Claudio Domenicali CEO of Ducati Corse and General Director of Ducati Products talks about the Desmosedici GP9.
Madonna di Campiglio, Trento. The second day of the Wrooom – MotoGP Press Ski Meeting 2009 took place under light but constant snowfall today, forcing the presentation of the new Ducati Desmosedici GP9 to be put back until tomorrow, Thursday 15th January, when it will be unveiled against the spectacular backdrop of the Dolomite mountain range in Madonna di Campiglio. Today’s programme was still a packed one, however, with Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Corse and General Director of Ducati Products, taking the chair in this morning’s press conference.
Domenicali answered questions from the international press about the technical updates on the GP9, commenting also on the major talking points of the coming season and last year’s campaign.
“As always it’s a pleasure to be here at Madonna di Campiglio for Wrooom 2009”, said Domenicali, before briefly assessing the 2008 season for Ducati Marlboro Team. “Last season was certainly exciting, with some great moments for us and others that were obviously difficult. When you look at the numbers we won six races, set pole position on nine occasions and set the fastest lap in eight races. If it wasn’t for probably the best Valentino ever, coming back from two difficult seasons and rediscovering the strength to have an exceptional season, those numbers would have surely added up to a successful defence of the world title. When you consider these excellent results and the fact that Casey (Stoner) is still only 23 years old, with plenty of potential to improve even more, once the disappointment is out of the way we can’t be anything but satisfied with 2008 and confident about the season to come. For 2009 we have many new things, starting with the bike: the GP9 is characterised by a major change in the chassis, with the switch from the traditional Ducati steel trellis chassis with a carbon fibre frame that brings the upper part of the engine up to the level of the steering column. It is a change we have thought about and tested for a long time, firstly with Vittoriano (Guareschi), who is always our first point of reference. He gave his approval to the new system and then the official riders tested it at Barcelona. We won the MotoGP World Championship with the trellis frame so it clearly a very effective design but we have been looking to take another step forward that can help us overcome some of the problems we’ve had, specifically with the MotoGP bike. Amongst the other updates on the GP9 one of the most relevant is an evolution of the engine management system, with a new combination of airbox and mapping that should provide a flatter power curve and improve rideability, as well as improving outright power, which currently remains more or less the same as last year. Another new thing for 2009 is the arrival of Nicky (Hayden) to the team. He has been very amenable from the start and he is a rider who perfectly fits in with our motto of never giving up. We think he’s the ideal team-mate for Casey and I’m sure they can develop a positive team spirit. He has started out with the right attitude because he had a tough first day at Valencia, more difficult than we had imagined, but he ended the December test just a couple of hundredths of a second off the third fastest lap time and that is very satisfying.”
Domenicali then discussed the global financial crisis, which is also hitting MotoGP, answering a host of questions from the floor.
“It is definitely a situation we have to face up to right now but I would like to take a slightly different view of it, because whilst it is true that companies are having to face up to changes, with reducing sales of cars or bikes, on the other hand motorcycle racing, like so many other sports, is well loved, it has so many fans all over the world and it will find a way to move forward. We are considering a variety of proposals, together with the other constructors, the organisers and the Federation with this objective in mind; for example modifying the rules on the durability of the engines, which produce one of the biggest costs in MotoGP. The objective of extending engine durability is a matter for 2010 because it involves modifications that include the redesigning of internal components and that takes a certain amount of time. For this season we are looking at taking a step towards it by reducing the length of each practice session. Ducati also has to face up to this difficult situation but we have the support of solid partners: starting with our multi-year agreement with our title sponsor Marlboro, as well as Shell and Telecom. We have also renewed important contracts with Enel and Riello. There are also lots of other companies who promote their products through motorcycle racing with the Ducati Marlboro Team such as Alfa Romeo, Gatorade and Puma. Of course these are tough times but there are still plenty of ways to make sure that the MotoGP World Championship remains a leading promotional vehicle.”
Wrooom, which also features events dedicated to Scuderia Ferrari, concludes on Friday 16th January.