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

  • Mark

    I think this is a smart move, I’m particularly happy that the old 800 motor does not bolt into the GP12 frame, indicating that it’s reconfigured, hopefully making it shorter and allowing it to be moved forward, putting more weight on the front tire, which I think is the root cause of all their problems from the very beginning.

  • Jake

    So does this mean they can no longer test the GP12? rules are rules and if they are using the 2012 chassis, then the team riders aren’t allowed to test. then again it’s rossi so dorna will let him do whatever he wants to, because they can’t have their cash cow running mid field

  • Greg

    They clearly need to do something, they all look confused, don’t they?

  • Good point Jake. Try defining when a motorcycle is no longer a motorcycle. Is it still a 2012 frame if the engine mount points are different? What if it’s a millimeter shorter, or the shock is relocated? Like you said, it’s for Rossi, which I’ve heard more than one paddock insider this week describe him as “bigger than MotoGP itself.”

  • Jake Fox

    MotoGP is bigger than Rossi in the same way that basketball is bigger than Jordan, golf is bigger than Tiger Woods, Formula 1 is bigger than Schumacher, and surfing is bigger than Slater. Superstars leave their mark on their sport and on history to be sure, but any fan beyond the most superficial will stick around long after the superstar has gone out. So long as the sport remains competitive and interesting, there will always be personalities to rally around.

  • loki

    Indeed. Besides, if we are to make a parallel between Schumacher- F1 and Rossi-MotoGP, Dorna should, if anything, actually try and hold back Rossi from his dominance (remember the 2005 F1 season and the desperate measures the FIA took to stop Schumacher making the sport utterly boring).

  • GeddyT

    Ducati is breaking no rules if they continue to test the GP12 for next season. It was an agreement between the factories to allow extra testing prior to the 1000cc rule. All three (bye bye Suzuki…) factories are free to do exactly as Ducati is doing: using knowledge gained from 2012 bike testing to improve 2011 bikes. It’s not like Ducati is gaining some unfair advantage. As long as the bike they’re testing for next year has an 81mm bore, then there’s nothing amiss here.

    The question I have is how is Ducati going to pull this off for another 12 races. If they put one of these new motors in each of Rossi’s bikes, that leaves him with a whopping one spare for the rest of the season. From what I understand, the old motor does not mount up properly to the new frame, so how do they make this work? Are we going to see Rossi suddenly competitive only to drop off a cliff after about a half dozen races when Ducati suddenly has to switch back to the old chassis/motor? It’s not like ANY setup info will be relevant between the two chassis, so it’s not like they can even do what most teams to and run old motors during practice and new motors for races and qualifying. Were Rossi to run old engines (and therefore frame) during practice at any GP, that setup information would be totally useless come race time.

    I foresee both Hayden and Rossi starting a race or two from pit lane…

  • jake

    THe difference between that Rossi and the other “megastars” of sport is that while rules were “Bent” for the others, and F1 tried to kerb Schumacher in F1. Dorna seems to have gone out of it’s way to make sure Rossi is always up front (not saying he doesn’t have talent). that is why Rossi can ram & take others out and Dorna doesn’t even blink, but if someone not named Rossi does the same, it’s “a problem”. It’s why when Rossi was getting the best of the best and others complained no rules were changed. But the moment Rossi doesn’t have the best tires and is losing, well then for the “sake of the sport and fairness” the tire rule is changed (and remember Bridgestone initially didn’t want to give Rossi tires). How is it the FIM can suspend Luca Sccassa for riding a street bike 10 laps at Misano before a SBK race, but Rossi can ride a full blown Superbike at Silverstone before the MotoGP round and it’s celebrated?

    I am a MotoGP fan and watched before Rossi and will watch after Rossi, but if you believe the press a lot of the current popularity of MotoGP is Rossi based, so much so that when he was injured last year and missed races, viewership dropped. I don’t hate Rossi, but I’ve long grown tired of how the sport, press and a lot of fans kiss his ass. Funny how few wanted to give Stoner credit for his success at Ducati (despite the fact that only he could ride the bike) and said it was the bike/electronics. Yet now because Rossi is struggling everyone is slagging of the Ducati, despite the fact, Stoner aside, the results are pretty much the same as they’ve been since the change to 800cc

    As for that “agreement” take note that it happened “AFTER” Ducati tested the GP12 with Rossi. The rule before then was that aside from official tests the team riders couldn’t do any testing. But even after the rule was changed it clearly stated this newly allowed tests were not for bikes that were eligible for racing this year….meaning they were designed so that the teams could get the jump on the 1000cc bikes.

    Like everyone else knew they would, Ducati is using the results of these tests to save the season. Like Ferrari, Ducati is all for rules when they are in their favor, but if they are struggling they do whatever they want. If they wanted to scrap 2011 and start “legally” prepping for 2012 then they could do like others done and use the races as testing. But they want it both ways which is to save face and prep for next year.

    Yes the other teams can do the same, but what about the spirit of racing? Where is the fair play? Why even bother with rules. It’s funny because you know if this had been any other team/rider not named Rossi/Ducati there would have been a HUGE uproar. All I’m saying everyone show have to follow the same rules. If Jordan gets 3 steps and can carry the ball to dunk and it’s not a travel then the average no name player should get the same.

  • 76

    Moto GP is Prototype Racing.
    If your Prototype is not winning you make another one, test it and use it.
    You also use every option under the sun available to develop it.

    If a team with the money didnt do this I would simply ask, what the fuck are you thinking. To me its great to see a team being so proactive in addressing problems rather than sitting on thier hands and say lets wait see.

  • GeddyT

    Jake, I have to agree with 76 on this one and disagree with many of the points you made.

    First, you are way off on the tire rule. If you recall, it was exactly a change in the tire rule that MADE Rossi uncompetitive on Michelins in the first place. Along with everyone else. Remember the Laguna-Seca debacle? Riders running cut slicks and rain tires on a dry track to try getting heat in the tire? Never would have happened had Dorna not changed the rules to prevent Michelin from flying in tires. Hell, although Rossi was the first defector, it was Pedrosa that switched to the Stones mid-season. I suppose Pedrosa is also involved in your conspiracy, then? An unnecessary rule change was made that completely took away Michelin’s competitive advantage and left all of their riders out in the lurch. Who wouldn’t have jumped ship? When the single tire rule was put into effect, Michelin wanted nothing to do with it, hence the Bridgestone contract. Had the tire war continued, I doubt there would have been many teams left runny Michelins anyway, as they were not competitive under the new rules structure. I think had you asked Rossi what HE would have wanted, it would have been for Michelin to have never been de-nutted in the first place so he could have stuck to the brand he was used to and been competitive. As for Rossi’s “overnight specials,” that’s just how Michelin operated. Elias was even able to win a race back in those days because he was able to ride on tires made especially for him. To assume that the single tire rule was some kind of Rossi-led conspiracy is nuts.

    As for the FIM suspending a SBK rider for riding the street version of the machine he was campaigning, how is this in any way the equivalent of Rossi riding a twin cylinder street bike (the superbike broke down after a few laps, remember) while campaigning a four cylinder prototype in MotoGP? Talk about apples and oranges.

    As far as Ducati somehow breaking the testing agreement by testing early, again, some perspective is in order. The MSMA writes the rules in MotoGP. The only thing that was left to be ironed out when Ducati tested the GP12 was how MANY extra tests there would be, not whether or not there would be any at all. Honda pretty much dominates the MSMA. Don’t you think they would be raising all kinds of hell if Ducati had done something wrong? I didn’t hear peep one from Honda or Yamaha.

    The rules did stipulate that the extra tests had to be conducted with a bike not eligible to race with in 2011. Like 76 said, this is prototype racing. Where do you draw the line of what is or isn’t a “2011 bike”? The 2012 Honda has two wheels and a twin spar aluminum frame. Uh oh, looks like Honda is cheating the rules and getting some extra 2011 testing in! Right? It bears repeating: If any factory is out testing a machine with an 81mm bore and greater than 800cc, it’s NOT a 2011 machine! And ALL factories are out there testing just such bikes. To assume that the factories are just going to take any knowledge they might gain from these tests that might pertain to their 2011 machines and throw it on a shelf until next year is silly at best. And the assumed implication that you think Ducati is the only factory immediately benefiting from their 2012 machine testing sort of hangs your bias out in the breeze. All press releases from Honda have suggested that their 2012 machine is essentially their 2011 machine with a bigger engine. So does that mean they’re gaining an unfair advantage with extra testing that’s helping them immediately as well?

    The rules are the same for every factory. All factories have the same opportunities to take advantage of them and are surely doing so. Ducati’s competition have ample opportunity to cry foul and haven’t. The only story here is, “Ducati makes big changes to the GP11 ahead of Assen round.” Which is absolutely nothing new in prototype racing. (Didn’t Nicky claim he rode a different bike just about every weekend in ’06 when he won the championship?)

    On a related note, it’s been interesting to observe what effect the processional racing has had on the MotoGP fan base this year. Seems like in an effort to fill the void the boring racing has left behind, the racing fans have become incredibly polarized and vocal–the Stoner and Rossi fans in particular. Debates about racing incidents are great fun and all, but it’s interesting to see bias invade the reactions to even the most innocuous announcement.

    As for myself, as long as Ducati operate within the rules, I hope they spend a gillion dollars if need be in order to get closer to the front. Not because I’m some huge Rossi fan (I tend to cheer on the American riders) and not because I’m a huge Ducati fan (worst bike I have ever owned was a Ducati, and I have gone on record several times as stating that Ducati is the Harley Davidson of the sport bike world), but because I want to see close, exciting racing again. More riders close to the front will help that cause.

    So good for Ducati. They’re finally listening to their riders and spending the time/money necessary to give them a machine that more than one of them can ride quickly without risking a mystery front end washout. The show will be better for it.

  • RSVDan

    Yer bang on there, ’76. How many different chassis did Honda try out last year? I know Suzuki has tried several different chassis mid-year in the past. Why wasn’t anyone bitching about it when the Japanese factories do this? It’s all a development process. If you think the bike’s they show up with at the first winter test are the exact same bikes they run they rest of the season, you are mistaken.

  • GeddyT

    And now Mike Webb is saying his technical assistant was in the garage the entire test with the GP12 with full cooperation from Ducati. He measured up the engine and everything, and it was NOT a GP11. Technical inspectors were with Honda as well when they tested the RC213V.

    Nobody’s breaking any rules. End of discussion.

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  • Peter

    Maybe a new rule bought in just for Hayden at end of year.:-)

    Ex World Champions who haven’t won a race since 2006 can start from the track, instead of the pit lane, when he is on his 7th motor of the year .

    ” I don’t hate Rossi, but I’ve long grown tired of how the sport, press and a lot of fans kiss his ass. Funny how few wanted to give Stoner credit for his success at Ducati (despite the fact that only he could ride the bike) and said it was the bike/electronics. ”

    Jake…Totally agree with you there . Rossi maybe good for the promoters pockets, but, he has become too powerful , and IMO, the sport is bigger than the individual. When Rossi started to lobby for a date change for the Australian Grand Prix, that is a case of having too much influence.
    Same as when Kato was killed , and , unless I am mistaken, Rossi lobbied to have the race moved from Suzuka. Great track, and now , we are stuck with that awful Motegi in the middle of no-where .


    Yes, you are correct in saying this is prototype racing, so, really, a new frame is nothing to scream about. Honda did a lot of that, so, its only fair that Ducati can do the same.
    What I find ironic, is that Rossi can’t ride the same bike that Stoner was able to . It would have been nice for Stoner to have the amount of $$$ thrown at the bike when he was riding it, compared to what is happening now.

  • 76

    This is the part that gets me, I have heard every where from “Stoner was the only one to master the ducati”, “Stoner was the only one that could win on the Ducati” Rossi cant ride Stoners bike, etc etc.

    1) Stoner won the 2007 Championship with a bike that destroyed the field hands down for half of the season. (SD note I think Honda and Yamaha might have made some changes mid season that year, did people start howling cheaters at that point?)

    2) If Stoner could ride the Desmo so well how did Rossi beat him last year with missing 4 races riding on a broken leg for 2?

    3) Where are all Stoners Championships on this bike he could ride so well?

    Fact is he couldnt, I give him credit for trying and having the balls & skill to ride that thing the way he did but he and the Duc could not win championships after the 07 season, always win or bin and you cant get championships like that. Hey I bet theres another rider that knows this formula dosent gel, I wonder if he would rather change the bike instead of playing roulette with it. There is no doubt in my mind Rossi wants “his bike”. He wanted this before he even touched it, he looks at these bikes as his babies and the one when he got there wasnt his, so basically kill it and make mine.

  • Mark

    Ducati happened to have the most powerful engine, at least for most of the 2007 season, which enabled Stoner to ride within the limits of the highly developed trellis frame, and still be fast.

    Once Yamaha and Honda caught up engine wise in 2008, it required Stoner to push harder, especially under braking and in the corner, which brought out the deficiencies of the Ducati chassis.
    Stoner was still able to win races despite those deficiencies by riding the wheels off the bike, riding way beyond his comfort level, and consequently either won or crashed.

    I think Stoner realized that the bike was not going to change substantially in 2010 and simply was no longer willing to consistently ride over the edge in order to be competitive, and not end his career early.

    Rossi is in the same position, none of these riders want to risk it all just to make the 3nd row, however they will if they knew a front row start was possible. This doesn’t mean they don’t have the fire they once had, it just means they’re smarter.

    Once Rossi gets his bike to do what he wants, you’ll see the old master back in form again.

  • buellracerx

    what surprises me is the fact that it took this long for Ducati to tune that chassis. Boron, Aramid, etc. fibers, anyone? c’mon, this is composites 101. One of the distinct advantages of composites engineering is the ability to custom tune specific displacements in specific dimensions by changing fiber modulus, orientation, # of layers, etc. or maybe they don’t teach that in Italian engineering school

  • Mark

    I don’t believe the problem with the Ducati is chassis related. I think it has a fundamental flaw in it’s weight distribution, due to the length of it’s L4 engine, requiring it to be place further towards the rear.

    When Rossi first road the Ducati, he mentioned it’s two main strong points, which were good rear traction and stability under breaking. Both these are benefits of a more rearward weight bias, and are detrimental to front grip and feel, which has been a constant complaint from all riders going back to the original 800cc GP7.

    What’s very interesting is the new GP12 engine seems to be configured differently, since it doesn’t fit into the GP11 frame. From what I can see looking at the video of Rossi testing the bike in Jerez, it seems the r/s clutch cover are is vastly different, and pushed far to the rear, indicating that the engine may be much shorter, allowing it to be moved forward. I think this more than anything would improve the Ducati.

  • buellracerx

    good point, Mark. I was short-sighted and quick to blame the stiffness of the chassis. Thinking more broadly about the system, it makes sense, as I’ve battled a similar demon with rear-weight-bias motorcycles. You can drive yourself crazy chasing handling issues using suspension mods when the problem is intrinsic in the base design.

  • Westward

    After the 2007 season, I don’t think Yamaha and Honda engines got particularly better, I think they just switched tyres. and that put them on an even battlefield.

    Stoner, smiled all year long saying that everything just worked perfect for him in 2007, while Rossi said race after race, that the Bridgestones were better than the Michelins that year. That is why Rossi switched the following year, and halfway thought the season Pedrosa followed suit.

    I recall an interview with Hayden, he damn near cried, saying, “I guess some people (Pedrosa) are allowed to change tyres mid season, I’ll just have to dance with who brung me.”

    When the single tyre rule was being bandied about in 2008 for the 2009 season, another interview with Burgess, had him basically saying that he didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, that it would only mean Rossi winning every year once the tyre issue was evened out… (I suppose it was in regards to the 2007 season)

    Lo-and-behold, Rossi did win that season and the following one. If not for his injuries most notably the shoulder one, he might have even won in 2010 as well.

    As for the whole chassis and parts upgrade thing, I’m of the same mind as 76 & GeddyT…