Ducati is in an 'amazing' situation heading into the 2018 MotoGP season, with both its riders capable of fighting for the world championship.

Andrea Dovizioso only lost out to Honda's Marc Marquez at the final round of last season, while team-mate Jorge Lorenzo - a triple premier-class winner for Yamaha - now has a year of Desmosedici experience under his belt.

Team manager Davide Tardozzi says it's the strongest position the team has been in "for years and years… Obviously when Casey [Stoner] was there it was a strong team, but two riders that can have the possibility to fight for the championship? I guess it's the first time.

"For us it's an amazing situation. [We are] absolutely confident, but with total respect to our competitors, knowing that for sure Yamaha will recover their problems, for sure Marc and Honda have the number one on their fairing for a reason.

"So we respect our competitors, but they must respect us to!"

If there is a downside to Dovizioso's unexpected 2017 heroics it is that he is likely to be targeted by Ducati's rivals, with all the MotoGP factory rides up for grabs in 2019.

"We do expect that someone will ask Dovi, but we think soon we will start to talk with him and Jorge too and try to find an agreement because we would like to have the same [riders] for the future," Tardozzi said.

"We think that from this year we will have two riders fighting for the championship. So, it is an amazing thing that we will like to carry on the future. We don’t know yet if it will be possible…"

Pressed by David Emmett of Motomatters.com about whether Ducati will be able to afford both Lorenzo and a more financially compensated Dovizioso, Tardozzi replied:

"We don't know which kind of proposal they will get from our competitors, but we are pretty sure that they like to stay will this family. We'll see…"

Ducati Sporting director Paulo Ciabatti later added: "In an ideal world, we would like to keep both riders. Andrea has been with us for six years and he’s in the heart of Ducati fans because of what he did last year. Also because of his personality; a humble, down to earth [guy], with no fuss or glitter – just a normal boy doing exceptional things. Obviously it’s a value for Ducati; not only what he does on the track but also the way he’s seen by our fans.

"Jorge has won 44 MotoGPs, five world championships. Hopefully this year he will be a contender for the championship. It would be a shame not to continue with him after a difficult beginning and, we think, a very positive – with some perspective – 2017 season.

"We will wait to see a little bit, understand what we can put on the table, see a little bit the movement of the market because if some other manufacturers approach our riders it will become more complicated. But ideally we will be happy to keep both riders knowing we can not overspend a certain limit. We need the money to develop the bike."

In terms of a timeframe, Ciabatti said:  "I think we’ll need to start exploring the situation in the next weeks. I don’t think making a firm decision too early, but for sure having a clear picture of the situation quite early. Quite early probably means the second half of February or the first half of March. I think we should know by then what is the clear possibility of us for 2019-2020.

"If we would be able to conclude negotiations with both and sign them both before the first race, I would be very happy. I think it’s unlikely that this can happen. But I think that we can have already a clear idea of the situation with both Andrea and Jorge in early March. Then depending on how the situation is, we will move forward."

Recent rumours in the Italian media have suggested rising Moto2 star Francesco Bagnaia could already be close to a factory Ducati deal with the satellite Pramac team for 2019.

While not naming Bagnaia, Tardozzi said: "Pramac is a big part of our project because in the future they keep going with young riders.

"We [Ducati] have ideas about the future young riders to put there, then we discuss about that deeply with them and try to plan for next year, starting to look to the guys in Moto3 and Moto2…"

Dovizioso and Lorenzo will be on track for the first time, alongside their 2018 rivals, at the Sepang test from January 28-30.



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