MotoGP: Dall’igna—“We need to keep our feet on the ground”

Ducati GP15’s initial success vindicates company’s belief in former Aprilia racing mastermind

motogp gigi dall'igna ducati

Since the first laps of GP15 in the pre-season tests Sepang, Ducati has been the hottest topic in the MotoGP paddock. While the Italian manufacturer arguably had the necessary ingredients to be successful in the top class, it took some time to find the right mix once again after the mercurial talent of Casey Stoner was taken out of the equation. The surge in competitiveness came with the arrival of Luigi “Gigi” Dall'Igna as the new head of the racing department. But one man, no matter how capable, can only carry so much responsibility on his shoulders. The key, according to the Italian engineer, was to harmonize resources.

“I was the one directing the operations, but this result is based on teamwork,” said Dall'Igna after the race in Qatar, where both factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone stepped on the podium, preceded only by Valentino Rossi. “I know how many sacrifices contributed to this outcome. I thought about all the work done behind closed doors back in the headquarters, and I was moved.”

It was Ducati's best performance in Qatar since 2009. Despite its young age, and all the cautious forecasts by the red team, the GP15 has shown itself to be capable of challenging the more established Honda and Yamaha machinery. As a consequence, the expectations have been raised higher.

“Now we're more hopeful about our chances to run at the front consistently,” Dall'Igna admitted. “We know we have the potential to do it, and even in Qatar we could have gone faster if we had more time to test. A victory seems more feasible now, but we haven't achieved it yet and we still don't know the GP15 inside out, so we need to keep our feet on the ground.”

As an engineer, Dall'Igna was the mastermind behind several successful endeavors. For example, he was in charge of developing the Aprilia RSV4 that seized three riders' and four constructors' titles in World Superbike since 2010, establishing the most successful stint in the recent history of the production-based championship.

“I don't know whether the GP15 is my best bike, but it certainly came out well,” the Italian chuckled. “Fortunately, I had my share of successful moments in my career, all of which I remember wholeheartedly. The key was not to throw away everything from the past project and start from scratch, as it often happens in those cases. We had the humility to analyze what had been done, and keep all the positives. There's still some things that need to be improved, especially braking, but I think the bike can do well on most tracks.”

To this end, a victory would mark an historical moment for Ducati, which has been chasing the top step of the podium in MotoGP since the end of 2009. Not to mention the positive repercussions on the brand itself, which has already gained a cult following around the world but is always looking for new outlets. “To celebrate a victory, I would take the bikes and riders in Piazza Maggiore (the main square in Bologna, where Ducati is based),” said CEO Claudio Domenicali. “The racing and production departments are closely knit. Each success has a role in reinforcing our brand worldwide. After each race, we analyze web analytics. Those findings orient our future strategies.”

While Ducati has shown a constant growth commercially in the past few years, its sport revival has just begun.