Ducati Desmosedici 03 MotoGP
Bolonga, Italy, January 1st, 2003 - Over the past three decades Ducati has proved beyond doubt that it is a master of creating extremely fast and effective four-stroke racing motorcycles. The marque’s street-based racers have achieved victories across the globe in all kinds of production-based racing disciplines – from World Superbike to TT Formula One and from World Supersport to endurance racing.

Beginning in 2003, while confirming its commitment to World Superbike, Ducati commences its greatest challenge, with the Ducati MotoGP Team attacking the MotoGP World Championship for four-stroke prototype machines. Ducati hasn’t raced in the premier Grand Prix series since the early seventies because for many years the premier 500 championship was dominated by two-stroke machines that bore no resemblance to the four-stroke streetbikes sold by Ducati.

“The philosophy of the Ducati Desmosedici project is total integration between engine, chassis and rider,” declares Ducati Corse Technical Director Filippo Preziosi. “This concept has been our guideline from our very first meeting, when we began to tackle this new challenge. The Desmosedici represents a significant step forward over the Ducati Superbike, and is the result of new design technologies which have allowed us to work entirely in ‘virtual’ mode, thus speeding up development and immediately obtain promising results. Ducati believes a lot in this project, which will allow us to grow further and to transfer new technologies to increasingly reliable and enjoyable high-performance streetbikes.”

Last year the rules changed to prioritise four-strokes and the 500 World Championship was transformed into the MotoGP World Championship. Immediately Ducati realised it had to be involved, for while its streetbikes continue to be promoted by World Superbike success, factory engineers realised that MotoGP offers a further opportunity to evaluate innovative and avant-garde technology.

Initially Ducati’s MotoGP technicians – a group of hugely enthusiastic engineers with an average age of 28 – considered creating a MotoGP ‘super-twin’, a new-generation v-twin prototype that would take advantage of technical regulations offering twin cylinder bikes a weight advantage over four-, five- and six-cylinder machines. But detailed studies, including numerous computer simulations, suggested that a twin would struggle to produce the immense amount of horsepower – around 220bhp – required, without excessive revs. Engineers predicted that a twin would need to rev at over 16,000rpm, requiring an ultra-short stroke and a super-wide bore that might cause combustion problems.

Ducati finally decided upon an all-new V4 engine, mimicking Ducati’s traditional L-configuration v-twin layout, and incorporating Ducati’s acclaimed desmodromic valve operation. So this was a new direction for Ducati, combining elements of tradition and innovation. The motor was tagged Desmosedici because it has 16 valves (sedici is Italian for 16) and the valves are operated by the desmo system, a major factor in the marque’s remarkable run of racetrack victories.

Ducati’s long-favoured 90-degree ‘L’ configuration offers advantages that have also contributed to the factory’s racetrack successes. The layout provides intrinsic engine balance, a fundamental consideration in an engine that revs at over 16,000rpm, and minimum vibration, good for mechanical efficiency and reliability.

The desmo system, designed by legendary Ducati engineer Fabio Taglioni, uses rockers to close as well as open valves, allowing particularly accurate valve operation, whatever the rpm. Desmo-driven valves also offer minimum power loss, especially in the low-to-medium rpm range, compared to other timing systems, especially pneumatic.

Ducati Corse created two versions of the Desmosedici engine for initial testing – one with evenly spaced firing intervals, the other with paired cylinders firing simultaneously. But early tests suggested that this version placed excessive stress on components, so engineers decided to focus their attention on the conventional configuration.

The Desmosedici engine is looked after by a brand-new Magneti Marelli CPU engine management/fuel injection system, which combines maximum performance with optimum fuel consumption. Ducati’s race technicians have been committed to fuel injection longer than any of their rivals and can also count on the experience of fuel and lubricant partner Shell in the search for improved all-round performance.

Never afraid to pursue its own avenues of development in pursuit of engineering excellence, Ducati is also unique in its choice of chassis. While other manufacturers race with variants of the ubiquitous aluminium beam chassis, the Desmosedici uses a tubular steel, trellis-type chassis, similar to that employed to great effect in World Superbike. This concept allows excellent rigidity where required, as well as some flex, a useful factor in eliminating chassis ‘chatter’, a particularly complex problem in modern racing.

The Desmosedici continues Ducati’s association with Michelin, the French tyre company that has won the past 11 500/MotoGP titles and the past nine World Superbike crowns, and also with Ohlins, the suspension specialists with whom Ducati have dominated World Superbike.

No doubt about it, the Ducati MotoGP Team Desmosedici V4 is a forceful new presence in motorcycling’s hardest-fought arena – bringing a heady combination of high technology and fervent passion to the increasingly popular MotoGP World Championship.

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Ducati's Desmosedici
Technical Specs

- Liquid-cooled 90 degree V4 four-stroke, desmodromic DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity - 989cc
Maximum power - 161kW / 220+ bhp @ 16000rpm
Maximum torque - Approx 100Nm/10.2kgm @ 14000rpm
Maximum speed - In excess of 320kmh/200mph
Transmission - Six-speed cassette-type gearbox, with alternative gear ratios available.
Dry multiplate slipper-type clutch. Chain final drive.
Carburation - Indirect Magneti Marelli electronic injection, four throttle bodies with injectors above butterfly valves
Fuel - Shell Racing Fuel
Lubricant - Shell Advance Ultra 4 20w60
Ignition - Magneti Marelli programmable CDI with adjustable mapping
Exhaust - Termignoni four-into-two system

Chassis - Tubular steel trellis-style chassis, multi-adjustable steering geometry, wheelbase, ride-height. Aluminium swing-arm.
Suspension - Ohlins upside-down 42mm front forks and Ohlins rear shock, all adjustable for pre-load, high and low-speed compression and rebound damping. Alternative rear suspension links available.
Wheels - Marchesini 17in front, 16.5in rear, available in a variety of rim widths.
Tyres - Michelin, 17in front, 16.5in rear, available as slick, intermediate, wet and hand-cut tyres.
Brakes - Brembo, two 305mm carbon front discs, two four-piston callipers. Single 220mm stainless steel rear disc, twin-piston calliper.

Four-cylinder 989cc ‘L’ engine, with simultaneous firing order in cylinders of the same bank and desmodromic timing – Track tests to get underway in July also in traditional firing layout – Race debut with two riders at first round of MotoGP 2003.
Nine months after the start of the MotoGP project, announced last May at Jerez de la Frontera, Ducati Corse has completed the design stage of its new engine, called Desmosedici (16-valve Desmo), which will begin testing on the dyno within the next three months.
Ducati Corse Managing Director Claudio Domenicali explained the decision-making process behind the choice of the new engine:

“After analysing all the possibilities offered by the regulations and on the basis of computer simulations, we are convinced that a massive power output is required to be competitive in MotoGP. It would have been difficult to obtain this power with conventional twin-cylinder engines, which amongst other things are only given a 10 kg weight advantage over 4 and 5 cylinder engines in the regulations. As a result, the bore size would have to be taken to an extremely high value, with the risk of incurring serious combustion problems.”

“For this reason, in the preliminary study phase, we considered a twin-cylinder oval piston engine to be an excellent layout for the new regulations. With the same weight as 4 and 5 cylinder engines, this layout combines the typical advantages of a twin in terms of power output and delivery, with the performance necessary to compete at the same level as the multi-cylinder units”.

“But further analysis led us to decide that the best solution was a ‘double twin’ and therefore we designed an engine with four round pistons which, thanks to a simultaneous two-by-two firing order, reproduce the working cycle of a twin. This will generate the ‘big bang’ effect, making the rear tyre work in a way that extends its duration and improves rider feeling when exiting curves”.

“The Desmosedici engine”, continued Domenicali “will have a relatively short development period and reasonable costs and it will then be easily available also for external teams, since it is Ducati Corse’s intention to become a point of reference for private teams in MotoGP, as already it is in World Superbike”.

“The Desmosedici power-unit, designed to tolerate the greater stress generated by simultaneous combustion, is therefore a unique engine with a further advantage: it allows two different versions to be tested. As well as the Twinpulse, we will also be testing a layout with a traditional firing order, which will have a slightly higher power output, but probably to the detriment of traction. Track testing and rider feeling will decide which layout will be used for racing”.

Another characteristic of the Desmosedici – designed by a team headed by Ducati Corse Technical Director Filippo Preziosi – is that it uses a desmodromic valve timing system, an exclusive characteristic of all Ducati engines for many years. “Thanks to this project, we are able to verify the Desmo’s true potential”, declared Preziosi.

“Experience accumulated with materials and calculation methods on the Testastretta have allowed us to design an engine capable of exceeding 18000 rpm without all the costs and complications involved in using pneumatic valves”.
The first tests on the dyno for the new engine are scheduled for May and a track testing programme will get underway in July. The aim began with the 2003 MotoGP season from the first round with a factory team made up of two riders, former GP star Loris Capirossi and reigning Ducati 2002 World Superbike Champion Trop Bayliss.

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