Gigi Dall’Igna: Statistics say it’ll be a tough challenge

Winning the MotoGP title is an enormous task, but only a few riders have then been able to successfully defend their crown the following season.
Bagnaia, Bastianini, Dall’Igna, Ducati 2023 launch
Bagnaia, Bastianini, Dall’Igna, Ducati 2023 launch

That is the challenge that now falls to Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati, after the young Italian clinched the factory’s first premier-class crown since Casey Stoner in 2007.

But even Stoner, who went on to win a second world championship with Honda in 2011, wasn’t able to claim back-to-back titles.

Since the start of the four-stroke MotoGP era in 2002 only Bagnaia’s mentor Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez have been able to defend a title in the following season.

Prior to that, it was only achieved by other giants of the sports such as Mick Doohan, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene and Giacomo Agostini.

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“It’s a very tough challenge, according to the statistics as well,” acknowledged Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna.

“There are just a few riders that managed to repeat their success in the following season. So it’s a very complicated challenge, but we love challenges and we love trying to achieve them.

“We are world champions but we need to be well grounded and humble, which is a very important characteristic in sport and life.”

If Bagnaia is able to repeat his 2022 success, he will also become the first rider in the MotoGP era to defend a title while using the #1 plate.

"Seeing [the #1] on the bike is beautiful, and now my goal will be to do everything to keep it,” pledged the Italian.

"It won't be easy because I expect even tougher competition than last year, with many rivals ready to fight for the title: however, I am aware that I have the best bike and team to aim high again in 2023.”

One of those rivals could be new team-mate Enea Bastianini, third in last year’s world championship,  who is stepping up to the factory team.

Ducati dash and handlebar controls
Ducati dash and handlebar controls

Ducati to take fewer technical risks in 2023?

Dall’Igna’s era at Ducati has become synonymous with technical innovations - such as wings, holeshot/ride-height devices, the swingarm scoop and now rear-seat aero - that are then copied across the MotoGP grid.

But Dall’Igna hinted that the factory has learned from its tricky start to last season, where it took six races for the new GP22 (and Bagnaia) to win after being thrown off-course by winter engine updates, while the front ride-height system (banned for 2023) also proved tricky to set-up and was abandoned by the factory team.

“It’s true that in the last few years Ducati has introduced a lot of technical innovations, so much that the MotoGP technique itself has changed. But I’m talking about years where our competitors have been stronger than us so we had to take a lot of risks,” Dall’Igna explained.

“But last year taught us something, which is the fact that taking some breaks [in technical innovations] can help our performances.”

While evolution rather than revolution is the soundbite for the GP23, Dall’Igna confirmed that new aerodynamic parts – held back from the bike on display at today’s team launch - will be seen on track at the upcoming Sepang test.

“We will talk about aerodynamic innovations in Sepang,” Dall’Igna said.

Ducati was among the manufacturers seen testing an Aprilia-style lower fairing at the Valencia test last November.

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