Bernhard Gobmeier sounded cautiously optimistic about Ducati‘s MotoGP program, speaking at the Wrooom 2013 event following the unveiling of the Desmsedici GP13 racebike.
Taking over as general manager of Ducati Corse, Gobmeier acknowledged his team had a lot of ground to make up if it hopes to pose a serious threat to Honda and Yamaha. Ducati got an early start on developing its 2013 program halfway through the 2012 season when it became apparent the Desmosedici GP12 was not competitive enough against the RC213V and the M1. That also means the GP13 as it is now isn’t that much different from the one that ended last season.
“The challenge that lies ahead is a big one and everybody is curious as to what we are going to do to close the gap to our rivals,” says Gobmeier. “We must work in a lot of different areas where we can make the difference. We have already made some positive changes to the team structure, and we have some ideas for the development of the bike. I prefer to speak about evolution rather than revolution and with this in mind first we want to evaluate the material developed in the second half of last year. I think that with this approach we can improve the performance of the bike in the short term but we are also working on new solutions which down the road in 2013 will be implemented into the race bike.”
“There is no reason to change an engine that works and is part of Ducati’s history. As long as the rules allow it, we’ll remain with the same Desmodromic configuration,” says Gobmeier. “And the bike should be rideable for everyone. It should not just be a motorcycle that Casey Stoner can win on. We will not copy a Yamaha, and will stick with the Ducati philosophy.”
The addition of the Pramac Racing team as a factory-supported “junior” team should aid in development. In previous seasons, satellite teams used machines that were several steps of development behind the factory Desmosedicis. For 2013, Pramac will be the only satellite Ducati squad, and its Desmosedici GP13 will be much closer in spec to the factory bikes. Pramac riders Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone will play a more active role in developing the GP13 than previous satellite team riders.
“My team and I have our work cut out for us and new goals to meet, but we’ll benefit from factory support and Audi coming on board,” says Spies. “Ducati has four strong riders with different styles, which should improve the Desmosedici and bring it back up to the top where it belongs.”
But how long will it take for Ducati to reach that goal? Gobmeier is cautious about when to expect results.
“It is of course too early to think about results. We have to wait for the first tests where we are going to try new things and give the riders the chance to get comfortable with the bike,” says Gobmeier. “I am sure that with the additional information from our riders and the know-how that we have within the personnel and engineering staff in Ducati, we will improve quite quickly. Our aim this year is to once again fight for podiums.”