Ciabatti: too much pressure from Rossi
Bernhard Gobmeier isn't the only new name appearing in the Ducati organogram. Paolo Ciabatti, former head of the WSBK project for the Italian manufacturer and director of that same championship for Infront, has returned to Borgo Panigale to help relaunch their MotoGP program. As already disclosed by Gobmeier, the GP13 will not be a revolutionary motorcycle. But why decide to start to start the season with a bike that is essentially identical to the one from 2012, a year in which the results weren't satisfactory?
"Last year a lot of material was produced, but it wasn't all tested properly - Ciabatti opined - We are talking about solutions which are already prepared, that I believe it is worth the effort to retest with more thoroughly. Pirro will be with the test team at Jerez this weekend. The idea is to have a current racer to use as a performance tester who is able to lap with times close to those of our race riders, we will give him the chance to race as a wild-card to keep him familiar with competition."
Some might see this approach as a dearth of trust in Valentino Rossi's abilities as a tester, but according to Ciabatti: "it isn't that we don't have confidence in Rossi's feedback. The pressure and the lack of results created a vicious cycle in which he wasn't relaxed enough to completely test the material prepared for him. We simply believe that there is potential, and that it wasn't completely explored last year."
Unfortunately, the testing process is further complicated by the rider situation at Ducati: "Among our four riders, two of them haven't had the chance to test the bike yet. Dovizioso rode very little at Valencia, and conditions that were anything but ideal. Spies was stuck at home because of an injury, so it's completely unknown to him. Iannone must adapt to MotoGP, especially as far as the Bridgestone tires and carbon brakes are concerned. He rode in promising way at Jerez, even if the conditions weren't perfect there either. Hayden is the only one who knows it very well."
However time is running out, and Ducati risks starting the season with a bike that they are still figuring out.
"Our starting point will be the last bike from 2012. We already have some solutions ready for the Sepang tests. Gobmeier is also discussing some ideas with the engineers, but there will be ready in a secondary phase. I can't be too specific about it. The bike is an evolution of the 2012 version, but in Malaysia we hope to find the right direction to follow in the future, even if Dovizioso and Hayden will be doing different work. Andrea must first gain more confidence with the bike, but if the conditions are favorable he can also test some new solutions."
"If the updates give us the results we hope for, they will become the base for the definitive tests at Jerez and the start of the championship. There are several chassis solutions that will be tested in terms of rigidity and geometry. We expect to find the right direction as soon as possible, and start progressively reducing the gap to the podium. We don't have any pressure to win this year, because we are starting from a situation that isn't particularly good."
The full audio interview is below:
Translation by Sean Sedacca