Claudio Domenicali On Ducati's Biggest Blow - 'We Couldn't Handle Valentino"

Categories:   MotoGP  

On Friday Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali spoke at the University of Ferrara about Ducati’s challenges and the 2023 MotoGP season. Valentino Rossi is a topic too – but on a negative note.

At the last race of the 2022 season, Ducati’s 15-year wait for a MotoGP riders’ title finally came to an end. After Casey Stoner in 2007, Francesco Bagnaia finally brought the manufacturer from Borgo Panigale their second riders’ world title.

Ducati celebrating Stoner’s championship title in 2007 – Image provided by Motorsport Images

They had been fighting for the title for years but had failed several times. Then in 2021, a glimmer of hope with a disastrous end.

Despite Ducati’s superiority, Pecco Bagnaia could not counter Fabio Quartararo in his first attempt at the title. Domenicali recalls: “We had a bike for a few years with which to aim for this result.” 

The big triumph followed one year later. Bagnaia became only the second Italian to win the title on an Italian bike after Giacomo Agostini on the MV Agusta. 

What had long been dreamed of at Ducati finally became reality. After several attempts with Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi, the Italians are back on top.

For Domenicali, it is the greatest triumph of his Ducati career. The Italian arrived in 2013. The two most difficult years in Ducati’s MotoGP history were just behind them.

After various disputes in the team, Valentino Rossi dared to switch to the Ducati in 2011. Expectations were high when the nine-time world champion arrived. However, not much came of it.

Valentino Rossi’s stint at Ducati was rather unsuccessful  – Image provided by Motorsport Images

Rossi left the Italians after two unsuccessful years and returned to his beloved Yamaha. Above all, Domenicali remembers the damage to Ducati’s image:

“We couldn’t handle Valentino, we took the blow “, admitted Domenicali in front of students of the University of Ferrara. “When you take on Italy’s most famous driver with nine world titles and you fail to win, you suffer huge image damage.”

When he took up his job at Ducati, the Italians entered a phase that is probably still the basis of their current success.

In Rossi’s two years with Ducati, a lot was changed for the nine-time world champion, but the work was not always crowned with success, let alone executed cleanly.

Domenicali explains: “For two years, a lot of work has been done to make changes. But if you don’t do your research in order but do it in a hurry, you lose lucidity.”

A lot has happened at Ducati since then. Under the leadership of Claudio Domenicali and Gigi Dall’Igna, development work has evolved.

From aerodynamic aids to rear-ride height devices to the now-banned front-ride height devices. Ducati is MotoGP’s innovation leader.

The success proves the Italians right. It is not for nothing that three of the six satellite teams in MotoGP now attach great importance to working with Ducati.


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