Michele Pirro is celebrating ten years as a Ducati test rider. It’s been a long journey, seasoned with joy, smiles and triumph, but also moments of difficulty and disappointment with that icing that is still missing on the cake, called the world title.
Fresh from the Sepang tests and the news that he will soon become a father, the rider from Puglia wanted to dedicate this long interview to us about this chapter of his racing life in red with the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, which began way back in 2013.
“Ten years is a nice life journey - Michele said - let's say that I have aged well (smiles). What is there to say about this adventure… I am grateful to Ducati for this job, which has made me grow and at the same time contribute to the work of the manufacturer, obtaining important results. To date, the icing on the cake, which is the world title, is still missing, but we are not that far away and we will try again this year ".
Michele, how much has the Ducati changed in these ten years.
“From Stoner's Ducati to today, I would say a lot. Casey was someone who masked the problems of the bike, he rode over the difficulties, thanks to his extraordinary and immense talent. Now, the Ducati has become a bike for everyone, in fact we have seen Pecco, Miller and Martin win, as well as Dovizioso, Petrucci and Lorenzo, but also Zarco and Bastianini get podiums. I think it has made the Ducati a simple and fast bike ”.
One of the key moments was undoubtedly the arrival of Dall’Igna who contributed to the revival of the company.
“Gigi has been a mentor and a genius, both on and off the track. He reassembled the Ducati group, getting the most out of each person and putting their ideas at his service. However, I would also like to mention Claudio Domenicali, who is our CEO, as well as Paolo Ciabatti and Davide Tardozzi, whose contribution was vital in the garage ".
Michele, but you didn't like Gigi very much. You hated him a bit at the beginning, right?
"I would say yes, because at the beginning there were differences between us. Basically I wanted to race and he wanted me to be a test rider. I also went to Guidotti to ask him to persuade Gigi to let me race, but he replied: “Michele can't be touched”. With the arrival of Stoner I thought it was the right time to go back to racing, but nothing (smiles). Obviously, Gigi saw a long way ahead and it was the correct choice to let me test the bike. In recent years Dall’Igna has given a lot to the Ducati project and the results have been seen. Unfortunately we haven't won the Riders’ World Championship yet, but we are following the right road”.
For years Ducati "copied" the other manufacturers, while now it is the others who have to chase…
"It's a bit like a designer dress, which encourages others to copy it. I think the secret is to never stop with development and to always bring something new every year. Evolution continues in Ducati and I believe that with the GP15 we have reached a turning point. In these last tests I have been very impressed by Honda. In Japan they have changed the bike and it is very similar to the Ducati ”.
Now there is also the lowering device…
"Anyone who stops is lost, Guglielmetti (smiles)"
Michele, in Ducati we have seen many riders over the years. But I'll give you two names: Dovizioso and Lorenzo.
"There is a relationship with Dovi that goes beyond the track, in fact he was among the guests of my wedding in December. With him we really came within a hair's breadth of the title, it was just a short distance away, but on the other side was Marquez. We are really disappointed about 2017, because that year we gave everything. In Jorge, on the other hand, an important investment had been made by Ducati. Alongside him I learned a lot from him and I think we did a great job of development, making a lot of material available for him. Jorge made me work really hard (smiles), but he too won with the Ducati ”.
“I never had a great relationship with Andrea off the track, as we have two different lifestyles. However, he remains a fast rider and I am very sad about this disqualification that he is serving. I saw him at Misano, when he came to do some laps, and I remember that he came to me to change tyres ".
They tell me that in addition to being a Ducati rider, you are also a pretty good cyclist…
"Let's say that to keep fit I do 500-600 kilometres every month, an average of 8000 per year. In the morning I get up at 6:30, then the gym, then the bike ".
Michele, an on-the-spot question: is it true that Yamaha came looking for you a few years ago?
“Yes, I can't deny it, I've also had offers from other manufacturers, but in the end, I stayed in the Ducati family. I think the development work done at Borgo Panigale has also been noticed by the other manufacturers".
In August you become a dad…
“After 17 years with Paola we are ready for this new chapter of our life. It was a wonderful surprise and I can't wait for that moment to come. Honestly, I don't know what it means to become a father, but I will try to be one in the best way ".
But is it true that you want to become the new Tardozzi in the future?
“But I wouldn’t dream of it! Have you seen David's white hair (jokes)? Tardozzi is a fundamental person for Ducati and I hope he will stay with all of us for as long as possible, because we have great affection for him. I will try to do my best as a test rider as long as I am competitive ”.
Michele, who’s going to win in Qatar?
“Ducati, Ducati, Ducati (smiles). The track will tell who wins. We have done a great job to be competitive ".