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GP Week : Issue 133
MOTOGP FEATURE >> head to head with those of racing. The first needs patience and method; the second needs results. And the need to win again had become particularly acute with the acquisition of Rossi. Crew chief Jerry Burgess, ultra-pragmatist, was never going to tolerate anything but a straightforward attempt to win. In the light of the inter vening races, when Preziosi repeated his faith in carbon-fibre at Misano, there was a slight air of desperation. Reinforced when he went on to say: “ I am happy that our company gave me the freedom to do what we think is important. This is the interesting thing for Ducati, to build knowledge, even by testing solutions that are not good.” If that wasn’t a farewell speech to the company, then it certainly was to on- track carbon-fibre experimentation. Sure enough, just days later, Rossi was rumoured to be testing (in 1000cc form) a conventional chassis, knocked up in a hurry by leading British Moto2 exponents FTR. It is hard to doubt Preziosi’s sincerity, when he speaks of his belief in the potential for chassis advances possible with carbon-fibre. It’s not only lighter and stronger than metal, but he believes more malleable, given the necessary understanding. Furthermore, his airbox- chassis adds other possibilities; with the engine acting as a stressed component. It is one step closer to the purity of motorcycling, expressed from time immemorial as “an engine with wheels”. But it is easy to see that racing is not the place where these ideas will be developed. Not if the research has to be twinned with the need to win. The two are incompatible. So that is likely to be the end of the affair, at least for the presence. Lacking the sort of R&D budget available to a big company like Honda, Ducati will have to leave the carbon-fibre airbox-chassis in the cupboard marked ‘Interesting’. There are instances where racing improves the breed. Preziosi himself underlines the fuel-economy and engine - life rules as a valuable contribution to forced development. “I think both of them are clever rules, because they push race engineers to develop technologies that are useful for production.” And this had been the case, he said. ”Our mission is to develop technology and to make that technology available for production. A lot of the things we are developing are useful for production,” he said. GP racing’s history of failed experiment ranges from wacky suspension ideas (Elf, Fior et al) via Honda’s oval pistons and KTM’s instantly outlawed KERS all the way to the Ducati Desmosedici GP11. Giving the GP12 a conventional chassis would be a major about face for Ducati. And a blow to those who see value in racing as a tool for engineering. Then again, if it gets Ducati and Rossi back onto the top of the box, it may sell a few more motorcycles. Claudio Domenicalli, general manager of Ducati watches the San Marino GP 41