Casey Stoner won the Grand Prix of Qatar on Monday by nearly eight seconds. We think a big part of that was down to his Ducati GP9's carbon fiber frame, Ducati is the only team currently using one. Carbon fiber technology and know how has advanced considerably since John Koscinski's Cagiva C194, which was judged too stiff. Actually, the GP9's frame more closely resembles that of the Britten V1000.
Where Cagiva's frame was modeled after the traditional aluminum twin
spar, Britten used the engine as a stressed member, with the carbon
connecting components like the headstock to it.
Enter the Ducati GP9. Like the V1000, the carbon swingarm and rear subframe
bolt directly to the engine, the main portion of the frame, a
monocoque, exists only to connect the engine to the steering head and
to double as the airbox.
The Cagiva C194 has significant problems with chatter because the frame
was utterly devoid of flexibility. The GP9 builds in adjustable levels
of rigidity and torsional strength by varying the type, number and
weave direction of the fibers.
Believe it or not, Ducati also chose the material because it reduces
cost. Carbon delivers immense variability in form without requiring
unique tooling for different shapes.
Think Rossi will be able to close the gap with Stoner in coming races?
Apparently Casey was riding with fuel economy in mind -- using a higher
gear and focusing on corner speed -- during the middle portion of
Monday's race, only turning up the pace when he decided that strategy