Note: Before you start reading, I want to make one thing clear: this article is not a commercial report, it is not promoting a brand, and it reflects reality. we clarify this because after reviewing it we realized that some skeptics might perceive it as an infomercial … but it is not. As stated before, for someone who is not from the place where Ferrari was born, it may be difficult to understand how far the passion of the Italians can reach.
Borgo Panigale. Donato, 28, is from Salerno, southern Italy. He bears a striking red tattoo on his right forearm: it’s Ducati’s coat of arms, as red as the blood that flows through his veins. He works as a turner in the Ducati machining department and passionately says he is “living a dream.”
Davide is 38 years old, from Bologna, and coordinates the mechanics of the production line in Borgo Panigale. He has tattooed on one of his calves the Ducati Panigale suspension and the Superquadro pistons and cylinders on a forearm. But the “good” tattoo he hides under his shirt, blazoned across his chest: an image of the Desmodromic engine! He wanted very much to show it, but he thought it uncorrect to remove his shirt at his place of work. As in the case of Donato, he affirms with passion: “This is a good year.”
Cristian is one of many engineers wearing Andrea Dovizioso’s commemorative T-shirt for his victory at Mugello. A T-shirt that bears the inscription: “The success Made in Italy,”a shirt commemorating the Italian rider’s triumph at the Italian GP…on an Italian motorcycle with an Italian engine. Inside Ducati’s offices, the walls and work areas are lined with posters of the rider from Forlí, the same picture used for the huge photograph which hangs proudly on one of the facades of the factory.
Welcome to Borgo Panigale, welcome to Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, 3, welcome to Ducati Motor… A place where everyone, each of the 1,200 employees—from the CEO to the custodian –are “infected with the red virus.” Ill some might say, but hopelessly happy.
They say that it is the devotion of each the Ducati workers to there colors is the secret to a company in the middle of a challenge whose relation would be something like a fight between an ant and Mike Tyson. 55,000 units / year is Ducati’s production. Honda, on the other hand, produces 12 million engines over the same period—12 million!—It’s David versus Goliath.
Ducati’s employees parking is full of bikes, which belong to the workers who come and go to work with the same bikes that leave the assembly lines… Monsters, Panigales, Multistradas, Scramblers…
In the same plant where the bikes you can buy in any Ducati dealership around the world are built, the GP17s are also assembled. These are the machines that brought Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci to the podium in the first part of the 2017 season… Both competitive and commercial winds blow the Ducati sails, especially in the United States.
There have been seven years of continuous growth, with a turnover in 2016 of 730 million and a profit of 50 million. Some say that this situation derived from the entry of Ducati Motor Holding in the Volkswagen conglomerate at the hand of Audi five years ago. But when the CEO of the German group (July 19, 2012) visited all of the workers at Borgo Panigale, his words were very clear: “Ducati bleibt Ducati” (Ducati will remain Ducati); that is, Ducati would still be Italian. “We were given carte blanche, we cooperated and exchanged data with Wolfsburg [Volkswagen Group Headquarters], but here we continue to decide, they trust and they do well,” explains Claudio Domenicali, CEO.
Ducati is a company that mixes a factory, a laboratory of ideas (the only you can compete sportively and commercially with the Japanese colossal brands)
The Germans then paid 840 million euros for the company and now it is rumored that the company is for sale for almost double that price. These same rumors place potential buyers to be Harley Davidson, or the Indian group Bajaj or some private equity funds. But in the meantime, the Italians, the proud heirs of a company founded almost a century ago in the basement of the Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti, continue to rule Ducati.
Ducati is a company that mixes a factory, a laboratory of ideas (the only you can compete sportively and commercially with the Japanese colossal brands) and a family united by “the blood”, in this case, the passion for a brand.
Donato D’Amato, man of the tattood forearms, had a dream since childhood. “I’m from the south, I dismantled scooters and imagined becoming a rider,” he says. “In my village I worked in a steel mold factory, but one day I left everything and I presented a CV here. It took me a while, it took me time, but I finally got work here, I got into Ducati.”
For three years Donato has been dealing with crankshafts and connecting rods. “For me it was like entering a family: the Ducati is special, I put my hands on pieces that will one day be decisive in the world speed championship. After winning in Mugello, the riders were here with us, humble, available…we are a team,” says the Italian mechanic with a passion shared by each of the workers we spoke with. Most of them come and go to work with the same bikes that leave the assembly lines. “I have a Monster 821 and I go out to ride when I have free time. How it sounds! You hear the two-cylinder from afar, it’s pure music.”
Donato also confesses that during the party in the factory to celebrate the triumphs, Donato took Dovizioso aside and said to him. “This year we will win, understand? It’s been 10 years since Casey Stoner did his job, ten years we’ve been waiting for the second title. It’s on the way, and when we get there it will be ours, everyone’s.”
The party, the event, the family reunion—call it what you will—that took place in Borgo Panigale mid-June to celebrate Andrea Dovizioso’s double victory had no shortage of attendees. They were all there: riders, competition department engineers, production plant personnel, those in the administrative department …
Sitting in the first row was Davide Cattabriga, who they say is capable of performing miracles with a screwdriver. “I’ve been at Ducati for twenty years, it’s something I carry with pride and passion. Yamaha’s racing department is as big as whole Ducati’s, but they do not have the Italian genius…They will will have to sweat this year to take the title from us.” Cattabriga has two Panigales in his garage. At Ducati, he works with two companions from Calabria, Giuseppe Curia and Agostino Magliarella. “We have to work hard these days. The quality leap in MotoGP also depends on us … and the engineers of the Reparto Corse from the top floor.”
“People are curious and ask if we are fans of Ducati. When replying that you are much more than just that, that you work at Ducati, they look at you with admiration and respect … There is no need to say more.”
They tell us that when they go to the beach, obviously they bring their red Ducati towels. “People are curious and ask if we are fans of Ducati. When replying that you are much more than just that, that you work at Ducati, they look at you with admiration and respect ... There is no need to say more.”
Davide, Giuseppe, and Agostino didn’t know it, but in the weeks following our visit to the factory, one of the three would be chosen to join the race team’s box…