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A Post-season Catch-up: Paolo Ciabatti

A Post-season Catch-up: Paolo Ciabatti

In the latest Post-season Catch-up, we hear from Ducati Team’s Paolo Ciabatti. The MotoGP Project Director discusses the change of direction within the Italian squad as well as Cal Crutchlow joining Andrea Dovizioso from the start of 2014.

Paolo, 2013 began with much hope. Bernard Gobmeier joined the team as well as Andrea Dovizioso, with the talk being about ‘evolution, not revolution’. Since then, the bike has progressed but did it progress as quickly as you hoped?

No, obviously not. As you know, we had some expectations at the beginning of the season that we would be able to close the gap to the top and maybe fight close to the podium at the end of the season. It didn’t happen.

We worked very hard on developing the bike, but eventually whatever we brought as a new feature to the bike did not really show that we could improve our lap times. In the end, it was a disappointing season for our riders; they both tried hard all the way, up to the last round, but the results were not what we expected.

Now we start again for next season. We have a new rider, with Cal Crutchlow replacing Nicky Hayden, and also a new boss of Ducati Corse in Gigi Dall’Igna who has lots of experience in motorcycle racing. We will try to work very hard again in order to try to close the gap to the top once again next season.

During the season, in terms of development throughout the year, we often saw Michele Pirro riding and racing the so-called ‘Lab Bike’. Do you believe, despite results not going so well, that having him there helped drive the development?

Sure. Michele did a great job. He did a lot, actually; a lot of days at Mugello and Misano, testing new features on the bike. We had planned to do a few wildcards, but he did a few more races because unfortunately Ben Spies was injured and so Michele replaced him for the Pramac team.

We tried and tested many different things. For sure, we got a lot of information and data to analyse over the winter; although it didn’t show any great effect on the current bike, for sure we learned a lot of things thanks to Michele and the development team.

For next season, we know that Yonny Hernandez will be on your 2013 bike but in ‘Open’ form (with the spec ECU software and 24 litres of fuel available in races), with Andrea Iannone on a factory-spec machine. What is the reason behind having Yonny on the 2013 bike?

It looks like Dorna would like to go down the single software route for the future. We had the chance to decide that the second rider in Pramac would do this development; it is something that Honda will do with the (RCV1000R bike) and Yamaha will do it with Forward Racing, so for us it is a good way to gain experience with the new software and hopefully we can also work on helping to improve it. It looks like this is something we should get used to sooner or later, so it is better to be ready.

We saw Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso having many great battles when they were teammates at Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2012 – and indeed we saw Andrea and Nicky Hayden engaged in several tussles this year. Are you expecting more of the same from Andrea and Cal in 2014?

Obviously, we would like our riders to be fighting amongst themselves sometimes – obviously without making mistakes like we saw between Nicky and Dovi at Indy [smiles] but, you know, they were pushing hard so we accept it. The important thing is that they will be fighting with the other riders and also being closer to the top of the standings - that is what we want to do.

MotoGP, 2014, Ducati Team

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