Ducati pushes to help struggling riders

Ducati is to reshuffle its engineers, change its electronics and recruit Troy Bayliss for testing as it tries to get all its riders on the pace

Ducati pushes to help struggling riders

While Casey Stoner took victory in Qatar, and Pramac Racing's rookie Mika Kallio has impressed greatly, second factory rider Nicky Hayden, Kallio's team-mate Niccolo Canepa and returnee Sete Gibernau (with the new Hernando team) have all struggled for form.

To address this, Hayden's former engineer Cristhian Pupulin has moved to a new role analysing data from all five bikes, with Juan Martinez returning to Ducati after a period at Kawasaki to take his place leading Hayden's crew.

In an additional measure, Ducati's triple World Superbike champion Bayliss is to join test rider Vittoriano Guareschi at Mugello this week to work on developments, and changes have been made to the bike's electronics for this weekend's Le Mans race to try and make the bike more consistent and help the new riders adapt.

Stoner has often been Ducati's only competitive rider since the start of the 800cc era in 2007, and team boss Livio Suppo said this situation had to change.

"After the race at Jerez, which was fantastic for Casey but very difficult for Nicky, we had a few meetings to analyse our technical and organisational structure, with the goal of improving the all-round performances of our riders," he said.

"We came to the conclusion that after starting the season with not all of the Ducati riders able to match their positive form in winter testing, maybe this is the right time to introduce some new technical ideas in terms of the electronics as well as boosting our track presence in order to provide all of the Ducati riders with better support.

"The GP9 is still a very young machine and for the first time in MotoGP we have five bikes on the grid. For these two reasons we have decided that we need to concentrate more on co-ordinating all the data that we gather at each race in order to provide more direction for development.

"As well as changing the structure of the team we have some electronic updates and Cristhian Pupulin will be able to completely dedicate his time to the important role of co-ordination, which we need to continue to develop the GP9."

Hayden also hopes the changes will help him get up to speed.

"I think it should help me and all the Ducati riders," he said.

"I believe that with Cristhian more freed up from some of the normal work as crew chief he can use his expertise more and focus on really working on the issues I am having with the bike and help give us a better direction and give more info to the factory.

"So to fill his spot we will bring in Juan, who has put up some solid results in MotoGP. He has already worked in Ducati and speaks good English and Italian so he was a good match."

The American praised Ducati's support, and admitted that the onus was now on him to raise his level.

"I can't say I don't have enough good manpower behind me and it has been encouraging to see Ducati trying everything and working so hard to help get me in a situation to deliver," said Hayden.

"The team is very important in our sport but it is really up to the rider to do his part and make the difference, so I hope I can step up and do my part soon."

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