Ing. Gigi Dall’Igna, the man who led Aprilia to two World Superbike titles and honed Aleix Espargaro’s ART MotoGP racer into a top CRT contender, has left that company to become CEO of Ducati Corse. He will report to Ducati Motor Holding CEO Claudio Domenicali.
Dall’Igna replaces former BMW Superbike program manager Bernhard Gobmeier, who was hired by Audi almost a year ago to fill the post left empty by Filippo Preziosi. Dall’Igna will be in charge of all Ducati racing activities, including MotoGP and Superbike. Paolo Ciabatti, the director of Ducati’s MotoGP effort, and Ernesto Marinelli, responsible for Ducati’s Superbike racing and attached to Team SBK Ducati Alstare, remain in place and will report to Dall’Igna—at least for the time being since it is possible that Dall’Igna’s closest collaborators will also make the move from Aprilia to Ducati.
The sudden departure of Dall’Igna not only rocks the Aprilia SBK boat, but it also might jeopardize the whole ART project. No matter how promising the Aprilia MotoGP bike might look, the teams that had planned to race the future evolution of the ART project have not confirmed their options, which, at 400,000 euros each, could result in a multi-million-euro loss for Aprilia.
Chief project engineer Romano Albesiano will be in charge of Aprilia racing. Albesiano has great technical competence and, in reality, he is the man behind the successes of the RSV 4 racers and promising debut of the ART machine. Aprilia is leading the SBK manufacturer championship while its riders, Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, are the only ones still in contention with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes for title laurels.
Dall’Igna has great trackside management skills, but at Ducati, he is going to face an enormous, two-headed challenge since both the GP13 and Panigale racers are far less competitive than expected. In race two at Magny Cours, semi-retired Lorenzo Lanzi, riding a leftover 1098R (not even an 1198!), dusted factory rider Ayrton Badovini. Back to the drawing board, perhaps?