January 11, 2008 Ducati this week unveiled its 2008 MotoGP machine at its annual Wrooom - MotoGP Press Ski Meeting at Madonna di Campiglio. The new GP8 Desmosedici is understandably based on the GP7 which won the 2007 MotoGP title, with small but important changes in the area of the frame, rear suspension geometry, motor and electronic system. The Desmosedici is equipped with exactly the same traction control system used on the new 1098 R road bike which swept all before it in motorcycle magazine awards around the world. No doubt Ducati’s test rider Vittoriano Guareschi was thankful for the traction control as he rode the new machine before the press for the first time – the ice floor he had to contend with could easily have caught out any rider.
Ducati’s two factory riders, newly signed Marco Melandri and last year's world champion Casey Stoner later unveiled the machine’s new livery and Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Corse CEO and Ducati Motor Holding Product Director, revealed the technical details of the new bike.
"It is very exciting to be here," began Domenicali. "This event has become traditional over the years, but I must say that it feels different this year. The very special feeling created in 2007 between our rider and our bike and tyres resulted in a fantastic season for all of us. I could sum it up by saying that Casey was able to perfectly interpret our GP7, which had been impeccably built and maintained high levels of competitiveness and excellent reliability throughout the season. The Bridgestone tyres also took a step forwards in terms of performance consistency, thanks to our successful joint efforts which had begun in 2005 and allowed us to basically close the gap with Michelin."
"Our 2008 bike is an evolution of the 2007 model, how could we have done otherwise? There was so very little wrong with that bike," continued Domenicali before analysing the new bike's technical characteristics. "We worked on all areas. In terms of chassis set-up, the new frame is lighter with optimised torsional and flexural rigidity to solve the rather minimal "chattering" that we experienced on a few occasions last year. The rear suspension geometry is also different to reduce the 'pumping' effect observed in certain tracks and in special conditions. As for the engine, we worked on two areas. First of all, performance. We introduced a number of modifications to minimise friction and obtain a small power increase without affecting fuel consumption. Secondly, we worked on rideability, in other words, engine response proportional to the rider's torque requirements. We tackled this aspect to obtain a 'fuller' engine response especially mid-range and maintain peak power for longer.
Finally, with regards to electronics, we modified a few sensors and actuator details to increase reliability and consequently, safety. One of the main reasons of our presence in racing is to develop technology to be transferred to production bikes, improving safety and making them even more fun to ride. Electronics play an important role in all this. An example of this is our new 1098 R, which is equipped with exactly the same traction control system used in Ducati racing bikes, making it the first bike in the world to feature a system able to combine safety with high performance."
Domenicali concluded his presentation by talking about the essentially important support granted by Ducati sponsors in a highly competitive and challenging environment like MotoGP.
"We would like to thank Phillip Morris who made it possible to reach these goals. Without them, all this would have been very hard to achieve. Our contract with them runs until 2011 which gives us the peace of mind needed to continue our work," said Domenicali. "Just today, we've renewed our contract with Shell, a technological partner extremely important to us, given the decisive role played by fuel consumption in our championship regulations."
Domenicali also thanked other Ducati partners, among whom Alice, a long-standing sponsor, San Disk, the contract with whom has been renewed until 2009, and Riello UPS. Finally, he mentioned the newly acquired, important partner Enel, now in a two-year agreement with Ducati.