tom wrote: where the aggressive unridable beast of the paddock turns into a pussy cat in the wet... something not right there and surely there has to be a clue in there for Ducati
Oh, I am sure it does not.
My theory is NOT that the Duc becomes easier to ride in the wet. It is still a bitch. My theory is that the WET forces all the other riders to ride their bikes in a similar fashion to the Ducs. All riders are left waiting for the bike to be upright before nailing it, not just the Ducs.
Ok, so maybe pussy cat is a slight exaggeration
My counter to your theory is that; yes in the wet all the riders are getting their bikes straightened up a lot more before getting on the power, however they are still getting on the power as early as possible and they (or their bikes computers) are slowly feeding on the power using all the available traction, from the moment a tiny bit is available, increasing power until they are either at 100% throttle or need to brake for the next corner. This is same process as in the dry, its just that they are 5-10degrees or so closer to vertical and they have less feedback and less margin for error, as the wet dulls feel and the grip less predictable.
Hanuman wrote:I see where you're coming from. However, I take it from another angle.
Not that you can completely separate the engine characteristics from the chassis performance, but consider this scenario:
Let's say part of Ducati's problems are understeer issues caused by the chain pull causing squat at the rear, unloading the front.
In the wet, the tyre force vector of that chain pull will be (for examples sake) halved - less friction, less force. So the issue is already greatly reduced.
Let's also assume that the 'dry' Ducati does have an engine with an aggressive 'stepped' power delivery - which creates different chain loads throughout the rev range, exacerbating the above and making the handling inconsistent. The ECU will have a map for each gear, so in the lower ones, a wet setting will see (amongst other things) the timing retarded so much that the engine will be (relatively) mush....so it will greatly reduce the force fluctuations in the chain.
So now you have less force and less fluctuation...the handling is now more consistent.
You are clouding the issue. Ducati will have decided on their swing arm angle and position of the front sprocket based on a plethora of factors all intertwined and full of the compromises that are ultimately at the heart of every bike design. Perhaps they have got that wrong or made the wrong compromises, if so then that is an issue separate to the engine power delivery characteristics and something that a professional team like Ducati would fix not by changing the power but by moving the swing arm position and/or angle (both readably adjustable on most race bikes). Certainly there may be a link between the two areas and it is possible that it is an issue that may be masked by a wet race but I think it is a long bow to draw and ultimately not an engine power delivery issue.
The conventional wisdom is that better handling bikes with smoother power delivery characteristics do better in the wet than their more aggressive and not as well handling counterparts. This (as could be expected) was the case for the slightly underpowered and slightly better handled Yamaha at LeMans over the slightly more aggressive and not as sweet handled Honda (note the lack of exaggeration SquidPuppet
). However this was inexplicably not the case for Ducati which went the opposite way and had a massive reversal of fortunes going from;
Race 1 - 7th fastest, 1.1 seconds off the pace
Race 2 - 7 fastest, 1.0 seconds off the pace
Race 3 - 8th fastest, 1.2 seconds off the pace
Race 4 - Fastest lap of the race, 0.3 seconds ahead of the next fastest.
This happened in a 4 race period that included no new parts and next to zero useful hours testing time. Ok Vale lifted his game, as obviously in his position a podium and race win is worth risking life and limb for but not so much a battle for 6-8th. But he wasn't holding back to the tune of a second and a half.
Sure if he was riding a 'Suzuki like' sweet handling bike that is 25kmph down on the field in the dry, then certainly a 1.5 second reversal in relative lap times can be explained in the wet (e.g. Chris Vermulan, Ant West etc...) but Ducati? it's pretty much the opposite type of bike to what the Suzuki's were.