I was just waiting for this kind of result by Ducati
to share some
thoughts with you.
Le Mans has highlighted (at long last!) that Rossi’ statements about
the problems of the Ducati
concern, actually, the electronics, but not
only that. Preziosi’s most recent declarations has proven that the
understeer problem has gone in the background. And the wet track has
shown that, at small lean angles, Ducati
has less problems.
Let’s go step by step. All the pre-season tests were aimed at licking
into shape the bike. Those tests showed the issue related to the rear
pushing the front, and the trouble in getting the power down.
During the second test in Jerez, software updates were tested by
Barberà and Abrahams on their satellite bikes and then, in Sepang-2,
the same software was tested on the GP12.The reason why the test in
Jerez was done only on the
satellite bikes was explained by a comment that Guido Meda made on a previous
had only 2 GP12 and they were left in Sepang, after
the first session.
The secret test with Checa, the one that preceded the official
sessions, was done in order to find the right position of the fork
pin. Checa was asked to keep quiet about his opinion of the GP12; it
was Rossi, instead, that talked about the job done by Carlos in Jerez.
In Sepang-2, besides the new software for the traction control, Ducati
brought some fake tanks (on the Desmosedici the fuel tank is now under
the seat) in order to move backward, by some centimeters, the rider
weight. I was present at the Jerez test, on the occasion of my
birthday, and the picture that came out was really disappointing: the
general balance, that seemed well established, was completely
disrupted by some rather risky changes made by the Rossi’s team. And
the result was to waste
all the progresses achieved so far. Desperately looking for a setting
tailored to Rossi, the team tried evertyhing without ever finding a
managing to give him the feeling he needs to ride the bike as he wants to.
In Qatar was even worse, with the shocking post-race pronouncements
made by Valentino,
who blamed Ducati
for not having followed his direction in building
the GP12 MotoGP bike.
Jerez was a disaster as well, but
from that moment on, the set-up process went through a complete change
They switched to Hayden's setup, improving the feeling, and
Rossi finally gave in and acknowledged to adapt his style to the bike
and not viceversa,
just as if they had finally recognized that choices made by Preziosi,
even if questionable, were the best road to follow. In an interview,
Alessio "Uccio" Salucci, talked about a
setting with much load on the rear (like "a chopper", he said) that
Rossi did not appreciate but that made the difference. Also Rossi
confirmed that the road to follow until Le mans had to be that one.
What is all this summary for?
Just to remind that Rossi had said that at the first touch of the
throttle the bike’s reaction is excessively
abrupt, making it hard to get the power down. The solutions that had
to be tested in Estoril after the race involved the engine (I guess a
camshaft with less extreme profile and a heavier crankshaft) in
addition to a
new electronics package. Changes wanted by Preziosi in order to have
more torque at low RPM and less top end power. This is, practically,
the road already followed by Yamaha
at the time.
Sacrifice the top end power, useful only at higher speed, to
improve acceleration at low RPM could be the right way to challenge Honda,
whose strenght lies precisely in these aspects. Yamaha
had to face the
same problems that affects Ducati
(aggressive power delivery), and the
found at software level. Why is it so hard for Ducati? And why both Rossi and
Preziosi said they did not expect any major improvements after these changes?
There is something not clear in this affair. Moving the rider backward
– apparently illogical in terms of the issues at stake – worked well.
Even if, so far, nobody has understood how it is possible that the
front end feeling has improved
by reducing the load on it. Moreover, why Rossi prefers hard tyres now?
The only firm and precise starting point is this: the basic design of
the GP12 is good.
Now I’ll take a guess. In Sepang, some experts noted that
the official Hondas and Yamahas did not rattle when the TC was in
action, in contrast with Ducati. In Jerez, Iannone confirmed this
impression, supposing that Honda
uses the clutch to reduce
the power delivery without sacrifying acceleration on exit
and so avoiding the engine to rattle.
Since the last year, Rossi says he can’t open the throttle at full
lean as much as the other riders do (in Le Mans, Barbera had a
highside at the exit of the first turn and
Hayden was forced to meter the throttle without any success)
In Le Mans the rain has been a great leveller: smaller lean angles,
decreased power and smooth throttle input,
with more time available to straighten the bike up: as a matter of
fact, a situation that has nullified the technical advantages of the
rivals. In these conditions, the rider must wait to open the throttle
until he has more tyre on the ground, and not just a little part of
the shoulder. The problem of the Ducati? If the rider opens the
throttle at full lean, the rear pushes the front
and riding becomes a struggle. A journalist specializing in technical
matters (a real journalist, not like me) assumed a reasonable
explanation: injection systems on japanese bikes
are linked to the traction control with a system that is quicker than
the one used by Ducati, with a
double injector (one above the butterfly valve and the other below).
The two throttle bodies, managed separately, could distribute the fuel
with an extreme accuracy, smoothing in advance the throttle opening.
Now comes the difficult bit: let's assume that, using 2 independent
injectors for each cylinder, the japaneses are able
to calibrate the right amount of fuel to be injected to the cylinders,
preceding the throttle request and taking into account the traction
this would explain why hondas and Yamaha
don't rattle as much as the
Ducati when the TC comes into action. Ducati
is still the only one to
cut out the power acting on the ignition,
while the japaneses wnet beyond that, handling the power delivery through
the management of the fuel injection, rather than through the combustion.
This is the hypothesis of Neil Spalding, that would confirm Rossi's words:
it is very hard to solve the problem quickly. Making this kind of
from scratch is not easy, if Spalding is right. The problem is that
working on the injector does not offer, with the public domain
technologies, a prompt response (as shown by
the use of such tachnology on the street bikes - APRC system
on the Aprilia
tuono and RSV4). The reason is not releated to the
electronics (hardware or software), but it's
a "physiological" engine issue: the intake gas speed, therefore the
mixture speed, is not high enough to react to
the input of the traction control, unless the traction control
itself works in predictive way.
It all seems reasonable, anyway, and tell us that the further steps
that will lead
to the final version of the GP12, will be phased in over time until Laguna Seca.
While we're writing, the Ducati
is tacking to the track in Mugello,
for the first of a series of tests that will take place between May
and June(plus the test after the race in Mugello).
What are they testing? First of all the new parts that had to be tested
in Estoril (there's still the issue of the new engine, lighter, that will
include the changes to be tested in Mugello - if such changes will
prove to be effective). The last statements talk about new parts for the
engine and the chassis but if, as the ones concerned stated, nobody is
expecting big improvement, clearly the "good stuff" will come further
on, confirming, one more time, what I said about the GP12:
it is a laboratory for testing the things that should get the final
version of the bike closer to the top teams. Unfortunatly, it won't
Next stage: Barcellona. We can easily forecast that, if it won't rain,
will still have a gap of 1 second from the top. Without
the chance of using the throttle wide open at full lean, the torque at
low rpm, along with the new software, should give more
acceleration on the exit of the turn. Only in Silverstone we will know
if these changes will prove to be really effective.
I was almost forgetting this: Rossi fighting for the podium is a show
for everybody, isn't it?
In Malaga we're waiting with a lot of concern the opinion of the
doctor and the one of the surgeon Filippo.
thanks for the translation my friend