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SBK, Grassilli: "Ducati's priority is the renewal of Bautista, but we need time"

INTERVIEW - "Alvaro is our icon and we would like him with us even in 2025. We need time, a bit like Bagnaia's renewal: at Sepang we started talking with Pecco, then we signed a minute before Qatar. Ducati without Aruba cannot do Superbike, I don't see a future without them."

SBK: Grassilli:

Mauro Grassilli arrived in Assen this morning. The new Ducati Corse Sporting Director has in fact picked up last December the baton left by Paolo Ciabatti and among the many situations to be managed in view of the future there is certainly the one concerning Superbike.

The agreement between Ducati and Aruba is in fact about to expire, so as a result it is necessary to sit down at the table to discuss the renewal and map out a new way forward together with Stefano Cecconi and Daniele Casolari of Feel Racing.

We caught up with him during the day, exchanging some comments and touching on several topics in this regard.
"Despite the rain I am very happy to be here in Assen to follow closely our efforts on the Superbike front," Grassilli told us, "obviously the renewal with Aruba is the main topic and I can say that I don't see a future in Superbike without Aruba. More than a collaboration, I consider it in fact a marriage. At the Campiglio presentation we started talking about the future basis together with Stefano Cecconi and as I said Ducati cannot do Superbike without Aruba."

What kind of commitment should we expect from Ducati for the future in SBK?
"Our goal is to continue as we are doing now, providing as much support as possible and consequently reflecting what the present is. In addition to that we would like to be more involved in the choice of riders, so having a leading role together with Aruba in the production-based racing world."

In recent seasons we have seen some new teams choose Ducati. Do you think the number of Panigale bikes on the track could increase?
"Internally we are doing very well on the operational side, and we would like to have as many Ducatis in action as possible, but then you need to know how to manage them better. It is pointless to have many Ducatis without then being able to manage them."

Mauro, in addition to the talk about Aruba, there is also the subject of Bautista. What is the current situation?
"Right now the renewal of Alvaro is our priority, because he is the most successful rider in SBK with our factory and he has brought Ducati back to victory. For us he represents an icon on a character level, especially because of the way he is. I'd also add the Panigale Replica bikes dedicated to him, confirming how important Bautista is to Ducati."

There is, however, the issue of age to contend with.
"Bautista is 40 years old, there are many aspects to be evaluated and as a result it will take time for him to mature a decision. However, we want him to continue into 2025. As I said, it is not something you solve in a matter of days. It takes time, and it could go on toward the summer, but there is no rush. I am in some ways reminded of Pecco's renewal: we started talking to him at Sepang, then signed a minute before Qatar."

Mauro, despite the new regulations, it would not be a bad idea to give a second wildcard to Alvaro after last year's wildcard at Sepang...
"Unfortunately, until the summer we can't do any wildcards and I think it's difficult to do any by the end of the season."

Among the topics touched upon during the interview with Mauro Grassilli was also the chapter related to Andrea Iannone and his return to racing with the Go Eleven Ducati. Tomorrow you can read what the sporting director said about The Maniac.


Translated by Julian Thomas

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