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GP Week : Issue 163
The big step forward promised by Ducati earlier in the season for the US GP took a stumble at post-Mugello tests, when a crash for Rossi was triggered by a mechanical failure, and further testing of the new engine parts was cancelled. Rossi had completed only 19 laps when his test was cut short – many other riders ran more than 50 in perfect conditions. The chassis will also be as before, although a rearrangement of components offers a potentially valuable step towards improving the understeer that plagues both Rossi and Hayden. Fuel has been moved further under the seat, and electronics from the front of the bike to the “fuel tank” area. This improves weight distribution, although the size of the 90-degree V4 engine makes it impossible to achieve the same centralisation of mass of the rivals’ compact narrow-angle or in-line engines. The engine position had not changed, explained design chief Filippo Preziosi. “We have moved some parts from the front of the bike to the front of the tank and rearranged some components on the bike to put all of the mass as close as possible to the centre of gravity.” Rossi explained that substantial engine changes were not yet ready. “This was “an intermediate step, an interim engine management through a new ECU. The first feelings were good: I immediately did a good time with a used tyre,” he said. Then the engine stalled at high lean at the Correntaio corner, and he fell without injury. At first the ECU was blamed, but Preziosi later said it had been a hardware failure. Riders will get new engines at Laguna, modified so as to be able to take planned future changes without having the official seals broken. “Engine number four is ready to use some additional parts we are developing. Some parts could be delivered directly to Laguna, some parts will be delivered in the following races depending on the final results, and only when we are sure that these parts are an improvement in terms of performance,” he said. DUCATI UPDATE LAGGING ... Quadruple podium success for Byrne and Farmer at Oulton. Both PBM team riders did their championship chances no harm in a dramatic BSB round at Oulton Park... silkolene.com MOTOGP >>> NEWS Rossi testing crash a set-back With Audi’s purchase of Ducati for a reported sum of more than a billion dollars now ratified, the German company has retained current Ducati management, but outnumbered on a German-controlled board of directors. The purchase was fully completed on July 19, through Audi AG’s other prestigious Italian acquisition, Automobili Lamborghini. Former Ducati president Gabriele del Torchio has been appointed CEO, while he and former managing director Claudio Domenicali are both members of the five- strong board, with del Torchio also joining the Lamborghini board. The other three Ducati board members, including the president, are from Audi AG, led by current CEO Rupert Stadler. Audi’s record of transforming the status of Lamborghini from occasional exotica to practical supercar augurs well for Ducati, whose minuscule production of 40,000 bikes a year is entirely made up of high-end sports bikes. The deep pockets promise much also to the currently beleaguered racing wing, Ducati Corse. But the time scale is such that it might be hard to persuade Rossi to stay to help the quest. Corse chief Filippo Preziosi said: “When you are part of a huge company, you have access to some excellent departments and you can speak with these technicians. In the past we were a small company, so we didn't have that chance. I think we can speak with Audi about engines ... and electronics, both strategies and hardware.” Preziosi also spoke of Audi’s fault analysis facilities and ability to produce prototype parts ... “a huge number of different opportunities.” But it would take time, he added. Asked if he meant months or years, he replied cautiously: “It will be step by step.” ... BUT AUDI TAKE-OVER FINALISED Mugello test 12 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: