May 10, 2006 One of the biggest problems facing motorsport is the engenuity of the engineers and the march of technology forever increasing speed and power, improving handling and aerodynamics and reducing laptimes. Formula One car racing reduced the capacity from 3.0 litres to 2.4 litres this year and already the lap times are trending back to last year’s. Next year the premier motorcycle racing MotoGP class will have the current 1000cc capacity limit reduced to 800cc and no doubt we’ll see a similar situation. Last week Ducati became the first of the teams to show its new 800cc powered prototype Desmosedici GP7 machine and already the signs are there that the lap time gap won’t be very large for very long. With a capacity of 800cc (81mm bore x 38.8mm stroke), Australian Motorcycle News is reporting that the new bike is already producing 169kW (226 bhp) compared to the current machine’s 190kW (255 bhp), a power drop of just 11 percent compared to a capacity drop of 20 percent. This has been achieved because the motor now spins to 18,200 rpm compared to the old 86mm x 42.6mm layout which redlined at 16,550 rpm. Whatsmore, the smaller motor will enable a much smaller bike with room to move the engine within the chassis to get the best balance for each circuit/rider – a smaller, more nimble and adaptable bike is expected to further reduce lap times so it’s not out of the question that by the time the 2007 season starts, times won’t have increased much.
Ducati factory test-rider Vittoriano Guareschi took to the Mugello track with the new 800cc powered prototype Desmosedici GP7 machine, and was clearly impressed with the new machine. "I have to admit that the first lap with the GP7 was really exciting,” he said.
“I am used to testing new solutions on our bikes, but this was different to the others: it is a totally new machine, and so it's even more exciting than usual. It seems just like yesterday that we were testing the Desmosedici GP3 here at Mugello for the first time (August 1, 2002 to be exact), but four years have gone by! Today we made another important step forward in the MotoGP project: it is as if our family has given birth to a second 'baby' and the first noises it has made are not bad at all!"
Ducati Corse Technical Director, Filippo Preziosi was also cautiously optimistic, saying, “today is certainly very important, but it is just the start of a long path that we know lies ahead of us.” "Today the new 800cc engine finally moved from the dyno to the track and we are quite satisfied with this debut. We started off by running a check on all the components of the new bike and over the next two days, if we don't encounter any particular problems, we will move on to phase two and begin the first set-up work.
“A special thanks goes out to all the guys in Ducati Corse who have worked hard over the past few months to get the bike, with which we will race in next year's championship, out onto the track today, as well as all of our suppliers and technical sponsors, above all Shell Advance, who with their technology, experience and availability are making a decisive contribution to our project."
The minimum weights will change next year – 133 kilograms for two-cylinder motorcycles, 140.5 kilograms for three cylinders, 148 kilograms for 4 cylinder engines, 155.5 for five cylinder engines and 163 for six cylinders and beyond. Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and Kawasaki all currently use four cylinder engines, while Honda’s RC211V is a five cylinder design. Rumours suggest Honda has been running its 2007 five cylinder bike at closed circuit tests in Japan since late last year, though it is yet to show its hand.