Had enough bad news about racing? Well, if you’re a Ducati fan, here’s something upbeat. Ducati unveiled its new Desmosedici GP9 MotoGP bike to the press in Italy January 14th, revealing what should be a better-handling and more economical machine.
The new bike’s stiffer carbon-fiber chassis dispenses with many years of heritage, but Ducati needs to win more than it needs tradition. “…The trellis frame has been the basis of our bikes for a long time,” said Ducati Corse boss Claudio Domenicali at the unveiling, “but it also demonstrates that the best solutions can come from innovation. The old style frame is still good and will continue to be in our roadbikes but we are keen to test the new system.” Maybe in 30 years we’ll mourn the switch from that traditional carbon-fiber frame to nano-plastic/moonrock alloy.
Other changes focus on practical matters, apropos in troubled times. The new bike’s engine promises class-winning power, but the emphasis is on rideability. And the bike is also designed to keep costs down, both to stay in Ducati Corse’s 40-million-Euro budget (70-75 percent of which goes to MotoGP) and to make things affordable for satellite Ducati teams like Team Alice-Pramac.
American Nicky Hayden is enthusiastic about the 2009 season. He’s ridden the bike and is impressed with the rigidity of the chassis and the motor’s power. However, he acknowledges he needs to “get faster in order to be truly competitive.” His first objective “is to get back to the same level I was at in 2006, challenging consistently for the podium and trying to start winning races again.” We’ll see if Nicky – and teammate Casey Stoner, no slouch himself – can put Ducati back on top