Ducati has announced that they have signed a two-year contract with Andrea Dovizioso to ride for the factory team for the 2013 and 2014 season. Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio explained in the press release that the reason for signing Dovizioso was his technical ability and his testing skills, signalling that Ducati's focus at the current time is primarily on the development of the bike, a consequence of Valentino Rossi's conspicuous failure to achieve racing success on the bike.
The signing was long anticipated, rumors having already emerged in the week before Indianapolis that an agreement was nigh. A year ago, Dovizioso had been very wary of Ducati, telling reporters that he had understood that the bike was difficult to ride from seeing Marco Melandri struggle so badly on the machine in 2008. But as it became clear that Rossi would be leaving Ducati to return to Yamaha, Dovizioso warmed to the Bologna factory, impressed by both the financial rewards and the commitment to developing the bike with the assistance of Audi.
Dovizioso's signing leaves Cal Crutchlow out in the cold. The Englishman had been in talks with Ducati for several months, with reports of a two-year offer emerging after Silverstone. But despite Crutchlow's interest, a formal offer never emerged, leaving Crutchlow frustrated at being left hanging by the Bologna factory for four months. Crutchlow still has a few offers, including the option to either stay at his current Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team or switch to the Gresini Honda squad. Crutchlow has also been linked with a number of rides in the World Superbike paddock.
With the signing of Dovizioso, all of the 2013 factory seats are tied up: Dovizioso joins Nicky Hayden at the Factory Ducati team; Valentino Rossi will line up alongside Jorge Lorenzo at the Factory Yamaha squad; and Marc Marquez will make his debut alongside Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda. Among the satellite teams, Bradley Smith is already confirmed at Tech 3, as is Stefan Bradl at LCR Honda, where he is in the first year of a two-year deal. The seats at Gresini and Tech 3 are still to be confirmed, while Ducati has still not decided on the exact form its Junior Team will take, though it is expected that the riders will be two from the youngsters Andrea Iannone, Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding.
Below is the official press release from Ducati announcing the signing of Dovizioso:
Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati together beginning in 2013
Borgo Panigale (Bologna) 22 August 2012 – Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso have reached an agreement that will see the Italian wearing the colours of the Ducati Team in 2013 and 2014.
Andrea Dovizioso, who currently sits in fourth place overall in the MotoGP championship standings, will join Nicky Hayden on the team. The pair will face next season together, working on development of the Desmosedici and the MotoGP project for the championship in which Ducati has played an important role since 2003.
“The agreement reached with Andrea Dovizioso confirms the company’s primary interest in racing, which is an active and strategic part of Ducati’s DNA and heritage,” said President Gabriele Del Torchio. “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Andrea, as we marshal our best efforts in confronting the MotoGP World Championship. Along with Nicky Hayden, with whom we have renewed a working agreement, we are confident that we will be able to proceed with our development program, to compete, and to obtain the results and rewards that will repay our efforts and the faith that our partners, sponsors and fans have never failed to demonstrate."
“Andrea’s technical sensibility and test-riding abilities are of great value, as are his talent and determination,” added Filippo Preziosi, General Manager of Ducati Corse. “The knowledge that we will have him on our team and be able to count on his collaboration serves as an additional incentive to continue with the growth and development of our MotoGP project. I’m pleased that he has chosen to be a part of our team. He is aware of the work to be done, and he approaches it with enthusiasm and confidence, which are fundamental requirements for achieving success and for competing in this challenging championship.”
Race number: 4
Age: 26 (born in Forlimpopoli, Italy, on 23 March 1986)
GPs raced: 179 (81 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: Italian GP, 2001 (125cc)
GP race wins: 10 (1 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
GP podium: 62 (21xMotoGP, 26x250cc, 15x125cc)
First GP win: South African GP, 2004 (125cc)
GP Pole Positions: 14 (1 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First GP Pole: French GP, 2003 (125cc)
GP World Titles: 1 (2004, 125cc)
Andrea rode a bike for the first time at 4 years old, and at 7 he competed in his first minibike race. In 2000 he won the Aprilia Challenge trophy, and in 2001 he finished fourth in the Italian Championship and won the 125cc class in the European Championship. In 2002 he competed in his first season in the world championship, in the 125cc class, and in 2004 he conquered his first title in that category, with five victories and eleven podiums. During the three seasons in which he raced in the 250cc division, he achieved four wins, finishing second two times in the general standings and third once. In 2008 he moved up to MotoGP, where he has achieved one victory so far (England, 2009) and twenty-one podiums. He currently sits fourth in the MotoGP standings.