Just how badly does Ducati want to win the MotoGP world championship in 2017?
Not only has it agreed to pay a salary in the reported region of twelve million Euros a year to secure the services of reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, but it will also provide a full factory GP17 to either Scott Redding or Danilo Petrucci in the Pramac squad.
On Thursday both satellite riders revealed how they are currently in a mini-competition for a machine that will be a very similar spec - if not identical - to the factory squad in 2017. The GP17 will go to the rider that scores the most points in the eight races between and including Brno and Valencia.
Thus, barring total disaster for either rider, the recipient will not be known at the very earliest until the close of the end of the three flyaway races.
“A fight for the factory,” was how Redding playfully described the situation on Thursday at Aragon. “It was [a discussion] with the team and Ducati because obviously everyone is involved with it,” explained the Englishman.
“And it's difficult because if they say 'okay, we've got two riders and we've got one bike'. What do you do? We said it's going to cause a s**t atmosphere between us if you just give it to one, because the other one is going to be pissed off. So what else do you want to do?
“They can't make another bike so they needed to find the best way and that was the best and fairest solution we could come up with: [Eight] races and we can drop one of the worst results.
“We will maybe know before Valencia. It is just whoever comes out on top is going to get the bike.”
At this time Ducati is unwilling to confirm this move, with a team member stating, “All we can say is that we are evaluating this possibility with Pramac, but that in any case there would only be one 2017 bike available.”
Yet Redding and Petrucci's words – plus one member within the Pramac team – suggest a third GP17 is definitely up for grabs.
The decision underlines Ducati's dedication to providing Lorenzo with a machine that is not only capable of winning, but challenging for a world championship straight away.
Redding's opinion is that the Bologna factory is keen for a rider outside the factory squad to test set-up variables for both Lorenzo and Dovizioso over a race weekend, along with challenging for top five results.
“I think whoever gets the factory bike is more for Ducati to have another bike on the track, to understand, because I think they are changing the bike a bit more for Lorenzo's style I guess,” said Redding.
“So they want to have another bike out there. It makes sense. You maybe have to work a bit more and try the things [for them], but in the end to have that chance to go with a factory bike - you have more of a chance to fight for the top five.”
can reveal discussions within Ducati to provide a third GP17 to run alongside those of Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso in the factory squad were ongoing after the summer break.
At the Austrian Red Bull Ring in mid-August Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse's general manager, told Crash.net
, “We are working. We will take a decision in September. It could be an opportunity to have more information [for the factory team].”
Speaking that same weekend, Ducati Corse's Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti, showed a different outlook to Dall'Igna, and expressed fears that it may fuel an internal conflict that could ultimately detract from performance within Pramac's walls.
“This is complicated,” he said of the idea to hand a GP17 to the squad. “You have to decide which rider gets what, which is not easy. In my opinion, we are better staying with two GP16s because it's going to make life too complicated.”
Of this internal competition, Redding's crew chief Giacomo Guidotti agreed. Along with creating added competition, both men are now operating under a greater deal of pressure, ultimately detracting from their focus.
“When a rider starts to talk about a new bike, he's always losing power and performance,” said Guidotti in Misano. “It doesn't help.”
Last time in Italy, Petrucci too spoke of the increase in pressure, and the effect it has had on both he and his team-mate since the resuming of the series in August. “As soon as this news came out Scott and my performances went down. In the first part of the season we were fighting the first five or eight. Now we're going slower. We're in trouble.”
On Thursday at Aragon, the Italian added, “You have more pressure but especially because we have to make points and we cannot win every Sunday. We can win on a crazy Sunday and if you have to make points - even four to five points - it is better than zero.
“So in some risky races, like wet conditions or flag-to-flag it's difficult now to risk something, because you can lose some points. If we have to look at the standings, you are always scared about taking some risk in some races like flag-to-flag or wet races.
“We saw in Brno, it's more easy to make the choice everyone else makes, so I say 'okay, if everyone has the same tyre maybe I can finish tenth. If I use the hard wet maybe I can win the race or arrive last' So what can I do! It is difficult to say I'll take the risk.”
If we measure Redding and Petrucci's results from Brno, the Italian leads the Englishman 21 to two. If each rider's worst result is excluded, Petrucci still leads 16 to two.