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GP Week : Issue 63
Casey. But it was not easy for the other riders to reach that performance. We analysed the data -- Nicky was really helpful on that. We found that the bike was not giving the rider the confidence to push, and if the rider can't push, the tyres don't warm up enough. And when the tyres aren't warm, they're not working atall...soallthebikeisnot working. That makes it difficult to tell the engineer where the problem is," he explained. "So it seems that when Casey rides the bike, it is ... not perfect, but good. But when the other guys ride sometimes they are fast, but they have a lot of different concerns in a lot of different areas and conditions." The engineer had to make sense of these many diverse complaints, and to understand they stemmed from a single source. At the post-Barcelona tests, the electronic mapping was slightly revised, and the important weight changes were begun. Some performance was lost, he said, but it was easier to reach the limit. The tyre-warming problem was reduced. "We had to avoid having all the riders at the back of the grid, and this was the first step. "The chassis changes are easier to explain," continued the engineer. "The riding position is mainly higher, for more weight transfer. It's a compromise, every movement has an advantage and a disadvantage."This change had improved weight transfer but made braking and starting wheelies worse. "But the overall compromise meant the bike was turning better," said Preziosi. The electronic changes were only to settings, not to the software. "It's just different numbers ... like when you have a Porsche and you have three different maps, if you use the easier maybe you are faster. If you are very comfortable in the car then you can use the electronics more open, but sometimes you are faster with easiest map." Preziosi had plenty of praise for Stoner: "I love Casey, because Casey is able to find the right way to ride the bike in very few laps." In 2007, he had thought Casey's speed meant his talent was matched to the more peaky engine they used then. "I thought we were lucky to find a rider that liked peaky engines. That was my mistake. We were lucky because we found a clever guy. As soon as we changed completely in the middle of 2008 to a low-rpm high-torque engine, he at once completely switched his way of using it. I remember at the post-race Barcelona test, in two laps he completely understood the new behaviour. He had changed his riding style, and was one sec faster." Preziosi believes that the latest modifications have made the Desmosedici less of a narrow- focus missile. "We now have a bike available for all kinds of riders," he said. "When Nicky was at the back, two or three seconds off, it's not because the length of the swing- arm was wrong. It's because he was not believing in the bike, because the bike was doing something different." Belief is more than half the battle. Has Ducati got it won? Nicky Hayden's heartening rostrum at Indy Mika Kallio leads ex Ducati rider Marco Melandri Moto GP FEATURE >> 37