For Sale: Valentino Rossi’s last MotoGP bike

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Top-level MotoGP racing machines almost never reach private hands. But, two of the most significant Ducatis ever, one of Casey Stoner’s GP10s and Valentino Rossi’s GP11 are going on auction in May. These are true race machines. Stoner took the above bike to victory at Phillip Island while Rossi placed 3rd on the other bike at Le Mans.

Typically, factory MotoGP bikes are crushed or scavenged for parts at the end of a season. At best, they can hope to live on in a museum several years after they cease to be cutting edge. Competition, intellectual property, liabilty, etc; there’s many reasons to keep what’s inside the bikes secret and no real reason to let them slip out. The low six-figure some each bike is likely to fetch is a miniscule drop in the bucket of even a small factory like Ducati’s bucket; Rossi’s earnings alone top $35 million annually.

Ducati Desmosedici GP11 VR2

Specifications: 200+ hp 799 cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-4 four-stroke, desmodromic DOHC, four valves per cylinder; six-speed cassette-type gearbox, with alternative gear ratios available; dry multi-plate slipper clutch, chain final drive; indirect Magneti Marelli electronic injection, four throttle bodies with injectors above butterfly valves; throttles operated by EVO TCF (throttle control and feedback) system; Shell Racing V-Power fuel; Shell Advance Ultra 4 lubricant; Magneti Marelli ignition; Termignoni exhaust; final drive D.I.D. chain; Öhlins upside-down 48-mm front forks and Öhlins rear shock absorber adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping; Bridgestone 16.5-inch front and rear tires; Brembo, two 320-mm carbon front discs with four-piston callipers; single stainless steel rear disc with two-piston callipers; dry weight: 150 kg; top speed: in excess of 310 km/h (192 mph)

The big news for Ducati for 2011 was the signing of megastar nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi in a two-year agreement to ride for the MotoGP Ducati Marlboro Team. Rossi’s record made him arguably the greatest motorcycle rider of all time, with nine World Championships (seven in MotoGP) and 105 race victories (79 in MotoGP). He had previously won MotoGP World Championships on Honda and Yamaha, and the arrival of Valentino Rossi was meant to create an Italian dream team. Rossi also brought his crew chief from Honda and Yamaha, Jeremy Burgess, along with a tightly knit team of largely Australian and New Zealand mechanics. While the prognosis looked promising, unfortunately, the 2011 season was another disappointing one for Ducati and did not turn out as expected.

The machine presented here is the second of four variations Rossi raced during the 2011 season but is ostensibly the same as the GP10 of the previous season. 2011 was to be the final year for 800s, with a 1,000-cc V-4 planned for 2012. By the time Rossi joined the team, development of the GP12 was already well underway, and this development took priority over updating the GP11. The GP11 engine continued with the “big-bang” layout rather than the “screamer,” and the suspension remained an Öhlins TRSP25 48-mm “Through Rod” front fork with a TRSP44 rear shock absorber.

Although Rossi had spent some time testing the GP11 in Malaysia and Jerez in February, he was still struggling with a shoulder injury and had some difficulty initially matching the pace of the opposition. Handling problems soon became apparent, and for the third race of the season (Estoril) a new carbon airbox, with different rigidity, was implemented. This was accompanied by a new electronics package designed to soften the savage throttle response lower down. A more sophisticated traction control system was also introduced, and engine revisions included a higher inertia and crankshaft to further tame the throttle response.

For the fourth round at Le Mans, Rossi received an updated chassis (Step Two) with more flex built into the small carbon-fibre front airbox. Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden had been asking for more flex ever since he first tested the carbon monocoque in 2010, and this update brought a marked improvement. The heavier crankshaft tested after Estoril had met with approval but was temporarily shelved, but the Step Two chassis proved easier to ride. Rossi managed his only podium of the season, finishing third on the machine offered here. But despite this improved result, the Step Two GP11 was only an interim solution. A race in the wet at Silverstone saw the GP11 replaced by a new amalgam machine.

While Nicky Hayden continued to race the GP11 (Step Two), Rossi debuted an updated GP11.1 at Assen at the end of June. This third version was basically an 800-cc engine in the new GP12 carbon-fibre chassis, this requiring an updated engine with different mounts, as the rear suspension attached differently. As the engine was ostensibly that of the next generation 1,000-cc GP12, a short-stroke crankshaft and matching long con-rods were made so as to downsize the engine to 800 cc. The maximum bore for 2012 is 81 mm, so the stroke was reduced from around 48.4 mm to 38.7 mm. The new bike had the same carbon-fibre stressed airbox frame at the front as the GP11 but with an updated, inverted, swing-arm and rear suspension linkage similar to the Yamaha that Rossi was more familiar with. This successfully overcame the pumping action from the rear but was still not totally satisfactory. Also incorporated with the GP11.1 engine was a new gearbox with DST (Ducati Seamless Transmission).

As the GP11.1 failed to deliver the expected results, a new aluminium frame was built in eight weeks and tested by Rossi at Mugello early in September in the 1,000-cc GP12. This chassis made an appearance in Rossi’s 800-cc GP11.1 at Aragón a few weeks later. The carbon-fibre rear subframe mounts to the rear of the rear cylinder head were unchanged, and the swing-arm pivot remained underneath the engine cases. The front frame mounts were resurrected from the earlier tubular steel frame. This frame seemed to be an interim design, with the aluminium beams still built around the carbon-fibre airbox.

By late September Rossi was testing a 1,000 with a more conventional full-beam aluminium frame similar to the Yamaha Deltabox that had provided Rossi so much success in previous seasons.

As the new aluminium frame required yet another revised engine mount arrangement, Rossi exceeded his six-engine allocation and was penalised with a pit-lane start, ten seconds after the lights at Aragón. But the improvement became obvious when he qualified seventh at the next race at Motegi, only to become involved in a pile-up at the second corner. Rossi’s 2011 season was summed up in the final race at Valencia when he was again taken down, this time on the first corner.

As MotoGP moves into a new era in 2012, Rossi’s GP11 on offer here exemplifies the evolution of the 800-cc D16 from the world-beating GP7 through until the end of this formula in 2011. The GP11 presented here was the ultimate development of the D16 that provided Ducati their only MotoGP World Championship. In the history of Ducati’s MotoGP efforts, Rossi’s GP11 is historically extremely important, and its offering directly from the factory marks a tremendous—likely unrepeatable—opportunity for collectors.

Ducati Desmosedici GP10 CS1

Specifications: 200+ hp liquid-cooled, 90-degree 799 cc V-4 four-stroke, desmodromic DOHC with four valves per cylinder; six-speed cassette-type gearbox with alternative gear ratios available; dry multi-plate slipper clutch; chain final drive; indirect Magneti Marelli electronic injection, four throttle bodies with injectors above butterfly valves; throttles operated by EVO TCF (throttle control and feedback) system; Shell Racing V-Power fuel; Shell Advance Ultra 4 lubricant; Magneti Marelli ignition; Termignoni exhaust; final drive Regina chain; Öhlins upside-down 48 mm front forks and Öhlins rear shock absorber, adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping; Bridgestone 16.5-inch front and rear tyres; Brembo, two 320-mm carbon front discs with four-piston callipers; single stainless steel rear disc with two-piston callipers; dry weight 150 kg; top speed in excess of 310 km/h (192 mph).

The year 2003 was a milestone in the history of Ducati, with a successful entry into motorcycle racing at the highest level: the world of MotoGP. With two-strokes becoming dominant, Ducati had abandoned Grand Prix racing in 1972, concentrating on classes more associated with their four-stroke production models, TT1, TT2 and World Superbike. But when the Grand Prix technical rules changed, giving priority to four-stroke machinery, Ducati decided it was time to re-enter the world’s premier racing class, and for 2003 this was the new MotoGP World Championship.

Bringing together a passionate group of young engineers, with an average age of 28, Ducati Corse produced a 989-cc racer that took the racing world by storm. After considering a “Super Twin,” Ducati’s engineers opted for a brand-new V-4 engine, incorporating their traditional 90-degree layout, along with desmodromic valve control. Marrying tradition with innovation, the engine was called the Desmosedici because of its 16 desmodromic valves. The 90-degree cylinder layout provided perfect primary engine balance, allowing up to 17,000 rpm with minimal vibration and improving mechanical efficiency and reliability. The engine layout was pure racing, with a train of spur gears driving twin overhead camshafts, and the power transferred via a six-speed cassette-type gearbox and multi-plate slipper clutch. In its first incarnation the liquid-cooled 16-valve engine produced over 220 horsepower at 16,000 rpm.

True to form the Desmosedici combined the best of modern design with links to the past. Much of the technology was well established, including a tubular steel frame with the engine as a stressed member. The rear suspension and aluminium swing-arm bolted directly to the engine, with the only chassis as such being a tubular steel bracket connecting the engine and the steering head and supporting the Öhlins front fork. Noted British F1 car aerodynamicist Alan Jenkins designed the all-enveloping bodywork.

Riding the Desmosedici in its first year of competition were Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss, and from the outset the Desmosedici was competitive. Capirossi astonished the pundits in pre-season testing, setting the fastest lap times and a top speed of 328.19 km/h (203.93 mph). Capirossi finished on the rostrum in the Desmosedici’s first race, and it was soon evident the Ducati was the only real threat to Honda domination. Capirossi won at Catalunya and finished fourth in the championship, with Bayliss sixth. Ducati ended second in the manufacturer’s championship—a phenomenal effort first time out for such a small manufacturer.

After surprising everyone with the Desmosedici in 2003, Ducati Corse produced an updated D16 GP4 for the 2004 MotoGP season. Of the 915 individual components, 60% were new on this rationalised model, but although the power was increased, race results were disappointing.

There were too many changes to an already successful design, so for the D16 GP5 Ducati returned to their traditional philosophy of “evolution not revolution.” Carlos Checa joined the Ducati Marlboro Team alongside Capirossi, the other significant development being a partnership with Japanese tyre manufacturer Bridgestone. The 2005 season was slightly better, Capirossi winning two MotoGP races in succession (Japan and Malaysia) and ending 6th Overall in the World Championship. The year 2006 was to be the final one for the 990-cc MotoGP bikes, and Sete Gibernau joined Loris Capirossi on the D16 GP6. The season started brilliantly for Capirossi, with a victory in the opening race at Jerez, and with two further victories he ended third in the championship. But that first World Championship was still elusive.

Although Casey Stoner was only fourth on Ducati’s rider list for 2007, the 21-year-old Australian lined up alongside Loris Capirossi on the D16 GP7. New regulations this year saw the maximum capacity reduced to 800 cc, with Ducati’s engineers reverting to the “Screamer” (symmetrical) firing intervals (as on the first Desmosedici of 2003). Stoner immediately proved he had the aggression and ability to get the most out of the Desmosedici. After winning the opening race at Qatar, he blitzed the championship with a total of 10 race wins. With Stoner’s title the Desmosedici had proven itself at the highest level, and Ducati finally achieved their goal, ending 2007 as masters of MotoGP.

Ducati’s philosophy of extracting as much power as possible from the 800-cc V-4 continued for 2008. The GP8 now had more midrange power than before, but apart from a win at the opening round at Qatar, Stoner struggled to come to terms with the unpredictability of the new intake system. He eventually won three races in succession, and a further two victories towards the end of the year saw him finish 2nd Overall in the championship.

Constantly driven to find new and innovative solutions, during 2008 a prototype GP9 with carbon-fibre chassis was tested in preparation for 2009. A carbon-fibre swing-arm was also designed to complement the new frame, but although the season began well with Stoner winning the opening race at Qatar, followed by another fine victory at Mugello, the 2009 season unfolded as one to forget for Ducati. Former World Champion Nicky Hayden joined Stoner on the GP9 but struggled to get up to speed. During the season Stoner suffered a mystery illness (later diagnosed as lactose intolerance) that saw him slump and miss three races. Ultimately Stoner finished fourth in the World Championship.

After a disappointing 2009 season Ducati was still determined to win in 2010. But circumstances were against them this year. Since 2007 Casey Stoner had proven to be the only rider to come to terms with the difficult Desmosedici, responsible for 23 of its 24 victories, but during the season he was unsettled and looking for an alternative ride.

At the end of 2009 Ducati debuted a new 799-cc D16 90-degree V-4 engine with 180-degree crankshaft instead of the 360-degree “screamer.” This “big-bang” design allowed earlier mid-corner throttle application. Engine restrictions were also much stricter for 2010, with only six engines allowed during the season. The chassis rear section was also made more rigid, with six mounting points instead of four, and experimentation continued with at least three different carbon-fibre swing-arms to reduce the rear suspension pumping during aggressive corner exiting. Other chassis updates included a new headrace support and the suspension linkage design. Also new this year was a larger diameter (48 mm) Öhlins TTxTR (through rod) front fork with 61-mm outer fork tubes, but the D16 still suffered front-end problems. Stoner crashed out while in the lead at the opening race at Qatar, and it wasn’t until mid-season that he finished on the podium. The lack of front-end feel saw him revert to the earlier 42-mm TTx fork (without the updated through valve), but after testing Stoner decided to try the newer 48-mm TRSP25 Öhlins fork. Öhlins also introduced a new steel-bodied TRSP44 shock absorber. Although Stoner had already signed for Honda for 2011, and the Rossi deal with Ducati was finalised by August 2010, Stoner’s form improved towards the end of the season. A 12-mm shorter swing-arm, and the riding position moved forward 10 mm, provided the improvement that saw him win at Aragón. Stoner followed this with victories in Japan and at Phillip Island, Australia (for the fourth consecutive year) and finished 4th Overall in the championship.

The bike presented here is Stoner’s Phillip Island-winning machine. At the blustery Phillip Island circuit the fairing didn’t include the small fairing winglets, designed to reduce lift and improve cooling, and as a result it was less susceptible to cross winds. The fastest race on the calendar, Stoner led the race from start to finish, winning at a race average speed of 175.100 km/h (108.802 mph). Aside from this achievement, its successful history includes three additional podium finishes and three pole positions.

  • walter

    Yeah, ’cause I was going to say.

  • Gary Inman

    Ducati don’t pay Rossi. Philip Morris pay Rossi. G

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    I’m sorry-did you say that factories typically CRUSH their racebikes?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Race bikes and cars are routinely destroyed. They don’t want any valuable IP knocking around a junkyard for anyone to rip off.

    • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

      I was once witness to such a tragedy. YME destroying a gorgeous YZR-500 by driving hammers into magnesium engine cases, and drilling holes into the block.

      I wept for days…

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        That’s like telling everyone at the party how you had to watch your bosses jump up and down on a bag of puppies right before tossing them into a river…

  • nymoto

    Not going to lie – IF I had the money they would both be mine. not a huge Ducati fan or anything but these are priceless pieces of art as far as I am concerned. I would gladly buy one from Yamaha and Honda for that matter – these bikes in person are crazy and truly show what beauty the motorcycle is, oh and insanity as far as the engineering is concerned.

    • BMW11GS

      Linsanity?

      • nymoto

        Totally!!

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Nice!!! I wonder where they will end up… A once in a few lifetimes chance for a wealthy MotoGP nutter to actually ride a real balls-out MotoGP bike! (If they dare!)

    Then again something tells me that the auction conditions will say that no one is allowed to ride them…

  • http://lightsoutknivesout.tumblr.com/ Scott Pargett

    So why sell these?

    • Scott-jay

      ’cause they’re broke.

      • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

        ⁄€800M broke.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

    Let’s take ‘em to the track, we’ll blow the bastards away.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    They will go to a museum, hopefully, and not some 1% collector.

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

      If that 1% collector were to ride them … fabulous. Otherwise, I agree.

      Are these as finicky as F1 cars where it takes a whole host of external equipment and a team of 10 just to start the thing?

  • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

    Where’s Desmodave when you need him to save these from a life unridden?

    • gsx750f

      Yeah, at least he would have good excuse for crashing then.
      “It’s the darn frontend. I told Ducati I could fix it in 80 seconds, but they just told me to visit a sports-psychologist. This latte is lactose-free, isn’t it?”

      • SamuraiMark

        +2

  • gsx750f

    Thanks for this, probably the most in-depth coverage of Ducati’s history in MotoGP ever written.
    Very interesting. I’m sure it took a while to compile all this info. Made for a great read!

  • Rick

    I wonder if these machines will meet their reserve prices? Several years ago they brought an ex-Capirossi 990cc Desmosedici of race-winning pedigree to Laguna Seca, it was to be auctioned locally during the MotoGP weekend.

    That bike went back into the crate after failing to meet its $250K reserve.