Ducati general manager Claudio Domenicali said the team's new 2010 MotoGP contender, unveiled in Italy today, should be more rider-friendly than recent Desmosedicis.
Although Casey Stoner has achieved great success on Ducati's notoriously aggressive bikes since joining the team in 2007, his teammates have fared less well.
Loris Capirossi, Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden all had difficulty adapting their riding styles to the 800cc Ducatis. While Stoner has taken 20 wins in the past three years, Capirossi's Motegi triumph in '07 is the only victory any of his teammates in that period achieved. Domenicali said there had been a concerted attempt "to make the bike more ride-able" during the design of this year's GP10.
"This has to do with the firing order," he explained. "We have a motor that, since the switch to 800s, utilized a screamer setup. This has permitted us to have maximum power, which was very important and was probably fundamental with the results that we've had in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but at a certain point, we began to wonder whether it could be worthwhile to re-test a way that we'd already followed in the past.
"The last 1000cc motors that we made in 2005 and 2006 used a big-bang firing order, and this gave us important ride-ability. We re-tested that way, first trying it on the dyno, then with Vittoriano Guareschi in his previous role as test rider and then with Nicky and Casey. We think we have a bike for 2010 with better traction, and that therefore makes it easier for us to find a good setup."
The chassis has also been adjusted to make the handling more benign. "In the pursuit of ease of use, we've worked to eliminate the bike's squatting, which is why the entire rear portion of the bike was redesigned," Domenicali said. "This bike has a rear structure that carries the rider – which we call the seat support – and that also supports the swingarm. That part was redesigned to have six mounting points instead of four; this makes the bike more rigid in a way and it guarantees better ride-ability and improved rigidity."
Domenicali said that adjusting to MotoGP's new engine usage limits was also a major design challenge. Only six engines can now be used per season.
"It's a very important difference, because we were used to using more-or-less one engine per race, so to switch from 18 engines to six is a very important adjustment," Domenicali explained. "To go 1,600 kilometers with an engine that goes over 19,000rpm isn't a simple assignment. All of the main parts were redesigned – pistons, rods, crankshaft, the basics. It's an engine with which our main objective was to minimize the loss of power to increase durability."