jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2015

DUCATI DESMOSEDICI GP15 : THE ROCKET OF MOTOGP



The Ducati Desmocedici GP15 is the most powerful and fastest motorcycle in MotoGP category.

This masterpiece of Italian craftsmanship also featuring state-of-the-art electronics has been designed by the Italian genius engineer Gigi Dall´Igna, General Manager of Ducati Corse, who has been able to attain a commendable and highly efficient balance between frame, engine and electronics, with the added bonus of a new and hugely improved powerplant — whose power, performance and reliability are far superior to the ones featured by the GP14 engine — , utterly and specifically conceived from scratch for the chassis of the new Ducati flagship, whose presentation on February 16, 2015 at the auditorium of the Ducati Borgo Panigale factory near Bologna (Italy) was one of the highlights of the year in MotoGP. with the attendance of Gigi Dall´Igna and the two official pilots who have driven the Ducati Desmosedici GP2015 hitherto: Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone.


Among the most significant traits of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 must be underscored a smaller engine which has enabled a reduction in the size of the chassis, which is now shorter — it´s therefore a more compact and balanced motorbike than previous MotoGP Ducati models —, many more adjustment choices, a tapering rear cowling sporting a reference-class gorgeous Akrapovic exhaust system, and particularly a much better overall behaviour and interaction between the frame, the very advanced Magneti Marelli ECU electronics programmed with Ducati factory software and the 1,000 cc liquid-cooled, 90º V4, four-stroke, evo desmodromic DOHC, four valves per cylinder engine delivering more than 240 hp, without forgetting an optimized Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST) and chain final drive.


Anyway, the raison d´être of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 and the core of its amazing performance goes on being the amazing desmodromic distribution system in which the valves are opened and shut mechanically rather than by springs, as a very efficient and practical device able to draw maximum power from an engine to get incredibly high rpm rates out of the reach of spring devices and even beating the pneumatic valves in this regard, since the desmo doesn´t need any accessory systems as happens in the valves working through compressed air.

Ducati has remained loyal to its legendary history and tradition, striving after keeping its hallmark desmodromic distribution, originally inspired by the desmodromic systems of the 1954-55 Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One racing car and the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR sports racing car, but whose father regarding its implementation in motorbikes engines was a remarkable achievement carried out in 1956 by the Ducati engineer Fabio Tagloni when he created a desmodromic valve system for the Ducati 125 Grand Prix.

This exclusive desmodromic springless valve control system features a mechanical lifter mechanism using a second rocker arm to push the valve closed, in such a way that it avoids the valve floating, eliminates the heavy energy loss inherent to springs systems on closing the valves, and gets a far superior protection for the motorbike engine if it is over revved, as well as attaining a better performance and overall efficiency, since the opening and closing movements of the valve are operated.

Therefore, the 1000 cc 90º V4 Ducati Desmosedici GP15 engine uses desmodromic valves and is a masterpiece desmo powerplant in which Gigi Dall´Igna has fulfilled a wonderful work of compactness, reducing its size and weight without losing an atom of the legendary Ducati performance at the highest speeds and awesome acceleration power, but simultaneously achieving to solve the most difficult task to tackle: he has managed to make a more obedient and easier to handle motorbike, greatly doing away with the understeer, and with the added benefit of a praiseworthy weight distribution and a shortening of the gearbox covers.

                               Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

And from then to the present time, the legendary Italian brand has been successful steadily improving this highly proved mechanism featuring great complexity and very high production cost but delivering an impressive behaviour, particularly at the highest top speeds of the circuits, as happened on the longest rectilinear section of Mugello during the 2015 MotoGP Free Practice 4 when Andrea Dovizioso attained 361 km/h before reaching San Donato Curve, along with a formidable acceleration ability in exceedingly short elapses of time during races, a remarkable minimization of energy loss, a praiseworthy uniformity in performance curves and historical and unforgettable feats in MotoGP like the one accomplished by Casey Stoner when he won the World Championship MotoGP 2007 with the Ducati Desmosedici GP7, a dream machine which was a turning point in the history of the competition, since its engine reached around 19,500 rpm, roughly 1,500 rpm more than the powerplants of the MotoGP Hondas and Yamahas of that year.


62 years after the designing in 1953 by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, Carlo Crespi and sons — founders of Ducati in 1926— of the 98 cc Cavallino motorcycle presented at the Milan Show of that season, the first one produced by the Borgo Panigale firm, Ducati can look backwards with pride, because they have had the courage, ingenuity, resolve and passion to not only survive within the scope of the queen category of world motorbikes, but also to provide breathtaking and unforgettable moments in the History of MotoGP like the double overtake of Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi by Andrea Iannone during the Philip Island 2015 race, something which deserves very high accolades, because Ducati is a small firm in comparison to Japanese industrial and technological giants like Honda and Yamaha with boundless resources, facilities and wherewithal of their own to constantly invest on research and new technologies, which turns to compete with them into something exceedingly difficult, with the added important factor of the great tuning of the Yamaha YZR-M1 developed since early 2004 by Valentino Rossi and adapted for his piloting style focused on reliability, smoothness and full control.

This has meant a significant dominance of Yamaha (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015) and Honda (2006, 2011, 2013 and 2014) during the last eleven years  in terms of MotoGP championships won, while Ducati has only been able to win one MotoGP Championship in 2007 with Casey Stoner and his Ducati Desmosedici GP7.

Probably, it couldn´t be other way, because in addition, throughout all that time, Ducati pilots have had to compete against five world-class pilots from other firms: Valentino Rossi (for most experts the best MotoGP pilot ever, champion in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 with Yamaha, besides his 2001, 2002 and 2003 championships with Honda), Nicky Hayden (champion in 2006 with Honda), Casey Stoner (champion in 2011, when he ran for Honda and won his second title), Jorge Lorenzo (champion in 2010, 2012 and 2015 with Yamaha) and Marc Márquez (champion in 2013 and 2014 with Honda).


But Ducati hasn´t ever given up, and by dint of the strenuous effort, illusion to spare and perseverance of a great group of professionals featuring tremendous knowledge and experience ( Marco Palmerini - Ducati test team manager - , Fabiano Sterlacchini - Track Technical Coordinator - , Michele Pirro - Ducati MotoGP test rider-, Paolo Ciabatti - Ducati Corse Sporting Director - , Davide Tardozzi - Team Supervisor -, Luigi Dall´Igna - Ducati Corse General Manager - , the electronic engineers Dario Massarin and Tommaso Pagano, the data analyst Federico Poli, the track engineer Massimo Bartolini, Christian Pupulin and Marco Rigamonti, the vehicle dynamics engineer Riccardo Savin, the Öhlins suspension technicians Peter Bergvall and Giacomo Massaroto, the software and strategies manager Gabriele Conti, the track technical coordinator Fabiano Sterlacchini, the chief mechanics Michele Perugini and Marco Ventura, the mechanics Enrico Samperi, Fabio Rovelli, Mark Elder, Massimo Tognacci, Ivan Brandi, Michele Bubbolini, Lorenzo Canestrari, Giuliano Poleti and others), working very hard and taking the Desmosedici concept to its utmost, both regarding motorcycle and engine, it has been possible to create a formidable MotoGP thoroughbred:


The Ducati Desmosedici GP15, with which the Italian firm has attained nothing less than eight podiums during the MotoGP World Championship 2015: the three runner-ups (Losail Circuit in Qatar, Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina and Austin in United States), the third position in Silverstone (United Kingdom) on a wet track and the third position in Le Mans (France) made by Andrea Dovizioso, along with the runner-up in Mugello (Italy) and the third position attained by Andrea Iannone in Losail Circuit (Qatar) and Philip Island (Australia) with the aforementioned historical double overtake of Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi which dumbfounded not only the millions of enthusiasts of MotoGP watching the race on TV but also the specialized press.


This provides an insight of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15´s great potential as a very competitive motorbike, which was proved by Andrea Dovizioso during his fierce battle with Valentino Rossi in Austin, after The Doctor passed him on lap 8, enduring the Yamaha pilot onslaught, managing to recover, overtaking Valentino on lap 16 and wisely handling his pace, energy and the softer than the rest chosen tyres.

Luigi Dall´Igna has developed a new approach in Ducati, creating a first-class team of experts in every department who share a common unutterable motivation, and 2016 could be a turning point year for this dreaming motorbike, particularly if they can improve the performance in braking and traction, a scope in which the Yamahas and Hondas really excel with a great behaviour and response on cornering.

Whatever it may be, the tremendous expertise in desmodromic valve operation featured by Ducati engineers, mechanics and technicians has begun paying off, and evidence suggests that next year could be an even better MotoGP season for Ducati, with really high possibilities of winning at least one race or even more, as well as achieving many podiums once more.


Therefore, the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 designed by Gigi Dall´Igna is a radical revamp whose most important aim is to end a winless run dating back to Phillip Island October 17, 2010 when Casey Stoner attained the last victory of Ducati in MotoGP, and this seemed something virtually impossible until the arrival of Gigi Dall´Igna to Ducati in October 2013, because the gap with respect to Yamaha and Honda was huge, so the great Italian designer worked strenuously since then to reduce such gap as much as possible firstly to solve the chronic understeer that has been the main flaw of the MotoGP Desmosedicis for years.

And after an exhausting toil stint of nine months between May 2014 and February 2015 developing the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 project and the 2015 season in MotoGP attaining the aformentioned plenty of podiums, he has been able to enhance the key concept of a completely redesigned bike featuring a narrower profile and new bodywork with improved aerodynamics — fostered by the addition of winglets with an optimum design and layout, which increase the front wheel weight —, making it highly competitive and having also gleaned a myriad of data from different riding scenarios which will be of invaluable help to Ducati mechanics to improve the performance and reliability more and more.


Thereupon, the hiring of Gigi Dall´Igna and the freedom bestowed upon him by Claudio Domenicali (CEO of Ducati since April 18, 2013 and a highly experienced engineer who was Ducati Project Leader between 1991 and 1997, Technical Director between 1997 and 1999, Managing Director between 1999 and 2005, R & D Director between 2005 and 2009, General Manager of Operations and Product Development and Member of the Board of Directors after the sale of Ducati Motor Holding to Audi AG in 2012 and has been the key man in the decision of constructing the Ducatis Hypermotard, 1098, Multistrada and Panigale as well as a great promoter of Ducati MotoGP) from November 2013, when Dall´ Igna was named General Manager of Ducati Corse, have proved to be very wise moves, because he has brought new fresh air to the Italian firm and along with his tremendous technical knowledge and experience he has gotten the team to work together in one direction as a remarkable organizer of human groups, accurately knowing the strong and weaks points of each member and first of all focusing on improving communications between Ducati riders, mechanics and engineers, with the fundamental keynote that the most important thing is to work as a team.


It is something that Gigi Dall´Igna has steadily done throughout his long career of 22 years as a motorbike designer for Aprilia in which he won 47 titles: twenty-two in 125 cc (12 riders titles and 10 manufacturers), twenty in 250 cc (10 riders and 10 manufacturers) and five in World Superbike (2 riders and 3 manufacturers).

As a matter of fact, during his tenure as head of Aprilia´s racing department he was the mastermind in the development of the extraordinary Aprilia RSV4 with which Max Biaggi won two World Superbikes Championships in 2010 and 2012 and whose superb narrow V4-cylinder engine able to deliver a power of 210 hp and propel the bike up to 330 km/h was a wonder of compactness and timing system layout sophistication, as well as featuring a monolithic base utterly integrating the cylinder sleeves, which were superficially hardened with a galvanic treatment of silicon carbides and a nickel matrix, which resulted in an amazing lightweight of the powerplant.

This Aprilia RSV4 was a real milestone in terms of power output, miniaturization and low weight, reaching the figure of 13,500 rpm in the road version and 15,000 rpm in the Superbike one, and incorporated a variable geometry frame in synergy with the 65º cylinders angle, 32 mm titanium intake valves, 26 mm Nymonic exhaust valves and an intake system controlled by a ride by wire with double injector for each cylinder., one injector after the throttle valve and one before it for the high revs and high loads and a variable geometry intale duct system to optimize engine performance at all ranges.

But since his arrival at Ducati in November 2015, Gigi Dall´Igna has had the chance to complement all his previous great background in Aprilia with the breathtaking expertise in desmodromic engines featured by Ducati engineers, mechanics and technicians, by far the most qualified in the world regarding this sphere, to such an extent that Ducati is the only bike brand that makes use of this kind of technology, whose system setup is exceedingly complex, but boasts important advantages not only on reaching its trademark stunning maximum rpm, top speeds and acceleration power in fractions of a second, but also in the reduction of frictions at the lowest ranges.


The desmodromic system is the one best known by Ducati professionals, because the Italian firm has amassed an impressive know-how on it, with constant improvements throughout more than fifty years, particularly in performance at the highest rpm inherent to races, where precision is critical to ensure that the powerplant is operating at maximum potential, a realm where the desmo engines have proved to be the most robust and powerful since late fifties when Sammy Miller won the 1958 Isle of Man TT on a Ducati 125 Desmo, Ducati won the 125 cc Grand Prix at Monza in 1958 — taking the first five places — , and subsequenly confirmed the efficiency of its exclusive desmo distribution controlling the opening and closing of the valves with Paul Smart´s triumph at the Imola 200 in 1972 and the legendary Isle of Man 1978 victory by Mike Hailwood  at the age of 38 (eleven years after having officially retired from  racing altogether in 1967) with a Ducati 900 SS number 12 specially prepared for competition by NCR and featuring a four-stroke air-cooled V-Twin 883 cc 2 cylinder desmo single overhead camshaft engine whose performance was optimized by the great British mechanic and rider Steve Wynne, of the firm Sport Motorcycles Ltd. in Manchester, who had such a tremendous knowledge and experience that he was able to tune racing bikes by ear, without needing any dynamometer, only through track testing until feeling that they worked like a charm.

On the other hand, Steve Wynne chose very high quality 87 mm bore and 11:1 compression ratio forged racing pistons manufactured by American Venolias firm of United States with aluminium 2618 T61 alloy — commonly used in the production of aircraft engines — of great strength and excellent mechanical properties at high temperatures, making Mike Hailwood´s Ducati 900 NCR deliver a power output of 86 bhp at 9,000 rpm, though keeping tabs on the fundamental bedrock that the key linchpin to win this magical race wouldn´t be a massive power, but Hailwood´s masterful handling and braking (so the Sport Motorcycle Ltd team, NCR in synergy with engineer Taglioni, Franco Farnné and the Ducati Experimental Department worked very much to keep the weight as low as possible : 160 kg instead of the 194 kg of the standard production 900 SS, and managed to get a small frontal area) of the Ducati 900 NCR together with his deep knowledge of every meter of the Isle of Man TT Circuit, including the hairpin bends with very acute inner angles making the riders often turn between 160º and 180º, a further adroitness in which Hailwood excelled.

This way, the association between the overall improvements implemented by Steve Wynne as to a number of aspects of the original Ducati 900 NCR ( specially in mechanic efficiency and reliability) supplied and Mike Hailwood´s huge experience and unmatched riding qualities was decisive for the historical triumph achieved by Mike The Bike in the 1978 TT Formula One World Championship memorable race held on June 4, 1978 at the Isle of Man, beating Phil Read and his 820 cc in-line four cylinder engine Honda CB750 F2 bike — that delivered 20 horsepower more than Hailwood´s Ducati 900 NCR— , managing to approach him more and more until reaching him in the second lap, quickly overtaking him and beginning to run at a brutal pace, to such an extent that when Read tried to follow him, the V-four engine of his Honda broke down in the fifth lap and he had to abandon, while Hailwood established a new lap record of 111,04 mph (178,701 kmph), 9mph (14,4 kmph) faster than the previous lap record by Phil Read, and could get the incredibly high average speed of 109,502 mph (174,502 kmph) on the most dangerous race track in the world, and Mike The Bike repeated the feat the following week in another impressive performance of Mike Hailwood at the Mallory Park Circuit, in which he clearly took the lead in the decisive stages of the contest and displayed some smartly chosen instants revealing the mind-blowing desmodromic determining initial acceleration power of the V-Twin 883 cc engine of his Ducati 900 NCR number 4 (specially during the incredible eleven seconds between 11:10-11:21), winning the race and closing the Ducati V-Twins featuring bevel gears era with top marks, just one year and six months before the creation by the genius Fabio Taglioni in December 1979 of the revolutionary Ducati 500 cc Pantah, very different to the previous bevel driven Ducati V-Twin models, because its engine used belt driven camshafts, a plain bearing crankshaft, and in addition, it almost lacked vibrations at every speed, was smoother and quieter and pioneered the location of the helical gear primary on the offside of a Ducati bike and boasted the new Trellis frame which would turn into a trademark element of the brand.

Anyway, the aforementioned unforgettable deeds accomplished by Mike Hailwood in June 1978 as a golden brooch to his career resulted in the creation in 1979 of the wonderful Ducati 900 MHR, whose allurement, glamour and sound go on being simply unutterable.
Two years later, Ducati´international successes went on through Tony Rutter, who won four consecutive TT Formula 2 World Championships in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984 with a handbuilt Ducati Pantah TTF2, manufactured between the Ducati Experimental Department and NCR, increasing the bore 1 mm (getting a bore and stroke of 81 x 58 mm instead of the 80 x 58 mm of the street version) and augmenting the capacity of the engine up to 597 cc (14 cc more than the street version), as well as featuring 41 mm carbs in lieu of the usual 36 mm ones, a dry clutch with straight-cut primary gears, a new oil cooler, a running gear with Verlicchi frames, magnesium wheels and single rear suspension replacing the original twin-shock one.

And once more, as usually happens in racing motorcycling, there was a top-notch professional and key man helping, the British mechanic Pat Slinn, who made extraordinary tunings with Tony Rutter´s 587 cc and 597 cc air-cooled 4-stroke, 90 degree V-Twin cylinder Ducatis TTF2 Pantah World Championships racers delivering 78 hp at 10,500 rpm wih single overhead camshaft with Desmodromic system belt drive, a weight of 140 kg and tubular tresle frame — he had also been Mike Hailwood´s mechanic for some years, complementing the activity and tenure of the also great British mechanic and tuner Nobby Clark as Hailwood´s official mechanic during sixties and some stages of seventies — and subsequently worked for Coburn amd Hughes, Ducati importers in the United Kingdom, after which he went to Sports Motorcycles to fettle Tony Rutter´s world class TT1 and TT2 Ducati bikes, which are deemed among the most beautiful and minimalist racing motorcycles ever made.

Likewise, in 1984, Walter Villa (who had retired from official GP races in late 1980, after winning four World Speed Championships with Harley-Davidson bikes designed and manufactured by the Italian Aermacchi company — which had been bought by AMF— at Varese: 250 cc in 1974, 1975 and 1976, also adding the 350 cc crown to his tally in 1976) accepted to partake in some endurance races for Ducati in 1984 and 1985 and also challenged the Japanese dominance, riding his gorgeous works 748 cc Ducati 750 TT1 Endurance in red and blue colours and with a new version of the belt driven Pantah engine, which needed to fulfill a redesign of the covering containing the crankshaft, so some manufacturing modifications had to be implemented. And last but not least, there was an increase of the bore and stroke up to 88 x 61.5 mm and the setting up of a wider swing arm, along with a highly significant boost in power up to 94 bhp in comparison to the 80 bhp of the production racers and even outpacing the best Borgo Panigale factory tunings getting 90 bhp), it all with the added benefit of 44 mm x 38 mm valves (much larger than the 41 x 36 mm valves usually installed in customers´ engines).

Definitely, Ducati was becoming a world force in terms of motorcycling quality, performance, endurance, beauty of lines, top speed, acceleration power, torque, electronics, exceedingly small and powerful engines with state-of-the-art-technology whose core was the desmodromic distribution in which the camshafts played a key role.

But the most flourishing day of the works Ducati TT1F1 Racer came when Marco Lucchinelli riding a Ducati(92 x 64 mm) 750F1-based race number 618 won the Battle of the Twins Race at Daytona 1986 ( beating Paul Lewis and his Quantel Cosworth 820 cc racing bike), a competition that he had been about to win the previous year, being only beaten by Gene Church — riding a Don Tilley Harley-Davidson XR1000 — and a consummate specialist in this race and an extraordinary rider, so the second post attained by Marco Lucchinelli in the Battle of the Twins Race at Daytona 1985 riding a Ducati 750 cc F1 was a real feat and highly praiseworthy, since he courageously battled against Gene Church up to the final flag — he crossed the finishing line approximately 1 meter behind —, and for the first time, it was proved that a 750 cc bicilindric Ducati was able to beat the 1000 cc Japanese and American bikes.

Next year, Marco Luchinelli won again the Battle of the Twins Race at Daytona 1987, in one of the most impressive victories ever, now riding an utterly different motorcycle: a prototype of the new four-stroke bicilindric L 90º  (92 x 64 mm) Ducati 851 cc with number 618, delivering 128 hp at 11,500 rpm, and desmodromic distribution with four valves per cylinder,a triumph that would mark a turning point in the history of the Italian brand, not only because of the stunning performance, acceleration power and top speed proved by the new Ducati 851 ptototype, but because of the special circumstances of the race in which in spite of the pole position achieved by Gene Church the day before, Paul Lewis rocketed off the line, followed closely by Jim Adamo and Marco Lucchinelli, in such a way that the Ducatis and Cosworths swappped the lead back and forth for much of the early stage of the race, until Marco Lucchinelli began to widen the gap all the way to the checkered flag thanks to its superior riding skills and  an amazing corner speed attained throwing the Ducati in at maximum lean angle and just power through and the significant technological breakthroughs provided by Dr. Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli, specially a liquid cooled and fuel injected dohc 4-valves-per-cylinder 90º belt driven 8 valve V-Twin engine.

The Ducati 851´s  Weber Marelli System computerized eledtronic fuel injection, became a real advantage since it was derived from Formula 1 cars and was somethng exceedingly sophisticated for a bike, when almost everybody was using carburettors.

The Ducati 851 was therefore the bike that started the modern era of racing success for the Borgo Panigale firm and turned into a milestone in its history when in 1988 began the SBK World Superbike Championship and at the same time began the production of its Ducati 851 cc with bore and stroke of 92 x 64 mm for sale to customers.

That same year, Marco Luchinelli won the Race 2 of the 1988 Donington Superbike World Championship Round with a Ducati 851 Number 39, after a fierce battle with Davide Tardozzi (Bimota YB4 Number 2, a machine way ahead of his time in a slew of aspects and being the first bike on the grid with fuel injection), as well as getting the fastest lap in the Race 1 with a time of 1: 14.140.

Two years later, the Frenchman Raymond Roche won the first SBK World Championship with a Ducati 851 cc, beginning an impressive golden age period for Ducati that started with the Ducati 851 and lasted twenty years, spawning such Ducati heroes like Raymond Roche, Doug Polen, Giancarlo Falappa, Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss and others, who managed to beat the Japanese brands once and again, particularly in the SBK World Championships, where the superiority of the bicilindric V-Twins Ducatis with four valves per cylinder was overwhelming over the 4 cylinder-inline Japanese bikes from different brands, veryfying Bordi and Mengoli´s fundamental tenet, according to which in order to increase the power of Ducati bikes, it was necessary to design desmodromic engines with four valves per cylinder replacing the classical Desmodue two-valve belt-driven twins featuring two valves per cylinder and conceived by Fabio Taglioni.


Ducati´s long history has always been studded with world class motorcycle pilots in different categories who have yielded milestone results in a number of international competitions, taking advantage of the constant technological innovative drive and racing virtues of the top class bikes with full-fledged desmo powerplants created by the Borgo Panigale firm, and in this regard, the legacy as to Ducati engines — sporting desmodromic valves that are cammed open and closed without springs and enable exact valve timing at all engine speeds — left by great engineers, technicians and mechanics like:

Fabio Taglioni, the mastermind who turned Ducati into a worldly famous tour de force bike producing firm in terms of designing, motoring, performance and fabulous aesthetics, as well as having been the creator of the first Ducati desmodromic engine in 1956, a driving force in himself and the most important person in the history of the firm, to such an extent that all modern Ducati engines are derivatives of the Ducati L shape 90º V-Twin layout powerplant of the Pantah 500, designed by him in 1979 and the first one boasting a belt-driven camshaft rather than the until then common Ducati shaft and bevel gears.

Mario Recchia, a remarkable pilot and mechanic, who won some races in 1947 with bycicles incorporating a tiny auxiliary powerplant attached to them: the air-cooled 48 cc single cylinder four-stroke and two speed gear-box Cucciolo auxiliary engine (originally conceived by Aldo Farinelli in 1944  and developed by the engineer Aldo Leoni in late 1945). Recchia knew perfectly this pretty small engine (7.7 kg) and its traits, since he had assembled some of them during his first year working in Ducati in 1946.

In 1947, the Cucciolo engine delivered 2 hp at 5.500 rpm, being able to reach a top speed of 60 km/h and take advantage of the powerplant full potential.

Subsequently. Mario Recchia worked for some decades in the Ducati Racing department and the Ducati Testing department, being promoted to foreman of the engine assembly department and became one of the three Ducati experts (Franco Farné, Piero Cavazzi and Mario Recchia) of the Ducati leading engineering development staff permanently in contact with the NCR gurus Giorgio Nepoti and Rino Caracchi, implementing within years a number of joint ventures between the Ducati Experimental Department and NCR, with the latter having turned to practical effect into a top level external arm of the Ducati reace department since the victory at the Imola 200 mile race and from 1973 onwards, because NCR didn´t only manufacture the bikes that were used by official factory riders in the long distance enduring races of mid seventies, when Ducati was the only real rival of Honda in this scope, but also the Ducati 900 NCR used by Hailwood in his hailed return to the Isle of man in 1978, as well as the motorcycles for the Formula 2 TT World Championship series.

Franco Farné, Fabio Taglioni´s right-hand man and head mechanic of the Ducati Racing Team, who had a significant role in the development of the first twin-cylinder bikes of the firm and in plenty of technical sides of the Pantah engine. A world-class mechanic who became within time a Ducati legend in this scope as the best motorcycle tuner in the world and displaying a perfect pitch when dealing with carburetors. His extraordinary bike setups were the international benchmark for many decades.

 - Massimo Bordi, creator of the Ducati eight-valve V-Twin Desmoquattro engine, featuring four valves per cylinder. Since 1985, year in which he replaced to practical effects the genius Fabio Taglioni — who had been Ducati chief designer and technical director since 1954 — because of his advanced age, Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli became the key men carrying out the transition from the Ducati air-cooled 2-valve racers to the new liquid cooled 4-valve, fuel injection Desmoquattro engined Ducati sports bikes..

Gianluigi Mengoli, Ducati Motor Holding R & D Director and a historical man in the firm, who collaborated since 1976 with Fabio Taglioni in the development of the Pantah bike and its breakthrough engine, subsequently co-designing the desmoquattro Ducati 851 with Massimo Bordi, after which the two top-notch Italian engineers brought Ducati into the modern world of four-valve engines and quicker-steering chassis. Mengoli had also the brainstorm of creating a new combustion chamber, slightly reducing the valve angles from 60º to 56º, preserving the installed rocker arms, which brought about a more compact cylinder head, enabling a much more efficient combustion chamber with the added bonus of an increased reliability thanks to a further curtailment of both valve component stress and friction, along with a new configuration locating the camshafts more directly with respect to the valves. This way, though the new cylinder head was more compact, it made possible to insert bigger valves, getting an increase from 43 mm to 45 mm regarding intake valve and a rise from 38 mm to 40 mm in the exhaust valve, as well as optimizing the performance of the valve seats with top-of-the-line materials like berylium bronze only used in SBK World Championships until then. This proved to be instrumental in the betterment of heat dispersion with negligible wear, to such an extent that the valve clearances could be kept more accurately for longer periods than usual, albeit it was necessary to fit the bigger valves to more extreme camshafts.

Claudio Domenicali, a brilliant engineer, main technical deviser of the eye-catching, elegant and highly sophisticated 500 cc Ducati Supermono Desmoquattro four-stroke single bike — delivering 75 hp, featuring a weight of 118 kg, and produced between 1993 and 1995 — particularly regarding its water-cooled four-valve single-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection, in cooperation with Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli, while the wonderful design was made by Pierre Terblanche.

Filippo Preziosi, an exceedingly talented engineer who joined Ducati in 1994 and was one of the main figures in the creation of the Ducati 916 Street  and its racing version intended for the SBK World Championship, subsequently becoming between 1996 and 1998 the coordinator developing  both the bikes and racing engines resulting in the Ducati 996 and particularly the racing 998 Ducati 998 Testastretta, also developing the new engine for production motorcycles, and later on, he spearheaded Ducati´s MotoGP Project from scratch, as well as having been one of the main figures of the Ducati 916 creation and the following Superbike projects, Technical Director of Ducati Corse in 1999, and General Manager of Ducati Corse in 2003) and others has been immense.

It all, without forgetting the far-reaching creative influence of world class designers like:

Massimo Tamburini, considered the Michelangelo of motorbike design, and whose iconic profiles conceptions like the Ducati 916, Ducati Paso 750, Ducati 748, Ducati 996 and Ducati 998 were real maypoles.

Miguel Galluzzi, creator of the Ducati Monster concept, whose first model was the iconic and hugely successful in sales Ducati Monster M900 from 1993 with 6-speed gearbox, dry clutch, very easy to handle and featuring a SBK like tubular stainless-steel Trellis frame along with a minimalist bodywork and a pretty high torque for an essentially urban and secondary roads bike, which oozed beauty and efficiency to spare, as well as mustering lightness, amazing response, touch and power, turning it into a real treat to drive both quietly and fast, so it meant a revolution in the scope of naked motorcycles.

Pierre Terblanche, designer of the Ducati Hypermotard, whose first prototype appeared at the November 2005 EICMA in Milan and was followed in 2007 by the Hypermotard 1100S and the extraordinary Ducati Hypermotard NCR Leggera, the Hypermotard 796 with wet slipper clutch in 2009, the Hypermotards 1100 EVO and 1100 EVO SP in 2010, the Hypermotard 1100 GP in 2014, etc).

Giandrea Fabbro, designer of the Ducati 1098 in 2007 and the Ducati 1199 Panigale in 2011, and others.


During the 2015 season, the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 fabulous bike designed by Gigi Dall´Igna has attained eight podiums (five by Andrea Dovizioso and three by Andrea Iannone), the best results in the last five years, proving his known engineering brilliance and the awesome level of the Italian firm mechanics and technicians, along with a laudable ability of adaptation to a number of MotoGP circuits with different profiles, as well as displaying unforgettable moments in which the Ducati Desmodromic DNA excelled, particularly on regaining ground against Yamahas and Hondas — usually far superior when cornering — in straight track sections, a real relish to watch for any motorcycling enthusiast, because the performance of the desmodromic valve train featured by the 90º V-4 with four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts engine of this Italian missile handles wonderfully tremendous accelerations and high speeds, as well as commendably avoid  all kind of dynamic effects, losses of elastic flexibility and mass distribution, backlash and frictions in joints, vibrations and any jumps and bounces.

1) Valentino Rossi starts his attack on Andrea Iannone in the curve.

2) Andrea Iannone knows that he is going to suffer. Rossi is the best MotoGP pilot ever and features an outstanding ability to overtake in the bends, thanks to his long experience in a lot of battles and his exceptional ability when braking, often doing it later than the rest of pilots.

Besides, Valentino Rossi´s Yamaha YZR-M1 has been improved for thirteen years since 2002 when Koichi Tsuji started the project, so its controlability, consistency lap after lap without making mistakes and particularly the performance on cornering is far better, as also happens with the Honda RC213V used by Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa.

Andrea Iannone begins to pluck up courage and incline the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 to the utmost.

3) Valentino Rossi has already found the best angle of attack, a scope in which he is a master, and is very near Andrea Iannone, who strives after avoiding the overtake. 

Two completely different riding styles can be seen: the smooth one exuding control and experience even in the most daring manoeuvers (Valentino Rossi) and the aggressive and passionate one, giving all of himself and fighting tooth and nail (Andrea Iannone).

Iannone´s left arm is almost touching the tarmac, sticking to every centimeter of the circuit.

4) Valentino Rossi is now exceedingly near Andrea Iannone and on the brink of overtaking him. The thousands of spectators roar in the stands. It is a climax of emotions.

5) Andrea Iannone feels Valentino Rossi really close to him and makes a last strenuous effort. He needs to endure the onslaught at all costs until reaching the beginning of the bend exit, since from that spot onwards the word desmodromic will acquire its true meaning in the following rectilinear stretch. 

6) Andrea Iannone opens throttle and in the twinkling of an eye the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 starts to significantly increase its advantage on Valentino Rossi´s Yamaha YZR-M1, thanks to the tremendous acceleration power and top speed of its liquid-cooled 1,000 cc 90º V4 four-stroke, evo desmodromic DOHC, four valves per cylinder engine delivering stellar performance at very high rpm in straight sections of the circuits.

7) An advantage that grows bigger and bigger in split seconds, with the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 clearly beating the Yamaha YZR-M1 in the rectilinear stretch and advancing like a shot.

Evidently, this incredible power output and acceleration like a missile speaks volumes about the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 desmodromic engine evolution and the awesome technological peaks reached using multiple cam lobes that position two rockers arms to operate the opening and closing of valves and get a dazzingly accurate desmo timing system controlling the 16 valves of this powerplant oozing Italian passion, thrill and unmatched efficiency and reliability at the highest rpm, and whose layout of cylinders ensures the perfect primary engine balance needed to reach up to around 18,000 rpm — perhaps it is able to attain between 19,000 and 20,000 rpm — while simultaneously reducing vibration to negligible levels.

But Gigi Dall´Igna is an experienced man keeping his feet on the ground, knows that his task is monumental and has often stated that the superiority of Yamaha and Honda within the MotoGP domain is still apparently substantial and there is a comprehensive range of aspects in which Ducati must improve if it wants to have real chances to win the MotoGP World Championship once more, something that hasn´t happened since 2007 when Casey Stoner became champion in one of the most spectacular victories ever attained in the queen category and which left indelible remembrances in the collective memory of the motorbike enthusiasts all over the world.


Obviously, great improvement has been fulfilled during this 2015 first year in MotoGP competition of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 in different areas like the attainment of a smaller and lighter engine with superior performance, compactness of the bike, reduction of the understeer, better turning, adaptability of the bike to different circuits and riders, fostered aerodynamics with the help of winglets, a larger air intake, a shorter chassis favouring the cornering, arrow-shaped rear cowling, fuel tank located further back to load more weight behind looking for superior traction, lower and more backwards location of the engine, etc, which have resulted in the quoted eight podiums achieved by Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, with Dovi being about to win two races.

And that is precisely what Ducati needs: a victory in a race.

Ducati is absolutely bound to win at least one MotoGP race during next 2016 season when the 90º Anniversary of Ducati will be celebrated.


And Gigi Dall´Igna, with his customary humbleness that he has kept since early nineties, is making a colossal effort, because he perfectly grasps the huge responsability laid on his shoulders and that he has accepted from scratch, when the easiest position would have been to go on enjoying his glowing reputation and career in Aprilia instead of embarking on this new fascinating and difficult professional stage at the highest technical level, which is something to bear in mind, because it is a huge challenge, knowing in advance that Ducati has no choice but to turn its MotoGP project into a success, firstly winning at least a race throughout the next year 2016 and one or two years later becoming a real contender for the title facing Yamaha and Honda, because there is a lot of room for improvement in the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 and Gigi Dall´Igna has significantly increased the communication between the race team and the factory in Bologna.



Besides, Ducati has experienced a significant boost as a brand regarding worldwide sales for the last six years, with models like the Ducati Hypermotard 1100, Ducati 899 Panigale, Ducati 1098, Ducati 1198, Ducati Desmosedici RR, Ducati Streetfighter S, Multistrada 1200, Monster 1200, Monster 1200S, 959 Panigale, Hypermotard 821 SP and 939SP (both of them featuring the famous rigidly triangulated Trellis frame also boasted by the Hypermotard 1100)1199 Panigale, the Ducati Monster 1200R, the Multistrada 1200 Enduro presented one month ago during the EICMA 2015, the Ducati Hyperstrada 939 also introduced in November 2015 and others, to such an extent that currently only a 10% of the total sales of Ducati are in Italy, because the firm has become an international motorcycling benchmark, mainly thanks to its ability to push forward the boundaries of engine technology, always within the scope of its desmodromic DNA, creating groundbreaking powerplants in a seamless synergy between tradition and innovation, as well as making use of abundant design technology and materials coming from the aerospatial industry along with steadily improved aerodynamics under the supervision of the aeronautic engineer Andrea Ferraresi, Head of the Ducati Design Center since 2005, who has been the project manager of both the aforementioned models and the 996R, 998 and 999 Ducati Superbikes.

In this regard, the introduction by Ducati in 2011 of the utterly new desmodromic twin-cylinder Superquadro production engine for the Ducati 1199 Panigale  was a real milestone.

In this amazing powerplant Ducati increased the bore size up to 112 mm (bore and stroke of 112 x 60.8 mm), raising the power up to 195 hp at the crankshaft, managing to keep a very good rideability by means of a full ride-by-wire system to control the throttle bodies, in addition to introducing a pretty efficient Gerotor vacuum pump which preserves a constant vacuum in the crankcase area below the pistons.

This way, the Ducati 1199 Panigale bike featured the highest power-to-weight ratio in the world (with an incredible power output combined with extreme weight saving, and benefits from an utterly redesigned gearbox, new chain-driven camshafts and a secondary air system in both cylinder heads) and was the yardstick in terms of power among the twin-cylinder engines manufactured in the world until three years later, when the Italian firm unveiled its Ducati 1299 Panigale at the EICMA 2014, and it has become the new reference in power with the 205 hp at 10,500 rpm delivered by its 1,285 cc liquid-cooled V-twin 4 valves per cylinder engine featuring desmodromic valve control system along with a bore dimension augmented up to 116 mm (bore and stroke of 116 x 60.8 mm), being the most extreme Superquadro powerplant ever made and featuring tremendous power and speed, but speacially torque, to such an extent that Alessandro Valia — official Ducati Borgo Panigale test rider since 2003 when he began running with SBK models, subsequently changing to street bikes in 2007 — was able to cover the Mugello circuit in 1´ 55 ¨ 3 with a Ducati 1299 Panigale, something really breathtaking for a stock production motorcycle, above all if we bear in mind that it was attained not using racing tyres, but Pirelli SC1s ones.


Besides, Ducati has raised over itself creating in October 2014 the revolutionary Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) applied for the first time in the 1,198 cc L-twin cylinder 4 valve per cylinder Testastretta DVT enginewith a maximum power of 160 hp at 9,500 rpm, which has meant a historical breakthrough, delivering an unprecedented combination of breathtaking torque, class-leading power, super smoothness and low fuel consumption — roughly an 8% reduction in comparison to previous non variable configuration powerplants —, as well as featuring both minimum overlap with smooth and stable running at mid to low speeds and maximum overlap at top performances.

And thanks to its double continuous variable cam phasing and its sophisticated system of electronic sensors with a control unit comparing the camshaft position with that of the driveshaft to determine the ideal timing, this has meant to all intents and purposes the birth of a new technological platform for future applications, taking advantage of the system continuous adjustments of intake and exhaust valve timing independently of each other, optimizing engine power through the rev range, while improving fuel efficiency at the same time.

If we add to this that the Ducati World Week is nowadays one of the most important motorcycle international events, with unmatched levels of public attendance and thrill, it is perceptible that Ducati is enjoying a sweet and very important stage as a brand, with great future prospects embodied by top-notch engineers and designers like Marco Sairu (Head of Engine Project Management), Andrea Forni (Technical Director), Vincenzo de Silvio (Engine Design Manager), Andrea Ferraresi (Design Director), Alberto Tarroni (Vehicle Design Engineer), Gianandrea Fabbro ( Chief Designer Ducati Motor Holding), Luigi Mauro (Vehicle Testing Department Manager), Federico Sabbioni (Head of Vehicle Project Management), Andrea Ricci (Electrical and Electronic Systems Director) and others.

It must also be mentioned the indefatigable and praiseworthy labour made throughout decades with excellent articles in a number of worldwide magazines by the Ducati pundit Bruno de Prato, an authority in motorbikes cylinder-head design and a top-drawer engineer, striving upon making known to great audiences the most significant features and qualities of plenty of Ducati motorcycles, as well as providing deep and understandable valuable explanations on intricate sides of different Ducati desmodromic engines and their unique traits, which have been defined by the MotoGP commentator and motorcycling professor Gustavo Morea as clockwork wonders.

And of course, a lot of attention should be paid to the excellent books on Ducati brand and bikes — fruit of many years of research and toilsome personal effort, so they are a must-have for any Ducati enthusiast — written by the internationally most hailed authors on this subject like Greg Pullen (Ducati Desmodue: The Complete Story from Pantah to ScramblerDucati & The TT: Two Legends One Story and others), Ian Falloon (Ducati Belt Drive Two-Valve Twins, The Essential Buyer´s Guide of Ducati Desmodue Twins, The Ducati Monster Bible, Ducati Motorcycles 1946-2005, The Essential Buyer´s Guide of Ducati Desmoquattro TwinsThe Complete Book of Ducati Motorcycles Every Model Since 1946Ducati 916, The Art of Ducati — in which the symbiosis between the Ducati expert Ian Falloon and the British photographer James Mann begets a gorgeously illustrated book with pictures and lavish information encompassing from fifties to currently in the XXI Century), Mick Walker (Ducati Twins: All bevel and belt drive V-twins plus parallel twins-1970 onwards, Ducati 2-Valve V-Twins: The Complete Story, Ducati Super Sport, Ducati The Racing Story, Ducati Twins Restorations, Ducati Singles, Ducati From The Clip On Engine To The 916, Ducati 4-Valve V-Twins The Complete Story and others), Phil Aynsley (Ducati : A Photographic Tribute, which became an instant iconic work since its very first edition in 2010, and whose author is also the photographer creator of the exceedingly fetching images lavishly illustrating the book, made over a period of 30 years using the best colour slides and black and white films with a remarkable mastery of both natural and artificial lighting, so the resulting very vast assortment of pictures of different Ducati bikes appearing in the book is really superb, in such a way that each photograph is a true work of art and shows Phil Aynsley´s true passion and love for Ducati bikes, since aside from being a world class photographer of motorcycles, the author is also a recognized expert on Ducati bikes, which appear depicted in the images not only as machines of the highest technology and power, but particularly as living entities exuding beauty, personality, elegance and timeless design, it all being enhanced with a foreword by World Champion Troy Bayliss and words by the Ducati expert Ian Gowanloch.
Needless to say that the abiding support for the brand, zestful meetings and passion spread worldwide by the many Ducati Desmo Owners Clubs has been of paramount importance for the Bologna-based firm, along with the exceedingly valuable and laudable efforts made by great professionals like Livio Lodi (Curator of the Ducati Museum since 2001), a living encyclopedia on Ducati History — he is probably the greatest authority in the world in this sphere — , able to speak for hours about different models of bikes of the Italian brand, all kind of technical features, engineers and designers, mechanical aspects and a wealth of interesting anecdotes, but above all a discreet and humble person, whose first contact with Ducati took place when he was 5 years old during a visit to the company in 1971, subsequenly becoming a self-made man beginning to work at the Borgo Panigale factory in 1987 at the age of 21, as an apprentice on some assembly lines of different Ducati bikes. and later on, he gained the confidence of both Fabio Taglioni and his wife Norina Taglioni, building up a great friendship and often having coffee with them on weekends, as well as having managed to attain the return of the original 1963 Apollo V4 engine to the museum and being decisive in the restoration of Mike Hailwood´s 2 cylinder 250 cc bike, and more recently, in 2004, in the creation of the Number 7 Desmosedici Room displaying the most famous Ducati Desmosedici V4 bikes having taken part in the supreme category races since the return of Ducati to MotoGP in 2003, including the famous number 27 Ducati Desmosedici GP7 bike with which Casey Stoner won the 2007 Moto GP World Championship, one of the most spectacular victories in the history of motorcycling, with a tremendously energetic riding, remarkable adaptation to the bike and a certainly impressive performance in terms of speed and power of the 800 cc 90º V4 cylinder Twin Pulse Double L Twin engine delivering 225 hp at 19.000 rpm, which proved to run faster laps than higher displacement 990 cc Japanese bikes thanks to its tremendously powerful Double L-Twin Desmodromic engine which was a real marvel of engineering and mechanics, far superior to the powerplants of the rival teams and enabling to reach a staggering top speed for the time of 209.6 mph (337 km/h), a landmark MotoGP world title won by the Bormio Panigale firm only six years after the beginning in 2001 of the Desmosedici Project by a technical team made up by the engineers Filippo Preziosi and Alan Jenkins — previously a Formula 1 technician and Alain Prost race engineer in 1983 — , both of them under the guidance of Claudio Domenicali, then Ducati Corse Managing Director.


Anyway, in spite of the important record sales attained by the Italian firm throughout recent years, specially since its takeover by Audi in 2012, Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, is developing a very wise policy whose fundamental goal is not to try to flood the market with Ducati bikes, but to fight tooth and nail to preserve the brand built-in exclusivity and aura which has historically been in the limelight because of its success in worldwide racing circuits and the very frequent subsequent introduction of the breakthrough technologies, powerplants and performance inherent to its racing bikes in its road models, always endeavouring to the utmost to satisfy its customers needs, which has resulted in a record sale figure of 45,100 Ducati bikes sold all over the world in 2014 — a 2% more than in 2013 — .

Customer satisfaction and the best feasible performance in the bikes it manufactures are with difference Ducati´s top priority, and this has become instrumental in the increasing consolidation of the United States as Ducati´s largest market (8,884 units), something that has been enhanced by the laudable informative strenuous effort of many years fulfilled by great Ducati experts and lovers like the US Desmo deans : Il Capo Jim Calandro, the Consigliere Clyde Romero, Bob Lattanzi, Terry Wise, Larry Haber, the Redattore Technico Terry Boling and others, along with the historical labor of many decades fulfilled by Ducati gurus like the magician Bruce Meyers (founder of the renowned Ducati Performance BCM Motorsports, which played a significant role in the diachronic spreading of the Italian firm in USA, aside from being a teacher in the three level training Ducati North America Wyotech Ducati technical certified courses with all kind of Ducati bikes both classic and old ones, until completing level 3 training and become Ducati master mechanics),Van Singley (Ducati North America Inc service manager and a great lover of vintage bikes) and top-notch recognized Ducati master technicians like Rory McGuire (Ducati Austin), Stuart Rust (AMS Dallas). Will Robles ( a Desmosedici 16 RR Certified Technician from Ducati Westlake) and others.

Furthermore, United States has become a paradise of customised Ducatis, particularly the extraordinary Ducati Leggero limited production series of high performance motorcycles created by the engineer Walt Siegel using classic design elements and the most outstanding traits engineered by Ducati throughout its history into their bikes, so the WSMs make use of 2-valve engines and are handbuilt, making everything as light and strong as possible and getting rid of overflow tanks, radiators, hoses, fan shrouds, water pumps, etc, to such an extent that his New Hampshire workshop has become a kind of stunning customised Ducatis shrine, whose activity is focused on style, performance and beauty, and which is being hugely fostered by the synergy between Walt Siegel, the wizard tuner of Ducati Twins Bruce Meyers (coworker in every WSM project. choosing the most lightweight and sturdiest pistons available for the powerplants, the best cams, shaving flywheels to reduce the weight of the stock bikes, getting rid of not indispensable electrical components and lighting circuits, etc) and Matt Tanner, a great expert in custom composite manufacturing and repair in motorsports and whose firm Tannermatic, based in Hull (Massachussets) and aimed at developing projects and products offering the customers original, sculptural and highly functional results, is also collaborating with WSM, making top-drawer composite parts for Walt Seigl´s gorgeous Ducatis.

On the other hand, highly significant sales increases in United Kingdom (16 %), Mexico (8%), Thailand (22%), Australia (13%) and particularly in Brazil (a staggering increase of a 75 %) also made a difference during 2014.

And two further accomplishments attained by Ducati have been its recent remarkable expansion in China ( a country in which the great insight of the Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang — a world class authority in mechanical and automotive engineering, who prompted a quantum leap in the R & D Department of Audi during nineties, as well as being a great admirer of the desmodromic Ducati engines, having also been the driving force of the prestigious Tongji University during his tenure as President between 2002 and 2007, turning it into an international reference-class center in manifold spheres — was the key factor in the enhancement of collaboration between Tongji and Bologna universities ), where the figure of Ducati bikes sold has doubled and the dealer network of the Italian brand has been expanded to eight cities: Shanghai, Chongqing, Kunming, Beijing, Haikou, Macau, Chengdu and Shenyang, and the opening in 2013 of the Ducati Vibhavadi Thailand flagship store, located in Bangkok city centre, with over 5,000 square meters of useable area, which is the biggest Ducati service centre in Asia.


All of these data and figures are indeed very relevant, specially if we add to them the amazing fact that during the first half of the year 2015 Ducati bettered itself with a global increase of a 22% in sales with respect to the first half of 2014, attaining an all time record figure throughout six months of 32,600 bikes worldwide sold by the Borgo Panigale firm and a spectacular reinforcement with very important increases of Ducati bikes acquired in United States (10% more than in the first half of 2014), Italy (51% more), Spain (38% more), United Kingdom (36% more), Germany (24% more) and France (23% more), along with a meaningful upsurge of an 11% in sales in the Asiatic market.

And the most recent icing on the cake has been that the last November 10, 2015 it was known that for the first time in its history, Ducati has broken the barrier of 50,000 bikes sold worldwide before the end of a year, in addition to reaping a groundbreaking result in comparison to the same date last year 2014 in which the figure attained had been 40,650 motorcycles, so chances are that the Borgo Panigale firm will have sold a total quantity of roughly 55,000 bikes during the whole 2015 year, which would entail a stunning increase of between 22-24% more than throughout the entire 2014 year — quite an achievement fostered by the internationally highly successful new Ducati Scrambler series, along with the new premium models 1299 Panigale, Monster 821, Multistrada 1200S (a technologically very advanced and consummate all-around performer bike for both long distance travels, agile running through town and enjoyment off the road , boasting the Ducati Testatretta DVT engine, tubular steel Trellis frame, DSS Evo cutting-edge electronics and 160 hp at 9500 rpm power and 136 Nm at 7,500 rpm torque to spare, thanks to its uncompromising riding accuracy based on its innovative double variable valve timing system getting a thorough distribution for each speed change, also sporting ABS cornering, Ducati Wheelie control and the brand usual heedful attention to every detail, adding LED headlights and a groovy state-of-the-art full TFT colour instrumentation), 899 Panigale and others — .

Moreover, Ducati will launch nine different top-of-the-line bikes during the next 2016 year, though Claudio Domenicali has stated that growth is not a goal in itself, but, rather, and indicator of customer satisfaction with regard to both the bikes and the overall quality of the work, which stems from continuous strenuous effort and product innovation in favour of Ducatisti.


But Ducati needs to win races in MotoGP, since its very loyal hundreds of thousands of customers and fans all over the world, its immense prestige as a brand, and the huge efforts made by its engineers, mechanics and technicians throughout recent years deserve it.

And the path implemented by Gigi Dall´Igna seems undoubtedly to be the right one in that direction, with conceptual ideas arising from both his long experience in Aprilia developing engines of different capacities (particularly the V4 cylinder powerplant of the Superbike Aprilia RSV4) and others set forth by Massimo Bordi (with valuable assistance by Franco Farné and Gianluigi Mengoli) when he designed the astonishing Ducati 851 Sport in 1987 as a rolling proof of the factory´s unshakeable belief in the merits of the 90-degree vee-twin as the ideal configuration for a motorcycle engine., with smoothness and torque as key traits.

This continuity of essential principles throughout Ducati history is really fascinating and keeps on in the superb powerplant of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15, though it isn´t a four-stroke 851 cc 90º L twin cylinder DOHC desmodromic 4 valve per cylinder engine like the Ducati 851, but a four-stroke 1,000 cc 90º L four cylinder DOHC evo desmodromic four valves per cylinder, because Gigi Dall´Igna is striving upon getting as much smoothness and controllability as possible with the GP15 and has also made a remarkable work building a smaller and lighter engine, a field in which he became a world class authority doing it with Aprilia powerplants throughout more than twenty years, specially with the Superbike Aprilia RSV4 boasting a 210 hp V4 engine with a fantastic compactness.


On the other hand, Ducati has significant advantages in this scope, because it is accustomed to get with 90-degree vee-twin engines amazing results often approaching or even bettering the ones delivered by four cylinder powerplants, something which already happened between 1987 and 1993 when Massimo Bordi´s Ducati 851 twin could often beat the best four cylinder bikes of the time and proved to be faster in straight line than the Hondas RC30 and Yamaha OWO1, confirming once more the famous tremendous speed and acceleration power that has been inherent to Ducati during its lifetime as a motorcycling firm, but also featuring real mid range strength and a top quality computer controlled fuel injection enabling a perfect delivery without flat spots.

As a matter of fact, Walter Villa had challenged he might of theJapanese with a new 748,1 cc (88 x 61,61,5 mm) veersion of the drivenPantah engine, ad it was necessary to redesigne the carnkshaft to attain it,

Abyway, the highight of the works TT1F races cane at Daytona in Mach 1986, when Marco Lucchinelli won the Battle of The Twins race, and a year he won again, but this tine riding a prototype of another very different machine that was to appear later as the Ducati 851, a model which would perform a vital role in Ducati ´future, as the Pantah had done before,

Needless to say that the 2 cylinder desmodromic engine of the Ducati 851 had a very small and light engine delivering approximately the same maximum power output as a four cylinder 750 bike, but with a very important advantage: the spreading of power in the Ducati 851 was over a much wider range, something that was specially evident when the Bologna firm won three consecutive SBK World Championships: one attained by Raymond Roche in 1990 with a Ducati 851 WSB and two snagged by Doug Polen in 1991 and 1992 with a Fast by Ferracci Ducati 888 WSB (an upgrade of the 851, pushing the capacity up to 888 cc and featuring the same Desmoquatro valve train with desmodromic twin-cylinder engine), whose tiptop performance was built up by the legendary tuner Eraldo Ferracci and his Fast by Ferracci Ducati USA Team.

Anyway, the pinnacle of Massimo Bordi´s masterpiece Ducati 888 breed was probably the Ducati 888 SP5 delivering 118 hp at 10500 rpm, a dream bike deemed by and large as the best looking sport motorcycle of all time, pure Italian art on wheels and with which the great Giancarlo Falappa, The Lion of Jesi, managed to attain his mythical victory on very wet track at the Brands Hatch WSBK 1993, riding as a true maestro in appalling weather conditions, under heavy rain.

And Ducati would win nothing less than eleven more Superbike World Championships between mid nineties and 2011: Carl Fogarty (1994, 1995, 1998 with Ducati 916 and 1999 with Ducati 996), Troy Corser (1996 with Ducati 916), Neil Hodgson (2003, with Ducati 999 F03), James Toseland (2004, with Ducati 999 F04), Troy Bayliss (2001 with Ducati 996R, 2006 with Ducati 999 F06 and 2008 with Ducati 1098 F08) and Carlos Checa (2011, with Ducati 1098R).

Therefore, if Ducati has got this tremendous technology, previous background and prowess drawing incredible power from desmodromic vee-twin engines of large capacity which has enabled it to win the awesome figure of 14 SBK World Championships between 1988 and 2015 (Ducati is by far the brand with most titles achieved heretofore in this category, over Honda, Aprilia, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha), one can imagine the results when one of the best motorcycling engineers like Gigi Dall´Igna works in the improvement and miniaturization of a vee-four 1,000 cc MotoGP desmodromic engine, aiming at getting the maximum speed and acceleration power technology can create along with excellent rideability, because that binomium can highly probably become instrumental for significantly increasing the success chances of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 and the next Ducati Desmosedici GP 16, in the same way as not only the blistering speed for the time of the Ducati 851 and Ducati 888 but its combination with a remarkable reliability was the symbiosis that gave Roche and Polen the first three SBK World Championships for Ducati in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Because in spite of the incredible performance and small size and weight of the desmodromic 2 cylinder engines made by Ducati, the only possible way for the Italian firm to enter the MotoGP competition was obviously the manufacturing of desmodromic V-4 engines (in the queen category you need brutal power output, exceedingly difficult to obtain with twin-cylinder engines, because the very big increase of bore sizes would have resulted in combustion problems), so in 2003 Ducati introduced a 988 cc four-stroke L-4 engine delivering more than 220 hp at the crank and able to reach 18,000 rpm for its first year of competition in MotoGP with the Ducati Desmosedici GP3 bike, a real stunner whose elegant and beckoning beauty of lines was a riveting sigtht, as well as delivering a formidable performance that was particularly revealed during the great victory (first one scored by Ducati in MotoGP) of Loris Capirossi at the 2003 Moto GP World Championship Grand Prix of Catalonia (Spain) race on the track of Montmeló Circuit.

That was the second V-four engine built by Ducati throughout its history (the first one, forty years before, was the 1257 cc 90º V4 powerplant of the Ducati Apollo prototype with four speed gearbox, designed in 1963 by Fabio Taglioni, which in spite of being a big bike had a compact 90°-L four-cylinder engine with a bore and stroke of 84.5 x 56 mm, delivering a maximum power of 80 hp at 6000 rpm that turned it into the forefather of what was soon to become the cornerstone of Ducati’s technology: the L-twin engine, and its L layout would later be brought back with tremendous success, this time with two cylinders rather than four) and it featured double overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder and Desmodromic timing with gear train, along with an impressive crankshaft.

The incredibly robust crankshafts made with state-of-the-art metallic alloys and an excepcional machining precision has been a distinctive powerplant trait boasted by each model of Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP four cylinder bike made by the Italian firm from 2003 hitherto, with the added bonus of very sophisticated camshafts — two per cylinder bank — driven by gears as a high-tech and reliable solution begetting maximum accurate timing in all conditions.

Twelve years have elapsed since then, with continuous improvements made by Ducati in its 4 cylinder MotoGP engine,

989 cc four-stroke L four cylinder DOHC Desmodromic 4 titanium valves per cylinder and gear driven camshafts desmodromic engine of the Ducati Desmosedici GP6 from 2006, delivering 200 hp at 13,800 rpm and with which Loris Capirossi won three MotoGP World Championship races: Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), Brno (Czech Republic) and Motegi (Japan) during that year season, along with the impressive victory of Troy Bayliss in the Cheste Circuit Moto GP race, enhancing the Ducati legend, because he had been four years before in 2002 together with Vittoriano Guareschi the first person to publicly test the first Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP prototype with a desmodromic V4 engine.

Timing system of the Ducati MotoGP 1,000 cc four-stroke 4 cylinder in L layout engine with double overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder and Desmodromic operation with gear train.The constructive precision of the metallic components of this wonder of miniaturized mechanics, made with the best available materials and conceptually related to Filippo Bruneleschi and Leonardo da Vinci´s theory of gear trains — particularly in the efficiency of the many bevel gears as embodiment of the necessary enormously accurate tuning between plenty of moving parts for the correct functioning of the desmodromic system — is extraordinary and works like a top-notch Swiss horological manufacture. As a matter of fact, it is to great extent a superb clockwork mechanism handling the 16 very large diameter valves with amazing accuracy. The design of this powerplant consists of two classical Ducati L-twins next to each other, id est, it is a Double L-twin with two-cylinder stroking at the same time through a state-of-the-art Twin Pulse technology. With four valves per cylinder, the total number of valves is sixteen - Desmosedici means desmodromic distribution with sixteen valves shortened in Italian- . Ducati has always called the shots setting up properly the clearances and cam timing, optimizing to the utmost the precision and quickness with which valves are opened and shut, something specially important at the highest rpm in races, when the engine is operating at its maximum potential.

whose evolution until reaching the current 240 hp (nominal figure, because it probably features a power output between 280-290 hp) and around perhaps between 20,000-21,000 rpm Ducati MotoGP engine created from scratch by Gigi Dall´Igna for the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 (able to reach a top speed maybe around 368-370 km/h) has been awesome, and however incredible it may seem, the 1000 cc 4-cylinder desmodromic powerplant created and tuned by Gigi Dall´Igna for the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is much more powerful, probably able to reach 20,000 and even perhaps 21,000 rpm, but features a further important quality: its much better smoothness and rideability, together with a greatly improved traction, something that usually becomes a conundrum, because such a massive power most times brings about a detriment of the traction.

Gigi Dall´Igna´s 1,000 cc Ducati Desmosedici GP15 engine performance is also far superior to the 800 cc double L-twin engine (4 cylinder twin pulse) of the extraordinary Ducati Desmosedici GP7, which featured a power of 225 hp at 19,000 rpm, was able to reach more than 330 km/h and ran faster laps than the 990 cc bikes during the 2007 MotoGP tests in Motegi (Japan) and got an advantage of 1 second or more over the 800 cc models from other brands.

Ducati Corse team has also cleverly mapped all the electronics making the the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 amazingly user friendly for such a powerful bike.

Ducati Desmosedici GP15, the evolutive technological pinnacle of sixty years of history of Ducati bikes featuring desmodromic engines, a legend which began in 1956 with the creation of the Ducati Desmo GP 125 cc (featuring a single cylinder 4 stroke bevel gear driven engine with triple overhead camshaft twin valve desmodromic timing system delivering 19 hp at 12,500 rpm and able to safely reach the 15,000 rpm without any valve float) by Fabio Taglioni, whose great ingenuity and work along with the labour developed by chief engineer Loli and the mechanics Alberto Farné, Recchia and Mazza were instrumental in attaining the first international sporting successes of the Italian firm between 1956 and 1960 and the consolidation of Ducati as a world-class bike manufacturing firm, highly strengthened in 1959 with the introduction of the Ducati Elite 200 single featuring a timing system consisting of an overhead camshaft and twin valves, a posh model which attained an incredible worldwide sales success for the time (being in production until 1965) thanks to its sophistication, elegant beauty of lines, painstaking attention to detail, sporting traits, amazing performance, strong personality and a multipurpose ability which would be a further defining hallmark of a high percentage of future Ducati bikes of the XX and XXI centuries.


What Dall´Igna has achieved until now with the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 bike is truly a feat, because in a vee-four cylinder desmodromic engine the power pulses are spaced more narrowly than in desmodromic vee-twins, so cornering becomes more difficult and the rider doesn´t perceive what is happening with the rear of the bike as accurately as with a V-twin powerplant motorcycle, along with the fact that twins generate torque lower than fours, which results in an excellent and balanced performance of two cylinder engines both on cornering and on running across straight stretches, a real technological achievement, particularly in the desmodromic way only made by Ducati.


But to get the same thing with the tremendously powerful 1000 cc 90º V4, four-stroke with 16 valves evo desmodromic engine probably delivering between 280-290 hp featured by the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is much more difficult, though it seems that Gigi Dall´Igna is achieving that balance little by little and by dint of brutal hard work, experience, unquenchable love for bikes and a team work in which the proficiency of Ducati mechanics and technicians is also highlighting, with a shared great yearning for beginning to win MotoGP races as a first stage before reaching the real aim: to take Ducati again to the path of victory in Moto GP World Championship.


The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is currently the highest expression of Ducati technology, the jewel of the crown of the brand and one of the scientific world spearheads in this sphere, particularly thrilling and fascinating because it means to reach new and incredible levels with an utterly mechanic desmodromic system which in spite of its great complexity, very high production cost and exceedingly difficult tuning, goes on being the best in extraordinary performance and reliability at high revs and oozes enthralling intricacy, Italian class, style and power to spare.

On the other hand, the coming back of the great Casey Stoner — a pilot who has written with golden letters some memorable pages of MotoGP history — to Ducati as a test pilot and ambassador of the Italian brand can also be a significant boost for the future of the firm in MotoGP, a scope in which the understanding of the behaviour of the next Ducati Desmosedici GP16 with the new Michelin tyres, the testing of different geometries of the bike and the strengths and weaknesses of the new single ECU and Michelin tyres could likewise be a key factor during the 2016 MotoGP season.

Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

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