At Ducati, the racing season that is about to get underway promises to be full of events, and the challenges will once again be on several fronts. More than anyone else, the man who will have to monitor the progress of the red bikes in Superbike and MotoGP is Paolo Ciabatti, who was of course present at the presentation of the Ducati Aruba team as Ducati Corse sporting director.
Regarding the production-based championship, the aim is plain for all to see, and Ciabatti sets it out clearly. "Last year taught us that it’s not enough to have a great start - he said - against Rea who, thanks to his regularity in the early races and subsequent victories, won the title. We must therefore start well but continue in the same way, because we have a great desire to bring the title back to Borgo Panigale".
How has the Panigale V4 changed compared to last year?
“The bike is now more mature because it has a year of life and experience behind it first of all. Last year we knew that there were some aspects to improve, which we worked on during the season and in the winter: we worked on the aerodynamics, on the rear, with a completely new swingarm, and on a better torque, adapting the gearbox to the rpm regime stipulated by the regulations".
What can newcomer Scott Redding bring to the team?
"The goal for Scott must be to start and continue well, seeing as there are a lot of opponents. There will be tracks he will have to learn like Imola, but I think he can bring an important stimulus to the garage: they race on distinctive tracks in BSB, and Scott won on his first attempt. He got on well with the bike and with the team from the beginning, and I think it could be a motivation for Davies too, who like Scott can aim for the title"
Can Scott already win in Australia?
"I think so, the bike is competitive, and Scott has always been quick at Phillip Island, so we can start with this idea."
If the season goes as hoped, could the doors to MotoGP reopen for Scott?
"I don't think his career path in MotoGP is over, but he has a two-year contract with the Aruba team to try and win the title, and even if he wins in the first year we would try to repeat the success the following year. MotoGP is an increasingly competitive championship, in which there are very few riders ready to replace those close to retiring, even though one example is Quartararo. A return to MotoGP could be a goal for Scott, but only after winning the Superbike title”.
About MotoGP: "We thought about Vinales and Quartararo, but now we are closely monitoring the riders we have close to home"
A word about MotoGP. What are your thoughts on the recent tests in Malaysia?
"Tests are important first of all to understand things from a technical point of view. There was some new stuff to try and a new rear tyre, which didn’t seem to adapt very well to our bike or the Honda, but we have three more days of testing in Qatar to find the right set-up for the bike. In Malaysia there was a lot of equilibrium between everyone, at least over the single lap, and the championship promises to be even more competitive than in recent years".
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"It looks as if Marc’s operation is going to need a lengthy recovery time, but Marquez has accustomed us to many sensational feats so I wouldn't be surprised if he was immediately competitive. We mustn’t forget that there are many strong riders who will be fighting for victory this year".
What about the market? What are the plans for the future?
"When we started talking about the riders last year for 2021-2022, we said that certain riders external to Ducati could be interesting, and I think we don’t need to add that Marquez is the dream of every manufacturer, even though I think he will stay in Honda for the moment. We considered Vinales and Quartararo, but Yamaha chose not to wait for Rossi's decision by moving well on the market: Fabio received an attractive proposal for his age, and will have the time should he wish to take a different path, while Maverick I think he was promoted to leading rider in the team instead of Rossi, something that convinced him to stay”.
With Dovizioso and Petrucci did you set a deadline to decide the future?
“We haven’t set a deadline, given that the situation is clear enough. I think that the Suzuki riders will also stay where they are, so we're mainly looking close to home. I don't think Andrea necessarily wants to change, and you will have to wait a few races to get a better understanding of things, even here the example of Quartararo is a lesson to be learnt. Last year Danilo got off to a good start and then lost his way, and it should not be forgotten that in Pramac we have Miller, who scored five podiums in 2019 and Pecco, in whom we have placed a lot of trust. We can also evaluate Zarco, who is in Avintia with important support from us".