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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Its a new year, a new decade and the middle of winter for the majority of our readers. The ideal time to make some New Year Ducati Resolutions and Ducati News Today is here to help. After the jump you will find the Top 10 Ducati Resolutions for 2010 that range from free to tens of thousands to suit every budget.
10 – Participate in a Forum.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Ducatisti is their enthusiasm for the brand. If you haven’t participated in the various online forums yet, make 2010 the year to get started. Sign-up is free and uncomplicated, and you can lurk for awhile before actually posting if you want. When you do you will become part of a large, like minded community that will help you solve problems, debate topical issues and of course just shoot the breeze.
There are many choices but Ducati News Today is an active member ofDucati.ms, and participates from time to time on the Ducati Monster List, Ducati Superbikes and Ducati Spot forums with the username ‘Whippersnapper’.
9 – Setup your Suspension.
These days the suspension on Ducatis is of a high quality even on the base model machines. However suspension settings need to be idealized for the weight, riding style and situation of every individual rider. If you haven’t at least set your static sag for your weight (in full riding gear) for the everyday low price of Free, then you are almost certainly not riding a machine that is as good as it could be.
So read up about the basics of setting up suspension and get some friends around to help you transform your Ducatis performance by simply twiddling some knobs.
8 – Join an Official Club
There are literally thousands of Ducati fans just like you who you can meet if you join an official Ducati Club. Clubs hold rides, social functions, track days, tech sessions and more for their members and usually charge very modest annual dues. Being in Atlanta, Ducati News Today belongs to Wild Ducs, but you can find your nearest club using Ducati’s Club Finder.
7 – Get Some Swag
Just like Ferarri, Ducati has a thriving business in merchandise that can allow you to subtly or not so subtly advertise your affection for the beasts from Bologna. If you are in the Northern hemisphere and not riding it gives you the chance to keep something Ducati close to you even if you aren’t riding.
Ducati helpfully provide their entire catalogue for 2010 online and Ducati News Today holds the leather Ducati wallet and Breil Ducati Watch amongst its most cherished items.
6 – Get Some Rider Training
Motorcycling is demanding, dangerous and rewarding. How much of the mix is danger depends in some part on our level of technical skill and mental attitude to the task at hand. Just like with any sport, everyone can benefit from expert tuition even just to practice rusty skills.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation now offers a course custom made for sports riding on the road and if well worth the modest price of admission. The MSF Advanced Sportbike Techniques Course takes a full day and is a mix of classroom and riding sessions.
5 – Do a Track Day
With modern road machines offering the performance of factory Superbikes of just a decade ago it is impossible, illegal and extremely dangerous to take more than a gentle lick of the performance envelope of our impressive machines on the street.
The answer? Do a track day. Numerous organizations exist all around the country that will allow you to ride you bike at your own pace on a closed circuit free from oncoming cars, unexpected shingle and speed limits. A track day allows you to explore more of the performance of your machine whilst at the same time honing your braking, cornering and throttle control skills.
Track days usually follow the same formula. Riders are split into three groups representing differing levels of ability and experience like Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. The Novice group is for riders with little to no track experience or for those who ride at a more gentle pace. Control riders usually orient the group to the track and passing is strictly controlled. By contrast the advanced group is for experienced riders and racers where overtaking is allowed even up the inside into turns, with the intermediate group somewhere in the middle.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming the groups only relate to motorcycle performance or that you should jump straight into the advanced group because you are handy on the road. At a track day you will find 60 years olds on air-cooled machines lapping handily in the Advanced groups along with Desmosedici’s in the Novice group and everything in between. Few experiences are as exhilarating as being on the track. Most regular track day riders subsequently take it a lot easier on the road as a result.
4 – Modify your Ducati
Ducatis used to be rare but nowdays you don’t have to go far to see one just like yours, unless you happen to own a Desmosedici. For the rest of us, aftermarket parts from either Ducati or a host of alternative suppliers supply us with an opportunity to customize our bikes to suit our unique needs and make our bike definitively ours.
Obvious choices are a dashing of carbon fiber, aftermarket exhausts, rear sets, clutch covers….the list really is endless. Here are a few links to get you started.
3 – Sort out the Fueling
Noise and emission laws have made it increasingly difficult for Ducati to deliver us motorcycles with finished fueling systems. If you suffer from surging, rough or abrupt throttle response at lower revs then there is a solution but it isn’t necessarily cheap. The solution on the Ducati News Today Monster S4Rs required a full exhaust system, Ducati Performance ECU, a Power Commander and a custom map but the results were transformational. You can read all about it in the Modding the Monster series.
2 – Lose Weight
Before you come out swinging, I meant the bike okay! Less weight means your bike accelerates, turns and stops better with exactly the same horsepower. Lighter bikes are more fun and Ducati has been one of the many manufacturers supplying us with ever lighter bikes over recent years.
One of the best, trickest and most expensive modifications is to swap out your wheels for some carbon fiber ones. Carbon rims are not only many lbs lighter but the lower moment of inertia provides additional turning, accelerating and stopping benefits beyond the weight loss. They cost around $4,000 for a set. Gulp.
1 – Buy a New Ducati
The obvious new model is the hot, new Ducati Multistrada 1200 but new for 2010 models include the Hypermotard 796, Monsters with ABS, 848 Dark and 1198S Corse and 1198R Corse Special Editions.
When Hayden last arrived in Madonna di Campiglio,the idyllic ski resort high in the Italian Dolomites that hosts the team intro, he was full of promise and hope for the year ahead. But the season was a disappointment, beginning with a massive highside during qualifying for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix. That set the tone for the first half of the season, during which he'd often finish Friday practice in frustration near the bottom of the time sheets. His results picked up in the second half, with the highlight being a podium finish in his home grand prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The season ended on an up note, with fifth olace finishes in the final two races. Still, he was well behind the ‘aliens' - Stoner, Rossi, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa - the four riders who dominated the front of the field.
A year on Hayden is again excited to get going and now with a new weapon. When he visited the Ducati Corse workshop in December, he was so enthused at the sight of the GP10, that he posted a photo on his website, which he soon realized was a mistake. Still, his motives were pure and he could be forgiven for enthusiasm.
"I was just like a kid," he said. "Any time you get a new toy you want to show all your friends. And the bike didn't have the graphics on it or anything and I thought most people had pretty much seen it at Valencia. So I just put the picture on my website and shared it with my fans and probably got me in the doghouse a little bit, but I was just excited. So it happens and just lesson learned."
With the limited amount of off and in-season testing, "it's not like you can go and make a bunch of radical new changes [to the GP10]."
The team took the GP09, which Stoner proved was a race winner at the end of the season, and made improvements. Hayden said "some stuff with the engine certainly will help us next year to make it more rideable and more consistent as the season goes on and we got a couple different little tweaks and stuff. Sure the bike is good. We have a strong package for 2010 and some changes with the team and a lot of things that I think has got a lot of excitement about the season for me and for everybody involved and going to be some big changes. But with changes you get big opportunities and we brought in some new guys and the enthusiasm's there and some fresh energy and we see what it amounts to."
The personnel changes began during the season and continued into the off-season to improve communications. Longtime team manager Livio Suppo was replaced late in the year by Vito Guareschi, the former rider who's done most of the development work, and Alessandro Cicognani, who will take over Suppo's marketing tasks. Suppo was a vital part of the team, a constant presence who always seemed to have his cell phone pressed to his ear. It was Suppo who made the decision to use Bridgestone tires, which, at the time, weren't in vogue. It would later prove to be a wise choice.
Though Hayden admits he'll miss him, he says that Guareschi and Cicognani aren't two guys who were "pulled off the production line who was putting kickstands on 848s. These guys have been around and I think can be a big help to us. I mean we'll have Alessandro now focus more on the sponsoring side and Vito in the garage, which, before, Livio was doing it all and was a big job for one guy. Was too much to ask."
Hayden pointed out that, as a rider, Guareschi had been on the podium of World Superbike and "is the one really responsible for this bike. He's the one who's done all the testing and we think having him around will help have a closer link to Filipo from the track to the factory and we see. So I think that's the biggest change. We've made a few little changes within the team, a few mechanics swapping around, which is a normal deal. But I think everybody is excited about the opportunity and definitely got some fresh faces and some new energy. Sure they've big shoes to fill, because Livio, as we all know, did a lot, was a big part of our team. But these guys I think have been around him enough to learn from him and now they got a big opportunity so let's see what they can do."
For Hayden to improve he needs to be better in all areas, he said.
"I think it's a combination; it's bike, rider, team. It's all one package. You have to use the bike as a tool and obviously I didn't get the most out of it, but I think now I have a better feel for it. In the beginning it was always really difficult. I could never get a good understanding from lap to lap and get the feedback and know where the limit was. so I don't think it's just one area. I think part of it is adjusting my style, my approach to the bike. But also adjusting the bike and the set-up to me. So I think it's a combination."
Asked if the past few seasons had been frustrating, he said, "Well, yeah, it's been frustrating. You go from being the world champ to running around mid-pack is tough at times when I expect a lot from myself. And, sure, it's not fun. But the bike, I have no doubt about my bike, my team and even my potential. I know we have all the ingredients we need, it's just to put it all together and make it happen, so it's pretty simple."
The Hayden family will be represented in three championships this year; Tommy Hayden is now the senior rider on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team and Roger Lee Hayden (Pedercini Kawasaki) will be the first in the family to race World Superbike full-time after a number of Moto2 deals fizzled. After laying out the various calendars, Hayden said he planned to take in both AMA and World Superbike races when his schedule allows.
"So it's going to be cool. One racing in AMA, one in World Superbike, one in MotoGP is pretty neat. I was hoping he [Roger Lee] would go Moto2. He had a couple opportunities that it was a possibility and I thought that would be really cool to be able to share the weekend and go to the races together and be like the old days. I mean, I shared a room with him until I graduated high school, so on the inside, being a bit greedy, I thought that would be cool. But he's got an opportunity in World Superbike. The situation in America now is really tough with the series, with the economy. That championship is not as strong as it once was, so this'll be a good deal for him if he can make the most of it. You know, starting a little bit behind. He hasn't ridden that bike yet or anything, so he'll get his chance later this month. But let's hope he can get some results."
Results weren't something Hayden got in 2009, admitting he had a "little bit higher expectations than how we went. It was tougher than we had hoped, but life is like this sometimes and things don't always go exactly how you draw them up and how you lay in bed and envision them. And, sure, we started off the season and had a couple big crashes and got beat up and just really couldn't get any momentum going. But I think the thing that we gotta be positive about is the progress we made, thankfully with a lot of hard work from everybody at Ducati to really listen to me and give me the help I needed to make the progress and the people from Philip Morris. We were able to slowly but surely start working our way toward the front. And finish the season really positive. I mean, was it enough? No, but was able to get on the podium at Indy and then finish the season with two top fives in a row and make some big steps with myself, with the bike, with the team, with the set-up in a lot of areas. So we're really excited for the new season. Need to pick up right where we left off and keep trying to close that gap to the front."
But he knows that words don't mean a thing unless he can back it up on the track.
"No need to sit here talking about it and blowing a lot of smoke and making a lot of predictions. Just need to get ready to when we get to Qatar and the lights go out to be able to get up front."
"As long as he stays away from milk, cheese, and other dairy products, Casey Stoner likes his chances for this year's MotoGP World Championship.
The 2007 MotoGP title-winner said his doctors had isolated his mid-season illness as lactose-intolerance and that since adjusting his diet, he's become increasingly stronger as he sails through his first injury-free off-season in years. For the first time since he joined the MotoGP class, the Australian can work at full strength over the winter in preparation for what he believes will be a successful 2010 campaign.
Stoner said that for the last three years "we had a really good start to last season and we thought things were going to go a little bit more our way," at the start of a wide-ranging press conference at Wrooom 2010, the combined Ducati Marlboro/Ferrari Marlboro press intro in the Italian Dolomites. "We thought we'd at least take the fight for the championship to the end and when we finally hit the right set-up with the bike I started having a problem with myself.
"At first we thought it was just a slight illness-that I had a cold or something-and it was affecting me quite a lot. And as the next races went on, we realized it wasn't going away, and it was just continuing to get worse. I just wasn't able to do anything on the bike; after three-four laps I was completely destroyed. We went and had as many appointments with as many doctors as we could, and nobody really had any answers. Everybody started immediately pointing to my head, that it was a mental problem, psychologically, and all these kinds of things. I knew better; I've been doing this sport long enough that I'm not just going to have a mental breakdown in the middle of the season when everything's going well."
By the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, "things were becoming a little dangerous in my riding. I was becoming too tired to control the bike well and decided just to have time off and figure it out."
Stoner saw seven or eight doctors on three different continents throughout his ordeal. The breakthrough came when one suggested lactose intolerance, "which ended up being our Achilles heal, which ended up being our fault. We figured that out over the two-month break that we had and came back strong again in racing. It was basically like racing for the first time again; being so uncompetitive for so long and then being able to run at the front in a race again and last until the end was just an unreal feeling. So a big thanks to everybody who supported me, but we definitely had a lot of critics over that time, so it was nice to come back and end up with a few good results before the end of the season and end things on a strong note, ready for next year. Now we won't be able to run into that problem anymore."
As for 2010, Stoner said he was "definitely looking forward to this year. It's the first off-season that I've had in the last three years where I haven't had an injury or some sort of operation, so it's been very nice to have the off-season free and be able to train throughout.
"The last test in Valencia, we tried the new bike-the new engine configuration-and I really loved it. We had a lot more traction, we were able to do a lot more with the bike, and considering Valencia is a very good circuit for our bike anyway, we were still able to do a very good job with the new engine configuration, so I was very happy with that, and we believe it's going to help us on the tracks-at the circuits that we struggled with a little bit more in the past, make the bike a little more balanced throughout the season. At the moment, we're very happy, and confident we can take the fight a little bit further in the season."
To do that he'll have to beat three other riders, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa, the other three riders who, along with Stoner, have dominated the past few season. Rossi stands out as the one to beat "because he's won the championship for the last two years in a row now. Both rivals," Rossi and Lorenzo, have their strong points because sometimes Valentino can be very fast and strong during a weekend but in a race struggle a little bit. But other times you think he's struggling and he'll put it out for the race and do very well. Jorge sometimes is a little easier to understand. If things aren't going well for him, then he normally doesn't improve for the race. But normally he's very strong throughout the weekend and that continues for the race. They both have different strong points and different ways of approaching the weekend."
Asked by a Formula One journalist what he thought about the longevity Rossi and the return of Michael Schumacher, the Formula One legend who's returning to the track after a three year absence, he said, "the more people to fill the gaps at the front then the better it is. It's something I think MotoGP and F1 is struggling a little bit with the numbers, and that's why the gaps are so big: there's nobody filling the gaps. Valentino has been there for a long time now. He once was the young gun and now he's the old hen, but we'll have to try and take him down next year. As for Michael, he hasn't been there for a few years now, and it'll be interesting to see how he reacts to it. He's always been a great racer, and I think he'll definitely be running at the front; it'll make F1 quite interesting."
What may make his season more interesting is a promise to be more aggressive. Stoner said he'd been "too clean and too polite with my passing, so when people would try and block me, I didn't want to make people run wide, but nobody cared when they did it to me. From now on, I didn't really care, and I made my overtakes when I wanted to.
"Those five races in the middle of the season when the bike was working well and they're my kind of circuits where I normally have much better results, and it didn't happen. I'm definitely looking forward to this year. I'm not going to change too much from last year. We were fast enough, and I was ready to fight, and I'll just try and take things step by step. And if something goes wrong, I'll try and roll with the punches and come out fighting the next week. No season can be perfect, so I'm going to try and be as consistent as possible."