the fools at Dorna will allow Pirelli or Michelin back in to the MotoGP paddock. As it stands, only manufacturers from the land of the rising sun will get proper tire(tyre) development resources allocated to their accounts.

  • Faust

    @dc + erik

    Apparently I’m not the only one paying attention, preach on gentlemen! I just wish the massive expenditure in Honda gp money would trickle down to production. I mean, unit pro link suspension? Some rc211v inspired bodywork years ago? Great, but I’d like to see more. Meanwhile, Yamaha went crossplane, ride by wire and brought the rear suspension setup of the m1 to the r1.

  • MikeD

    Best of luck to the Italian Red Team…the Yamaha-Honda battle has gotten old long ago…rooting for Suzook too here.

  • Minibull


    Yep, that MotoGP tech trickled down to the R1. For what though? The bike which is probably the worst to go club and national racing on. The bike that needs the most spent on it to get it to a competitive level in racing. The one that is fantastic in the AMA, but has a budget far above any other team.
    Meanwhile the Fireblade is still regarded as a bloody great bike. Not the fastest, or most powerful, or most tech filled bike. But the testers say it is easy to ride fast on and is just a really well balanced bike.
    BMW built a stunning bike without any MotoGP or SBK R&D. Kawasaki and Aprilia have done it with SBK. Hmm, and now Yamaha are moving to a 3 cylinder…

    In regards to the endless Ducati talk, same as what has been said above, tyres. The same things I posted when everyone was going insane about the Panigale when it was announced.
    There are people that still keep bleating on about “bring back the trellis frame, it’s so much better and has more feel”. We don’t know shit about that. Has more feel…on specially made tyres, funny that. I have read many times that Stoner hated the trellis frame. So many welds involved, each one is different. He could swap to his “identical” second bike, and it would need a whole different setup and behave so much differently. He wanted the carbon frame, where they can consistently control the process of making it and “tuning” it.
    The other Ducati riders did pretty damn well when they came back into GP’s, on a brand new bike. It’s a hard one though, bring back multiple tyre manufacturers…but then have riders having to deal with one brand being possibly shitty in comparison. Kinda ruins it…not that it’s any better currently though