Talk about a major headache for the boys in Bologna…
One of this season’s biggest stories in MotoGP has been Ducati’s lack of success. Valentino Rossi and the factory team haven’t been able to compete with frontrunners on Honda and Yamaha machines, and many observers are pointing towards the Ducati’s chassis as the culprit.
Now, rumour has it that they’re looking towards an aluminum replacement. Moto Revue and other European publications are reporting Ducati is working with Suter and FTR, both companies with Moto2 experience, to build a twin-beam aluminum frame for their MotoGP machine.
The factory’s current MotoGP bike is built around a carbon fibre frame and airbox, with a stressed engine, dramatically different from the steel trellis frame that Ducatis are known for. It’s lighter, and supposedly stiffer.
But, some are blaming that stiffness for Ducati’s poor luck at the track this year, saying the lack of flex reduces front end feedback, resulting in lowside crashes (and Ducati has had their share of those this season).
Since Ducati doesn’t have much history working with aluminum chassis, it makes sense that they’d work with a company that’s more experienced. But if the rumours are true, it raises another question mark about Ducati’s soon-to-be-released 1199 Super Quadrata.
The Quadrata is supposedly built around the same carbon fibre frame technology as Rossi’s ill-fated factory bike. If Ducati moves away from carbon fibre frames at the Moto GP level, what message does that send to riders looking at purchasing the new 1199? Sure, the bike is supposedly down 20 pounds in weight, but will riders be interested if the technology has been rejected at the racing level?
Not only has Ducati been banking on using the carbon fibre frame to keep the Quadrata lighter, it’s also supposedly cheaper to produce than an aluminum unit. So, if Bologna changes their plan and also brings out an aluminum frame for the Quadrata, buyers will be looking at a bike that’s heavier, and possibly more expensive – two things that scare off riders everywhere.