Giulio Nava discusses the start of the season from his perspective, the approach to the season and finding the limit of the Panigale V4 R
Four rounds of the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship have been completed and it is Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) leading the way at the top of the standings on his return to the Bologna manufacturer. Between the Emilia-Romagna and UK Rounds, Bautista’s long-time Crew Chief, Giulio Nava, discussed their return to Ducati, the start of the season and how the team looks to maximise the package.
THE START OF 2022: so far, so good
The Spanish rider returned to Ducati for the 2022 season after two years with Team HRC, and immediately returned to winning ways at the season-opening Aragon Round. Six wins in the first 12 races of the season, and a rostrum visit in all 12 races, means Bautista leads the Championship by 36 points over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), while he has a 79-point advantage over reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK).
Discussing the season so far, Nava said: “The first part of the season has been good due to the results and, most importantly for me, that we were quite always able to find solutions according to the problems and the comments Alvaro provided to us. The majority of the stuff we have been working on during the winter tests always provided us with the feedback we were looking for. So far, everything is quite okay, quite under control and this just helps to keep everything more relaxed because you don’t panic. Every time Alvaro comes back to the garage, giving some comments, we always, more or less, have an answer and try to sort the issues.”
DUCATI’S APPROACH: aiming for the most balanced bike…
Italian manufacturer Ducati are leading the Teams’, Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Championships in 2022 as they aim to end a Riders’ title drought that stretches all the way back to 2011 when Carlos Checa won the Championship. Nava explained the approach to the 2022 season when refining the package as they go in search of the most balanced bike as well as how small changes can have a knock-on effect.
He said: “We know that sometimes we are missing something. At the same time, we don’t want to experiment too much. The problem is, for example, if you want to make the bike turn more, you can do it, but for sure you will lose metres under braking. If you want to brake better, okay, but then maybe we turn less. What we try to do is try to have the bike the most equal possible in all conditions and if, for any reason, this is not enough to win, we settle for second or third. This is one lesson from 2019, it’s not mandatory to win every single race. Then we take the chance during tests to try things but, again, we have the mentality that we try something that needs to improve the area we’re looking for, but we don’t want to lose too much in the other areas because the more balanced bike you can have, the easier it is to ride it.”
FINDING THE LIMIT: always looking at the bigger picture
Every team on the grid will be trying to find marginal gains all over their bike as they look to secure the best possible result on the day, and Ducati are no exception to this with Bautista and teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi in the factory squad. Nava was on hand to discuss the process at Ducati to ensure they are able to get the best result, something which is showing with Bautista and his 12 consecutive podium finishes to start the 2022 season.
Discussing this, Nava said: “If you talk with the rider, they just want more. If they can be half-a-second faster than everyone else, they want more. When you provide them with this extra, they will take this as the new standard and will want more! Sometimes, there is a limit. There is a limit, maybe not for you as a rider, but there is a limit for the package because the track cannot accept more than this, or because the tyre will last less if you do this setup… it’s not easy to fix in my opinion, especially if you want to fix it and not lose in every area. You need to follow Alvaro and give him what he needs to go fast.
“There are some areas, some situations where the package you have, tyre, rider and bike, maybe cannot reach 100% in that specific corner. But, again, if you have one corner where you are not the best, but there are another ten on the track where you are better than them, it’s okay. We try to see the bigger picture. Sometimes if you focus on one detail and you want to fix that detail, maybe that centimetre of the picture is super nice. Then you take a step away and look and it’s not so good anymore. We try to have the best balance possible to be sure that we are at 99%, 98%, 97% of our performance across the whole track. Of course, when you make an average of 98%, that means there is one corner where you are at 100% and one corner where you are at 90%.”
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