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Ducati’s World Championship History

Ducati’s World Championship History

The dawn of the four-stroke era in 2002 opened the door for Ducati to re-join the MotoGP™ World Championship and start a dynasty.

During the Italian GP in 2002 Ducati unveiled their MotoGP™ prototype, the Bologna based factory out to convert their WorldSBK success to victories and top results in pinnacle of prototype racing.

Troy Bayliss, who had brought Ducati great success in WorldSBK, and Loris Capirossi, already a highly experienced premier class rider at this point, were the first factory riders for Ducati in their new adventure on the GP3 machine. The GP3 featured the trademark 90° V-Twin engine with desmodromic valves, both still a feature of Ducati’s MotoGP™ machines.

Success was immediate for Ducati as Capirossi claimed third in the Japanese GP, the bike’s first race in the World Championship. Ducati’s first win came soon after, Capirossi taking a sensational win at the Catalan GP that year. Between Capirossi and Bayliss, Ducati would claim two poles, nine podiums and a win in their first year with both bikes inside the top six.

Both Bayliss and Capirossi remained in the factory team but the GP4 proved a more difficult machine and Ducati only managed two podiums throughout the year. Loris Capirossi ended the season in ninth with Troy Bayliss a distant 14th due to eight DNFs.

Carlos Checa was brought in as a replacement for Troy Bayliss in 2005, Ducati also switching to Bridgestone tyres for the season. Bridgestone and Ducati would work closely together in the coming years to get the most out of both the machine and the tyres. Capirossi was once again the leading rider with three poles, two wins and two further podiums for sixth overall as Checa picked up a pair of thirds.

The GP6 boasted improved aerodynamics and a greatly improved engine, these changes allowing Capirossi to lead the championship at the start of the year. Ducati’s season took a wrong turn at the Catalan GP when newly signed Sete Gibernau and Capirossi were involved in a first turn crash, both missing the next round due to injury. A highlight of the year came in Valencia when Troy Bayliss returned to replace the injured Gibernau, going on to take a sensational victory ahead of Capirossi. Capirossi would end the season third overall and solidified Ducati as a championship challenger.

In 2007 Casey Stoner joined Ducati alongside Loris Capirossi, their GP7 machine altered for the new 800cc displacement limit. Filippo Preziosi, in charge of Ducati Corse at the time, had worked hard behind the scenes developing the bike as the year approached. In Qatar the combination of Ducati and Stoner proved unstoppable, the Australian’s distinct style and Ducati’s incredible top speed producing the first of 23 wins for the pairing. Stoner would take ten wins in 2007, finishing off the podium four times to claim Ducati their first, and so far only, MotoGP™ World Championship.

Loris Capirossi departed the Ducati factory team in 2008, replaced by Marco Melandri who struggled throughout the year, only once inside the top five. Unfortunately Casey Stoner’s six wins and 280 points were not enough for the Australian to defend the title, but Ducati remained in the hunt.

The GP9 saw the introduction of a carbon fibre chassis, Ducati stepping away from the traditional steel trellis frame. On paper a carbon fibre chassis provided near limitless control as the weave of the carbon fibre could be controlled and the flex and stiffness therefore altered as needed. Nicky Hayden moved to the factory team alongside Stoner, the Australian achieving four wins and four further podiums during the season but illness caused him to miss three rounds and sit out the title fight.

2010 had both Hayden and Stoner remain with the team. The GP10 had a revised aerodynamics package and a more reliable engine due to rules being brought in to restrict the number of engines used. Stoner was once again the only rider to win for Ducati, the bike beginning to develop a reputation as a machine only Casey Stoner could ride with his radical style.

Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were partnered for the 2011 season, Ducati continuing with their carbon frame design. It proved an incredibly difficult year for the Italian manufacturer with each rider only achieving a single podium and neither ending the year inside the top five. The season saw the GP11 undergo many changes during the year as riders hunted for improvements.

More rule changes were introduced in 2012, the MotoGP™ class increasing engine displacement to 1000cc. For the first time since their MotoGP™ project begun, Ducati introduced a ‘conventional’ aluminium twin spare frame in the quest for improved feel. Valentino Rossi scored a best finish of second in Misano and Le Mans, but was again outside the top five at the end of the year.

In 2013 Andrea Dovizioso joined the factory team alongside Nicky Hayden, the duo failing to finish on the podium as they ended eighth and ninth in the standings. This marked Ducati’s darkest period in the World Championship and famous engineer Luigi Dall’Igna was brought in as the new General Manager of Ducati Corse to change their fortunes.

The GP14 and GP14.2 were the first bikes influenced by Dall’Igna, although still more of an evolution than revolution. Andrea Dovizioso had a solid season with two podiums, a pole in Japan and many top fives, signalling that Ducati were working towards returning to the top. Multiple technical issues and injuries made 2014 a difficult year for new factory rider Cal Crutchlow who ended on the podium just once.

For the first time in their MotoGP™ history, the factory Ducati team became an all-Italian affair as Andrea Iannone joined Andrea Dovizioso. The pair rode the GP15, a redesign by Dall’Igna, still boasting the classically Ducati 90° engine with desmodromic valves. An almost unbelievable start to the year saw Dovizioso take three successive second place finishes. Andrea Iannone also proved that Ducati were capable of winning after the stunning Phillip Island round. 2015 was also the year in which Ducati brought back their winglets first seen in 2010, investing heavily with multiple configurations for various circuits.

Ducati continue to search for their first victory since 2010 but if the trend of recent years continues, they’re well on track to do so.

MotoGP, 2016, Ducati Team

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