Photo of the Week: No Looking Back

06/06/2011 @ 11:28 am, by Scott Jones20 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi is not happy. His tone had clearly changed in Catalunya when speaking to the media about the state of the Ducati GP11’s development. Though probably not expecting a repeat of his debut success on the Yamaha at Welkom, Rossi was also probably not expecting to be as far off the pace as he is five races into the season. Word around the paddock is that Ducati has until Mugello to sort the bike out, and change it to a machine that Rossi can win with. If the mysteries of a carbon fiber chassis can’t be solved in time for Rossi’s home Grand Prix, the 2011 season is likely to become very interesting indeed.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer known for his great action shots and poignant candids when covering MotoGP and WSBK racing events. You may have already seen his work on MotoMatters (they still have more calendars available that feature Scott’s work by the way). Not only do we like Scott’s shots, but he fits right in with our all Nikon-totting office.

You can find him on his blog, Twitter, & Facebook. Scott is such a nice guy, he’ll even let you stay in his Lake Tahoe cabin. All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Trent

    What does it mean to say that Ducati “has until Mugello . . .?” Or what . . . Rossi walks?

  • Yes Scott, do tell.

  • Mark

    I’m not so sure Ducati’s problem is with the CF chassis. Everyone that rides that bike, since 2006 when it had the steel trellis frame at the time complains about the same thing, poor front end feel.

    Despite changing almost everything on the bike since 2006 the complaints are always the same. The only constant throughout this bike’s life has been the 90deg. L4 engine. That engine is much longer than the in-line 4 of the Yamaha, or the narrow angle V4’s of Honda and Suzuki.
    Because of it’s L4 configuration, it has to be set back further in the frame for the tire to clear the front cylinder head, which almost certainly shifts the bike’s weight balance further to the rear, which accounts for the lack of front end feel and grip, and explains why Stoner lost the front so many times last year.
    I’m afraid that nothing is going to change much unless they redesign the engine with a narrower V angle, or the cylinders rotated more upright like a proper V. I ‘m hoping the new GP12 is configured in such a way, if not, Rossi would be better off retiring right now.

  • I asked the same thing and was led to draw my own conclusions about what the single most powerful force in MotoGP would do should he conclude he would not soon be on a bike that would allow him win. Only Rossi knows for sure what he will do if he comes to that conclusion, but his tone has changed–read the press debrief transcripts to see for yourself.

    Mark may be right, but the other comments I heard involve the stiffness of the chassis and the need to draw more flex out of a chassis built around the Ducati engine’s design. Whatever the technical explanation, unless Ducati can make some magic happen soon they are going to have one seriously displeased Greatest Of All Time on their hands.

  • Mark

    I agree Scott, Rossi is the last guy to take one for the team to often. If he determines that the bike is not going to give him a chance of winning anytime soon, it could get pretty ugly.

    Finding the right chassis stiffness is something all the engineers are continually chasing, but the bike seemed to behave the same when they were using the steel trellis frame, which is even softer and more forgiving than the Aluminum beam frames, which indicates to me the problem is somewhere else.

    I think Ducati may be fully aware of this problem, but are forced to make due with what they have for this season. I certainly too late to make any major engine design changes this late in the season.

  • Is the 1000cc 2012 bike that he said he enjoyed so much all that different?

  • Trent

    Thanks for the clarification, Scott. Great pics, also.

  • Mark

    Andrew, this is the big question, I’m hoping they rotated into a more traditional upright V instead of an L. From what I can see from the few photos published so far, the right side clutch cover area looks dramatically different.

  • AC

    Hard to believe that if Ducati has been hearing about front end complaints since 2006 that they have done nothing drastic to resolve it, even if it means an engine redesign. It’s better than the alternative: years of losing. Hopefully the pressure of having Rossi aboard will force them to change their ways. Reminds me a bit of Ferrari in F1 these days, they just can’t seem to get to the top, technically.

  • Scruby

    Who cares.MotoGP is a yawning borefest.Catalunya was a complete waste of my time.

  • ML

    I, for one, can hardly wait until Rossi’s new helmet is available for purchase! I thought his “Five Continents” design was great, but this new one is better.

  • Seems bizarre, Rossi was only 7 seconds behind Stoner in the race. He went 0.5 second faster instantly with the new crankshaft in qualifying. Sure the story hasn’t been a fairytale but the Honda has moved things well forward in 2011. Would Rossi be leading the championship if he was still on a Yamaha? Doubt it. The Ducati still has a ways to go but the beauty of carbon fiber is you can dial in exactly the right amount of flex in any plane, something not possible with metal

  • GeddyT

    Rossi has a two year contract. What’s he gonna do at Mugello, walk? Here’s an idea: the guy’s being paid like $14 million this year in salary alone. Take just half of that, give it back to Ducati, and let them hire enough brain power to get the job done. With all of the Marlboro money coming in, that team already has the highest operating budget in the paddock, from what I understand. Too little too late?

    Besides, wasn’t this supposed to be a throwaway season, anyway, waiting for the 1000cc bike next year? That’s a scratch design based off of his input. He’s not going to walk away from that.

  • Jake Fox

    Rossi has had disappointing seasons because of poor equipment before, remember 2006? He was lucky if his engine would finish the race without blowing up. I’m sure he’s not happy; what racer is who doesn’t finish 1st? Still, I can’t see him doing anything more substantial to Ducati than perhaps insisting on some kind of personnel change in the paddock or back in Bologna.

  • Peter

    Interesting to read the comments here about engine redesign , and included V angles.
    Maybe Ducati will do it for the 1,000 cc formula, but, it would be impossible and totally improbable to attempt it for the remaining races in this year. No point attempting to produce a totally new engine design for maybe a couple of races.
    Besides, with the current engine rules, even if Ducati did produce a new engine, they would only be able to use a couple, due to the six(6) engine rule. Hayden is already onto engine #4, I understand.

    To a “non Rossi fan” like me, its rather amusing to hear him complain about the bike, when, all we heard last year from the Rossi camp ,was that Stoner wasn’t riding it hard enough.

    I have been keeping a spreadsheet comparing Stoner and Rossi this year, and its interesting to note that Stoner has completed some 858 ” Flying Laps ” on the Honda since November, 2010, compared to 1,029 laps by Rossi on the Ducati. The information is available on the MotoGP. com web site. I only count “full laps” BTW, not in and out laps.

    No one can say that Rossi isn’t getting enough time on the bike. This data includes the last race at Catalunya.

  • well, the issue is that over the last few years Stoner rode completely over his head to get the results he did. But that was evident in the number crashes. Burgess in an interview with Daryl Beattie said that Ducati took those wins as success and was blind to the true situation. He goes on to say that they are not willing to allow Rossi to ride at a 115% just to get a result.

  • Peter


    I would not say that Stoner rode completely over his head. He rode over the capability of the bike to get those results. No-one else has obtained those results.

    You must remember that Stoner did give Ducati 23 wins in the time he rode for them. How many wins have the other Ducati riders scored in the 800cc era? Only one from memory. Capirossi in Japan in 2007 .

    I also saw that interview with Burgess , as I am in Australia.

    This year, Rossi often isn’t beating the times set by Stoner in 2010, and I’m certain that Ducati are spending a lot more money than they were last year. Just wonder when questions will be asked by those holding the purse strings !

  • true peter, “completely over his head” was a poor choice of words. What I was trying to say was that Casey’s ability to win on the bike gave ducati a false sense of success. Casey is an amazingly talented rider, but lacked consistency due to his riding over the abilies of the machine.

  • Peter


    Agree there :-)

    I think this year, Stoner has matured a little and realised that to win a championship, first of all you have to finish.
    Still though, three wins , a third and DNF isnt too bad so far this year.


  • brandnreal

    I’m a huge fan of rossi as anyone can be, but this guy has a lot excuses c’mon now vale are you in it to win or just cruising down the lane no matter what your bike problem is atleast be in a podium or take some good points..!!!!.. all I read about rossi on his new bike is blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah sorry but had to say it….