Since the Gran Premio bwin.com de España, where there were disappointing results for Ducati other than Casey Stoner’s best ever Jerez result, the Italian factory has taken several steps to improve their overall competitiveness.
A three-day test commences on Tuesday at Mugello, where Ducati test rider Vittoriano Guareschi will be joined by Troy Bayliss to focus on using the data from the opening three rounds of the season to further develop the GP9.
Also, some additional measures will take effect as of this weekend’s Grand Prix de France, with former Ducati employee Juan Martinez returning to the ‘family’, to work with Nicky Hayden after a spell with Kawasaki, and with a new approach being taken to the electronics set-up of the GP9 after some recent close data analysis.
Hayden has made a slow start to the new chapter of his career with Ducati, his Motegi DNF contributing to his current position of the penultimate place in the general standings. DMT Track Engineer Cristhian Pupulin, who has doubled up as Crew Chief to Loris Capirossi, Marco Melandri and Hayden since 2006, will now work with the data collected by all of the Ducati riders at the circuit.
As Ducati’s MotoGP Project Director Livio Suppo explains, “After the race at Jerez, which was fantastic for Casey but very difficult for Nicky, we had a few meetings to analyze our technical and organizational structure, with the goal of improving the all-round performances of our riders.”
“We came to the conclusion that after starting the season with some of the Ducati riders unable to match their positive form in winter testing, maybe this is the right time to introduce some new technical ideas in terms of the electronics as well as boosting our track presence in order to provide all of the Ducati riders with better support. The GP9 is still a very young machine and for the first time in MotoGP we have five bikes on the grid,” continued Suppo.
“For these two reasons we have decided that we need to concentrate more on coordinating all the data that we gather at each race in order to provide more direction for development,” the Italian boss added. “As well as changing the structure of the team we have some electronic updates and Cristhian Pupulin will be able to completely dedicate his time to the important role of coordination, which we need to continue to develop the GP9. It is a welcome return for Juan (Martinez), who worked with us in 2006 and we are sure he can quickly settle back in to life with the team.”
Hayden himself provided his perspective on the situation, saying, “Le Mans couldn’t get here soon enough after Jerez because I just want to get back on the bike and get back amongst the team trying to sort out our problems. The French track should be a little bit better for me, the bike is certainly stable under hard braking, acceleration is good and it’s good in a straight line and Le Mans has a lot of that. Having a bit more time in practice and qualifying is going to help everybody and maybe it can help me more than the rest.”
The 27 year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, went on to say, “Also for Le Mans, we have a bit of new electronic management and a new team structure that I think should help me and all the Ducati riders. I believe that with Cristhian more freed up from some of the normal work as crew chief he can use his expertise more and focus on really working on the issues I am having with the bike and help give us a better direction and give more info to the factory.”
“So to fill his spot we will bring in Juan (Martinez), who has put up some solid results in MotoGP. He has already worked in Ducati and speaks good English and Italian so he was a good match. I can’t say I don’t have enough good manpower behind me and it has been encouraging to see Ducati trying everything and working so hard to help get me in a situation to deliver. The team is very important in our sport but it is really up to the rider to do his part and make the difference, so I hope I can step up and do my part soon!”