Ducati admit: “Valentino Rossi did damage to our image”

The failed years that blighted Valentino Rossi’s legacy also damaged Ducati’s image, says their CEO Claudio Domenicali.
Valentino Rossi, MotoGP, Dutch MotoGP 24 June
Valentino Rossi, MotoGP, Dutch MotoGP 24 June

Rossi never added to his seven MotoGP world championships after leaving Yamaha for Ducati, where he spent two disastrous seasons in 2011 and 2012. Even a return to Yamaha could not restore him to the summit of the sport.

Ducati also spent years in the wilderness - Francesco Bagnaia, this year, became their first premier class champion since Casey Stoner 15 years ago.

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"We couldn't handle it, we took the hit," Domenicali said. 

"When you take the most famous rider in Italy with nine world titles and you can't win you also have damage to your image. 

“I became CEO in 2013, when [Rossi left], and I picked up the pieces. At that point you can only get back to work to start again.”

The arrival of Gigi Dall’Igna in 2014 is widely credited as turning around Ducati’s fortunes.

"For two years we have worked a lot to make changes,” Domenicali said.

Francesco Bagnaia, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Francesco Bagnaia, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

The 2023 MotoGP rider line-up will see Bagnaia partnered by Enea Bastianini in the factory team.

Bastianini earned the promotion ahead of the outgoing Jack Miller, and Jorge Martin who will remain at Pramac. 

It means the iconic Italian team will now boast two Italian riders, each harbouring realistic hopes of claiming the championship for themselves.

"We don't look at nationality or if it's a character, the choice is always sporting,” Domenicali said. 

“We try to have the brand and the rider at the same level, then obviously if the riders achieve results they gain fame, it's natural." 

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