After Casey Stoner's devastation of the competition last year, conventional wisdom held that the Ducati was the bike to have. This claim was asserted in spite of all the evidence to the contrary: Loris Capirossi's 7th place in the championship, his worst finish since the 2004 season, and neither Alex Barrros nor Alex Hofmann managed to set the world on fire on board the Bologna Bullet.
If anything, the situation has got even worse in 2008. Casey Stoner is once again almost unbeatable on the Ducati, but everyone else who tries to ride the bike falls terrifyingly short, with Marco Melandri, the man who was runner up to Valentino Rossi in the 2005 title race, and an unquestionably talented rider, forced to cruise round at the back of the pack, and likely to lose his job at the start of the summer break.
And so the Ducati has claimed its first victim. In a shock announcement, Luis d'Antin has resigned as team manager of the Alice satellite Ducati team. The team, which once bore his name, has struggled almost since its inception, despite obtaining strong sponsorship from both Pramac and Alice. The support went so far that Pramac even bought the team from d'Antin at the end of the 2006 season, injecting vital funds which allowed the team to obtain Bridgestone tires and better support from Ducati.
Now, the Pramac chief Paolo Campinoti has gone one step further, taking the team over entirely, after Luis d'Antin's resignation from the team. No reasons have been given for the resignation, although Motorcycle News' Matthew Birt, who broke the story, has implied that financial considerations underlied the move. Results must surely have played a role, though with the Alice Team failing to live up to the expectations set at the start of the season.