Ducati Corse—Creativity And Innovation On And Off Track

The Italian brand is enjoying magic momentum in MotoGP and WSBK

Paolo Ciabatti
Paolo Ciabatti is the sporting director of Ducati Corse, overseeing MotoGP and WSBK racing.Ducati

From the track to the street and back to racing. From the Desmosedici GP to the Panigale V4 to the Panigale V4 R. Perfect triangles that reflect Ducati's racing DNA with direct transfer of MotoGP know-how and technology to street motorcycles and then back to racing with the V4 R model. This large piece of the puzzle that makes the Italian brand so unique and iconic, living a magic moment with Andrea Dovizioso in the fight for the MotoGP World Championship and an absolute dominance in World Superbike with an incredible record of 11 victories out of 11 races.

“This is Ducati’s strength,” underlines Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse sporting director, “being a relatively small company that sells 55,000 bikes per year versus the Japanese giants that build millions of units, we need to use genius and creativity and beat different paths from our competitors.”

With Ciabatti we analyze Ducati’s success of this first part of the racing season in both champions: prototypes and derived from the series:

Andrea Dovizioso left Jerez three points off the top spot. How do you see the title fight?
We are satisfied with this start of the season and in general we are more competitive compared to last year. Dovi won in Qatar and he did quite well in Argentina (third), Texas (fourth), and Jerez (fourth)—three tracks where Ducati used to struggle a lot.

Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso sits third in the MotoGP championship.Ducati

Are you confident for the next races?
We are very confident to keep the momentum. We are heading to a series of tracks where we can make the difference. We look forward to Le Mans where Danilo Petrucci finished second last year with the Ducati Pramac, and then we arrive at Mugello where Dovizioso won in 2017 and finished second in 2018.

How much has the bike improved?
We have improved in all the areas; we are strong in acceleration and braking while we are still suffering in the middle of the corner.

Is the MotoGP title realistic?
We wouldn't be here if we didn't believe in this chance. After finishing two times runner-up, we aim at winning the title with Dovizioso. Then we know that we are fighting with an ace called Marc Márquez, who won five titles in the last six seasons.

What is the target with Petrucci?
His goal is to finish in the top five and winning his first MotoGP race. He finished sixth in the first three races, and fifth in Jerez.

Ducati’s goal for Petrucci is to finish the year in the top five.Ducati

Is his future in jeopardy?
It is too early to speak. We will start an analysis after Mugello. We know that we have three fast riders with one-year contracts: Petrucci, Jack Miller—who is doing very well with the 2019 bike—and Álvaro Bautista in WSBK, who is finally showing his full potential that he couldn't express previously as he didn't have the conditions.

Dovizioso and Petrucci are an example of incredible fair play and harmony, which was never seen before in the MotoGP paddock.
This shows how Ducati is innovative on track but also in the management of the garage. Having a team with two champions has some pros and cons. With the duos of Dovizioso with Iannone and Dovizioso with Lorenzo, we saw how stimulating but also problematic can be the situation when the teammate is the first rival. Jerez 2018 or Argentina 2016 are good examples. This year we decided to create a supportive environment in the garage with two riders who share the data, train together, and support each other. The result is very positive both on and off track. There are no team orders, the riders simply have two different targets: winning the title for Dovi, and finishing in the top five and winning his first race for Danilo.

Talking about innovation, you were the first to introduce the winglets and the deflector. You were the first to try a new path. Is Ducati stronger after all the politics?
In both cases, we were the first to innovate and then our competitors followed our direction. In the case of the deflector, I think the whole story of the appeal could have been managed much better because we spent a lot of time, energy, and money to defend ourselves from a technical point of view and, above all, we had to show our technology and know-how to our competitors. The result? With less than 2,000 euro of the appeal, now Honda, Aprilia are using a similar deflector.

From the MotoGP to the WSBK, Bautista won also in Assen with the reduced number of revs imposed by the regulations.
The limitation is a possibility considered in the rules, so we accept it. The duo, Bautista and Panigale V4R, is fantastic, but it is also true that not all the Ducatis are topping the lap times. Chaz Davies has scored only two podiums so far, and [Eugene] Laverty and [Michael] Rinaldi are not so competitive yet.

Alvaro Bautista
Alvaro Bautista is dominating World Superbike.Ducati

Bautista and Ducati are winning 'em all!
For the first Ducati four-cylinder to compete in the WSBK, we wanted also an experienced rider coming from MotoGP to line up alongside Davies. The choice was on Álvaro—a fast rider who hadn't expressed yet his full potential in the last seasons with Aprilia and with Ducati in 2017. The Spaniard adapted well to the Panigale V4R, while Davies is struggling more in the switch from two to four cylinders.

What is the winning secret of the Panigale V4 R?
It's the Ducati's racing DNA. Our philosophy is different. We have always invested a lot of energy and technology in these models that are the direct transfer of the know-how from the track. In our history we have always built the sport version of the hyper-sport models, which are more technologically advanced and more expensive compared to our competitors. I think of the two-cylinder 998R, the 999R, the 1098 R, and now the four-cylinder V4 R. These bikes meet the needs of the Ducati customers who are unique. We sell more than 1,000 units per year. It's the strength of our brand.