First up Ducati have finally put to bed the Factory vs Open debate after the Jerez test…and picked Open Class.
I was early on this rumour and covered the ins and outs of the decision in my original story for crash.net, available here:
For everyone who’s still here, here’s the breakdown:
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.
Now this is confirmed news, Ducati have pointed out that Dovizioso’s improvements in Jerez told them what they needed to know, that further testing is vital for Ducati and allowed under Open rules.
Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager added: “We have carefully studied the new technical regulations and have concluded that the Open option is the most interesting for Ducati, in the current situation. This year we have to keep developing our bikes throughout the season to improve our competitiveness, and the Factory option appears to be too restrictive for our needs”.
The final day of the Jerez test also saw Valentino Rossi iron out his Yamaha and tyre issues to go top, pleasing as he was consistent and one of few to touch Marquez pre-injury. He was matched by one fast lap by Dani Pedrosa late in the final day, registering exactly the same time, Rossi had long gone home after a satisfying day of improvements.
The finalised entry lists are available and not only show that Ducati are an open class entry but also bring confirmation of the sad news that Leon Camier is out of a ride for the season as the Iodaracing team drop to just one rider.
Also troubling news coming from the MotoGP.com Twitter feed is that after crashing at a private test
Marinelarena has been in a similar place last season after a race crash, so here’s hoping he can pull through again.
Full entry lists available here.