Fabio Di Giannantonio explains ‘Mapping 8’ message: “To make you confused"

Many couldn’t believe their eyes when a ‘Mapping 8’ dashboard message flashed up for Fabio di Giannantonio in the closing stages of the Qatar MotoGP.
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP race, Qatar MotoGP, 19 November
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP race, Qatar MotoGP, 19 November

‘Mapping 8’: Of all the messages to send to a Ducati rider!

The phrase is famous for meaning an instruction to follow team orders, being issued by Ducati to Jorge Lorenzo on several occasions in the closing stages of the 2017 season when team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was battling Marc Marquez for the title.

At first glance, the ‘Mapping 8’ sent on Sunday was therefore highly controversial.

If its previous purpose was repeated, it would mean Ducati asking di Giannantonio, a satellite rider for Gresini, to give up a first victory chance and hold station behind title leader Francesco Bagnaia.

It would also have suggested that Ducati expected one satellite rider to act against the title interests of another, Pramac’s Jorge Martin.

But it seems Gresini picked ‘Mapping 8’ - apparently without Ducati’s knowledge, who would surely have flagged up the potential PR nightmare - to inform di Giannantonio that there were only 5 laps to go and now was the time to attack.

This innocent explanation makes sense, in that if Ducati did try to enforce some team orders - they insist they won’t - the factory would surely have chosen anything but ‘Mapping 8’ given its infamous background.

“It was to make you confused!” race winner di Giannantonio joked after his victory. “We planned really strictly the race: ‘You have to start good, you have to be in this position for the first laps. You have to be in this position to manage the tyres in the middle of the race’.

“Then we decided on a signal to give. ‘And when you see this [Mapping 8] message, you need to go’.

“So I sat there [behind Bagnaia] and honestly, it was difficult because I didn’t see the pit board for half the race. I didn’t know how many laps were left. But then I saw ‘Mapping 8’ and I said, ‘now is the moment to go’. So I started to push and I did the move on Pecco.”

di Giannantonio's crew chief Frankie Carchedi likewise told pitlane reporter Simon Crafar: "We sent a message because he wanted to know when there were 5 laps left in the race. It wasn't anything special. I think people have got the wrong idea."

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti confirmed the message came as a surprise to the factory:

“I didn't know. And I don't know actually how it came out. But anyway, we always said that we never want a rider, with a chance to win, to renounce winning and especially if he's faster. Today, Fabio was faster than anybody else.”

Although Bagnaia, who also seemed amused that Gresini had chosen 'Mapping 8', lost five points when he was overtaken by di Giannantonio, he takes a commanding 21-point advantage over Martin heading into this weekend’s Valencia finale.

Ducati are already guaranteed to finish 1-2-3 in the riders’ world championship, with Marco Bezzecchi in third.

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