Ducati team orders have been a talking point in recent weeks as the 2022 MotoGP season nears its climactic conclusion.
With Pecco Bagnaia now just two points away from the hard-fought crown, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti made one thing clear ahead of the final round: “a Ducati must win in Valencia regardless of the rider.”
While Ducati has seen consecutive success in both the teams and constructors championships in recent years, and taken a significant share of the podium celebrations, the rider’s title has remained illusive. Not since Casey Stoner in 2007 has a Bologna rider added their name to the premier class trophy, something the Italian marquee is keen to change.
“Obviously we won for the second consecutive year also the team title, for a third consecutive year the manufacturers title,” Ciabatti confirmed. “Everybody knows that we missed the rider title since 2007 and this is the closest we are to winning it since 15 years, which is a long time.
“So it's very important for us, for the company, for Pecco, for everybody who's been working. I think that there are no doubts about Ducati being the most competitive bike in MotoGP this year. We won seven plus four plus one makes 12 Grand Prix, I think is the best results ever in Ducati history, in MotoGP, so many pole position, so many podiums, and so many first rows, so that's very good and it proves that the engineers back in Bologna have been working hard and doing a fantastic job. Now, we make what they say ‘the icing on the cake’, and we are very close to get it.”
While Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis alluded to the challenges of Valencia with reference to Nicky Hayden’s dramatic win over Valentino Rossi in the 2006 title fight, the Italian was less than convinced.
“I feel it was quite different because in this case, as we all know, Quartararo must win Valencia and I think Pecco needs to be 15th or zero points,” Ciabatti confirmed. “Okay, everything is possible, I agree with Lin, but let's say that when our beloved Nicky Hayden won the championship back in 2006, he won by finishing third.
“Now, this time for Fabio, he will need to finish first and last year I think Ducati was 1/2/3 in qualifying and 1/2/3 on the finish line in Valencia.
“So, yeah, okay, fingers crossed, but I think it's a situation where we can be confident for the last round of the championship and hopefully we can celebrate with all our fans.
“I'm pretty sure it's gonna be full of meanings,” he continued on the approaching race. “For sure, still some tension but then in the end, there will be a constructor order. A Ducati must win in Valencia regardless of the rider because if Ducati wins, then Fabio, even if he comes second, he cannot be world champion. So it was a joke, but everybody's been speaking about 'team orders, team orders' so next race we can say there is an order, a Ducati rider must win. Okay, regardless of who he is.”