It is rare that an engineer, or an engineering group, will admit that perhaps they have taken a step backwards in design, rather than forwards. Engineering stubbornness, however, is an undesirable trait, because performance is generally the best indication of whether a new design surpasses an old one, not pride.
The following press release from Ducati indicates that it is willing to let MotoGP riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss choose between this year’s bike and last year’s bike at the Mugello GP coming up next weekend. A rare occurrence, indeed. It certainly shows Ducati is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful in racing. Results, not pride, are important to Ducati, and it is intent on obtaining those results no matter what.
The following press release also indicates that Ducati has made a major step forward with this year’s MotoGP machine, particularly, with regard to Troy Bayliss. Bayliss has been very uncomfortable on the new bike, with erratic, and generally poor, results so far.
TWO VERSIONS OF THE DESMOSEDICI AVAILABLE FOR DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM RIDERS AT MUGELLO
Following the positive testing session at the French circuit the Monday after Le Mans, where the Ducati Marlboro Team riders made back-to-back tests between the Desmosedici GP3 and an evolution-spec GP4, Ducati Corse engineers have prepared two different bikes for both riders in time for the Mugello race.
The Ducati Marlboro Team will therefore provide Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss with a GP4, modified according to indications accumulated during the Le Mans session, and a GP3. The GP4 chassis has been modified with changes to the fuel tank and the positioning of the electronics package. The GP3 that will take to the track at Mugello has undergone suspension (2004-spec front forks) and engine component modifications from last year’s bike.
The decision to bring two different Desmosedicis to Mugello has been made in order to speed up the development of the GP4, a process that has snowballed rapidly since the Le Mans test, but which now needs to be put to the test on a track with different characteristics to the French circuit. Both riders will alternate aboard the two different spec bikes and will opt for the version they feel happier with for the race.
“A big thanks to everyone in Ducati Corse” declared Managing Director Claudio Domenicali, “as well as our suppliers, for the readiness and professionalism demonstrated over the last few weeks. We have produced a number of components and we are convinced that giving Loris and Troy the chance to ride two bikes with similar characteristics, but different in several details, can allow us to obtain the best possible result and at the same time give us clear indications about the development path to be followed. “We have important engine developments on the way and we will continue for the whole of the season to search for the competitiveness we have already proved we have and which we intend to reach again at all costs. On this matter, next Tuesday, before leaving for Barcelona, Loris and Troy will again be at Mugello for a further day’s testing, where they will also be flanked by test-rider Guareschi”.
Last year Loris Capirossi finished runner-up on the Mugello podium and now the Ducati Marlboro Team rider aims to score a similar brilliant result in the Italian GP following the positive outcome of Le Mans testing.
“Last year’s Italian GP was the start of a really good run of results for me,” says Capirossi, who also scored the fastest lap of last year’s race. “So I hope that this year’s race will work for me in the same way. The decision to use two versions of the Desmosedici, as in the Le Mans tests, is a clear indication of Ducati Corse’s desire to get back up to the front. During qualifying we will have a chance to test both bikes and we will see which one I feel better with.
“Mugello is an important race for me – I am an Italian rider on an Italian bike! It’s always a real challenge because there’s so much for riders and engineers to understand at this track: fast corners and fast changes of direction, downhill corners with negative camber and a few bumps. All this means a lot of work on chassis set-up.”
Former World Superbike champ Troy Bayliss can’t wait to jump aboard his Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4 at Mugello following his lightning-quick performance during the team’s recent Le Mans tests.
“We made a major step forward,” he says. “The changes we made to the GP4 allowed me to push a lot harder but without taking risks, so Mugello could be good for us which is what we want. “We’ll begin the practice sessions with both versions and then decide which one to use for the race. The bikes are very similar but have a few differences and I’ll race with the one that adapts better to the track.”
Italy is generally agreed to be the heart and soul of motorsport, which is why the Italian GP is arguably the greatest weekend of the GP season. Not only that, Mugello is the kind of fast, flowing track that allows the Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici to unleash its awesome horsepower. The circuit is one of the most challenging, with a thrilling blend of fast turns, rapid direction changes, plentiful off-camber corners and an ultra-rapid main straight.
Mugello has been popular ever since it joined the GP calendar full-time in 1991, first as the San Marino round and then as the Italian GP. The circuit hosted its first bike GP in 1976 but only became a regular venue after total refurbishment in the early nineties.
Mugello: 5.245km/3.259 miles
Pole position 2003: Valentino Rossi (Honda) 1m 51.927s
Lap record: Tohru Ukawa (Honda), 1m 52.601s (167.689kmh/ 104.197mph) 2002
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM DATA LOGS
Age: 31 (April 4, 1973)
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4
GP victories: 23 (1xMotoGP, 2×500, 12×250, 8×125)
First GP victory: Britain, 1990 (125)
First GP: Japan, 1990 (125)
GP starts: 203 (33xMotoGP, 59×500, 84×250, 27×125)
Pole positions: 36 (3xMotoGP, 5×500, 23×250, 5×125)
First pole: Australia, 1991 (125)
World Championships: 3 (125: 1990, 1991, 250: 1998)
Mugello 2003 results. Grid: 2nd. Race: 2nd
Age: 35 (March 30, 1969)
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4
First GP: Australia, 1997 (250)
GP starts: 20 (19xMotoGP, 1×250)
World Superbike victories: 22
World Championships: 1 (Superbike: 2001)
Mugello 2003 results. Grid: 11th. Race: DNF