Ducati to race in MotoGP “Open” class in 2014

Additional development during the year and increased engine/fuel allotment make the decision easy, Honda and Yamaha the only “Factory” class entrants.

Right on the deadline for declaring which MotoGP class option—"Factory" or "Open"—each team intends to use for the 2014 season, Ducati announced that it would break ranks from the Factory group of Honda and Yamaha, and have all its riders entered in the Open class. Because the Factory class rules stipulate that engine development is frozen once the race season begins, and Ducati is still struggling to get its MotoGP program on competitive terms with Honda and Yamaha, it was an easy decision for the Italian manufacturer to enter the class that allows R&D to continue during the season. The additional bonuses of more engines for the year (Factory option teams are now restricted to just five engines for the season, while the Open option teams are allotted 12 engines), and more fuel (Factory teams are limited to 20 liters per race, while Open teams can have 24 liters) are just icing on the cake.

The caveat for the additional engine and fuel allotment is that the Open class must use the Dorna-mandated spec software and sensor packet for the spec Magneti Marelli ECU (the ECU itself is required on all MotoGP bikes, but the Factory bikes are allowed to use their own proprietary software). Originally, this was seen as somewhat of a handicap, as the spec software is said to be nowhere near the sophistication of the Factory class' software developed by each manufacturer's best engineers. But that was before the competitiveness of the Open class machines using Factory-spec engines (and chassis) such as Forward Racing's Aleix Espargaro made themselves known. Espargaro was in the top four at both Sepang tests, and his speed suddenly caused some consternation in the HRC pits because they felt his bike wasn't in the "spirit of the rules."

And now Ducati has already tested their Factory-spec machines with the Open class software, and found the lap times weren’t that bad. Could this be the harbinger of the move to the spec software that Dorna wanted from the beginning?

"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,” said Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager. “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."