Second place for the third consecutive year would be considered a positive result for many in the era of the alien, Marc Marquez.
But Ducati’s result at the end of the 2019 season was celebrated in very different ways to 2017, when Andrea Dovizioso’s six victories resulting in second place overall standings were welcomed as a triumph and a return to the top for the Italian factory.
“Finishing second means losing. After three years as vice champions, we are even more determined to renew the fight for the MotoGP title.”
The words spoken by Gigi Dall’Igna, the General Director of Ducati Corse at the Team Launch in Bologna were echoed by Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse Sporting Directror, who declared “In 2020, we will fight for the championship.”
So, what is Ducati’s plan to beat the reigning 8-times World Champion at Repsol Honda Team? If the 2020 season goes ahead, Ducati has implemented some major technical changes, and will see four official riders riding four factory bikes on track.
The Ducati factory Team will count once again on Andrea Dovizioso, the second-best rider of the last three seasons, along with fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci. Meanwhile the Ducati Pramac lines up Australian rider Jack Miller and 2019 rookie Pecco Bagnaia.
With Marquez staying with Honda for the next four years, Vinales and Quartararo signed for Yamaha until 2022, Rins with Suzuki and Jorge Lorenzo as Yamaha’s test rider, it is likely that Ducati will renew with Dovizioso. This means that both rider and machine need to raise the bar if Ducati wants the title, says Paolo Ciabatti.
“To fight against Marc, we need a competitive motorcycle. At Borgo Panigale, we have been working 360 degrees: on the engine, the chassis, electronics, and aerodynamics.”
“Top speed has always been one of Desmosedici’s strengths, but last year Honda recovered the margin of around 10 horsepower that Ducati used to have”, confessed Ducati test rider Michele Pirro. “We worked hard to close the gap, and we are satisfied with the results achieved, but only the track will tell us where our competitors are.”
On aerodynamics, Gigi Dall’Igna and his staff have always pushed the limits, getting as much as possible from the grey areas of the regulations. He believes “It’s the task of every good engineer to explore the limits of the rules, remaining on the legal side” but says “unfortunately, nowadays, the stability of the technical regulations, and the strict limitations don’t give us so much room to explore alternative paths as we used to do.”
At the Qatar test, Ducati surprised once again with the introduction of the holeshot 2.0. As Jack Miller confessed, the system is not completely new and has been used since the 2019 Thai GP. The Ducati holeshot 2.0 device impressed because it can be used on the straight or in the middle of the corner. Its main effect is to lower the centre of gravity along with the rear tyre.
It has proved useful in acceleration, but it also improves top speed and by lowering the rear, it increases the steering angle so the bike becomes more stable. According to engineers, the device is derived from the technology used in the F1 suspensions in the 1990s. As always, Ducati continues to explore new innovative ways, and as we saw with the wings, it’s likely that the other manufacturers will follow in the footsteps.