Shockwaves are running through both MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks today, as news of further management shakeups in Ducati's World Superbike and MotoGP teams is leaking out. We reported yesterday that Livio Suppo would be leaving the MotoGP team at the end of the season, but now it has emerged that Davide Tardozzi, head of Ducati's World Superbike team is also to leave.
The reasons for each departure, though, are different. Suppo, according to GPOne.com and the Corriere dello Sport, has been lured away by Honda to run their racing program. Suppo's decision will have been made easier by the rumors of discord in the Italian factory. The appointment of Ducati test rider Vito Guareschi to the position of Ducati MotoGP Team Manager was widely seen as evidence of trouble, with Ducati and Phillip Morris unhappy at the handling of Casey Stoner's surprise absence from three races in the summer, and Suppo's departure is likely to be related to this to a greater or lesser extent.
Tardozzi, on the other hand, handed in his resignation without any alternative destination to go to. Tardozzi told GPOne.com that his reason for leaving was that he felt he had lost the drive he needed to keep him motivated at this level, at least with the Ducati team. He had not yet thought about alternatives, he told GPOne.com, but he was open to offers, if they were interesting enough. "Racing is still my world," Tardozzi said, "and if something interesting comes my way, I'm sure to stay."
Tardozzi's loss of motivation may not have been the sole reason for Tardozzi's departure from Ducati, however. The Italian was not only manager of the Ducati World Superbike team, he was also the personal manager of Michel Fabrizio. Tardozzi was widely regarded as having mishandled the situation in Imola, where Fabrizio passed and beat his team mate Nori Haga, taking valuable points from the Japanese rider in his pursuit of the world title. Whether those 5 points would have made enough difference for Haga to beat Spies to the 2009 World Superbike title is another matter, but the very fact that is is under discussion is a sign that the situation was mishandled.
With Livio Suppo joining engineers Andrea Zugna and Cristian Battaglia at HRC, the lines of a huge reorganization within Honda are becoming clear. Honda are clearly unhappy at having been unable to win a title for such a long time, despite the resources they have thrown at the title. With the program being completely shaken up, and specialist staff being put in key positions, speculation in the paddock is growing that all of these moves are preparation for the 2011 season. Honda is likely to make a swoop for either Casey Stoner or Jorge Lorenzo next summer, to join Dani Pedrosa in a Dream Team along the lines of Fiat Yamaha's current lineup. In that case, the summer of 2010 is likely to spark a giant bidding war among the factories for the available members of the Fantastic Four.