With the title won by Francesco Bagnaia in 2022, Ducati returned to the top of the world, celebrating the conquest of its second Riders' Championship in MotoGP. A milestone achieved 15 years after the first laurel conquered by Casey Stoner in 2007 and eight seasons after the first project put on track by Gigi Dall'Igna, who joined the team in 2014 precisely with the aim of bringing a new world title to Borgo Panigale.
Mission accomplished after a journey that turned out to be longer and more complicated than expected, as Dall'Igna himself admitted in a chat with our Speedweek colleagues: "This winter I went skiing with less weight on my shoulders. Now I can say that the goal I set for myself when I joined Ducati has been achieved - commented the Italian engineer, who has finally been able to feel relieved - The road has been long, they have been intense years. We've come close other times, but it's very difficult to win in MotoGP."
Given all the challenging work and continuous innovations introduced by the Bologna-based manufacturer, should Ducati have succeeded much sooner?
“Maybe. But the truth is that we didn't do it before. We simply didn't deserve it - admitted the General Manager - In life there is nothing you can blame yourself for. We just lost. The right way is to analyse why and figure out what to do better next time.”
Despite the happy conclusion, 2022 also proved to be full of lessons for the team in red, which risked seeing another World Championship fade away due to a start to the season that was well below expectations.
“At the beginning we had some problems, but I think we were courageous in finding solutions and we didn't lose our cool. It would have been easy to do irreparable damage, but we were good at keeping the group united and working all together, including the riders - commented Dall'Igna, explaining what caused the difficulties – The winter testing days are never enough. In 2021 we ended the season well with all the riders, who were quite satisfied with the 2022 bike that we took to the track after the last Valencia race. So, we took what we had for granted. Then when we arrived with the 2022 bikes at Sepang, where we had no benchmarks from previous years, we began to understand that something was wrong. For this year we have learned, therefore, that even if the Valencia tests went well, we will take a 2022 and a 2023 bike to Sepang, to have a benchmark and be sure to be competitive.
While crucial for a good start to the season, the test in Malaysia doesn't seem as if it will upset the balance too much, given that the engineer doesn't seem willing to make any drastic changes to the Desmosedici.
“This year we will be a little more cautious. We have some things that I imagine can help our riders and improve the performance of the bike in general, but they won't be any major revolutions" commented Dall'Igna, who remains focussed on the search for more power.
“It's a goal that a technician must always pursue - concluded the manager - With more power, you're faster and, in addition, in racing it's much easier to overtake on the straight than when cornering. This means that for those with the most powerful engine it is easier to win the race”.