After furious development efforts proved essentially fruitless over the past year and a half, Ducati finally seems to be solving the principal bugaboo with the handling of its MotoGP bike, i.e., lack of front end grip and feel.
Valentino Rossi debuted the new chassis with a second place at Missano last weekend, while Nicky Hayden soldiered to seventh place with an extremely sore wrist and the old chassis.
A test earlier today at Misano following the race weekend saw Hayden compare the new chassis with the bike he rode yesterday. His comments were favorable, and echoed Rossi’s with regard to the improved front end:
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 14 laps
“In order not to stress my hand too much, we only did two runs today—one with basically my race bike, and one with the new frame—but it was nice to get an idea of the chassis. I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to notice the difference, but I could actually feel more than I expected. I felt better with it, for sure. I had more confidence because there’s better front grip for braking into the corners, and because of that, also better turning. I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction, straight away, and I’m happy with the work Ducati has done. Because I was able to brake a bit differently, I’ll probably need to stiffen the fork spring a bit, but already, it was a good step. I’m quite happy, and at Aragon we’ll start to work on the setup.”
Filippo Preziosi, Technical Director
“It was a very useful test: We had prepared a chassis that was the same as that used by Valentino in yesterday’s race in terms of geometry, but different in terms of rigidity. Valentino gave us feedback that will allow us to design an evolution that has the positive characteristics that he noticed, and which match what we expected from the calculations we had made, but without losing precision. We also had a different swingarm that Valentino liked, so we’ll bring it to Aragon. Nicky did his first comparison between the pre-Misano frame and swingarm and those used by Valentino yesterday. His initial comments were positive, but we’ll have to check again at Aragon when his physical condition is better. Based on the data we gathered today, we’re speeding up production of the next step of the frame, which could arrive before Valencia.”
Ben Spies has confirmed his move to the Pramac Racing Ducati team next year along with Moto2 rider Andrea Ianonne. This team will have full factory bikes, and represents a reflection of Ducati’s commitment to push forward in the post-Rossi era, undoubtedly with some financial support from new parent company Audi. Don’t count Ducati out in 2013.