Ducati World Superbike project leader Ernesto Marinelli will split from the Italian manufacturer at the end of 2017, it has been announced.

Marinelli, who joined Ducati in 1995 as an engineer, will leave his post as World Superbike project leader with one year remaining of the Panigale before the new V4-powered Ducati Superbike is introduced from the 2019 World Superbike championship.

In 1997 Marinelli became a track engineer at the factory Ducati squad with Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson before heading up Ducati’s AMA programme in the USA between 1998 to 2000. He then became Ben Bostrom’s track engineer for two years in the World Superbikes before taking on the role of technical director in 2003 and then Ducati Superbike Project Manager in 2010.

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Marinelli has help Ducati secure five riders’ world titles Hodgson in 2003, James Toseland in 2004, Troy Bayliss in 2006 and 2008 and Carlos Checa in 2011, as well as six manufacturers’ world titles (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011).

The Italian says it was a difficult decision to leave Ducati after 22 years but is focusing on ‘further challenges’ in the future in an unconfirmed new role away from the Bologna-based manufacturer.

“After 22 years it’s not easy to say goodbye and turn over a new leaf and if you leave a company like Ducati, the decision becomes even more difficult,” Marinelli said. “Nevertheless, for each and every one of us, the time comes to raise the bar and face up to further challenges.

“I’m leaving Ducati in the knowledge that I have lived numerous unforgettable and successful moments, sharing passion, dreams and satisfaction, as well as defeats, disappointments and difficulties. All of these have marked and shaped my professional career and they have helped me to understand that “never give up” is not just a saying but to all intents and purposes a style of life.

“For my future, I’ve decided to accept a new professional challenge and put myself to the test again, albeit with the awareness that everything I leave behind will always have an important place in my memories and my heart.

“A big thanks to Ducati. Thank you to all the many fantastic people who have shared with me these years of hard work, travel and circuits all over the world.

“There are still four races to go before the end of my final season in SBK, and it will be an even more special and motivating reason for me to continue to fight and win together, before saying farewell to all my colleagues and the Ducatisti, with whom I’ll continue to share friendship and passion, and with whom I’ll still be supporting our red bikes from Borgo Panigale.”

Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali has paid tribute to Marinelli by saying he’s ‘very sorry he’s decided to leave’ but has wished him well for the future.

“I began to work with Ernesto back in 1995, the year he joined Ducati, and since then I’ve learnt to appreciate his qualities of expertise, commitment, perseverance and passion for racing,” Domenicali said. “Together we have shared success and disappointment, sacrifice and satisfaction, but I have never seen him lose the enthusiasm that has always distinguished him in his work.

“Under his guidance, Ducati has obtained numerous successes in the Superbike championship and of course I’m very sorry that he has decided to leave our company at the end of this year. I’d like to wish him all the best for his new professional challenge and I am sure that in the future he will continue to follow and support Ducati with the affection he has always has.”

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Be interesting to see what he does next. He always comes across as a well-mannered, articulate guy. If anything, perhaps he might be a bit too nice to be a top team boss. Maybe Colin Wright isn't doing much right now? ;)

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I bet that the Austrians want him as their head honcho for WSBK.  KTM has to go through tough time next year and they can use Martinelli's expertise.

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