One of the significant topics of discussion during MotoGP testing last week was whether or not Ducati will be switching all of its premier class bikes to Open specification for the upcoming 2014 campaign.
The label ‘Open’ is new this year and is given to those bikes running the spec ECU software (as provided by Dorna Sports and Magneti Marelli) as well as the ECU hardware, which from this season onwards is compulsory for all bikes in the field.
In exchange for running the spec software, Open teams are able to run up to 24 litres of fuel per bike (as opposed to the decreased amount of 20 for Factory Option bikes) as well as being able to use up to 12 engine units per bike per season (5 for Factory Options). Perhaps more significantly, Open runners are not subjected to the new engine freeze regulations which would allow Ducati to work on engine development during the year, as the Italian marque strives to return to the front of the grid.
“We came here with a GP13 and a GP14,” Paolo Ciabatti, the MotoGP Project Director for Ducati Team, explained at Sepang. “Those bikes are obviously full Factory Option, while at the same time we have Yonny Hernandez on an Open GP13. This is what we announced and this is still the plan.
“Obviously, the option of the Open class is an interesting one. We have seen that Aleix Espargaro has been extremely fast on the FTR-Yamaha (NGM Mobile Forward Racing), so obviously Open is something to consider. But for the moment we have not made any decision.”
With the second Sepang test coming up at the end of the month, Ciabatti was quizzed over whether any decision on Open specification bikes will be made before then.
“We will evaluate all of the information,” he continued. “It is not that I don’t want to answer, but these are the main purposes: the bike is a new bike. Obviously some concepts are carried over from last year, but it was the first time that our new riders could use the GP14. We collected some positive feedback. We still have some areas in which we must improve a lot, but with Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso) we are eight tenths of a second off the best lap times and I think this is positive.
“We will evaluate it. Obviously, we are also collecting information from Yonny Hernandez. We will make up our mind and take our decisions in the next few weeks.”
There are currently four Ducati bikes in the field. This year, Andrea Dovizioso is joined by Cal Crutchlow at Ducati Team, whereas Pramac Racing retains Andrea Iannone and Yonny Hernandez.Ducati, MotoGP