There's no question Bernhard Gobmeier knew he was taking on a big job to revive Ducati's performance in MotoGP as new boss of the Italian marque's racing operation.
But the size and scope of the task surprised even former BMW World Superbike boss Gobmeier after the first preseason test of 2013 last week at Sepang. The quickest Desmosedici GP13 ended up two seconds behind the pace-setting Honda RC213V of Dani Pedrosa.
"That was a brutal inventory for all involved," Gobmeier said to German media. "That was an appropriate wake-up call! I found on 2010 BMW experienced a similar situation when it came to the competitiveness of the World Superbike Championship team."
Ducati brought to Sepang nearly the identical bike that tested last November in Valencia, while rivals Honda and Yamaha had evolved machines in Malaysia. That growing technical disparity caused Ducati Team riders Nick Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso to call for major changes to the bike after last week's test, almost in a desperate cry for help.
But that call won't be answered, Gobmeier said. Ducati isn't pondering radical changes to the next evolution of the GP13 despite requests from some Italian motorcycle media to scrap the entire bike and start from scratch for a midseason special. Some Italian press outlets even suggested Ducati scrap its desmodromic engine concept.
"No, definitely not," Gobmeier said about any plans to change the Ducati engine configuration. "The V4 concept is not violated. The desmodromic is maintained. It has already been written (by media), the desmodromic is sacrificed. This is nonsense.
"But it is in the hardware of the engine must be modifications and the physical plane. Thus an engine update will come."
Gobmeier set no timetable for the introduction of a new engine. In the meantime, Ducati will focus on changes to the bike's geometry and center of gravity for the next Sepang test Feb. 26-28.
"Our initial strategy was we first want to go forward in small steps," Gobmeier said. "Only afterward will follow radical steps. We are dealing here with a long-term project."