Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s...
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s appearance was widely anticipated because of his push for the CRT concept and his vision for the future of MotoGP, which basically excludes Ducati because the company has no current four-cylinder production bike.
Before Preziosi spoke on Wednesday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta held a series of interviews in various languages. His appearance was widely anticipated since his backing of the CRT concept effectively eliminates Ducati from MotoGP. Yes, they’ll be able to race the factory Desmosedici for the next five years, but it will almost certainly have to be dumbed down. Everything’s on the table, from rev limits to weight penalties to reduced electronics.
More than once he stressed the problem wasn’t machinery, but money; there is none, and none on the horizon. He has a championship to run and it can’t be done with only 12 MotoGP machines, which, for the satellite teams, are getting increasingly more expensive to lease. His proposal is that the factories produce and sell CRT machines at a fixed cost of €1 million (about $1.28 million).
Asked about Ducati’s future, he said, “Maybe they can make a bike for €1 million to sell in the future. Or just they will have the two bikes,” he paused, before returning to his No. 1 theme, “We have two kinds of problems. One is to make the CRT more competitive, but this is the smaller problem we have, because having things given to them, more things, is easier. And, two, if you have a championship at a high level, one is trying to work at a lower level and try to interfere that the top group can’t raise the level. And just limiting the cost is the only way to do it.”
(In response, a day later Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali would say, “So in the MotoGP championship, it’s very much more important to find a good balance between the possibility to develop technology and to have a good number of participants. I think still there is a lot of thinking to be made in order to reach a reasonable solution.”)
Ducati Corse technical director...
Ducati Corse technical director Filippo Preziosi (seated) and Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali also held press conferences at Wrooom.
Preziosi spoke for about 53 minutes, smiling through his answers while revealing very little about the GP12, other than that it was almost entirely new. “What we’re going to try in Sepang, the only components which are used from the previous bike are the front, so the fork and steering, so to say. All the rest is totally new,” he said. It was widely rumored that the frame was built by British chassis specialists FTR. Preziosi wouldn’t say, but made the point that Ducati Corse designed the chassis and that it was actually the product of three suppliers.
“In the past, the tubular frame, the carbon fiber frame and now the aluminum frame is completely calculated, designed in every single detail by Ducati Corse, so the supplier is just a partner that has the best machining and welding technology to produce the part that is completely developed by Ducati,” he said. There is a supplier that is “very good in machining the parts [for] some components, there is a supplier that is very good in welding the parts, and there is another supplier that is very good in the final machining of the steering axle and the pivot.” The aluminum perimeter frame permits the engine to be moved, an important consideration missing from last year’s chassis.
Hayden fist-bumps Rossi after...
Hayden fist-bumps Rossi after the Italian’s victory in the kart race.
Preziosi was followed by Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team principal who also had to explain how the team would improve for 2012.
“Winning is our primary objective and I believe we are preparing ourselves in the right way for this,” Domenicali said.
For the motorcycle set, Thursday was a day off. In the past, Ducati would unveil the new model atop one of the mountains in an elaborate display that included performance art of some kind, New Age music, and props. In 2010, it was hidden under an igloo of helium-filled red balloons. Last year they said the bike was in a remote area that photographers couldn’t access — a reason no one bought. This year was easier — no bike, no photos.
Thursday the F1 crowd got to hear from the drivers. Felipe Massa had his press conference, with Fernando Alonso next.
Rossi had a more difficult...
Rossi had a more difficult time with Massa in the Fiat 500 race. Although he sprinted into the lead from pole position, Massa took advantage of a yellow flag restart to pass the Italian and pull away for the win.
The week ends on Friday with a series of activities that give everyone in town a chance to see the stars in action. It begins with a ski race on a slalom course, held alongside the Fiat Chalet. Later in the afternoon comes the “Challenge Exhibition” kart and Fiat 500 races on the ice lake in the center of town.
The ski race was something of a disappointment for the motorcycle crowd. Hayden comes from the flatlands of Kentucky and skis once a year — at Wrooom. Still, he’s game to take part in the race, which former Ducati rider Casey Stoner never was. And Rossi, who prefers the snowboard to skis, also didn’t hit the gates. That left Ducati to be represented by team manager Vito Guareschi, who snowboarded his way down the mountain. After the usual sumptuous lunch at the Fiat Chalet it was time to get ready for the car races.
It’s impossible to overstate how seriously the ice races are taken. The races, which are held on a sort of goggle-shaped course on the frozen lake, are watched by everyone in town and much of Italy; everything from qualifying through the champagne celebrations are shown on RAI, the national broadcaster. Again the motorcycle crowd was underrepresented. Hayden sat out the race because of his broken shoulder. Team manager Vito Guareschi lobbied for the spot, but it was given to Uccio Salucci, Rossi’s close friend.
Rossi upheld two-wheel honor...
Rossi upheld two-wheel honor in the kart race, taking a popular win over Ferrari F1 drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Make no mistake, Rossi’s skills on four wheels are almost as good as on two wheels.
Massa won both races last year, but this year would be different; Rossi was ready for him. From the pole, Rossi powered into the lead in the kart race and held off Massa, even after the field was bunched up by a waving yellow late in the 15-lap affair. Massa was second with Alonso recovering from early race trouble to finish third. Ferrari’s test drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gene followed.
Rossi led much of the race in the Fiat 500s, but not all of it. Again there was a waving yellow, but this time Massa took advantage of it. The Brazilian cleanly passed Rossi in the first turn on the 17th lap and sped to victory. Alonso was third.
Lunch was served daily at...
Lunch was served daily at the Fiat Chalet high up on the mountain slopes. It definitely isn’t all work at Wrooom…
All six participants sprayed champagne, then got ready for the event-ending disco party. The week was over. Now was it was time for them to get their grooves on. SR