A New Dawn for Ducati Corse?
In March, Filippo Preziosi stepped down after 12 years of running Ducati Corse and 19 years spent together with the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, with Bernhard Gobmeier filling in his duties for the next 10 months.
Today, Ducati announced they were bringing in Gigi Dall'Igna, the man who brought glory to Aprilia. Stealing him? No. Paying him, yes. And it's not about Dall'Igna's wage we're talking here. It's about the money he can spend to make Ducati run faster and better, a luxury Aprilia could not afford, apparently.
The move is extremely significant because Ducati is now backed with VW-Audi money and this means all they needed was the right man for the job. Herr Gobmeier did a good job keeping things afloat all this time, but he's no prototype mastermind. Is Dall'Igna? Most likely!
The foundations for Ducati's future are already laid out, so it remains to be seen whether Dall'Igna sees any real potential in the current direction Ducati is heading. He WILL have a free hand to do as he pleases and sees fit, with Claudio Domenicali (Ducati CEO) being the only one he must report to.
Will we see the "lab bike" Michele Pirro worked so hard testing and developing being kept as a transition model until a new MotoGP machine is built? The possibility simply cannot be ruled out: Dall'Igna is no amateur, and building a new prototype from the ground up is not exactly impossible with the resources he will have.
Some rumors see the new monocoque chassis dead and buried already and have Dall'Igna bring some of the frame engineers he worked with at Aprilia over to Ducati. In case this happens, there's still the question of whether they'll try to make the monocoque more rideable or will simply start making a new frame for the future bike.
A new V4 for the MotoGP bikes is also one of the wet dreams of Ducati's fans. Honda is fast with such an engine and seems to be very happy with the current architecture. Given the new MotoGP regulations Dorna will bring in over the next three years, we might very well see Dall'Igna in front of a completely blank sheet, starting to put together a new paradigm for Ducati Corse.
Gobmeier said that a revolution was not necessarily needed to bring racing success at Ducati, but Dall'Igna may beg to differ, especially as he's the new "emperor" of the whole Corse program. And sometimes it's better to just destroy everything and build anew, history teaches us.
As chief of Ducati Corse, Gigi Dall'Igna will also have to take care of the World Superbike operations. His expertise in the Superbike world is very solid, as he and Max Biaggi brought Aprilia two titles, in 2009 and 2011.
Ducati is not faring well in WSBK either, and high hopes rest with Dall'Igna to bring back sunshine in Bologna. Will the SBK Panigale machine also change? We could see this, too, as doubtlessly Ducati and Audi will have to let Dall'Igna work his magic.
It will be very interesting to watch Dall'Igna at Ducati: his strong leadership, mixed with enough funding and massive technical support from the parent company could make a beeline to success.
Welcome Gigi, you've got some R&R until November 1, the first day you go to work wearing your new red shirt. Ducati red shirt.