Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Pramac’s Ben Spies were at the Circuit of the America’s for the manufacturer’s US launch of the 1199 Panigale R, the extreme racing version of the Italian company’s Superbike with its four levels of adjustable swingarm pivot, titanium piston rods, carbon fibre bodywork, and Ducati Performance racing exhaust and livery.
The two American riders, that are both in recovery mode - Hayden after minor surgery earlier this month, and Spies who is yet to be 100% fit following his shoulder surgery last year - thus had a chance to check out first hand the Austin circuit where Yamaha Factory. Repsol Honda, and LCR Honda team riders tested three days last week, and saw MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez send everyone into a state of giddiness over his performance.
The COTA circuit will be hosting the second round of the 2013 MotoGP championship from April 19th to the 21st.
Filippo Preziosi became the sacrificial lamb following Valentino Rossi’s disastrous two-year stint in Ducati and the engineer behind the Ducati Desmosedici, was removed from his position of General Manager of the Corse department last November and replaced by Bernhard Gobmeier, a choice made by Audi who bought the Italian manufacturer.
Preziosi was to hold the position of Director of Research & Development for Ducati Motor Holding, but Ducati has announced that Preziosi has decided to leave the company for health reasons.
Here’s the brief and terse press release:
Borgo Panigale, (Bologna, Italy) 28 February 2013 - Engineer, Filippo Preziosi, has communicated his intention to resign from his position at Ducati Motor Holding.
Declaring reasons of poor health related to his particular physical condition, Preziosi’s resignation was accepted by Ducati, saddened and disappointed to lose such an accomplished and strategic member of staff. The company respectfully acknowledges the 45-year old Italian’s decision and thanks him for his significant contribution during his 19 years with Ducati, 12 of which were within Ducati Corse.
Previously occupying the role of General Manager of Ducati Corse, Preziosi, was appointed Director of Research and Development of Ducati Motor Holding at the end of 2012 and was to start his new role after a period of rest. An announcement of the successor to this strategic role, now left vacant by the resignation, will be communicated in due course.
The 2013 Wrooom Formula 1 and MotoGP team presentation event will be kicking off next week (January 13th to the 20th) at Madonna del Campiglio and it will also officially launch the new ‘Ducaudi’ era with former BMW manager Bernhard Gobmeier taking over the reins of the Ducati Corse Department and the return of Paolo Ciabatti to head the manufacturer’s MotoGP project, leaving Fillipp Preziosi to head R&D.
According to omnicorse.it, Ducati wants to re-evaluate all the different parts that they’ve developed over the previous two seasons with Valentino Rossi and see if there is something that can be saved after their former rider discarded them, so the four Ducati riders will be at the Malaysian circuit also with the 2012 version of the Desmosedici, while the GP13 machine will be tested by Franco Battaini and Michele Pirro at Jerez de la Frontera on February 18th to evaluate all the updates.
Both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone have recovered from their off season surgeries (plate removal for Dovi and corrective septum nose job for Crazy Joe), while Ben Spies tweeted that he started light training a week ago following his extensive shoulder surgery. Spies will also be attending the Wrooom event with his fellow countryman and Ducati rider Nicky Hayden, so his physical condition will probably come up during one the various press conferences that will be held.
Ducati factory riders couldn’t end a difficult 2012 season in the worst possible way at Valencia, Valentino Rossi who will be leaving the Italian marque after two highly disappointing seasons - with only three podiums and no wins - to return to Yamaha, finished in a lowly 10th, but even worse behind three CRT riders and a satellite Ducati rider (Abraham) and also lapped, his reputation as being ‘The Doctor’ in tatters.
If this wasn’t enough, he was accused of being the reason behind Ducati’s World Superbike pullout, of not pushing enough with the materials Ducati tried to give him and lastly getting the blame for Filippo Preziosi’s getting canned from the MotoGP project.
Valentino Rossi said, “It’s really a shame that the last race with Ducati finished this way. Things went well this morning in the wet warm-up, and in similar conditions, it would have been possible to do a nice result. Instead, this half-and-half situation was truly difficult. In the end the right choice was to use the slick tyres, but my bike on the grid had a very different setting from the other one, so I didn’t feel like switching. With the rain tyres, I felt fine at first, but then when it was necessary to switch, the situation became more complicated. There was a thin dry line, but I couldn’t put the bike where I wanted and as soon as I would go off that line, it was very risky. I could only try to finish. I would have liked to finish these two years with Ducati better. They were two difficult seasons, but I nonetheless leave behind many people that I enjoyed working with, and with whom it was nice to go racing.”
If Rossi still managed to finish and clinch 6th in the standings, Nicky Hayden’s season was for the first time in his career podiumless and he even crashed out of the difficult race.
“It’s a shame to end a difficult season in a bad way, but at least I’m 100 per cent okay from the crash,” said Hayden. “On the grid, it was a really close call between slick tyres and rain tyres. If the track had been warm, it would clearly have been better to start on slicks, but the cold surface temperature made it close. On the warm-up lap, Lorenzo was going faster than us on slicks, so in my opinion, it was the right decision to come in and switch bikes and start from pit lane. After that, it was okay on the dry line, but to make passes, you had to go out where it was treacherous. I got behind Petrucci and couldn’t find a way past. I was waiting to go by him on the front straightaway, but I got a little bit wide in the last corner and hit a patch. I went down so quickly that there was no way to save it. Next season starts now, so hopefully things will be better.”
The MotoGP paddock this weekend at Valencia is seeing the presence of several World Superbike people, Carlos Checa is visiting the Ducati garage and friend Jorge Lorenzo (they’ve trained with motocross bikes together) Aprilia’s Gigi dall’Igna is looking over the ART’s, Althea’s team principal Genesio Bevilacqua is also there - so he’s probably negotiating with dall’Igna to have Aprilia machinery - and Francis Batta is also there.
Batta is waiting for the official statement that will be announced today that he’ll be running Ducati’s new factory team and has started the countdown on his website. It will be interesting to see if Ducati and Alstare will also announce the other rider that will be riding the Panigale 1199 next to Checa in 2013.
The latest and unexpected rumor to come from Sportmediaset is that the daddy of the Ducati Desmosedici, Filippo Preziosi will no longer be following Ducati’s MotoGP project next season, which the Italian engineer neither confirmed or denied when he was interviewed by the curious Italian commentators.
Audi bought the iconic Italian marque earlier this year and apparently the new owner seeing the lack of results of the Ducati riders during these past two seasons, ‘in primis’ Valentino Rossi (who they wanted to keep) has decided to revolutionize the corse department and will oversee a completely new MotoGP project and the first person to see the door close behind will be Preziosi, the genius who brought Ducati into MotoGP and helped give Casey Stoner his first world title in 2007 - even if it was Livio Suppo who believed in the Australian’s raw talent.
Preziosi is currently at Valencia and will follow Nicky Hayden and debuting Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone in their first tests on Tuesday and Wednesday, and also in the Jerez test later this month and then he’ll probably turn over all his data to another engineer, however Ducati will no doubt find another role for the Ducati Corse General Manager.
This one of the first changes that Ducati will be going through - including the return of Paolo Ciabatti after a long stint as World Superbikes Director.
After testing with the Ducati Panigale for three days at Aragon earlier this month, Althea Racing and Ducati have decided in a shocking move to part company after three proficuous years - that includes a World title in Superbike and in Superstock 1000 in 2011.
Althea Team principal Genesio Bevilacqua and Ducati’s Ernesto Marinelli have both confirmed the ‘divorce’ in two separate interviews with Italian website Moto.it
According to Bevilacqua there are three reasons behind the split in negotiations: one is economic, the other is Ducati’s (now owned by Audi) seeming unwillingness to invest heavily on the racing development of 1199 Panigale (especially if the rules in 2014 should become closer to Superstock) and the third was keeping Davide Giugliano on the payroll (Carlos Checa’s contract was paid by Ducati in 2012).
Bevilacqua almost split with Ducati at the end of the 2011 season when Ducati dragged their feet about renewing Checa’s contract, which came only after the final round after Ducati’s CEO Del Torchio stepped in. Althea Racing had very little economic help from Ducati in 2011, paying both Checa and Giugliano and Ducati technicians and engineers, while this season Ducati helped out with Checa’s contract and a few sponsors, but with the provision that they would decide the technical aspects that the team manager didn’t completely agree upon.
What will happen now is a total mystery. Althea Racing wants to continue racing and keep Giugliano and the search for for a new manufacturer will now begin, while Checa has a Panigale at his disposal but doesn’t have a team structure behind him, unless Ducati decides to pick up the tattered pieces of Effenbert Liberty or ParkinGO or they may actually start a new factory team from scratch.
Ducati’s answer will be coming in the following days or in the next few weeks according to Marinelli, and we’ll find out what the Italian manufacturer’s 2013 Superbike plans actually are, while numerous and completely unsubstantiated rumors have already started to fly around Italy, that include a Davide Tardozzi comeback to Ducati to run the team, and Sylvain Guintoli to be fielded next to Checa.
The Superbike Commission (for Infront Motorsports it will be the last time, with Dorna doing the deed from 2014) has released the new rules for the 2013 season - some we’ve already known for several months, while others were only rumors, but now have been confirmed.
First, the twin cylinders (Ducati) will no longer have the 6 kilo weight penalty that so irritated Ducati Corse and Althea Racing’s team principal Genesio Bevilacqua, who even threatened to leave the series if they didn’t remove it - Carlos Checa said that the extra weight forced him to ride over the limit (he did however win four races). During the Aragon SBK test Max Biaggi was already harping on about the new rule. The new World Champion, in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport said he doesn’t understand why they removed the weight as Ducati was competitive even with it, and without any limitations they already have half the championship in their pocket.
Superbike Minimum weight :
1200 cc 2 cylinders: 165 kg
1000 cc 3 and 4 cylinders: 165 kg
For 1200cc 2 cylinders: The minimum weight may be increased twice by 3kg reaching a weight of 168kg and 171kg respectively. The upper limit is 171kg. If this measure proves to be insufficient, then the air restrictor handicap will be applied according to the relevant provisions described in Art 18.104.22.168.3.”
After the number of dry/wet races that the championship had this season, the Commission has decided to introduce pit stops instead of red flagging races due to changing weather conditions.
Seeing Nicky Hayden sommersault over an unproctected barrier during the last GP at the Motorland Aragon and land onto the access road infuriated a lot of fans and put under the magnifying glass once again, circuit safety.
Loris Capirossi and Franco Uncini tried to explain their way out of it, but Ben Spies probably summed it the best with “Gonna complain a bit…..they built a track in the middle of nowhere with nothing in sight. You shouldn’t be able to hit a wall if u try..dumb”
The Ducati rider seemed not to have suffered any injuries after going through a medical check-up at the circuit, but ahead of the Motegi GP and the first of three consecutive races, Hayden hasnow revealed that he is now suffering from a fractured right radius on the same hand that he fractured during qualifying at Indianapolis that forced him to miss the Brno GP.
“I thought I had escaped unscathed from the crash at Aragon, but unfortunately it looks like I picked up another injury,” said Hayden. “When I got home, my right hand was bothering me a bit, so I went for an X-ray and CT scan, and it turns out I have a fracture in my right radius. It’s definitely not the best situation, but as it’s not too painful and I have pretty good grip strength, I’m hopeful that it won’t cause too many problems this weekend. Racing’s full of ups and downs. We’ll try to ride this one out and hopefully get a decent result in Japan to get a little momentum going and get some confidence back.”
Valentino Rossi’s two-year debacle in Ducati has left many wondering if it was him or the Desmosedici that wasn’t competitive (we’ll probably find out in the post race test at Valencia at the end of the season). In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, Rossi once again confirmed the prinicpal problem that he has had, is lack of front end feeling:
This experience, this adventure with Ducati was very difficult already from the start. And unfortunately we were not able to fix our problem during this year and a half, and I was never competitive with this bike. We are not able to create enough grip from the front tyre and enough contact on the ground. This was the biggest problem from the Valencia test in 2010, and unfortunately after almost two years we have more or less the same problem.”
In an interview with Motorsport Magazine last July, Valentino Rossi’s legendary crewchief Jeremy Burgess (who wrenched for riders of the caliber of Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, Freddie Spencer and Randy Mamola) went a little farther in clarifying the development situation in Ducati: