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The Ducati Team were the first on the grid to reveal their 2018 project, with the Team Presentation for the new season taking place in Borgo Panigale outside Bologna on Monday. Ducati CEO Claudio Domencali, Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti and Team Manager Davide Tardozzi all spoke at the event, as well as test rider Michele Pirro, before the final reveal of the 2018 colours for the factory saw race riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo take to the stage.
Highlights from Ducati's 2018 launch event
After an incredible 2017 season that saw ‘DesmoDovi’ take six wins and fight for the Championship down to the final round, the spotlight remains trained on the Ducati Team as 2018 gets in gear. Teammate Lorenzo also added to the rostrum count for the mythical marque during his first season in red, and the Mallorcan was close to the win towards the end of the season as his adaptation gained some serious traction. An impressive season, which is where General Manager Dall’Igna began as he addressed the auditorium.
“2017 was an incredible year for us, winning so much, and we fought for the World Championship,” affirmed the Italian. “There were plenty of deep feelings and incredible emotions, and once again all of our fans and followers have been so happy about what we’ve done. This is not down to me, this is due to the work and efforts of riders, test riders, and the men and women of Ducati, so let me thank them all. And we have to keep working; we have to improve all the technical points that can still be improved.”
Talking through the changes in the GP18, Dall’Igna kept most of the cards close to his chest – revealing only that the bike has more horsepower – but he did explain the methodology of how the factory work to improve during the off season. The answer? Thorough evaluation above restless innovation.
“Throughout winter we stayed very focused,” explained the Italian. “We really talked about the main features of our bikes and came up with new ideas we’ll be testing in Sepang. It goes without saying that we had to revise the engineering of the bike, and we worked on the engine – we’ve added some horsepower to our bike, although the rideability will be easier – and we also worked on other technical points to improve. And again, in terms of aerodynamics, we’re now defining the last details so you won’t see the final model in Malaysia, or maybe not until the second or third race. It’s not important to look for innovation at all cost – we have to be very strict, very rigorous in the testing process, and cherry pick the valuable evolutions.”
Next, Dall'Igna spoke of the riders – and underlined their importance alongside that of their equipment: “The bikes are important, but so are the riders. Dovizioso, the rider who gave us so many emotions until the final race, had an incredible season, but not just in 2017 – also during the final part of 2016. From Aragon to Valencia, he scored the most points. So it’s not a one-off, and I’m sure he’ll get incredible results in 2018, too. Then we have Jorge Lorenzo, five-time World Champion, and after some difficulties at the beginning, results got better and better. In the final races he was close to the win and I’m sure he will be one of the key protagonists in the 2018 World Championship.”
For that Championship, Dall’Igna says the goal is simple, and the same as 2017. The Italian also offered a promise: “The objective we have defined is to keep fighting to get the number one position in the Championship. Something we wanted to do in 2017 that I shared with you on this same stage last year. This is the objective for 2018 too. It’s difficult because we have to fight against incredible manufacturers and talents, and we can’t say it will be easy or easier than last year. But I do have a promise I’m here to deliver on – we’ll strive to try and create a fantastic 2018 for us and for Ducatisti.”
CEO Claudio Domenicali is also confident that Ducati are ready for the challenge. After some words on each of the team’s riders, the CEO of the Borgo Panigale marque affirmed his confidence in the combination of competitors and team:
Domenicali: "We are ready to fight for the 2018 title"
“We have an incredible, top-performing Andrea Dovizioso and he had some incredible results,” said the CEO. “He’s shown us he has a real talent, and maybe we underestimated him. He won six races and we’re sure he’s ready to repeat the same performance. And Jorge Lorenzo, by the end of the year, was the fastest ever, and speed is the buzzword. It was difficult for him to adjust to a very powerful bike and the riding style is different to his ‘normal’ style but he’s shown us he can be so fast. Thanks to the riders we have and the technical infrastructure of this company, a company that keeps investing, I think we are ready to take up the challenge.”
Ahead of lights out for the first of 19 challenges this year - with the addition to the calendar of Buriram in Thailand - the first track time for the new bike will be at Sepang in less than two weeks as final evaluations are made. Soon after it will be time for the GP18 to race its new livery for the first time in Qatar, with the desert floodlights once again ready to beckon in the new season in March.
Ducati launches 2018 bike in Bologna
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