23 February 2016
Ducati: 'Back to winning races’ in MotoGP 2016?
“[Last year] we did not always have the same consistency.... This year the aim is to always fight for the leading positions and get back to winning races” – Gigi Dall'Igna.
Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna has set his sights on making the new 2016 Desmosedici GP a consistent victory contender - and finally ending the factory's MotoGP win drought.
A Ducati rider finished runner-up in five races last season, including Andrea Dovizioso being denied victory by just 0.174s in the Qatar season-opener.
The Italian went on to claim four podiums in the opening five races, but later slipped to seventh in the standings, while new team-mate Andrea Iannone rose up the order to fifth. But Dall'Igna's aim of a race win went unfulfilled.
That task - now expanded to more than one race - has been handed to the 2016 Desmosedici GP, which is the second complete machine designed under Dall'Igna's leadership.
As such there are less radical changes relative to last year's bike, with the main focus on adapting to the twin technical challenges of the new unified ECU software and switch from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres, plus handling attributes such as braking and rear stability.
Ducati has also raised engine performance and driveability, while the gearbox is now fully seamless. Previously, the Desmosedici was seamless when shifting between first and fifth gears (up and down), but not fifth and sixth.
Speaking at today's team launch, Dall'Igna said: “The Desmosedici GP that we are presenting today in its definitive livery is an evolution version of the bike that we used throughout last year.
“In this season there have been some important regulation changes: the unified software and the new Michelin tyres, and so the most important part of the work has been to adapt the bike to these changes.
“Our aim for this year is to be constantly together with the leaders in all rounds of the championship. In 2015 we obtained eight podiums with the factory team with four second places, but we did not always have the same consistency in our performance during the season.
“This year however the aim is to always fight for the leading positions and get back to winning races again. We know that it is an extremely ambitious aim, but we are used to accepting the most difficult of challenges.”
Ducati has not won a MotoGP race since 2010 with Casey Stoner, the now retired double world champion having returned to Ducati this season as a test rider and brand ambassador.
The Australian, 30, proved he has lost none of his talent by being the fastest Ducati rider by the conclusion of his 'comeback' test at Sepang, but all sides continue to play down speculation that Stoner may enter a race as a wildcard this season.
Stoner's second Ducati test is due to take place at Qatar from March 6-7, a few days after the official test, where Dovizioso and Iannone will ride in their 2016 race colours (including white winglets) for the first time.
The new season then begins at the same Losail circuit on the night of March 20, when Dovizioso will be aiming to go one place better (and Iannone two places) than last year at a circuit that traditionally suits the Desmosedici.
Although Ducati's 2015 success means they no longer have technical concessions relative to Honda and Yamaha - some concessions are still available for Suzuki and Aprilia - former factory rider Cal Crutchlow stated he would be 'so surprised' if a Ducati doesn't win in Qatar, due to a perceived head-start with the new ECU system.
The unified ECU, which all competitors must now use, is based on last year's Open class software, which Ducati worked harder than most to help develop.
Like Yamaha, Ducati also has a long standing relationship with Magneti Marelli, which has been hired by Dorna to create and continuously update the new ECU based on requests by Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
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