If so much had been said about the new aerodynamic appendages, with Ducati being the first manufacturer to introduce the fins in MotoGP, few people know that the Red is also launched into the future as regards the development of the Desmodromic engine, the jewel of the Ducati brand. This is thanks to AVL, the technological excellence that works in the shadows to project the world of two and four wheels into an increasingly virtual and automated reality.
“What we do with Ducati is unique”. Born in 1976, Gianluca Vitale, electrical engineer, at the age of 26 left Naples where he worked at the CNR Motors Institute for Graz, Austria, to devote himself to artificial intelligence and virtualization. The Eldorado of technology for which he has been working for 19 years is AVL Racing, a giant in the engineering service sector in the Automotive Industry that has 11,000 employees and stands out for a strong sporting vocation with a commitment in 15 championships: from Formula 1 at NASCAR, DTM and MotoGP with Ducati and works with all Automotive companies for the product globally.
“The collaboration with Ducati was born 4 years ago almost for fun and from my great passion for motorcycles and for Italian excellence, having been away from Italy for many years”, says Vitale, “the core business of our division is artificial intelligence and virtualization of powertrain development. It is something that has been done for a long time in four wheels, while in some ways it is pioneering in two wheels. Unlike cars, in fact, motorcycles fold and the fold is difficult to reproduce in simulation. AVL Racing wanted to learn more about the world of two wheels, while the Ducati racing department had access to our cutting-edge technology ”. This is how the collaboration was born and today AVL is Ducati’s technical partner.
Detail of the bike of the Ducati Team, MotoGP
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“The world of motorcycles is relatively simpler than that of cars, budgets are tighter and therefore the approach to engine development is usually more pragmatic. This led the manufacturers to use traditional methods, while Ducati got involved in exploring the intricacies of artificial intelligence and virtualization ”.
The benefits are obvious. In racing, the time to devote to development is precious and significantly shortening the time also allows you to optimize your budget, in addition to performance. “What used to be done manually is now completely automated. Not only that, the possibility of having reference models and testing new ECU mappings even when the engine is not in the test room through automatic tools allows you to make calculations and estimates at any time “.
But what is the difference between the traditional method and automation? “The test room engineer moves point to point on the map. Instead, to use the engine as little time as possible, our tools proceed by ramps, we slowly pass by taking all the measures, all the intermediate points. On the basis of these data, virtual models are created which are then used for the various mappings ”.
The innovation is the automation of the test, the speed of carrying out (about a third faster than the traditional method) and a wide range of models on which to map. We are talking about very powerful data evaluation tools that allow you to immediately give results. The performance benefit is also noteworthy because thanks to all the intermediate values collected, the engineers are able to make a more precise mapping of torque delivery.
Race winner Jack Miller, Ducati Team
Photo by: Dorna
But how long does a test room engine last? “We are talking about hours, so time optimization means saving in budget time but also allows for greater performance because proceeding by ramps, we have a very high number of data and therefore simulations”.
At Ducati, Gianluca Vitale’s work team interfaces directly with the engineers of the Racing Department: “the focus this year is speed in the mapping process. We don’t interface directly with the riders on a technical level, but my dream would be to meet Pecco Bagnaia one day ”.
From the test room to the track, the Desmodromic engine is a jewel and the results are visible.
Three Ducatis in the first five places. The general standings at mid-season speak clearly about the values on the pitch. Fabio Quartararo is the only one to fly the Yamaha, behind him the red army with Johan Zarco, second, Pecco Bagnaia, third and Jack Miller, fifth. Three drivers capable of fighting for the title.