– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Loris Capirossi, 2003 MotoGP Title Contender?

Ducati has done their homework. The MotoGP bike has made light-speed progress, going from model mock ups, to a running prototype, then to on-track development in less than a season’s racing. Data from the early tests last summer at Mugello showed that Ducati had mostly fine tuning to do, instead of re-engineering, to get the best from their new MotoGP entry. Signing Capirossi to the Ducati MotoGP team may turn out to be yet another in a series of talent oversights on the part of Honda, recalling that Honda let Barros go to Yamaha, and Edwards going to Aprilia after he was left out in the cold.

Subsequent tests by Ducati have produced lap times that are not just respectable, but times that would have him on pole position this past season at Jerez. Nearly every time Capirossi has ended a test session, he has either bettered his own times set earlier on his two-stroke, or bested any time set by anyone during the preceding MotoGP season. All this while developing a new motorcycle, testing machine settings and tires from Michelin.

Another way to put this in perspective would be to point out that all of Capirossi’s racing experience has been on two-stroke motors with the engine braking of a falling stone. Riders up and down pit lane in the Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki stalls at several of the 2002 MotoGP venues could be heard cursing the slipper clutches that either performed inconsistently during a race, or didn’t perform at all. When this device did not do its job, the riders with two-stroke experience, and nothing else, were suddenly at a disadvantage.

Capirossi has either adapted very quickly to the four-stroke style of engine power and braking, or Ducati has been able to successfully avoid the pitfalls of the slipper clutch device. It is probably a combination of both, as any great motor sports team lives and dies by the combined performance of man and machine. Testing and racing are two different worlds, as are qualifying and winning races, but with Capirossi, Ducati looks set to not only do well, but to challenge for the MotoGP championship in 2003.

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