MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen

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Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.

While Rossi will use the GP11.1 at Assen and on, Hayden will have to continue to use the GP11 chassis because of the current engine rotation scheme in Ducati Corse, and the fact that American grenaded a motor at the Portuguese GP (we’re sure Nicky’s status as the #2 rider in the team, and the fact that the other rider is Valentino Rossi, a two-wheeled god in the eyes of many fans, has no bearing on this arrangement). Because of the engine snafu, Hayden is already on his fourth motor for the 2011 season, while Rossi is only on his third.

Despite this, Hayden will get some new parts at Assen as well, as the American will ride with the Step-2 frame: a modified version of the stiffer Step-1 GP11 frame that the team tested at the Estoril testing session earlier in the season. Hayden will have to ride with the Step-2 frame until Laguna Seca, when he can then switch over to the GP11.1 chassis, motor, and DST gearbox.

The Ducati Seamless Transmission is much like the Honda gearbox, which mimics the quick seamless shifting found in a dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Ducati has reportedly been working on this gearbox design since 2010, which is when it is rumored Honda began actually using its new gearbox in MotoGP racing. With few compliments being banded about over Ducati’s current transmission, the upgrade should be a welcomed addition to the Ducati Corse package, though it would seem the team is playing catch-up more than innovating.

“We decided to make the GP11.1, which is an 800cc engine in a GP12 chassis, in order to accelerate development on next year’s bike, and also to provide our riders with a potentially better base for the current championship,” explained Ducati Technical Director Filippo Preziosi. “Considering that Valentino still hasn’t ever ridden the GP11.1, this decision could require some races for the team to completely take advantage of its potential, but we decided to move forward with it because we believe it’s an important step for our development process.”

“The next-generation gearbox, on the other hand, is a solution that we think will be an immediate improvement. The Ducati Corse Department will continue studying further innovations, both for this year and for 2012. At the same time, we have developed an additional step for the frame for Nicky, and he’ll receive the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.”

Source: Ducati Corse