MotoGP: Are Ducati planning a move into the open class for 2014?

First, a shameless plug.

This was originally going to just be news, but solid sources and some good quotes mean the news bit is now here at crash.net:

http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/199360/1/ducati-switching-to-open-class-for-motogp-2014.html

The website is also a great place to discuss the story with 38 comments after just a few hours in print as I type this (it currently has 123 Facebook likes, 54 re-tweets and amazingly has even amassed two whole +1 Google shares as of now!)

I think after Ducati’s news a sit down with a nice strong cup of tea is in order!
Ducati cups image by e-supreme available via Flickr and used under the creative commons agreement.

So for those who are still here reading instead here’s whats occurred.

In an interview posted by Italian based website GPOne.com (link to site available in Crash.net article) Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso is quoted as saying that when testing resumes in February in Sepang that the ‘Factory’ team riders will be testing both the prototype GP14 they were expecting to be riding next season… and the ‘Open’ class Ducati that will be used by Pramac rider Yonny Hernandez.

Ducati seem keen to reveal that they have found little difference in the performance of the two bikes in the testing done so far. The plan therefore seems to be to run an as close to ‘Factory’ effort as possible while exploiting the benefits which come from being an ‘Open’ class entry – more fuel allowance, less engine restriction and as it stands, softer tyre options.

The major negative is the requirement to run the spec ECU package.

On the face of it, if all goes to plan this could be a shrewd move by Ducati.

The Desmosedici has not won a race since 2010 and struggled to a best of fourth last season. It was previously a championship winner under the control of Casey Stoner.

It is clear that after drafting in some of the worlds best mechanics, riders and developers with, for whatever reason, no improvement, that something must be done.

There is a level of expertise to the idea too – Ducati’s new General Manager, Gigi Dall’Igna, was in control at Aprilla last year instead, spearheading the performance of the only CRT bike entries to challenge the Factory and Satellite teams, with CRT champion Aleix Espargaro aboard the most successful of the bikes and often finding his skills mixed with the performance more than a match for the Satellite Ducati’s and even tangling with their Factory entries for final position.

The Open class has been brought in to replace the CRT category.

Though it looks to be a smart move, and certain to put Honda’s backs up (they had threatened to pull out of the championship over future electrical changes and restrictions so another GOOD thing to come from this if it goes ahead) it was until yesterday, until it was said, unthinkable. A step backwards for some of the red machines fans. A step away from a coveted ‘Factory’ bike for the riders.

If you are a casual bike follower perhaps it is easiest to consider it in terms of another sport, lets try F1 for an example:

The equivalent would be telling Vettel he was going to ride out 2014 in a new, improved Torro Rosso instead of the Red Bull but it will still be competitive as he has more fuel to play with and can hopefully use some really soft tyres, as long as the rules aren’t changed before the start of the season. And he doesn’t have to have his engine sealed.

Exactly.

Dovizioso is currently putting a brave face on his ride into/onto the unknown next month.

His very honest and vocal new team-mate Cal Crutchlow is a newlywed. when he returns from his honeymoon it will be interesting to see where he stands on the idea as, though he had little option in the end, he had always backed up his move to Ducati with the argument that he wanted to be at a ‘Factory Team’ to be able to win races…

Personally I hope the test goes well and the move works in their favour, competition is needed to make MotoGP a great spectacle again, and if this gives Ducati the ability to mix it up with the Yamaha and Honda riders, then that can only be a positive, for the championship and viewers alike.

 

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