7 December 2015
MotoGP: Ducati not worried by loss of concessions
“Frankly speaking I think that we can still have an advantage in terms of engine performance also next year” - Gigi Dall'Igna.
Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna does not expect the Desmosedici to suffer from a loss of technical concessions in MotoGP next season.
Instead he believes Ducati should be able to keep an engine performance advantage over its rivals and could be better off in terms of tyre choice for the races.
Having not won a grand prix since 2010 the Italian factory has been able to benefit from the Open class concessions - extra fuel, more engine changes, a softer rear tyre allocation, no engine development freeze and extra testing - since the start of 2014, also Dall'Igna's first season at the team.
Those concessions were available to any manufacturer that did not achieve a dry win during 2013, meaning the returning Suzuki and Aprilia brands were also eligible.
However such perks are subject to race results and having exceeded six concession points courtesy of podiums for Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone this season, Ducati will re-join Honda and Yamaha in racing without any technical advantages in 2016.
The concessions themselves will also change next season, when the single ECU system becomes compulsory, ending the Factory and Open class divisions.
The fuel concession (up to 24 litres, compared with 20 litres as 'standard') will be replaced by 22 litres for all, while the softer tyre allocation is also disappearing for the start of the new Michelin era.
That leaves extra engine changes (expected to be nine instead of seven), exemption from the in-season engine development ban and greater testing opportunities as the remaining benefits for Suzuki and Aprilia. The same will apply for KTM in 2017.
“The softer tyre helped us during qualifying but for sure during the race it was not an advantage,” Dall'Igna said, referring to the fact that the softer allocation excluded Ducati from using the hardest tyre.
“Maybe sometimes we cannot use the best tyre - I cannot be sure because we did not test [the hardest option] - but if most of the Factory (Honda and Yamaha) riders were using the hardest solution maybe this was the best choice for the race and we could not use it. So maybe the future could be better than the past.”
In terms of fuel, Ducati spent much of this season already using 22 litres, having seen its capacity cut by two litres due to the double podium at round one in Qatar.
Iannone went on to set a new MotoGP top speed record of 350.8km/h (217.9mph) during final practice for his home Italian round at Mugello this year.
But will the loss of extra engine changes and in-season development - combined with Honda and Yamaha receiving two litres more fuel relative to this season - mean Ducati loses its engine edge?
Dall'Igna thinks not.
“For the fuel we are using 22 litres at the moment, so we will still have the same quantity next year. So we don't have to develop the bike in this direction,” he said. “For sure, our competitors can improve a little bit the performance of their engines with two extra litres. But frankly speaking I think that we can still have an advantage in terms of engine performance also next year.”
Ducati and Casey Stoner famously caught the Japanese factories off-guard following rule changes for the 2007 season.
While some will see the 2016 technical shake-up as another opportunity, Dall'Igna remains cautious - although adamant Ducati were already on course to catch their rivals.
“I'm really happy about the improvement that we did from the technical point of view during this year. So I think that we can catch our competitors also with the same rules as this year,” he said.
“When you change [the rules] you don't know if it is better for you or not. We will see.”
Iannone finished fifth in the world championship and Dovizioso seventh. While Dall'Igna's goal of a race win remained out of reach, his team took eight podiums, including four second places.
Pramac's Danilo Petrucci also claimed a runner-up finish in the wet Silverstone race, while new team-mate Scott Redding caused a stir by leading the recent Jerez test.
The MotoGP test ban (for race riders) began on December 1, with Stoner tipped to make his Ducati return as a test rider shortly before the opening official 2016 test at Sepang from February 1-3. Ducati will debut its new GP16 in Malaysia.
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