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Will Ducati Get The Jump On The Competition … Again?

Ducati has just completed 1,000 kilometers of testing with four different riders, including Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, aboard next year’s race bike, the 1,000cc GP12 at Jerez. Ducati caught the Japanese factories off guard when MotoGP switched from 990cc to 800cc several years ago, and Casey Stoner blew everyone away as a result. This time, Ducati is not only getting an early start, they have Valentino Rossi and his legendary crew chief Jeremy Burgess to help out with development.

The 1000cc bike is obviously very far along.  Ducati clearly had this bike in mind when it hired Rossi/Burgess, and retained Hayden.  The dirt track bred Hayden strongly favors the point-and-shoot style of riding that goes along with the bigger engine, like the 990cc bike he rode to the title many years ago.  2011 is just starting, but fascination with the 2012 season, and the new bikes is already under way.

19 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Didn’t one of the Ducati designers mention it would probably not be made near full 1000cc but kept around 930 or so?

  2. brinskee says:

    There are a couple of concepts to be discussed, but frankly, its far too early in the season to vote anyone in or out.

    Yes, Honda is very strong, but it’s quite curious how the stars have aligned so far this season; Stoner crashing out at Jerez, but Rossi finishing with some points, his teammate Hayden grabbing a podium, Dani getting sliced during the break (no guarantees on recovery time) and a nice long break thanks to Japan’s (horrible) setbacks that resulted in a month off racing, means that by the time they all line up on the grid at Estoril, there should be new parts freshly fabricated in the hopper to allow for most teams to make forward progress… including Ducati. Because you can be sure they’re just as hungry for a world championship this year as they are next, or any other year for that matter.

    As far as them getting the ‘jump’? Honda, Yamaha, and even Suzuki are all already testing the 1,000CC bikes. Just because Ducati captures more press than the others does NOT mean that anyone is getting any type of advantage. The FIM has investors to answer to, there is no way they could afford to favor any team, or country for that matter, above the others.

    Speaking of electronics, for the guys who think they can ride better without them; have you ever taken a peek at the dashbaord on the MotoGP bikes? They are full of traction control, anti- slide, anti-wheelie switches… all the racers who want to step the back out (Hayden) will start having serious tire-management problems if they start turning those switches off… I think the electronics are here to stay for the most part.

    It will be interesting to see where everything pans out…

  3. Philip says:

    I think it needs to be mentioned that Ducati was on Bridgestone tires that year. They were working much better than Michelin’s 2007 tire. Now everyone is on the same tire, so that is one less advantage that Ducati will have.

  4. ROXX says:

    1000 cc bikes will allow “non-midget” riders to compete.

  5. Steve says:

    If they incorporate direct injection, they won’t need bigger bikes.

  6. MGNorge says:

    The riders have always been in the spotlight. As seen above, the talk usually centers around which rider can or should prevail given the state of their equipment, etc. But I tend to look at this kind of racing for the technology. Not that I totally ignore the riders but I want to see engines, engines and engines. I know the rules are such to limit designs that only some factories can afford but limit them too much and the racing, in my mind gets boring. I want to see what the factories can design. I want to see what their engineers can do with new and fascinating designs. In the old days you had multies racing against singles and twins. They may have had an advantage in horsepower going down the straights but tended to be penalized in the turns. Depending on the circuit the results could turn either way.

    I notice now in Moto2 it’s damn hard to tell who rides what brand, it’s even often times not shown in the standings, just rider name, country and team name. Looking at the bikes it’s often hard to tell also since they have quite often multi-colored body panels, a few stickers but the brand of bike isn’t always apparent.

    Am I the only one who looks more at the bikes than the riders?

    • Chris says:

      Moto2 teams all use spec 600cc engines from Honda. All from the same supplier so as to be as close to the same as possible…

      The teams make (or purchase) their own chassis to run…

  7. Tim says:

    The bigger bikes will better demonstrate who the best riders really are. With more horsepower than any of these guys can really use, it will come down to who brakes, corners and accelerates the best. Going to 800cc was a big mistake. Hopefully going back to the bigger bikes will make for more closely fought races.

  8. Mickey says:

    Ducati’s problem is both of their riders are getting long in the tooth. Don’t get me wrong, I think Val is one of the top two road racers of all times, along with Ago, but lets face it, you can’t win forever. Younger, more fit riders are coming along …. Lorenzo, Stoner, Spies, Pedrosa, Divisioso, Simoncelli. These guys are hungry, and getting better every year. Rossi will still win some races, and be a frequent visitor to the podium, but I doubt he’ll win another World Championship. Hopefully he can do it one more time, but I have my doubts.

    And Nicky, even if he favors that style of bike, is no longer competitive. His best chances of even making the podium is if he stays upright while everyone crashes out in front of him, as in the rain last week.

    IMO Ducati needs to hire Simoncelli while he’s still on a satellite team. The rest are already on factory teams and doubt they’ll give up their rides. In the meantime Simoncelli can learn to live with the Ducati’s quirks, and like Stoner is young enough to look past the quirks in order to vie for a championship.Then in a year or two when Val moves to F-1 and Nicky moves further back to race with Edwards for slowest American, Ducati will have an experienced young rider in the fold that at least has a chance for a championship sometime in the future.

    • Stinky says:

      That’s a very good observation. Ducatis riders are gettin’ old. They need to bring in a hungry rider. They really needed Rossi and Burgess to get a bike that someone other than Stoner could win with. Ducatis championship with Stoner had more to do with gas mileage with horsepower than superior bikes or getting the jump on the Japanese. Desmos could deliver power that the valvespring engines could only match with crappy mileage and thus ended up with lower setting to finish races with the alloted fuel capacity.

    • JM345 says:

      Simoncelli is already riding a factory Honda… Just not a repsol.
      I’m excited to see how Jorge will do with a big bike… And Cal Crutchlow from the UK seems like a dark horse but the Brits will be well represented with what I’ve seen from him so far this year…

      • Mickey says:

        Is the Grisini team a factory team or a sattelite team? Does he get the same equipment Stoner, Pedrosa and Divisio gets? Does that make Aoyama a factory rider as well? Does that mean the Honda factory team has 5 riders?

        • Marcos says:

          Simoncelli’s bike is HRC factory, just does not carry the Repsol sponsorship as JM345 stated. Aoyama’s case is different and he does not have teh HRC full support. The HRC factory support goes to the rider Simoncelli as a present and future investment not the team itself.

  9. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    What, so the other factories aren’t already testing their own 2012 MotoGP bikes in secret?
    They just haven’t released an MTV video about it, yet. :)

    Also, seems Ducati would have not have had such a winning debut 800cc season were it not for Stoner doing the riding, so, it seems the planets were aligned correctly for that one.
    Dount that Ducati’s 2012 bike will be any more competitive against the the other bikes than their 800cc bike is, today, and probably depends on what Rossi and Hayden can do with it.

    I didn’t like the idea of the MotoGP bike going from 990 to 800, so I am waiting for next season to come. :)

    • John says:

      Agreed, Ducati winning the title in 2007 had more to do with a hungry Casey Stoner than a better bike in the Ducati pit. Stoner is the only rider who can win a MotoGP race on an 800cc Duc.

  10. Stinky says:

    I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’d still like to see them do something this year, but it’s not looking good. Let’s hope they find a way to limit the electronics to let REAL riders have more say in the outcome. Don’t see it happening but I can always hope. I like to see darkies out of the corners, and who can ride with shagged tires.

  11. Chris says:

    I think it was Casey Stoner that caught everyone napping
    It didn’t finish Ducati 1st and 2nd very often
    But it was Stoner 1st a lot

  12. kpaul says:

    Sounds like a great plan. Great Observation Dirck !! Don’t think this years bike will be competitive so why not concentrate on something that in the long run will pay dividends. i.e. suspect the 1000 cc class will be awhile this time. Wish Suzuki could get get competitive again perhaps they mimic Ducati.