Manuel Pecino / Photos courtesy 2Snap / Copyright reserved
These statements have become Andrea Dovizioso’s mantras. As if he were lost in the desert, for the last two years he has been asserting them to the wind, apparently with no one listening. Well, he’s probably been heard, but not acknowledged.
Since Andrea Dovizioso became the biggest rival to the winning Marc Marquez, the Italian rider has been demanding one thing: to take the next step, to go from being a winning team just on the tracks agreeable to the Ducati. This implicates that the Desmosedici needs its dynamic behavior to evolve. That is to say, that it needs to correct its characteristic under steer when accelerating out of corners with and increasing ratio.
But Dovizioso insists that none of the advances have managed to improve this defect. It may have improved some, but at circuits like Phillip Island, Sachsenring or Jerez the Ducati still suffers. In the words of Andrea, it simply isn’t competitive. Understanding that competitive means not being in a position to confront Marquez and his Honda, which are the rivals who set the standard.
In private, Andrea complains that Dall’Igna doesn’t listen. Not only does he turn a deaf ear to his comments, but also he focuses bike development on improving those areas that are already competitive: the engine and aerodynamics. A claim that Andrea did not hesitate to relay to Ducati Motor CEO, Claudio Domenicali, in a long meeting following the Spanish GP in Jerez, a race in which a frustrated Dovizioso finished fifth.
We have no confirmation if this conversation was mentioned between the Ducati Motor and Reparto Corse leaders, but guess the answer is yes. Because Dall’Igna’s post-race comment in Le Mans, Dovizioso and Petrucci finished second and third, wasn’t a casual statement. He commented that his motorcycle should have done better than second that day, which clearly meant “you are not making the most of my bike.”
Petrucci’s victory in Mugello two weeks later didn’t reinforce Dovizioso’s position. It actually reinforced Dall’Igna stating that all the riders who have raced on the factory team since his arrival at Ducati have won with his bikes. Riders with styles as different as Iannone, Dovizioso, Lorenzo or Petrucci have been able to win GPs with the same bike, which would make it seem that it isn’t such a complicated machine.
The Dall’Igna / Dovizioso relationship definitely is going through a moment that one might call tense. Dovizioso justifiably claims that he is repeatedly ignored. After all, it was he who put Ducati in a position to aspire to win the MotoGP title for the last two seasons, and he has won no less than 11 races. With Lorenzo’s departure he has turned into Ducati’s example in MotoGP and therefore the Reparto Corse should be working for him … But Dall’Igna isn’t listening.
The head of the Ducati’s racing department instead gives priority to what he believes in. His experience plus the enormous amount of data he manages provides him a vision that seems to be quite different from the riders’. It’s no secret that Gigi has a passion for engines, the area where he has shone most throughout his professional career.
The second area in which he does not stop working is aerodynamics, a field that he was absolutely pioneering three years ago. Ducati does not stop introducing technical innovations and solutions that force his rivals to work around the clock to catch up. First there were the winglets, later the famous keel on the swingarm, the half front wheel fairing, and at Mugello that same half wheel fairing was seen on the rear wheel of Michelle Pirro’s bike.
Dovizioso is very skeptical with the latest “inventions”. When asked what are the benefits of the new parts on the motorcycle, he always answers zero. He wants fewer carbon fiber parts (that have almost no effect on the bikes performance) and give him what he asks for instead.
On the other hand, up until not so long ago, Ducati were still paying the consequences of giving a rider the decision as to the line of development of their motorbike. We refer to Valentino Rossi’s disastrous two seasons at Ducati. I imagine that in this sense the engineers will be very careful to let anybody else but themselves mark the line their bikes’ evolution.
All this said, we don’t know if it was already on the program or if it was a result of the last meetings, but for the post-GP testing that will be held on Monday at Montmeló, Ducati is planning to test a new chassis. Hopefully this new chassis will be a step forward and will give Dovizioso the extra bit he needs to minimize damage at “difficult” circuits. Because at the others, the Ducati / Dovizioso duo has already shown that it can win.