15 August 2014
MotoGP: 'Late' debut for 2015 Ducati
“I prefer to start the  season 'late' but with the right machine” - Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati.
The much-anticipated new Ducati MotoGP machine will not be available for testing until February 2015.
The Desmosedici GP15 is the first full motorcycle designed by new Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna.
Major changes are expected and the first version of the bike was tipped to appear in November's post-season test at Valencia. Instead the new bike will debut three months later at Sepang.
Given next year's Honda made its debut in testing at Brno last month, and a 2015 engine was evaluated by Yamaha's race team back in June, is that too late?
“Could be, but I would like to do the job once and I don't want to repeat it,” said Dall'Igna at Brno on Friday. “So I would like to collect all the information that I need before I start the new bike. I prefer to start the  season 'late' but with the right machine.”
The big question is whether Dall'Igna can finally solve the understeer problems that have plagued Ducati for years.
“It's difficult to tell you in a few words what we have to do to solve the understeering problem of the Ducati,” said Dall'Igna. “For sure we have this problem and we are working on that.
“We have tried different set-ups since the beginning of the season and have some other ideas in mind to solve or reduce the problem. I think it's really difficult to solve, we have to step-by-step reduce it and so increase the corner speed in the process.
“We have some things to test during this year.”
While Dall'Igna steered clear of any specifics, the new bike is expected to be based around a more compact engine, while still retaining a 90-degree V cylinder layout and Desmodromic valve system.
“The new bike will be a different concept and we hope this can help to reduce this understeer problem.”
To help gather the information he needs for the GP15, Dall'Igna admitted he has taken some technical risks this season. Pramac's Andrea Iannone, who is stepping up to the factory team in place of Cal Crutchlow next year, has already used nine of the twelve allowed engines and is thus in danger of a pit lane start.
“The most important thing this season is to develop the bike and to do that we have to take some risks, including starting from pit lane if Iannone finishes the engines,” stated Dall'Igna.
Asked what role new Ducati owner Audi has been able to play in terms of technical assistance, Dall'Igna replied:
“We are working with Audi from the engine point of view to solve some problems but for sure the car and bike are completely different stories. There are some common parts like the engine and electronics but from the handling point of view they are two completely different worlds.”
Dall'Igna remains optimistic that Honda can be caught and thinks the 2016 control ECU will play a small part in closing the gap.
“For me the level is really high but I think all manufacturers can catch Honda, who are the reference at the moment. All the manufacturers have the potential to develop the bike at that level,” he said.
“For sure from the electronic point of view the software will be the same for everybody [in 2016], but it is only a part of the motorcycle. It can help [close the gap] but it is not 100% sure.”
Without a win last season - Ducati haven't won a race since Casey Stoner in 2010 - means Ducati are eligible to race with the Open class fuel, tyre, engine and testing benefits until 2016.
Suzuki, returning to MotoGP next year, will compete under the same rules. Dall'Igna welcomed Suzuki's return, and indeed that of any other manufacturers, expected to include his former employer Aprilia.
“For me it's really important that some other manufacturers join this championship,” he said. “This is our 'garden' and the more manufacturers that work in this championship, the more green our garden will be. I'm really happy for that.”
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