by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 7
LAST year, the Desmosedici GP7 could do no wrong in the hands of Casey Stoner. It was almost always the fastest bike in a straight line, usually by quite a margin; frequently the fastest round a lap in race conditions, and more often than not leading the race. This year, Stoner is again significantly the best Ducati rider. But the other three – Melandri, Elias and Guintoli – lagged while he won at Qatar, and over the next two races, Stoner also dropped out of touch with the front. What has gone wrong? Team chief Livio Suppo wishes he could say. “If we knew the problem, we would be able to put it right.” He was referring, in particular, to second factory rider Melandri, a former 250 champion and five-times a MotoGP winner, but the comment holds true for all. At least part of it is that the Yamaha and Honda have both caught up. Honda actually did so at the end of last year: Valencia winner Pedrosa’s Honda for the first time set the highest top speed figure of the weekend. Yamaha’s revival came this year, with the pneumatic- valve-spring engine. The same is true of the Michelins versus Bridgestone. Having been last year mainly worse, this year so far they are mainly better. Does pressure alone explain what happened to the domination? Not according to Stoner. “It’s not that we’re slower compared to the other riders. We’re slower compared to us six months ago,” he said, after qualifying down in ninth. Appearances suggest that Ducati’s new bike, while little changed from last year’s, has lost some of the overall balance that is Yamaha’s strong point. This upsets the whole combination; at Estoril Stoner was clearly riding closer to the edge than at any time last year, on a bike that looked nervous and twitchy; at Jerez he was twice actually over the edge. At tests the day after Estoril he was still more than half a second off Pedrosa and Rossi. Talking during the weekend, he said: “For some reason there’s just something missing in our bike, in our package. It’s quite difficult for us to figure out why. The bike’s just not reacting in the same way. “It’s not one particular thing. Just the whole bike reacts: if it’s a problem with the front, the whole bike reacts; if it’s a problem with the rear, the whole bike reacts. So each corner’s different, each lap is different.” With no help coming from the other Ducati riders, the latest move smacks slightly of desperation. Ducati are thinking about calling in current Ducati Superbike riders Troy Bayliss and Max Biaggi in to test the bike. Both have form: double Superbike champion Bayliss rode the first GP Ducati for two years, and returned for a one-off GP win as a wild card in 2006; Biaggi is four- times 250 champion and a former 500 and MotoGP star, currently seeing out his days on a non-factory Ducati superbike. One reason to bring in these two experienced riders, explained Suppo, was to circumvent testing restrictions on active GP riders. Another was to seek a different point of view, to find a way out of the current confusion. They need to find out if for some reason the Desmosedici is a one-man bike, or whether they just haven’t found the right riders for it. More importantly, in championship terms, if it is a one-man bike, why doesn’t it seem to suit that one man? 40