A revolution is about to take place at Ducati, several reliable sources are reporting. The Bologna factory's new owners Audi are pushing through wholesale changes, both MotoSprint and Moto.it are reporting, which include relieving Filippo Preziosi of his responsibility for Ducati's MotoGP project and embarking on a parallel project to have Suter build a new chassis for the bike. Who is to take the place of Preziosi at the head of Ducati Corse is unclear, but the name of Paolo Ciabatti, currently involved in World Superbikes and previously head of Ducati's WSBK team, is being mentioned.
According to the reports in the Italian press, the removal of Preziosi is part of a wholesale reorganization of Ducati's MotoGP project. The structure is to be altered to make it more 'Japanese' with the work divided up into separate divisions, and without tight central control of all aspects. Suter has been commissioned by Audi to build a new chassis for the Ducati as part of a separate, parallel project to try to improve the bike.
Preziosi, as the head of the project, is paying the price for the failure of the Ducati Corse department to make the Desmosedici competitive. Audi had put a lot of effort into retaining Valentino Rossi for Ducati, and are said to have been very unhappy when it was announced he had decided to leave and return to Yamaha. The loss of Rossi was probably the final straw for Audi, the German car manufacturer deciding at that point that drastic measures would be needed to rectify the situation.
The news had been intended to be broken after the Valencia tests have been completed, and Ducati spokespeople are still denying the truth of the reports. Filippo Preziosi is currently attending the race weekend, and will oversee the test efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday. The reports from Italy suggest that Preziosi is to be forced out of Ducati altogether, but it is unclear whether a new role will be found for the man behind all of Ducati's racing projects.