Starting Wednesday, he’ll be present in Sepang to see Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci in action on the GP19. Before leaving for Malaysia, Paolo Ciabatti took the opportunity to go to Ponte San Pietro for the presentation of the Ducati Panigale V4, which showed off its new livery. In fact, the Borgo Panigale sports director was very curious with regard to this appointment.
“Both the SBK and the MotoGP livery are really nice, even if different,” commented Ciabatti. “It was not easy to interpret the design of the V4R with wings. Also, there is still some work that needs to be done on the tank, given that something will evolve in the coming weeks.”
So, what will we see during the Phillip Island tests?
“We’ll be bringing something new to the race, particularly in terms of ergonomics, in order to offer greater comfort to the riders.”
The first race is Phillip Island. In November, Pirro said that they’ll probably hit it big.
“Actually, we still have some work to do, especially some fine tuning. The project is recent, but we plan to play our cards with both riders in Australia. The goal is to make the Panigale a winner, as soon as possible.”
Can we now say that the V4 is at a good level of competitiveness?
“Of course. The development is in line with the goals we were planning to reach for the end of the month. We well know that the competition will be fierce and, as a result, we don’t want to settle for anything less.”
As we’ve seen so far, the Red bike’s debut was born under a lucky star. Did you jump the gun then?
“We went ahead according to the program, since we thought of bringing the bike to the debut with a good level of competitiveness. The results obtained in the tests were encouraging. Alvaro seems to have found the right confidence, while it’s too bad for Chaz, who couldn’t ride much. Hopefully, however, he’ll manage to recover to be at his best.”
If in the MotoGP you have to contend with Marquez, in Superbike there’s Rea.
“True. But we’ve shown in several occasions that we can beat him with a twin-cylinder. We can say that this V4 has an excellent level and further room for improvement.”
Can we expect him to bridge the gap with his Kawasaki?
“I’ll talk about it at Phillip Island. Even if, from what I saw, I’d say we can.”
Let's talk about the MotoGP. What is the outcome of the test reserved for the testers?
“The shakedown went in the right direction. Among other things, Michele was not at his best because of his shoulder operation in November. But he still gave some interesting cues. We’ll see at what point we’ll be at the end of the three days. So, we’re going to wait, confident and curious.”
The other day, Dall’Igna said that it will be a Ducati with just one top player in 2019.
"That’s not exactly right. It’s clear that we have a rider like Dovizioso who has won the most GPs with the Red bike in the past three years. At the same time, there’s Danilo who came close to success on several occasions. Petrucci must, therefore, demonstrate that last step when it comes to continuity. No one doubts his attributes but, from a racing perspective, he must be constant the whole time. We’re asking him to take that step to fight for the podium or for the first five positions. His goal is, therefore, not to beat Andrea at all costs, as occurred in the previous season with Lorenzo. Dovi and Jorge are two champions, and one saw in the other the most inconvenient opponent.”
So, can we define Petrucci as a playmaker?
“I don't like that term. Danilo is an official rider and will have everything he needs to try and win races. He knows this. Now all he has to do is show the consistency required for the entire duration of the race.”
Australia and Losail. If you had a Euro to bet, where would you place it?
“I’d bet 50 cents on the Panigale at Phillip Island and just as much on the GP19 in Qatar.”
We’ll be returning to the track in Malaysia on Wednesday. Will we see something new or will we have to wait for Losail?
“You’ll see something at Sepang, then we’ll assess things."