Borgo Panigale was the setting for the start of Ducati Corse’s 2017 MotoGP campaign.
Julian Thomas (MotoGP Press Manager) led proceedings by reminding those in attendance and online that Ducati sees the brand as more than just bikes – they see themselves as an
entertainment company appealing to their fans’ passion and emotion for the Italian marque. This would be a common theme running through the entire 45 minute presentation.
Claudio Domenicali (CEO – Ducati) was first up on stage and asked that everyone keep the region of Central Italy in their thoughts as they recover from a major earthquake, snowfall, and avalanche which occurred in the days preceding the Ducati launch.
Domenicali then transitioned into a summary of the company’s strong financial health saying that Ducati has seen nearly 60% growth in sales after a 7th continuous positive year and that Ducati has no debts which will enable the factory to self fund development of new products for the next 5 years or more. Touching on the points made earlier, he described Ducati as having an Italian heart (passion and ingenuity) with a German mind (methodology and construction) which combines the best both have to offer.
Domenicali described MotoGP as a showcase for what the company is capable of and thanked Luigi “Gigi” Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager) for helping to bring Ducati back to its winning ways – ultimately capturing 2 race victories in 2016. He hoped the combination of a solid financial foundation along with good race results, a great team, and belief in their potential would translate to a 2017 world title.
Gigi Dall’Igna followed and spoke about the growth he oversaw in 2016 and which lead to 2 race wins. He explained the benefits of reorganization under his guidance which helped the team gain better focus – especially in the areas of aerodynamics and engine development. He maintained that this development must always be continuous and thorough since their main rivals would surely be doing the same. He went on to explain that the rider lineup for 2017 would mean no more excuses as they challenge for a championship.
Dall’Igna then talked about the advantages of having won 2 championships with Jorge Lorenzo earlier in his career and the importance this experience will have to the current team. He also acknowledged 5th year man – Andrea Dovizioso – and how important it is for the veteran Italian rider to “finish what he started” when he came to the factory under stressful conditions in 2013.
Dall’Igna closed his thoughts by thanking the team, engineers, and Ducatisti for their passionate support and hard work.
Julian Thomas returned to the stage to introduce a short video highlighting the 2016 season before bringing Paolo Ciabatti (Sporting Director) and Davide Tardozzi (Team Manager) to the stage.
Ciabatti began by thanking their many sponsors – both long time and new partners for Ducati – which included the likes of Philip Morris International (the well-known tobacco giant) for their assistance and support since 2003; Shell Oil for their longtime technical sponsorship; and TIM – a telecommunications and internet company who have been with Ducati since 2004 – just to name a few.
He went on to speak about Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso saying both are very excited about their 2017 prospects and that both want to do well for the teams that have invested so much in their talents. He also thanked Michele Pirro and Casey Stoner for their roles as test riders and said that their abilities put Ducati at a distinct advantage over their rivals.
Davide Tardozzi recapped the team’s 2016 performance saying he was happy with their results but now believes more is possible. Tardozzi said that the last Valencia test gave a good indication of what can be done in 2017 and that he is enjoying a positive team spirit flowing between his two factory riders.
Michele Pirro (Ducati Test and Wild Card Rider) joined the two men on stage and was praised not only for his sacrifice and ability to develop the bike under extreme conditions but also for stepping up to race the bike when he was needed. Pirro acknowledge that testing can be difficult at times but that he is hopeful for both factory riders saying he wants to offer help and support whenever he can.
Casey Stoner (Lead Ducati Test Rider) was not in attendance – but the team expressed their gratitude for his role as test rider and look forward to upcoming tests which will include his feedback on the 2017 bike.
Proceedings then turned to the unveiling of both rider and motorcycle graphics for the new season. A short lead in video was presented before the bikes were brought out – and to much fanfare. As the motorcycles were put into their final positions – walls opened from behind the set to reveal both riders in full regalia.
Jorge Lorenzo could be seen sporting new duds which lose the “heaven and hell” motif seen through the years in favor of a full “hellboy” layout complete with small devil horns atop his double 9s; both legs are red now as well.
Andrea Dovizioso’s design was based on the familiar layout we’ve seen in years past – this year, however, we see a stronger emphasis on the blue features also present on the bike. This color works well for the Italian rider and gives him an updated and fresh look for the new year.
Both riders mounted their bikes and answered a short Q & A session led by Julian Thomas. AD04 went first saying that we was feeling good as he enters his 5th year with the team (10th year in the GP Paddock) and that he is feeling hopeful after initial tests. Andrea talked about first meeting Jorge in 2001 when they contested the European Championship and admitted they were both very young at the time. He said he is happy to now share the team with a great champion and that he feels great passion for Ducati, the team, and his fans.
Lorenzo was interviewed next and was welcomed warmly by those in attendance. JL99 said that the day prior to this event was his first visit to the factory and that despite initial nerves – he enjoyed his special day and the attention that he was given. He described his switch to Ducati as a positive change and now realizes how different his experience will be to that of his with Yamaha. He stated that his objective is to get another title – despite the challenge – and that talent, luck, and a bit of magic would all lead to a strong campaign. He concluded by sharing his appreciation for being welcomed into the Ducati family and felt very proud of this saying that he wants to make the team proud and provide a strong performance for the fans with a lot of emotion.
Claudio Domenicali returned to the stage and wrapped up the event by asking fans to stay tuned and connected when the lights go green for the 2017 Ducati campaign and that he appreciates all of the love, passion and support they feel from the Ducatisti.
Testing resumes at Sepang in just over one week’s time.
Photo Credit: Chris Bishop© Copyright 2017nolarocks, All rights Reserved. Written For: Motorcycle Road, Track & Trail