Ducati announced its MotoGP team will compete under the new “Open” class instead of the “Factory” class the other major manufacturers are adopting. Ducati declared its decision on the Feb. 28 deadline for teams to declare which of the two different class regulations they will use for the 2014 season.
The decision was made on the final day of testing at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit, with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow testing their Desmosedicis in an Open class configuration. The results were impressive, with Dovizioso finishing third overall and Crutchlow eighth. Dovizioso’s fastest lap came in a time of 2:00.067, just a fraction behind the leaders Valentino Rossi of Yamaha and Dani Pedrosa of Honda who tied at a time of 1:59.999.
“For Ducati it is really important to continue the development work on the GP14 and we certainly made some improvements during this test, just like the previous one,” says Luigi Dall’Igna, general manager of Ducati Corse. “The gap separating us from our rivals is however still a big one, so having the possibility to modify our engine during the season is fundamental for us. For this reason, we have chosen the Open option, sharing the decision with our riders: Andrea and Cal have a lot of confidence in all the Ducati Corse technical staff and they accepted our decision without a moment’s hesitation.”
New for the 2014 MotoGP season, the Open class limits teams to using a standardized ECU programming, but are allowed more freedom to develop their engines. Factory teams may use their own proprietary ECU software, but are limited to 20 l (5.3 gallons) of fuel compared to 24 l (6.3 gallons) per race.
Open riders are also allowed a softer rear tire than the Factory riders. Dovisiozo did not use the softer tire at Sepang, and the extra grip could have been enough to push him to the top of the time sheet.
Factory teams are also limited to just five engines per rider through the season while Open riders are allotted 12. The big advantage that swayed Ducati’s decision is a freeze on engine development for Factory machines. Ducati has a lot of work to do before it can catch up with Honda and Yamaha and the ability to continue developing its engines during the season was too good to pass up.
“We have carefully studied the new technical regulations and have concluded that the Open option is the most interesting for Ducati, in the current situation,” says Dall’Igna. “This year we have to keep developing our bikes throughout the season to improve our competitiveness, and the Factory option appears to be too restrictive for our needs.We are confident that the electronics package provided by Magneti Marelli and Dorna has very good quality and will allow the correct management of all the main functions of the bikes.”