Barcelona is a special track for Ducati, the one on which it reached its first MotoGP victory during its debut season 20 years ago. Loris Capirossi led the team to its success on June 15th, 2003. Two decades later, the Desmosedici is the benchmark of the category: the World Championship bike with Bagnaia, and with which all the riders go strong, from Bezzecchi to Martin, and also Alex Marquez and Marini.
It seems like a century has passed since that mechanical bull that only Capirex and Bayliss had agreed to take on. This week, the World Championship will be at Montmelò, and we’d like to remember those pioneering years Loris talked about only a few months ago (full interview HERE).
“Maybe I was braver than other riders who refused that challenge,” he said smiling. “I, instead, accepted it with enthusiasm, along with Bayliss. Yet the first test was shocking. The bike was very fast, but it wouldn’t go straight. I don’t know how many frames we changed during those first tests. We tried to stiffen everything.”
It went well: fastest lap in the winter tests (at the time, a car was being given away in Barcelona as a prize), podium at Suzuka in the first race, victory in the third at Montmeló. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“The Ducati was very hot. At Mugello, Troy and I burned our legs,” Capirex continued. “It was a crude bike, it leaked oil, which ended up on the tires, making you fall. Each time, before pushing, we had to look at our feet to check for oil. It was rough. Then, in 2004, it became a rocket bike. I reached 350 kilometers per hour on the straight. Pity it wouldn’t bend.”
Things improved with the screamer engine and, in 2006, Lori was just a step away from the title, but the accident in Barcelona caused by Gibernau changed his fate.
“I have no regrets. It was still a good season,” Capirossi said. “Then, in 2007, we switched to the 800 cc engines, and that bike seemed made for Stoner. He was very good at bringing the title to Borgo Panigale, but that bike was difficult to ride. I told them, and I was right, because Casey then also started to struggle. I returned to Ducati in 2011. I thought that, with Valentino, the bike would be good. Instead, I found the worst Ducati I had ever ridden. I have it in my garage.”