You may have noticed that Ducati has brought Troy Bayliss out of retirement to test the Desmosedici GP9. Bayliss began that process at Mugello today, but is expected to ride the bike on several occasions in an effort to provide Ducati with feedback for improvements.
Improvements? Unfortunately for Ducati, its MotoGP machinery has a somewhat well-deserved reputation for being effective only in the hands of superman Casey Stoner. Everyone knows what happened to Marco Melandri at Ducati over the past couple of seasons, where the rising star was suddenly incapable of running at the front . . . even incapable of running mid-pack quite often. Stoner, meanwhile, on the same bike ridden by Melandri was a star, and even World champion. Now, enter Nicky Hayden.
While Hayden struggles aboard his Ducati, Stoner continues to put the same bike at or near the front, and trails in the championship by just a few points. Ducati needs to get serious about making this bike rideable by all of its riders, not just Stoner.
Enter Troy Bayliss. The retired superstar and former World champion began testing the Desmosedici GP9 at Mugello today, and his input is hoped by Ducati to sort the machine to the point where each of its five riders can be competitive (yes, Ducati now has five bikes on the MotoGP grid). Appointment of a new crew chief for Nicky Hayden could also help matters, as his former crew chief did double-duty and is now free to focus on analyzing data gathered from the machines during practice and racing.
If Ducati needed any additional incentive, the forlorn Marco Melandri has rebounded and is again competitive aboard his new Kawasaki, despite suggestions that his new team is underfunded by a factory that wanted to leave MotoGP entirely. Melandri finished fifth last weekend in Spain, while Nicky Hayden continued to struggle and finished at the back in 15th position.