MOTO2 specialists Suter and FTR have both been linked with a rumoured project to build an aluminium beam frame for Ducati's MotoGP machine.
While turning to an aluminium beam chassis would be a severe blow for Ducati, particularly since it's on the verge of launching its new production superbike with a monocoque design derived from the existing Desmosedici racer, the firm is starting to accept that the front end feedback problems that have plagued every rider to sit on the Desmosedici could be a result of the carbon fibre airbox/frame and stressed engine that it's currently relying on.
Now, according to French magazine Moto Revue, Fillipo Preziosi has already designed an aluminium beam frame and has farmed out the task of making it to either Suter or British firm FTR. Both companies are already developing their own alloy beam framed MotoGP machines; a 'claiming rules' BMW-powered bike for the Marc VDS squad from Suter and a Kawasaki-engined bike from FTR for the BQR team. FTR is also developing a chassis for the V4-powered Norton MotoGP bike, although the chances of such a machine appearing on the grid next year seem to have all but evaporated.
With years of experience in making such frames, either firm would have an advantage over Ducati's in-house engineers when it comes to getting it right first time: Ducati has zero aluminium beam-frame experience.
The hope is that by using an alloy beam chassis to take the stresses between the forks and swingarm, a controllable level of flex will be built in, providing riders with more feedback. Many speculate that the current monocoque design is simple too rigid; reducing front end feedback and grip and leading to the string of low-side crashes that Ducati riders have suffered since the design's introduction.