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EXCLUSIVE Davide Tardozzi (Ducati) – Q&A

31 July 2008

Having already revealed his desired list of riders to replace Troy Bayliss in his team next year, Xerox Ducati team boss Davide Tardozzi has given an exclusive interview with Crash.net to reveal he tried to persuade Bayliss to stay on 2009, that Michel Fabrizio is likely to be retained next year and the Ducati 1098 is not the dominating factor in this year's championship...

Crash.net
With Ducati leading both championships, you must be quite satisfied with the season so far?

DT
It has been very good. We have a new bike and we are really happy with it, but we have to share this with the riders such as Troy, but also Ruben Xaus and Lorenzo Lanzi because they have won races for us too. We don't think the job is done though. I want to remind you that we lost 50 points at Miller Motorsports Park a couple of months ago, so we are really focused on the job and aware that something like that could happen again. We could have problems so we must concentrate until the end for the championship.

Crash.net
How pleasing was it to see Troy Bayliss win the 500th WSBK race when you won the very first one back in 1988?

DT
I only thought about that when I read it on some websites. I haven't spoken to Troy about it yet but it will be a matter of us laughing and enjoying it together. I am happy about that, but I am looking forward, not backwards. I want to see the next win, not what I did 20 years ago.

Crash.net
How sad are you to see Troy Bayliss hanging up his helmet at the end of the season after such an illustrious career?

DT
We spoke with Troy during the season ask if he would consider doing one more year with Ducati, but in the end we decided together to do it now for a variety of reasons. We are happy Troy has tried to win the championship and be the first motorcycle rider to end their career with the championship in their pocket. If it happens, it will be fantastic, but we know we will give Troy a fantastic party at the end of the season, regardless of the result. He has given us a championship at least and a lot of emotion, so all of Ducati and fans will be happy to be there with us.

Crash.net
Are you pleased with how Michel Fabrizio is conducting himself, particularly after Brno?

DT
We asked Michel to grow from where he was and that is something he is doing. Even though he has three years of experience, he has been with lower teams so he hasn't had the chance to grow in the perfect way. This year shows the potential we saw in the past is there and the steps he has made in half a season are much bigger than before, so we think he could be one of the top guys of the near future.

Crash.net
Was there something quite symbolic about him beating Max Biaggi – one of the riders tipped to replace Bayliss - on the final lap of both Brno races?

DT
It is a race and he has to perform at his maximum like Max does, but he finally beat him twice and I am happy for Michel. I am particularly pleased as Michel is a Max Biaggi fan, so it was a huge emotion for him to beat his hero twice.

Crash.net
Niccoló Canepa made his WSBK debut at Brno. He showed well in qualifying, but seemed struggle in the races. What was your evaluation of his weekend?

DT
In both races, Niccoló had huge problems with the front tyre because they were going off after just a few laps. The other two riders didn't have this problem. Niccoló shows really huge potential though, even in the Vallelunga test when he was second, so we believe this guy can do really good things.

Crash.net
As I am sure you are aware, there is considerable controversy over the use of the 1098 in the championship, not least because of Bayliss' dominance of the series so far. With that in mind, is the defining factor the Ducati bike, or Bayliss himself do you think?

DT
Bayliss is dominating the championship, not the bike. The package is good and better than before. I think I am right in believing our bike has the most original road bike parts than any other Superbike. That means the bike is a very, very good road bike. Although Bayliss is leading the championship, the next best Ducati is Ruben Xaus in sixth and before him there are two Yamahas, one Suzuki and one Honda, which means the four-cylinders are really competitive. It is obvious the four-cylinder still has a slight advantage at the moment, because Troy is keeping the advantage he built up at the start of the year when the four-cylinder seemed to be struggling more. The Honda was brand-new, Yamaha were making mistakes and Suzuki were looking for a new hero in Neukirchner… so there are lot of reasons behind these situations. Nobody is complaining any more now because they aren't stupid and they realise they do have a competitive bike.

Crash.net
Were you expecting the 1098 to be so fast so quickly this season, particularly as Honda seem to be struggling a bit with their new bike?

DT
We had three really good races at the start of the year, but you have to remember that there were three races at Monza, Miller and Nurburgring and in those three races, the four-cylinder was performing well. In the first three races we worked out we were five points ahead, but in the following three they were seven points ahead of us. So if you consider those three races, the four-cylinder is much quicker than us on fast tracks. We are competitive in tight corners because of our torque and handling but when there is only power to put on the table, then their energy is there. Therefore, the difference for us is the rider.

Crash.net
Although Troy has a good lead, where do you expect his closest competition for the title to come from over the remainder of the season?

DT
I think Troy will be competitive, with Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser too because the Yamaha will be very fast in the next two rounds. We will be there trying to win, but we will at least try and be on the podium without taking too many risks. I don't expect a tenth place from Troy, but there is a lot that could happen in the next few rounds. We are leading by 79 points, so we don't have to take too many risks.

Crash.net
When are you planning to confirm your riders for next season?

DT
We will start to talk after Brands and we will try to have a decision by September.

Crash.net
Are you looking for one or two new riders?

DT
We have two places free. Michel has an option and it is possible that we are going to renew because Michel is performing very well and he is in pole position so far. The truth is, he doesn't have the contract yet but we have to do something because the guy is growing all the time.

Crash.net
If you could have anyone replacing Troy, who would it be? Who has caught your eye?

DT
Nobody in the world can replace Troy 360 degrees. He has such a great relationship with us, our fans… everybody likes him, not just Ducati fans. And he is fast, which means we can't replace him with someone who can probably get the same results. My favourite is Chris Vermuelen though. We have approached him but he is still under contract with Suzuki and it looks like they are trying to keep him after the last two results. I think the chances are pretty slim now.

Crash.net
World Superbikes appear to be in rude health at the moment, with BMW and maybe Aprilia set to join next year. What do you expect their effect to be?

DT
I expect they will bring a lot of attention to the championship because, for the first time, they have a factory effort involved in the world championship. They do a bit of endurance but now they're stepping in the championship to try and win. They will be competitive soon and I expect they will fight for the championship in the next two years.


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