Ducati Desmosedici Development
Ducati Desmosedici RR. From concept to production. Ducati explains the workings behind the scenes.
Without a shadow of doubt, courage, ambition, pride, ingenuity and heritage all form the basis of the Ducati Desmosedici project. This important venture has simultaneously marked the return of Ducati to the MotoGP World Championship, and enabled the company to confirm its tradition of manufacturing successful, high-performance, four-stroke racing motorcycles.
2003 would see the Italian manufacturer make a spectacular return to the Moto GP with a project that had begun two years earlier and which had been developed by the Bologna manufacturer’s racing department. While still fully committed to Superbike racing, Ducati was also embarking on this exciting new challenge, taking part in the MotoGP World Championship for four-stroke prototype machines with the Ducati Marlboro Team.
"The philosophy of the Ducati Desmosedici project," declared Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse Director General, "is best expressed as total integration between engine, chassis and rider."
"This basic concept has been our philosophy from the very moment that we decided to tackle this new challenge. The bike represents an important evolution over the Ducati Superbike and is the result of new design techniques that have allowed us to integrate ‘virtual’ modelling and analysis with our considerable racing experience. This has speeded up design and development time and enabled us to immediately obtain surprising results."
"Ducati is fully committed to this project, which has allowed us to grow quickly and transfer new technology to our streetbike product range, which as a result has become increasingly reliable, thrilling and high-performance."
At first, Ducati’s MotoGP technicians (a group of passionate engineers with an average age of 28) had considered the possibility of creating a MotoGP ‘super-twin’, a latest-generation V-Twin prototype, taking advantage of the regulations that give twin-cylinder machines a considerable weight reduction over four, five or six-cylinder bikes. However, detailed analysis, including numerous computer simulations, indicated that a twin-cylinder engine would just not have been able to produce the required amount of power (more than 230 HP), without excessively increasing the number of revs.
A Twin would have had to rev at over 17,000 rpm, but this would require a very short stroke and a very large bore, as a result producing possible combustion problems. Ducati therefore opted for a brand-new V4 engine, which continued the traditional layout of its 90° L-Twin engines, together with desmodromic valve control. This marriage of tradition and innovation proved to be the path to follow.
The engine was called Desmosedici because its 16 valves were controlled by the desmo valve train system, a key factor in Ducati’s numerous successes on the track. The tried and tested V-90° layout offers a number of advantages that have contributed to Ducati’s success on the track and allowed the Desmosedici project to achieve major results. The layout of the cylinders guarantees perfect primary engine balance, an important characteristic for an engine that is required to rev up to 17,000 rpm with minimum vibration, thus improving mechanical efficiency and reliability.
The desmodromic system, designed for Ducati by the legendary engineer Fabio Taglioni, uses rockers both to close and open the valves, and this allows the engine to function with extraordinary precision at all rpm. For the first 2002 tests, Ducati Corse produced two versions of the Desmosedici engine, one with a regular firing order, and the other with paired cylinders firing simultaneously (Twin pulse). It soon became clear that the latter version put the engine components through excessive strain, so it was decided to use the first configuration.
Subsequently, starting from the 2004 Dutch TT at Assen, thanks to the evolution of the engine, the irregular firing Twin pulse version was used which gave better driveability. Ducati has also always aimed at excellence in performance through courageous and innovative choices, such as the chassis of its bikes. While other manufacturers race with different versions of an aluminium box frame, the Desmosedici has a tubular steel trellis structure, similar to the one used with great success in World Superbike.
In May 2004, during the spectacular World Ducati Week, the mega-meeting held every couple of years that attracts Ducati enthusiasts from all over the world, Ducati made an announcement that many had been eagerly awaiting: The development of the Desmosedici Racing Replica, a road-bike version of the Italian MotoGP contender that has fired up the enthusiasm of fans around the world, was now underway and would soon be available for sale.
Thus began the Desmosedici RR project and, once again, in keeping with that tradition and spirit that has always marked every decision, Ducati wanted to share this significant and exciting moment with its fans and its public. Orders started to flow in immediately and keen interest from Ducati fans made it clear that the initial company forecast of three hundred motorcycles would be surpassed with extreme ease. Before long, the project had started to take shape and just five months later, the new L-four desmodromic engine was sitting on the test bench at the Ducati R&D department for its first reliability and durability tests.
Thus the new engine was put through the first "in motoring" and "in firing" tests, designed to assess the duration and strength of the various components in view of the stresses generated by such a powerful engine. With the contribution of Alan Jenkins, the designer of the MotoGP Desmosedici, work began on the aerodynamics and the livery – which, also from an aesthetic viewpoint, is absolutely identical to the bike used on race tracks.
The definitive version was presented at Mugello on the eve of the 2006 Italian GP. At the unveiling, the aggressive, streamlined design and the applied technical solutions stunned everyone: the first ever road-going motorcycle to offer the stunning performance of a MotoGP machine! In the meantime Vittoriano Guareschi, the official test rider of the MotoGP Desmosedici, continued with on-track evaluation, giving the development team a valuable helping hand in putting the finishing touches to this gem of technology and style. 2007 would see the debut of the Desmosedici GP7 – characterised by revolutionary changes to race rules that limit cylinder capacity from 1000 to 800 cc; yet 2007 would also see the Desmosedici RR hit the track.
It made its debut at Misano in front of 50,000 Ducati fans from all over the world who formed the very heart of the fifth edition of World Ducati Week. The first few laps were rightly notched up by Vittoriano Guareschi, who opened up the throttle and let the mighty L-four really roar – to the absolute delight of the public, diehard enthusiasts, and the over 1000 purchasers who had already ordered this esoteric motorcycle. All of the latter, in fact, had been invited to witness this first official outing and see and touch the object of their desire for themselves. In the meantime, an assembly line exclusively dedicated to the Desmosedici RR has been set up at the Borgo Panigale factory.
Everything is now ready for production (which will begin in October) and for delivery of the first bikes. The Ducati Desmosedici RR is the first and only true MotoGP replica, destined to celebrate this prestigious race category’s era of maximum engine size (1000 cc) and establish a new milestone in terms of Italian technology, components, performance and style.