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GP Week : Issue 119
The Ducati Corse general manager is an old-school racing engineer, like his Ducati predecessor (and desmodronics pioneer) Fabio Taglioni And he does it all from a wheelchair, after suffering partial paralysis in a bike crash. He spoke to Michael Scott 5 Minutes with ... Filippo Preziosi GPWEEK: Firstly, next year’s bike. What size is the engine? FILIPPO PREZIOSI: In agreement with the rule – over 800cc, less than 1000. Is there an advantage in not going to full size? It is a compromise between performance and fuel consumption. This could be a reason to not have 1000, but I am not saying our engine is not 1000. Have you tried different sizes? We calculated the different possibilities, and then made the engine. With 1000cc, the revs will be lower than now. Will you lose some of the advantages of the desmodromic system? It’s possible, but we are working on new desmodromic geometry in order to have maximum advantage. With lower revs you can increase the squareness of the cam profile (to achieve faster opening and closing of the valves). Any chance Ducati will abandon desmodromics for pneumatic valve springs? I don’t see any big advantage in using pneumatic valves if you can have a desmodromic system. It is a lot easier to get the know-how of pneumatics. The knowledge is available on the market. It is just a matter of paying, and you have it. With desmodromics you have to start from zero and it takes years. Or you could buy desmodromic info from Ducati. We are not selling. Does the Ducati desmo heritage, the previous years, influence you? We are proud of our history, but we are racing against Honda and Yamaha, so we have to have an open mind. This is why we built a four-cylinder at the beginning of our MotoGP adventure. Even though our company is a two-cylinder company. Who wrote the rules decided that the two-cylinders is not competitive, leaving just an advantage in weight that is not enough. I believe strongly that two cylinder is the best engine for a bike, in general. But we had to build a four-cylinder. At the same time, we decide to keep the desmo because we believe it is an advantage, not because of heritage. Talking of rules, which do you find the most restricting? Fuel consumption. The engine- life rule is more or less manageable. Challenging but manageable. I think both of them are clever rules, because they push race engineers to develop technologies that are useful for production. Are they really useful, or just encouraging special materials or techniques only valid for racing? Our mission is to develop technology and to make that technology available for production. And after that the production guys choose which solution they feel is useful. Sometimes, for example, in racing we use technology that changes the setting of the bike corner by corner. This is not useful for production. But a lot of the things we are developing are useful. For example, rather than special materials to increase durability, you have just to think, to simulate and to experiment, with small modifications. Sometimes just a bigger radius between two different surfaces can increase a lot. Or to take care about the roundness or something like that makes more differences than a lot of money on special materials. What rule would you like to see introduced? Everything free. Then success would go to who had the most money to spend. The amount of money you spend is not dictated by the rules, but by the amount of money that you have. What the rules can do is reduce the difference in performance between companies that have different budgets. So if everything is forbidden, if you have a lot of money you will spend a lot of money, but maybe the advantage you find is not so great. If it was anything goes, then surely Honda as the richest company would win? Maybe. But I think there is an option. If you are developing a rocket, Honda will win forever. But because you have to manage riders, there is another element. So maybe to be flexible and open will help. Ducati uses a unique very small carbon-fibre chassis. Is it not more difficult to control flex with the material, and such a small chassis. No. In reality it is easier than with an aluminium Deltabox, where mainly you change the thickness of the metal. With carbon-fibre you can change the thickness, use different fibres, and change the orientation of the fibres. So you have three degrees of difference you can manage. For me, it is not difficult to reach the stiffness target. What we are trying to do now with Valentino is to understand what is the right target. We changed completely our mind in the last months, because the experience we have from the tubular frame to the monocoque with Casey we went in a different direction. Now Valentino is pushing us in a new way. We did a step this year, but just the first step. We will do a lot of different steps, this year and next year. The step was to greater flexibility? A lot. We don’t know what will be optimal. We made one big step and Valentino is happy about it. But I am 100 percent sure we are not at the optimum. We would be very 18