More MotoGP Madness as Audi CEO Wants a German Rider at Ducati

Stefan Bradl wearing the leathers of his former team, Forward Racing 1 photo
I was only days ago when we reported about the fact that Cal Crutchlow, a former Ducati factory rider in 2014 might be interested in getting at the helm of a satellite Ducati. However, things are far from being clear, as recent developments in the MotoGP paddock introduce another variable in this fuzzy equation.
Namely, it appears like Ducati's satellite team might receive a German rider in 2016, in the person of none other than Stefan Bradl. According to a story published in the German sports media, even Rupert Stadler, the Audi CEO, is interested in having a German rider in a Ducati team.

As you know, Ducati was bought by Audi and saved from what looked like the shortest way to a doomed future. Even if in the first place Audi didn't want to have anything to do with the Ducati road racing programs, it looks like this situation might have changed.

The prospect of Pramac fielding the Desmosedici GP15 machine next year makes it exceptionally attractive

If anything, Ducati has not been exactly the most attractive machine on the grid until the beginning of this season. Ducati Corse needed CEO Claudio Domenicali to convince Aprilia's Gigi Dall'Igna to join the Borgo Panigale team. Dall'Igna received a free hand and solid funds to do what he thought it was best to change the racing fate of the Italian manufacturer.

Audi trusted Domenicali and the results are known to all MotoGP enthusiasts. Ducati's all-new GP15 bike is once more battling at the front of the pack, podiums and spectacular duels, and all.

Pramac is said to start the 2016 season with GP15 machines in the box, and this means a dramatic change in the competitiveness of the team. Pramac and Ducati have enjoyed a very close relationship during the past years, with the satellite team even using the same bikes as the factory riders for coherent development.

As the perspectives for Ducati changed significantly this season, we can expect that Audi wants to take things even further and add an even stronger marketing value to their brand. That is, bringing a good German rider in a team fielding Audi-owned machines. Of course, Ducati will be forever regarded as the iconic Italian sport bike brand, but this has nothing to do with Audi's plans.

Having a German rider in a team that makes battle near the podium positions would not only be great in itself, but will draw a bigger crowd at Sachsenring, and this thing would be lucrative on multiple levels. And when the Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich says he agrees with an event like the Sachsenring GP benefiting from the presence of a high-scoring German rider, we guess that the course of action is almost predictable.

Is Ducati once more "stealing" people from Aprilia?

The question above might be a very legitimate one, considering Dall'Igna jumping ship from Aprilia to Ducati. The fact that Bradl, now confirmed as an Aprilia rider until the Valencia GP, might be persuaded to don the Pramac livery in 2016, might really fuel some thoughts that Ducati has an agenda with the house of Noale.

Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow have also been on Pramac's "shopping list", speedweek says. However, the younger of the Espargaro brothers has just signed a deal with Monster Yamaha Tech3, and his teammate Bradley Smith is said to ink the contract this month.

As for Cal Crutchlow, the recent developments in Audi's vision might ruin his chances for a Desmo ride in 2016. The negotiations for the 2016 are in full-throttle for the open teams and some of the satellite outfits and there is still plenty of time to see who rides what next year.
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