MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
The problem at Ducati
It is good news that Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso have re-signed with Ducati, because if Gigi Dall’Igna hasn’t forgotten how to design a racing motorcycle, then his 100 per cent brand-new GP15 should stop the rot at Ducati.
And there’s a lot of rot to stop. Think back a decade to when Ducati could do no wrong: they were winning MotoGP races and World Superbike titles, performing David versus Goliath feats every weekend. Now they can’t win a thing. Last season was the first in a quarter of century of WSB that they didn’t win a single race and I can’t even remember when they last won a MotoGP race. Hang on, I’ll look it up. It was Phillip Island in 2010, with a certain Casey Stoner on board.
When was the last time Ducati won a MotoGP race without Stoner on board? Back to the history books: it was Loris Capirossi at Motegi 2007, when he made the right call in a wet-dry race. There have been 118 MotoGP races since then. In other words it seems like Ducati have forgotten how to design a racing motorcycle.
I’ve recently had a few chats with several mechanics and engineers who have worked with both Ducati’s MotoGP teams and for the factory itself during the last three seasons. They all spoke of their time working on the Desmosedici while shaking their heads in frustration and raising their eyes in disbelief at the weirdness of it all. One mechanic, now back with his former employers, described each new day not working on the Desmosedici as “like waking up in paradise”. In other words, the bike is as much a nightmare to work on as it is to ride.
From their experiences, it seems like it isn’t so much that Ducati Corse has forgotten how to design a racing motorcycle as the company is suffering from some kind of ego problem: an unwillingness to believe that it’s doing anything wrong, despite the might of evidence against them, and an unwillingness to listen to the wisdom of people who’ve achieved much more MotoGP success than they have.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.