Ducati are in trouble, and they know it. Just how deep that trouble is has become apparent from the factory's actions over the past couple of weeks: First, there was the monster salary offered to Jorge Lorenzo to make the switch, then came news that Ducati had approached both Dani Pedrosa and Loris Capirossi, asking them to ride the Desmosedici. Casey Stoner's absence has made it painfully clear just how dependent they are on the Australian's brilliance.
Ducati boss Livio Suppo explicitly acknowledged that fact in an interview with the German website Motorsport-Total.com. "When Casey isn't here, then we don't have a rider who can race at the front," he told the German language site. Suppo underlined just how important a part of the package a top rider has become, pointing out that Stoner and Rossi had taken the bulk of the victories in the 800cc era, with the others having just a handful of victories between them. "The rider can make a huge difference," he told Motorsport-Total.com, "It's just incredible how Valentino, Jorge Dani and Casey are in a league of their own."
Suppo also stated bluntly that he did not believe that Nicky Hayden was the answer to their problems. "Nicky's results are disappointing, he is below our expectations of him," Suppo said. But the Ducati factory team boss also pointed out that Hayden was making progress. "He was sixth in Brno, which is very good - especially when you realize that his lap times were almost good enough to be on the podium. Now we will wait and see what happens at Indianapolis, last year he did a good job. We will watch what happens and take it from there."
Suppo refused to be drawn on whether Ducati would be exercising the option the factory has on Nicky Hayden this weekend. "I cannot tell you anything more. Not because I don't want to, but because quite simply there is nothing to tell," he told the German website.