After Andrea Dovizioso’s (Ducati Team) third victory of the season at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, the Bologna factory’s win tally increased to six in 2018 with teammate Jorge Lorenzo also standing on the top step three times this season.
This takes them into the realms of MotoGP™ Legend Casey Stoner, who achieved the same amount of victories across the entire 2008 season on his Ducati and with six rounds of still to go this year, ‘DesmoDovi’ and the ‘Spartan’ could well match - or better - the Australian’s 2007 title winning total of 10 wins. But is this the best Desmosedici machine ever, even if they don’t reach Stoner’s tally? Maybe.
Maybe: a word also used by Dovizioso in the post-race Press Conference when asked if the GP18 is currently the best bike on the grid, having won the last three races in succession: “Nobody can really know. Maybe yes, maybe no,” said the Italian. “It’s very difficult to know this because it’s always a mix between the riders and the bike. For sure we’ve improved the situation because we are faster in a track where in the past we weren’t. But the only two Ducati riders are me and Jorge, the other Ducatis have good bikes but sometimes for them it’s very difficult so… I don’t know. Maybe, maybe. I don’t know.”
Dovizioso continued, suggesting the improvements made this season have been a result of lots of intricate changes on every area of the bike, not a couple of big ones: “We didn’t change something big or something in the last few months. It’s just about working together and to adapt to the tyres and the rules of the Championship. And this is nice because when you have a really good base, it’s very difficult to create something and make a step. You can improve if you, step by step, work in every detail, and if you improve a little bit in a few details, at the end of the race it’s a big thing.
“This is what happened. The tyres have a characteristic, the electronics have a characteristic, the riders have to adapt to the situation. The tyre working in a different way, last year was a bit different to this year, we are using the tyre in a different way. It’s constantly a change, a small change, and when you put everything together it can make a difference. So, it wasn’t like something Jorge said in Mugello, it’s the work of everybody, in every area, and when you put everything together you can fight for the victory.”
Ducati went almost six years without tasting victory between Stoner’s 2010 Australian GP win and Andrea Iannone’s triumph at the 2016 Austrian GP. Since the Italian’s victory at the Red Bull Ring, the Desmosedici has continued to improve and last year saw Dovizioso take the title fight with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) down the wire.
Despite this though, on numerous occasions this season Dovi has claimed the GP18 is better than last season’s GP17. But what does Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali think of this year’s Desmosedici compared to previous machines? “I think that, from a sporting point of view, it is the best moment in our history,” admitted Domenicali, who has been with the Italian factory for 26 years.
“The bike has an exceptional performance, not only in the circuits that are more favourable where the engine makes a difference, but also on circuits like Misano. This really shows the balance and the great work done by the Ducati Corse engineers to give a very balanced bike to our riders.”
Ducati Corse General Manager Gigi Dall’Igna also spoke after Dovi notched up their sixth win of the season: “We have to be happy with the result and performance of our bike. We did a great job over the weekend both technically and with our riders. Dovizioso won, playing out a fantastic race and Lorenzo, despite the fall, made a wonderful race. Winning both Mugello and Misano in the same season is something very special.”
So, is the GP18 the best Ducati MotoGP™ bike we’ve seen? Only time will tell if Ducati will reach double figure race wins in 2018, but if Domenicali believes so, then it’s hard to think otherwise.