MotoGP update: Ducati says improvement coming, and rookie rule gossip continues


When Cal Crutchlow’s season started to implode (and it didn’t take long!), people started to wonder – would things ever improve? Well, Ducati’s MotoGP project director, Paolo Ciabatti, says they will …

In an interview on, Ciabatti pointed out factory rider Andrea Dovizioso’s success this year (he’s in fourth overall), but said “Cal had a lot of bad luck with technical problems, with the crash. And also his feeling with the bike is not so good at the moment, so we are trying to help him to understand better the bike and show his potential, because we think Cal is a great rider, but so far he hasn’t really been able to show that he can ride fast a Ducati.”

Uh, that wording isn’t exactly a warm and fuzzy endorsement of their big off-season signing. But, maybe that’s just an issue of using English as a second language.

However, Ciabatti admitted Ducati does need to work on some issues with their bike. Talking of new Ducati Corse team manager Luigi Dall’Igna, he said “Gigi brought some ideas, we made a lot of changes, some changes we can no really see on the bike … but also working on software, and other features of the bike. The bike has improved.

“Obviously we still have this under-steering problem, and probably to solve that we need to work a little bit harder in terms of engine design and position of engine in the frame.”

Ciabatti said the team is hard at work preparing the 2015 bike, but they’re still hoping to see an improvement in the 2014 machine before the year’s end.

Part of the reason for Dovizioso’s success this year has been Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo’s slump (Lorenzo is in fifth overall). Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha MotoGP team director didn’t throw him under the bus when talking about his success, or lack thereof, or say anything about him being unable to ride their machine. Instead, he acknowledged Lorenzo’s capability, not implying he wasn’t up to the task.

“For me Jorge’s capability was shown in the Mugello race. We are really expecting in the second part of the season to see him really strong. We are working really hard to make the circumstances suitable for him to be able to win.”

He had plenty of nice things to say about Valentino Rossi, though, who’s had a season as his Yamaha comeback continues to go well.

“We are happy. The victory is still missing but we are working hard to get it as soon as possible,” Meregalli said. “He started in the right way, since the Sepang 1 test, he really liked the changes that the Japanese engineers made during the winter time. He adapted himself to the new tires and the new bike and he never gave up. He is always improving and pushing and that’s his attitude.”

“His riding this year has been unbelievable and if he has signed it means he really believes he can keep pushing for two more years.“

In other news – the controversial rookie rule has been in the news a lot lately. Most MotoGP followers remember there was a rule in place from 2010 to 2012 that prevented any rookie from moving straight to a MotoGP factory team. The rule was dropped so Marc Marquez could join Honda’s factory squad, essentially.

Since that obstacle was removed, there has been gossip about other stars of the MotoGP support classes (particularly Moto3) making a similar jump straight to the big show, either with a factory team (Maverick Vinales to Suzuki) or a satellite squad (Jack Miller to LCR Honda). For a thoughtful examination of what that would mean, take a look at David Emmet’s post on Asphalt and Rubber.

Finally, Asphalt and Rubber also had a post mentioning Red Bull’s latest marketing team-up with Repsol Honda, that will see their logo on the Honda GP machines for the first time ever. For a while now, A&R editor Jensen Beeler has been speculating that energy drinks could start a competition for advertising in the same way tobacco manufacturers once did. Is he right? It’s certainly true that energy drink advertising money has done a lot to help out supercross in recent years …


  1. Ciabatti hasn’t been paying attention. For the last four seasons, NOBODY has been able to “ride fast a Ducati.” Apparently, they don’t have engineers who can “design fast a Ducati” either.

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