MotoGP technique: Despite its innovations, will Ducati have to revise its mid-season ambitions?

Ducati has been working hard for its 2022 season, with the Desmodromic engine gaining more power, as announced by Gigi Dall’Igna, while retaining the driving ability of its old engine, but Bologna engineers have also been working on the inputs of the curves, but also aerodynamics. But so far Ducati has had a tricky 2022. What really happened with Ducati in Qatar seemed at first to be a mystery, with much speculation speculating that the GP22 was clearly not up to the expectations of Borgo Panigale engineers. While looking to figure out their GP22, race after race the results are, but although many believe Ducati has the best bike on the grid, have 11 rounds of the World Championship been too long to understand the Bologna missile?

Ducati started the 2022 season with more concern than the one that ended the 2021 season. Sepang. At the time, teams at the Borgo Panigale factory found that some of the parts they had previously tested with their GP21 late last season were not working as they wanted.

This season Ducati has engine problems, not power but choice: true to its reputation, Bologna’s technical teams have found even more power for the 2022 engine, but manage that power and be able to use it in a race 40 minutes is something easier. said done.

One of these pieces was the new exhaust – called Didjeridoo by Jack Miller – which did not go unnoticed during the Jerez tests, and which reminds us of what Yamaha tested in 2020 in Misano. Honda had also tested this solution in 2017. After testing it, everyone found that it made the already endemic Ducati engine a little harder to control, so all the riders gave up and went return to the shortest lower escape to start the season. This does not seem to bring the expected improvements at the moment.

But more importantly, Ducati factory drivers Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller returned to a slightly older engine instead of the latest 2022 engine specification that Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco continued to use.

For 2022, one of the most important improvements Ducati made to its motorcycle was aerodynamics. Throughout 2021, they struggled with the agility of corner entry into their prototype. The fins of the 2021 version, seen above, were very large and created a huge aerodynamic force, but also, due to its shape, the Ducati had difficulty getting into the curves, and this is what they have focused on. try to improve in 2022.

Here are the fins of the 2022 version: the top is slightly smaller than the 2021 version, but still very large overall. However, the key change was in the lower wing of the pontoon. Its lower half tilts inward to connect to the fairing, compared to the 2021 pontoon fin that tilted down and then suffered a right angle to connect to the fairing.

It seems that this change is what has helped Ducati in the curve inputs, allowing the red missile to make a smoother transition from the total aerodynamic force when the bike is in a straight line to effectively losing that aerodynamic force when leads straight. inclination.

By 2022, Ducati was once again the brand that brought many innovations, thanks in particular to the magician Luigi Dall’Igna. In fact, during the official test at Sepang, Ducati revealed to its competitors that its technical teams had found a new way to overcome the limits of vehicle dynamics. Already in the past, Borgo Panigale teams were the first to introduce fins, rear swingarm spoiler, Holeshot device and Ride Height device at the rear. The question for this new season, then, was to know what Gigi Dall’Igna and her team of engineers had imagined this time.

Last year, the Ride Height Device appeared on all machines, an attitude corrector that has the same function as the fins: it physically reduces the wheels, so it is not necessary for the anti-wheelie managed by the ECU. And this is where it’s useful, because when it does, it decreases the torque available on the rear wheel, which hurts acceleration.

The answer to this is also found on the front of the GP22, not just the rear. Ducati installed a new Holeshot device on the front of the Desmosedici, which appears to function as a front-facing driving device. Where the old and simple Holeshot device consisted of a simple latch and could only be used during the start-up phase, the new system is much more sophisticated and is used in the input phases to the curve, but also to the exit of the curve.

We realized from the beginning that its double lever configuration, arranged in the upper triple clamp, had changed on the factory machines. Here we see the 2021 setup, which involved two identical levers: one for the front Holeshot device and one for the rear Holeshot device. So that has changed for 2022, but the most important thing is to understand why they made that change or if it just made it easier to use the lever.

Here is the 2022 version, with the modification made for the year 2022. On a more detailed inspection, there is still a lever, but the second has been transformed into a small lever that is located just in front of the upper crown of the fork.

It turns out to be more than a change in the lever itself and was actually the first vision of the new complete system of the Ride Height device before the Italians developed it.

And here is this famous previous driving height device system, visible in the photo above. The hydraulic cylinder is located in front of the right tube of the fork and has a rod that extends to the bottom of the fork, where it sticks. All the Ducati riders have tested it in pre-season tests at Sepang, and most of all we saw how far it allowed Michele Pirro to get the striker out of the corner.

To do this, the pilot activates the system when entering the turn, then when the fork is compressed in the middle of the turn, it prevents it from relaxing at the exit of the same. By doing so, this device reduces the center of gravity of the motorcycle, which helps reduce running. But even though all the Ducati riders tried it, only Johann Zarco chose to use it all season, with other riders saying they didn’t like the feeling it gave when they entered the race. phase. All pilots with a GP22 are equipped with this system, but only the tricolor pilot uses it.

For comparison, here are the GP21 settings. We can see that the cylinder and stem protruding from it are not present in the 2021 prototype and that, instead, the Holeshot device is at the bottom of the fork tube.

At the Barcelona Official Test, Ducati presented a first vision of an aerodynamic evolution for its GP22. The fins themselves hadn’t changed, it was actually the front fairing itself that had been redesigned: it was a little bigger and a little more imposing. This seems to make it easier for the pilot to cut the air.

But that’s not all: we had a vision of 2023 during this Catalan test. Johann Zarco tested this chassis and it’s really interesting – it has large areas of material cut into the frame around the pivot of the rocker. It’s a pretty drastic solution and Johann Zarco has been pretty firm about Ducati’s approach to these changes, but revealed that this is a development element for the 2023 prototype.

But even though Ducati is already working for 2023, we are only in the middle of the season and the technical teams still have a lot of work to do in 2022. Their bike is amazing and many believe it is the benchmark bike on the grid, but The season has not been as easy as expected.

The difficulties at the start of the season were caused by their dilemma in terms of choosing the engine’s technical specifications for the year, and then they needed a few races to make the riders feel really comfortable. In addition, we have still seen unusual mistakes by Pecco Bagnaia, who is already 66 points behind the World Cup leader during the summer break, this leaves little room for error, although mathematically anything is possible!

Photos: Dorna Sports

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