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Ducati To Abandon Factory Status In MotoGP To Race in Open class? (Updated with Ducati Reaction)

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Ducati factory MotoGP riderĀ Andrea Dovizioso has told an Italian website that Ducati may abandon Factory status in 2014 and race all of its machines in the new Open category in MotoGP. There are numerous incentives to switching.Ā The Open class bikes are allowed to carry 20% more fuel during a race, and each rider is allowed 12 engines per year (versus 5 for factory riders). Bridgestone may also allow Open machines exclusive use of a softer compound rear tire.

Dovizioso says Ducati will decide which path to pursue after the factory riders get to test the Open machine back-to-back with the Factory bike at the first 2014 test in Sepang during February 4 through 6. The only negative to Open status is the requirement that a Dorna supplied “spec ECU” must be used while the full Factory teams can use their own ECU/software. Open status will also free up Ducati’s top riders to engage in more testing … something Ducati desperately needs after being dominated by the Honda and Yamaha factories last year.

Update: since this story broke, Ducati has said it “has no further plans” for the Open class, and that its factory riders will be comparing full factory machines at Sepang. Perhaps, Dovizioso spoke out of school…. but we wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of a switch to Open machinery given the advantages it could bring

49 Comments

  1. ADR says:

    This is the beginning of the end for the factory ECU, GPS guided bikes are not interesting for the general(majority) race fan. Back to real racing, entertainment.

  2. Weiss says:

    The end of their mess is no where in sight.

    So, why don’t they get VAG to buy a couple of proddy Hondas, paint ‘em bloody red, slap a Desmo sticker on ‘em and call it a day?

  3. rg500g says:

    Forget Stoner. This has spun farfar out of his ability to set right. As has been stated by others, rightly or otherwise, Stoner was in the right place at the right time on equipment at a certain level of development with the right tires and it all clicked. Times and the bike’s configuration have undergone radical change since then and I do not believe Stoner’s mojo can ressurect this festering carcass even if every Ducati engineer swore the fruit of their loins to a verbatim implementation of any input Stoner may make. I honestly think Ducati’s factory GP experiment needs to come to a close and they should focus on WSBK domination and providing cost effective open class bikes to privateer teams. Yeah, bring Foggy back. He’ll be about as successful with the Panigale as Stoner would be with today’s desmosedici.

  4. Norm G. says:

    I’ve put a stop to this. headline should now read, Ducati has abandoned the pursuit of Open class. Stuck with Factory status.

  5. wayne says:

    yes stoner needs to come back and help his old team out , he must be getting bored by now , crutchlow must be spewing going to such a crap team.

  6. Gutterslob says:

    Okay, so even if this rumored move to the “Open” class makes Ducati competitive again – being able to try various angine configs and all – it still doesn’t show much hope for the future of MotoGP and the promised cost-cutting” measure Dorna’s supposed to be implementing. If anything Ducati might even end up spending more than the factory teams, trying to build an engine around a specific ECU and all.

  7. joe b says:

    “a marriage made in Heaven”, wait that’s been used before.

  8. Brian says:

    unless they bribed Stoner back to Ducati, it doesn’t matter what they do…

    • bikerrandy says:

      That’s assuming Stoner would want to go back to Ducati after he left.

    • Robert says:

      With the spec tire, Stoner would do no better than Hayden, Rossi, Dovi, etc…

    • Brian says:

      he wouldn’t go back, because he’s smart. This would be the only theoretical circumstance that could POTENTIALLY work for them. only sheer talent would do anything with this beast, but probably not.
      Maybe they can get a series going with Kawasaki, call it Moto 1.5?

  9. VLJ says:

    I believe that people who underestimate the overriding importance of factory-vs-DORNA-spec ECU’s are sadly mistaken. HP isn’t difficult to achieve, not at that level. Ridability is key, and that’s primarily down to the electronics package. It’s in this area of engineering that the Honda and Yamaha factory bikes walk all over the lesser factory machines, never mind the CRT/Open bikes. If Ducati goes to a DORNA-spec ECU, it’s all over but the shouting.

  10. richard says:

    i agree with the comment…Ducati has deep pockets..they should be made to race Factory…or am i missing something…is it that easy to switch classes ?

    • Dave says:

      They don’t. They’re tiny compared to the Japanese makes. We’ve long speculated that Audi would kick in bigger $$ but that’s looking less and less likely.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “is it that easy to switch classes ?”

      unknown. prolly a misquote. what Dovi may have told the Italian press is that Ducati will TRY to abandon factory status…? cue signal loss in translation and we have a global story in English implying they have a choice.

  11. richard says:

    I remember not so long ago the high expectations and the hype that Rossi would save Ducati and make them podium winners…Rossi certainly has the skills..the bike had issues that held them back…maybe this is a good step for Ducati, they could sure use the advantage over the Japanese bikes….especially with Suzuki coming back…they will have something to prove and im sure they wont dissappoint….on another note…be interesting to see how Marquez would handle a Moto GP Ducati…he is the younger version of Rossi in his early days.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “they could sure use the advantage over the Japanese bikes”

      okay, and what of the advantage over the other Japanese bikes…? ya know, the ones satellite teams like Aspar are spending big money on to buy outright.

      what would any entity that has the ability manufacture and SELL product AND can lay claim to having bagged a title in 4-stroke grandprixs, be doing muscling in on a class never meant for them…?

  12. Dargo says:

    just let Ducati and the other non factor bikes start at the front, and make the Hondas and Yamahas (all of them) start from the back of the grid

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “The Open class bikes are allowed to carry 20% more fuel during a race, and each rider is allowed 12 engines per year (versus 5 for factory riders).”

    what’s good for the Goose (no, not you) is good for the Gander. what’s good for the “Duck” will be good for the “Zook”.

    assuming Ezpelata even allows Suzuki to return and side step factory status (and that’s a BIG if)…? this is Hamamatsu’s only saving grace. see (unlike Ducati), Suzuki’s never supplied sat kit to ANYONE during the MGP era which is the whole point of the Open class.

    it’s not necessarily for the factories to jump in and take advantage of, it’s for the LITTLE GUYS to have a leg up on the factories. If I were Poncharal, Cechinello, or Martinez i’d be having a cow over this suggestion.

    Suzi may not have millions, but everybody knows the owners of Ducati (VAG) sure as hell do, so eligibility here is questionable even though this is ultimately what “EzDorn” wants. hell, Suzuki may not even be able to make 12 engines work anyway…? but it’s a damn sight better than 5. if 5 is all the get, they can stop the ruse right now. they grid up with that limit, and it’ll be a bloodbath.

    re: “Bridgestone may also allow Open machines exclusive use of a softer compound rear tire.”

    which see doesn’t really address ducati’s problem. they are looking for a softer FRONT. this category is meant to be an upgrade for CRT wobblers, not an “escape hatch” for those getting their asses handed to them by Honda.

    • George says:

      I see a middle ground here where Suzuki could be allowed a few extra engines in their first year but keep their factory status using their own ECU and software.

      I saw a video of Suzuki’s MotoGP project and they are working with the Magnetti Marelli ECU which is the standard ECU for the Open class so maybe they are trying to use it as a base development platform and then build from there…

      Who knows what they will show up with in 2015. I suspect it will be a GSXR1000 superbike for the most part anyway.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “I see a middle ground here where Suzuki could be allowed a few extra engines”

        Ezpelata can’t see this patch of dirt if’n he looked through Hubble.

        see, the problem comes in that Suzuki’s ALREADY been afforded these kind of concessions during the previous era. touchy subject this.

        even if he wanted to (which he doesn’t)…? he’d surely get read the RIOT ACT from the teams considering the latest move to short the factories YET ANOTHER ENGINE from 6 to 5.

        it’d be “Mutiny on the Bounty” with Yamaha (the original crossplane runners) playing Fletcher Christian. see how complicated all this has gotten…? it really takes a student of of Grandprix to sort it.

    • VLJ says:

      “the owners of Ducati (VAG)”

      Can’t believe no one else picked up on that.

      :-)

  14. George says:

    Ducati needs to pull their collective heads out of their butts if they want to get back to their winning ways.

    Jeremy Burgess told them what was wrong with the bike when Vale rode the bike the first time. Ducati refused to make the changes the best race engineer and the most successful racer in the paddock said were needed.

    Hopefully Audi can kick them upside the head a few times and get their thinking more in line with reality and start getting podiums and wins.

    If they give up and go to the “open” class rules that does not bode well for them staying the the class very much longer.

    Since engine development is basically frozen and everyone is using close to the same suspension and brakes, then in Honda’s and Yamaha’s view the only thing they can really gain in MotoGP racing is:
    1) Bragging rights and
    2) Electronic/software development

    The open class cannot do any electronics/software development as everyone must use the same spec electronics/software package.

    If they can’t do any racing development of electronics/software, why stay involved as a “factory R&D effort” if you can’t do any R&D?

    Production based racing is a lot cheaper to play in and you STILL get bragging rights.

    • PatrickD says:

      Burgess was swaggering around, saying he could fix the duke in weeks. So what did he do? gave them a whole new chassis, taking away the previously successful trellis frame and mimicked the japanese. The result? Further back than before.
      Burgess’ ego took a pasting, as did Rossi’s, and that’s no bad thing for them.

      • George says:

        Jeremy wanted a lot more but Ducati refused. AS I recall one of the primary things he wanted was to spin the engine the other direction, like all other bikes, and which would require another shaft in the transmission. Spinning the engine in the other direction would address a lot of the instability problems of the Ducati. But such a change would require a complete redesign of the engine. Ducati did not want to do that and did not do that.

  15. pete says:

    fuel economy at the premier level of racing is silly. pit stops would be sillier still.

    • stratkat says:

      i totally agree! so stupid!

    • goose says:

      Another agreement. This is just stupid.

      Goose

    • George says:

      it does seem stupid but they are presenting it as another technical hurdle for the factory teams: make competitive power but do so economically fuel wise.

      Even F1 has fuel capacity limits for the same reasons. They no longer allow refueling during an F1 race, only tire changes and repairs are allowed. F1 is ratcheting down their fuel capacities as well.

  16. glen says:

    That would be ironic if Ducati “follows” Nicky into the Open Class.

  17. Crim says:

    If Ducati goes Open, then Honda has lost a lot of leverage against the coming rule changes. Suzuki seems wise to have opted to sit out one more year. Moto GP is a freakin’ mess with all the rule changes. The $takes are high.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “If Ducati goes Open, then Honda has lost a lot of leverage against the coming rule changes…”

      …and in the next scene, we see Honda snatching Dorna’s nuts out from under ‘em and using them for dice.

      make no mistake Nakamoto’s the gatekeeper, he is guarding all the doors, he is holding all the keys. it would only be by some notion of “honor” or altruism that keeps him from dropping the hammer on Ezpelata… nothing more.

  18. GuyLR says:

    Do the rules allow the full factory bikes to pit for a splash of fuel? Might make races more interesting instead of the top three bike processions we have now. The full on bikes running with more power but having to stop for enough fuel to finish the race while the slower open bikes get to at least get a glimpse of the front. Could be good.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Do the rules allow the full factory bikes to pit for a splash of fuel? Might make races more interesting instead of the top three bike processions we have now.”

      not unless they make ‘em up on the fly (a real possibility as we’ve already seen). unfortunately pit lane fires also have a way of making races more interesting. so that’s prolly a non-starter given that F1 recently banned the practice due to all the accidents they kept having. the FIA/FIM will likely be limiting that risk to pure endurance racing.

      • GuyLR says:

        Then about the most we can hope for are some races involving a bit of strategy where the three top aliens and Rossi on the turned down full proto bikes nurse their 20 liters and only open them up “on the fly” for the last lap pass. I guess that will have to do.

    • goose says:

      The time lost in a pit stop (not just fueling, running the length of the pit lane at the speed limit) means you’d lose 20 to 30 seconds stopping. If you have a 20 second lead you can dial the fuel mixture back avoid stopping.

      Goose

  19. Ty says:

    I don’t know how “bad” the spec electronics are, but if this switch turns out to be true, I can see more fuel and softer tires making that bike a consistent top 5 (4 th and 5th)contender for Dovi and Crutchlow.

    • Bob says:

      Quite the opposite. The Duc has been suffering from understeer for years, meaning it pushes wide in the turns. A softer rear with more grip will make it push even more.

    • I think it will be very interesting to see what’s possible within the new rules, and I hope that the Open specs work out to bring some otherwise “second tier” bikes up into the front runners. The concern re: Ducati improving would be like Bob said: chassis problems, as opposed to anything power-related, are more widely reported as holding Ducati back.
      Otherwise, absolutely, it will be interesting to understand the various combinations that are possible within the scope of spec electronics plus potentially more power and different tires.

  20. kando says:

    glad Nicky left

  21. Dargo says:

    maybe if ducati teamed up with acme from the road runner and mounted a huge jet engine to their bikes…..and a big spring….and some glue….

  22. mickey says:

    Let me add that Ducati hired away two of the better up and coming GP riders in Dovisioso and Crutchlow with what me must assume was big money and promises and now may relegate them to CRT riders anyway.

  23. mickey says:

    That makes sense, since the non factory bikes were the only bikes they were competitive with for the last couple of years.