Davide Tardozzi is incredibly passionate about racing, managing the Ducati MotoGP garage, understanding and helping his riders, and, above all, the Borgo Panigale brand. A successful former racer himself, Tardozzi understands Ducati has a special philosophy when it comes to competition, about which he is possibly the company's greatest supporter.

This interview is the product of almost an hour of conversation with Tardozzi. There were times while listening to him when I said to myself, “This guy likes racing even more than I do!” I was impressed when I asked if he had learned anything from Jorge Lorenzo in the two seasons they worked together.

“Yes, never give up,” Tardozzi replied. “I’m a person who does not give up, but Jorge taught me this can be taken much further. With his determination, perseverance, and self-confidence, he made us believe that we would get the results. It made me change my mentality.”

What is your view of the 2018 MotoGP season from your place in the Ducati garage? Was it a difficult year to manage?

In my opinion, I think people had the wrong perception. Managing Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso was very simple. Obviously, Jorge’s accident at the end of the season was unfortunate, but management was not problematic inside the team, though in some moments the press didn’t understand it that way. As far as I’m concerned, the answer is no: There was no problem, and it was not difficult.

From outside, the sense was a kind of roller coaster. There were times when Ducati was on top—between Mugello and before Silverstone—but after that it was highs and lows.

We didn’t see it that way. Before Silverstone [Czech Republic and Austria], we were first or second, and I believe even at Silverstone we could have won. It is true that in the beginning of the season, at circuits we should have gone well at, like Argentina and Austin, we had many problems. In Jerez, we had a crash. And in Le Mans too; we lost many points there. Of course, inside the box you live with the emotion and passion that this team works with because for us this is not a job; it’s like a mission. Everything we do we do for us, but also for all those people who love Ducati. Someone who comes to Ducati understands there is no preference for one rider or another. When a rider goes out on the track and gives everything, he does it for us too. This is our difference. We all live with the same passion, with the same desire to do our best, and we include the rider in our mission.

Andrea Dovizioso
“Most riders look race to race,” Ducati MotoGP Team Manager Davide Tardozzi said. “Others have a much broader vision. Andrea Dovizioso is now one of them. He has the ability to see what other riders are going to do.”Courtesy of Ducati

In the less successful times, is there frustration? How do you deal with difficult times when there is so much passion?

No, there is no frustration because we know our strength. When we lose, when we aren’t doing well, it’s not a time of frustration but of finding the solution, of how to get better at the next race, or the next race, or the next lap. I found Jorge had this determination. The first season with us, Lorenzo could have been mentally destroyed but he wasn’t. He always found the strength to keep fighting, trying, and in the second half of the season he had great races. After the frustrating Le Mans race of 2017, for example, a rider of his caliber would have been sunk, but after 10 minutes, he summoned us all to get going to do well in the next race. This was his approach, which is the same as ours in Ducati. I am a person who hardly surrenders, but Jorge reinforced this way of thinking even more. It made us believe we could obtain the results we later obtained.

And Dovizioso? In 2018, he won fewer races than the previous season.

Andrea won fewer races because Jorge also won. But he finished second in the championship, right? It was a strong team. He won fewer races simply because he made mistakes at the start of the season. What happened in the first races was decisive for the championship. If we hadn’t lost so many points in Argentina and Austin, we would have arrived in Europe on the second row. In Jerez, we were 49 points behind Marc Márquez. That was a problem for Dovizioso mentally as he had become accustomed to bringing home points. I think the Le Mans error affected him more than he believes; it undermined his confidence. But Andrea today is a complete rider.

Did you think you could win the title? In Austria and the Czech Republic, Dovizioso and Lorenzo put Márquez on the ropes. Then they scored pole position in Silverstone and MotorLand Aragón…

We always knew it would be very difficult, and it would be difficult for Marc to fail. That said, to think we didn’t have a chance after the victories in the middle of the championship would have been stupid. Yes, we thought it was possible. When Marc and his Honda are on the scene, we have to respect them, but give up for lost? No, never.

You have worked with many riders. Is Dovizioso difficult to manage?

Dovizioso is not just a racer but an intelligent person—sure of himself and capable. When you find that you have a person with few doubts who is very confident with everything he does and what he says, it isn’t easy. When you argue with someone like that, it’s better to say less than more. I don’t hide that with Dovizioso there have been many years of work to earn my trust, to iron out the confrontation. Dovi, before you can know him as a person, you have to work.

Marc Márquez
Tardozzi admires Marc Márquez. “He is a unique rider. He has talent, intelligence, perseverance, and humility to learn. I think he still has room to be even better, but in the long run he may have his limits.”Courtesy of Honda

I imagine everyone needs a different kind of management. A lot of psychology, right?

Absolutely. You have to know the rider well and try to understand how to interact with him and the world around him. You must understand the rider’s whole environment—a rider and the atmosphere around him.

Do you also have time to worry about the mechanics?

Yes, there is always time. I sit in the box and watch who speaks with whom, who does what, to understand the internal problems in the box that can create problems at work. We must also detect the problems that people create. You see if someone does not talk to someone. Those things are seen and interpreted. Maybe it means something else, but that is how it is understood if things go well or not.

I always say that if you take the top 10 mechanics in the world, you don’t have the best team in the world. You must find the right people in the right place. People who work together don’t need to talk to each other, just help each other. If they help each other, then those people are the right people. I like to see mechanics work because I like to see how they do things without disturbing others, without bothering your partner who works 10 centimeters from you. It’s fun to see that.

Valentino Rossi
And Valentino Rossi? “He is Marc Márquez with 15 more years,” Tardozzi said. “He is one of the riders who, like Márquez and Dovizioso, look to tomorrow. He does not stay in the present. I think he is still very competitive.”Courtesy of Yamaha

Some doubt Danilo Petrucci’s potential on the factory bike. Do you think he needs to feel protected by his new team?

The technician who is at his side is the same as last year. The motorcycle and the electronics were already official. What has changed is with whom he has to talk and the number of technicians that help him. Basically, he had a change of environment. Everything has been calculated so he can grow. You cannot imagine how simple it is sometimes to catch a rider who is not going so well and put him in front.

Last season, you received offers from other teams but you are still wearing Ducati red.

Ducati has given me so much. I am loyal to the Ducati people because I respect the opportunity they gave me and their recognition of my work. When someone has given you so much, you have to give a lot back. Yes, there were offers, but I didn’t ask how much they were willing to pay. It’s an honor that they seek me out professionally. If anyone wants to talk, I’ll talk. It’s clear that life doesn’t owe you anything. I left Ducati once because I wasn’t feeling in harmony; I wasn’t comfortable. Fortunately, I returned. It’s like being reborn.