Friday, January 15, 2010

Ducati streetbikes to benefit from MotoGP development work

MotoGP engines must now be at least three times as durable as they were in 2009, which has to be a good thing for street-legal sportsbikes, which could stand to benefit from MotoGP R&D...
Ducati DesmosediciDucati 1098R

Ducati recently unveiled the Desmosedici GP10, their 2010 MotoGP racebike, which features some big changes over last year’s machine. That’s primarily because of the new rules that have come into effect this year, which restrict each rider to just six new engines for the entire season in order to try and reduce costs.

Earlier, factory MotoGP teams have used a brand-new engine for every single race, while now each engine will have to last for at least three races (given that there will be 18 MotoGP races this year), which means engine internals will have to be far more durable than before.

‘To go 1,600km with an engine that goes over 19,000rpm isn't a simple assignment. All of the main parts were redesigned – pistons, rods, crankshaft, the basics. It's an engine with which our main objective was to minimize the loss of power and yet increase durability,’ says Ducati Motor general manager Claudio Domenicali.

Now, while some say this isn’t the right direction for MotoGP, the top-flight prototype racing class where power and performance should be the only criteria, Domenicali believes otherwise. If anything, he says, this will help developments at the MotoGP level to filter down to Ducati’s street-legal superbikes. ‘This change will be very useful and interesting. Normally in racing, durability isn't the principal objective. But now this has enabled us to perform a series of experiments that will also be interesting for the new production engines that we're developing, because at this point they become almost comparable,’ says Domenicali. ‘For a production engine, 2,000km of track use is a severe challenge, so we think that race engine durability will now be comparable with production engines,’ he adds.

The other big thing with the GP10 is Ducati’s focus on increasing rideability rather than outright power. For this, Ducati are using the so called ‘big bang’ firing order rather than its earlier ‘screamer’ engines. ‘We have a motor that, since the switch to 800s, utilized a screamer setup. This permitted us to have maximum power, which was very important and was probably fundamental with the results that we've had in 2007, 2008 and 2009. But at a certain point, we began to wonder whether it could be worthwhile to re-test a way that we'd already followed in the past,’ says Domenicali.

‘The last 990cc motors that we made in 2005 and 2006 used a big-bang firing order, and this gave us rideability. We re-tested that way, first trying it on the dyno and then with Vittoriano Guareschi in his previous role as test rider, and then with Nicky and Casey. We think we have a bike for 2010 with better traction, and that therefore makes it easier for us to find a good setup,’ says Domenicali.

In addition to the new engine, the GP10 also features a tweaked chassis, carbonfibre swingarm and revised aerodynamics. With these changes, Ducati hope that in addition to Casey Stoner, their other racers will also be able to get podium finishes and race wins.
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