After suffering a lack of top speed relative to the other Ducati riders throughout the Sepang test, and having tried all technical solutions, MotoGP rookie Niccolo Canepa is planning to lose weight in time for the Qatar season opener on April 12.
The Pramac Ducati rider was a massive 16km/h slower than team-mate Mika Kallio along the main straights during day one of the first 2009 test, contributing to a ranking of 19th and last on the timesheet.
The top speed situation improved over the next two days, but the Italian still feels he needs to slim down to limit the performance damage.
“I tried to shorten the gearing and now it is better, but I still lose some kilometers per hour on the straight,” Canepa told Crash.net
. “I think for Qatar I will lose five or six kilos! I am taller and bigger than the other riders, so I lose something on the straights, but I can lose a bit of weight.”
Canepa, who impressed as a Ducati/Bridgestone test rider during 2008, said that while the top speed difference had been spotted last season, it was attributed to his test bike being of an older specification than the machines being raced in MotoGP.
“My GP8 last year was not so fast, it was not like Stoner's one, it was a bit older. So we thought the speed difference was an engine problem, not because of my size,” he explained.
Canepa improved to 14th on day two of the test, but failed to improve his lap time on the third and final day - after being denied the chance to complete a late fast lap - leaving him in 15th position, 2.8sec behind fastest man Casey Stoner and 1.5sec from Pramac team-mate Mika Kallio.
Ducati's 2007 Superstock 1000 FIM Cup champion admitted that his lap time was 'bad' but, after checking the data, the Mechanical Engineering university student felt that the overall progress was encouraging.
“On day three we worked very well but unfortunately at the end of the session I went to push and they put out the chequered flag, so I cannot do a good lap time!” he confirmed.
“But the overall result of these three days is not so bad. The lap time is bad, but I have seen the data on the computers and compared to the other Ducati riders I am not so bad. We are working in the right direction.”
The 20-year-old also revealed that all five GP9s are presently of a similar specification.
“I think my [satellite] bike is the same as Stoner and Hayden's [factory] bike,” he said. “This year Ducati wants to give everybody the same bike, with the same electronics. Not like Honda or Yamaha. Same bike for everybody - for me, Sete, Mika, Stoner and Hayden.”