ingenuity and passion

Ducati’s most successful ever season is rooted in a bed of tireless improvement and inexorable innovation. Work that requires research, development, passion and creativity, managed in perfect Ducati style, as Ducati Corse General Manager, Gigi Dall’Igna, explains.

Success long in the making

The rules of sport dictate that every victory is associated with its moment of achievement. The cover of what was an extraordinary 2022 for Ducati Corse features the final MotoGP act at Valencia, which saw Pecco Bagnaia make the most incredible recovery in the history of MotoGP, and the Indonesian WorldSBK round, where Alvaro Bautista was crowned for his triumphant riding. But if 2022 will forever go down in the history of Ducati and in the hearts of the Ducatisti, this is also, and above all, down to what occurred in previous years. To a pathway that, prior to this season’s ‘full house’, brought two consecutive Constructor’s titles and a Team title in MotoGP, and a WorldSBK Constructor’s title. Gradual but inexorable growth, driven by continuous research into technical and technological innovation by the entire Ducati Corse team, headed up by General Manager Gigi Dall’Igna.

Is it right to say that many explanations and many people lie behind this success?

It’s right to say that, in 2022, we were able to consolidate what we had built over a period of several years. Since 2015, I’d say, because we laid the first brick that year with the Desmosedici GP15. An innovative bike, advanced not only in terms of its engine and totally different to the Ducatis that came before it. 2016 brought the first race wins, and in 2017 we battled for the title right to the end with Dovizioso. We’ve grown year on year and innovation after innovation, doing something that no-one has done before, or rather developing the sporting side along with the technical. Today, all the riders competing with a Ducati started their MotoGP careers on a Ducati. They have grown with us, and us with them.

How do you become a reference for the other manufacturers? By beating them, or by seeing things others fail to see?

Well, I would say that trailblazing is part of our DNA. We started to break the mould already in 2014 when we were the only factory team to embrace the Open project, with spec software in place of custom versions. And over the years we’ve been the team that has introduced the most significant innovations, from the holeshot device to wings created in a certain way, to the spoon and much more besides.

Some see a particular Made in Italy trait in all these innovative elements, and that’s creativity.

At Ducati, we definitely have a flair that manufacturers in other countries, by nature, do not have. But the rules are also there to be interpreted. With creativity, you can find those solutions that take you to the limit permitted by the regulation, because the closer you get, the better you perform. We’ve done well to never exceed the limit in recent years. And, in fact, we’ve passed every check we’ve been subjected to without any problems.

Is having so many Ducatis on track today another consequence of this continuous innovation?

The satellite teams are free to go with any manufacturer they like. If they choose Ducati, it’s because they know that, in addition to receiving a competitive bike, they will be an active part of a long-term development pathway. This too is the result of a specific, carefully considered strategy. Satellite teams are very important to us, not only from a financial standpoint, but also technically speaking, because they allow us to have more data and information to support development of the bike, and on the sporting side too, because with their help we can invest in young riders and understand their true potential. 

Here too, Ducati appears to be going against the tide, with the decision to develop its riders ‘in-house’

We preferred not to go with riders who already had a history, but instead select young and talented riders that we can help develop. This was an easy decision in every sense. Firstly, because they’re doing an amazing job. But also because the brand has come out stronger too. We have earned the trust of future riders who know that, at Ducati, they will find the ideal environment in which to improve and grow. Not all manufacturers can offer this kind of guarantee. 

And what about the team? Ducati Corse appears to be a very close-knit group.

The team is the aspect that warrants the most attention, because the result is always down to the contribution of each and every person. Over the years, I’ve learned that victory only comes if people are happy. Also because winning a world championship is very complicated and, without mutual trust, it wouldn’t be possible to achieve. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of those around you, in order to maximise the former and minimise the latter.

"In recent years, no one has innovated like we have.”

Before scoring the recent titles there were some tough times. What were the most critical moments?

There will always be difficult moments, but the important thing is to never lose faith in yourselves. After all, you will always lose more than you win in life. In our case, having to face up to Marquez or Rea helped us to grow, pushing us to do more and better. Ending the relationship with Dovizioso was a particular moment. The decision was a mutual one, but it was nevertheless painful, emotionally speaking. We’re still human after all, and we never forget that.

What were the turning points? When did you realise things were starting to go in the right direction?

In MotoGP the turning point came at Silverstone. Prior to that race, Pecco had always won because he was the quickest on track. But at Silverstone he wasn’t the quickest. In the race, he demonstrated that determination, steeliness and ability to manage a race that can help a rider win in any situation. In Superbike, I immediately realised that it could be our year. I know Alvaro well, and his approach to the races last season was totally different to how it was in 2019. He was very careful about any contact or overtaking and meticulous in head-to-head battles. For the first time in his career, he wanted to win and not win hands down, and this is a subtle but very important difference.

They say it’s hard to win but even harder to repeat a win. How do you maintain the buzz after a season like this?

Firstly, by enjoying our success, because victories should be celebrated. Before Christmas I told the team to watch the races back in order to really understand what we achieved. Now that we know how great it is to win, we want to keep doing it. It won’t be easy, because the championship level is very high and there are many strong riders.

Any specific wish ahead of the new season?

I hope that everyone can express their full potential. There’s a unique atmosphere right now, and this is thanks to our current riders who are fantastic and all extraordinarily sportsmanlike. And speaking as a sportsman, as opposed to Ducati Corse General Manager, I’m pleased and proud to work with people like this.

“Now we know how great it is to win, we want to keep doing it”
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