Just a few more days and the gates will open for the Misano circuit, which will have the honour of being the only Italian MotoGP round this season, with the added bonus of it being a double appointment. Two Grands Prix in Romagna, the heart of Italian motorcycling and also the home of the Bologna manufacturer Ducati.
This time it will be a special event because it will be the last chance to see Dovizioso on the Rossa in Italy, with his farewell already announced at the end of the season. At Borgo Panigale they are already working on the future, keeping an eye on the present, in pursuit of that world title that has in recent years.
We talked about all this and much more with Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati's sporting director.
Paolo, what are your feelings for Misano?
“We are focused because the championship is very open, we don't want to miss this opportunity and we are going to circuits that are favourable to us. At Misano in 2018 we won with Dovizioso, while last year's GP was heavily conditioned by the asphalt which removed a lot of grip. Now there is a new asphalt that seems to have regained those characteristics that have always made us competitive and we have also carried out tests. There will be two races in Misano and then Barcelona, another circuit where we have always done well ”.
It is an unusual championship…
“It's a championship without Marquez, with some surprises due to the general situation and the different ability of teams, bikes and riders to adapt to the tyres”.
"Ducati and Dovizioso are focused on the championship, there will be time for regrets later"
They will be the last two GPs in Italy for Dovizioso on the Ducati…
"Obviously, it is a disappointment, but at the moment we are focused on the championship and 2020. There will be time eventually for any regrets, but now we have an important chance to fight for the championship and we need to be focused on that."
Dovizioso’s farewell is certain, but the season is not even a third of the way through. What’s the atmosphere like in the box?
“I spent time with Andrea after his announcement, we drove together for the second Grand Prix to Austria, and I saw him very focused, calm and serene. I think having made a decision has reassured him, I don't want to be a bleeding heart but there is really the desire on his part, the team and the engineers to finish in the best possible way, that is by winning the World Championship, this 8-year adventure together. I repeat, for regrets and recriminations there will possibly be time later, we have put everything behind us and are focused on getting the maximum result from each race ".
"It's time for Ducati to change strategy, we want to renew ourselves"
Regardless of the result, Dovizioso will remain a flagship for Ducati, will a new course open up after his farewell?
"There are a lot of rumours about our riders, for sure there will be Jack Miller in the factory team, there will be Pecco Bagnaia but we have not yet decided in which team, if the factory one or Pramac, and the same goes for Johann Zarco, then there will be two others riders we can't talk about yet (the names are those of Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin, Ed.). The project is that of a general renewal because, after such a long and successful relationship as the one we had with Andrea, we believe it is a good idea and right to change our strategy”.
It looks like a winning strategy from what we have seen this year, with Quartararo for Yamaha, with Binder and Oliveira for KTM, Mir for Suzuki and Bagnaia himself for Ducati. Is ‘make way for the young’ the slogan for the future?
"This year the championship is unusual because its star in recent years has been injured and is out of the game, so all sorts of possibilities open up. It is clear that we must take advantage of this opportunity but it is also clear that Marc will come back as strong as before, so we have to wonder about what weapons, not just techniques, we need to fight with him in the future. Without forgetting that there are riders like Quartararo, Mir and the youngsters of KTM who have proven to be very fast. Thinking that young riders can have room for improvement and become rivals for Marquez I believe is logical reasoning; without taking anything away from those riders who are over 30, they are still very strong, but they have probably reached the peak of their potential " .
“Lorenzo is not thinking about racing. With Miller there will be Zarco or Bagnaia, the decision after Barcelona "
Yet, on a regular basis, the ghost of Lorenzo returns ...
"Jorge, as can be seen from his activities on social media, is enjoying life and the last thing that is going through his mind at the moment is getting back to racing on a motorcycle. They are fantasies without any basis".
When will we know the final line-up of the teams, already at Misano?
“I think we'll take a little bit of time. Having decided on the riders, it remains to be seen which is the most appropriate choice for the factory team. Zarco has shown some great things, just like, before his injury, Bagnaia, who will not return 100% in shape because he underwent a rather serious operation. The choice for the factory team is important and in any case for both the alternative in Pramac is of the highest level, with an identical bike, so we will take a few races to decide. It would have been nice to make the announcement in Italy, but we will wait until after the Barcelona GP to decide. "
Going back to the current championship, given the extreme uncertainty, would it be possible to think of teamwork to win it?
“It's very difficult, because every rider wants to stand out, win or get onto the podium. We have always asked them to avoid situations similar to that of Argentina in 2016 (where Iannone knocked Dovizioso to the ground and fell in turn, Ed.). Maybe, with two races to go, if the situation were clear, we could also think of strategies to prevent a rider with no ambitions on the title from taking points away from those who are fighting for the championship, but these are difficult evaluations to make. We always tell our riders not to get in the way of or harm each other and we expect them to do so, then there have always been accidents between team or brand mates. Teamwork is not only a bit unpleasant to watch, but also difficult to manage in today's motorcycling."