Posted: 21 Mar 2014
Ducati has been a major talking point ahead of this weekend’s MotoGP opener in Qatar following a decision taken by the Bologna Factory to compete in MotoGP’s ‘Open’ class for the upcoming season. This would mean Ducati is able to utilise 24 litres of fuel in a race as opposed to 20, has a limit of 12 engines rather than 9 and no freeze on engine development or testing.
Unhappy with Ducati’s announcement, a number of teams complained about the move resulting in the FIM’s Grand Prix Commission changing the rules ahead of the season. The GPC ruled that Ducati should be able to utilise the Open Class concessions as they’ve not won a dry race within the last 12 months. However, should Ducati achieve considerable success as a result of this some of the concessions will be taken from them.
We caught up with Ducati Corse General Manager, Gigi Dall’Igna for a quick chat ahead of the season.
What are you objectives this season?
It’s great for me to be here and present the Ducati Team in MotoGP for 2014. It’s the most important challenge of my life and I’m really proud to work for one of the most important motorcycle manufacturers in the world. I have only been in Ducati for a few months and for me the most important thing is to be able to invert the negative trend of the previous three seasons.
My work is focussed in two important areas, one is organization because I would like to improve the communication between the racetrack and the people back in the factory, the second for sure is to develop the bike. After seeing the expertise and experience in Ducati, I am now more confident than I was at the beginning.
You’ve had the whole winter period to at Ducati but what have been the main adjustments for you and the team? After such a disappointing season in 2013, morale must have been low.
The results and the data that we gained during the last two tests in Sepang and Phillip Island have given us the opportunity to choose between two different options, and in the end we chose the Open option for MotoGP. This is really important because we need to improve the bike, and to do this we need to change some things on the bike. For sure with the Factory option it’s not possible to change a lot of things, the engine in particular, instead with Open we have the possibility to use 12 engines instead of 5, the possibility to develop the engine, the possibility to test in different tracks, so the restrictions of the tests are less with the Open than with the Factory solution.
Another thing is that the Open solution is important because we have to reduce the costs of MotoGP and in this sense we have in mind to develop and sell to the teams in 2015 a bike that I hope will be really fast and with a cost almost similar to the competitors. So I think it’s important for us but also for the whole MotoGP world that Ducati choose this solution.
Following the pre-season tests have the results in terms of lap times, reliability and data collected exceeded your expectations?
We did quite well in the last tests in Sepang and Phillip Island, the lap time was quite good, the consistency of the lap time was good, and also the comments of the riders were really positive, and this is important because we still have a lot of work to do but I think we are on the right path. We can reach this because we changed the philosophy and approach to develop the bike. In the past everyone thought it was necessary to change only one thing to improve the bike. This is not my philosophy. I think it is important step by step to gain 0.01 here, 0.05 there and then we can reduce the gap to our competitors.
Do you see Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso as your Dream Team? How do they differ? They are both aggressive riders, does this suit your bike?
I think we have two riders – Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow - that maybe are the best possible riders to do the job we have to do, because we have to develop the bike and now we have the right riders. They have different riding styles and this is important because we can gain more information, so I’m confident with them we can step by step reduce the gap that we have to our competitors.
Another key point is to have with us Paolo Ciabatti, he will take care of all non-technical aspects of MotoGP. His experience is really important for me and Ducati to achieve our target.
Can Ducati realistically finish on a MotoGP podium this season?
I don’t want to speak about what we can do during the year, if we can reach the podium or something. It’s difficult for me and I need more time. At the moment we have only done two tests and I would like to wait at least the first 3 or 4 races before trying to think about the possible scenarios for 2014.
Tell us a little about the process for designing and developing the 2015 Desmosedici – have you started?
The Ducati decision (to go ‘Open’) makes someone not so happy, but this is not our intention. We would like to develop the bike and with the Factory option we simply could not do it. For us the situation is clear, and the option is clear. For sure this will be the future of MotoGP because we have to reduce the costs and this solution can help. We have to live in the real world and the real world is not the ideal world, and sometimes you have to accept compromises. I understand the organizers, because the small teams cannot work like a factory or factory supported teams so Dorna would like to reduce these options, but we will see.