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Ducati boss Ciabatti explains his move to flood the MotoGP grid

Ducati will run a mammoth undertaking of eight bikes on the MotoGP grid in 2016 and 2017, and the company’s Sporting Director and MotoGP Project Director Paolo Ciabatti has revealed the firms reasoning.

MotoGP promoters Dorna will give big financial help to satellite teams from the 2017 season onwards but there was some confusion over whether manufacturers were limited to six bikes. Ciabatti was more than ready to clear that up when he spoke to bikesportnews.com.

“This is not a regulation,” said the Italian, when quizzed on the rule. “It was just an intention that Dorna expressed but there is nothing written about that. There are no written regulations which are limiting the number of bikes a manufacturer can have.


“Our contract with Avintia and Aspar is for 2016 and for 2017 so we have already secured a deal for 2017 where we are going to have eight riders, the same as next year.”

Indeed, Dorna’s proposal was just that - a proposal. It has not been ratified, meaning Ducati will have an eight-strong presence in the premier class for the next two years.

“We’re going to have three teams apart from the factory Ducati team,” he said. “One will be the Pramac Racing Team as usual, is what we call factory supported team as it has been for the past three or four years. This means that the presence of Ducati engineers and technical management of the team is done by Ducati technicians and engineers but this has been the same since 2012 and 2013.

“Pramac will get the GP15 bike that we have been using in the first part of the season this year. Next year we don’t name the bikes anymore with numbers we just go with Desmosedici GP, so that is what we will call our bike in the same manner as Honda and Yamaha. Those are for (Danilo) Petrucci and (Scott) Redding.

“Then we have Avintia and a new customer to Ducati returning after a few years, Aspar. They will be what we call satellite teams, meaning they have a couple of Ducati engineers in the team for the season based on maintenance and electronics. Both teams will get the GP14.2, which is what Pramac is using this year.”

Having eight Ducatis on the grid may look excessive but Ciabatti believes it is up to others to get to the stage where teams want to run their package, as he used the cases of Avintia and Aspar to illustrate his point.

“In the case of Avintia obviously we started providing one GP14 motorcycle to Hector Barbera last year for the last five rounds, just one bike, and they were coming from a difficult experience with the CRT (Claiming Rule Team) bike that they had built with Kawasaki engines, which was not competitive,” he said.

“This year you can see that they are leading the Open class at the moment with Barbera, so hopefully that situation will still be favourable in Valencia and for them, they are ninth in the championship I think – the team standings – and obviously they have a good, competitive package with reasonable costs and technical support on our side.

“For a private team switching from having to build a bike and get the engine as they were doing last year to a situation where you have a package with a good level of competitiveness and you have technical support and the direct link to the manufacturer is beneficial.”


As for the returning Aspar outfit, who previously ran Ducati machinery back in 2010 and 2011 on their MotoGP debut, Ciabatti was extremely damning in his verdict of the Open Honda motorcycle that both Nicky Hayden and Eugene Laverty have ridden this year.

“In the case of Aspar, I think obviously it has to do with their own decision to leave the Honda customer bikes after three years and eventually they were not very satisfied about the competitiveness of the package,” he explained.

“You should ask them more than me, but I think the expectation to perform well on the teams taking those production racers from Honda was higher than what they eventually got in terms of performances.

“Next year the GP14.2 will be a good bike but eventually we will hope to provide newer machines to both Avintia Racing and Aspar Team in 2017, where I think they should have extremely competitive material.”


So eight Desmosedicis next year, and eight Desmosedicis in 2017 for the Bolognesi but if it all goes according to plan, is further grid expansion on the cards for Ducati beyond that should Dorna fail to introduce any reforms?

“It is not the absolute maximum but we cannot handle more than eight,” Ciabatti confessed. “Eight is already a bit complex to handle in terms of material and technical support, so even if there was the possibility we think ‘well, it would not make sense on one side to have ten Ducati riders on the grid’ – it is too many – but we think eight is the maximum manageable on our side. More would be not possible.”

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