Ducati’s Paolo Ciabatti isn’t envisioning a return to awkward relations between his factory riders 2018 after stating he expects both Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo to challenge for the MotoGP world championship.

At Ducati’s factory MotoGP launch on Monday Dovizioso and Lorenzo expressed their expectations of being involved in the upcoming title fight. As questions of the possibility of future conflict were raised, Ciabatti - Ducati's sporting director - insisted a sufficient amount of respect exists between the pair to ensure no ill-feeling rises.

Last year threw up “a few” occasions when management needed to sit with both men for a frank discussion, Ciabatti said - namely at Sepang, when Dovizioso needed to win in an all-Ducati fight to ensure the championship battle went all the way to the final race.

Prior to Lorenzo’s arrival, Dovizioso shared a garage with countryman and namesake Andrea Iannone for two years. Their relationship soon descended into barely disguised contempt, with the nadir coming in Argentina, 2016.

Then, Iannone’s last-lap lunge deprived Ducati of a double podium finish. One month later Dovizioso was favoured to partner Lorenzo at Iannone’s expense, and the ex-125 world champion claimed his countryman had repeatedly shown a lack of respect before his departure to Suzuki.

In Ciabatti's eyes, there is a clear difference between Iannone and Lorenzo: Dovizioso knows the Majorcan and his character well, having competed against him since his first season in the 125cc class in 2002. The pair moved through the GP ranks in tandem, graduating to the 250cc class in 2005 and MotoGP in 2008.

While acknowledging fiery situations may arise in the coming months, Ciabatti insisted neither rider does “crazy things on track”, and feels frank, open discourse within the garage should ensure respect remains intact.

“I think the Iannone-Dovizioso situation was quite different because of Iannone’s character. He is quite different to Jorge’s character,” started Ciabatti. “We like very much Andrea Iannone. When he came into the team, he came with the approach of being defiant with the other rider, which immediately created some friction.

“Now Jorge and Dovi, they know each other because they have been in MotoGP for many years. They respect each other. Obviously they want to beat each other but this is normal. Every team-mate is the worst opponent. I don’t have this fear. I’m not afraid this will happen.

“Obviously there might be moments that friction might be stronger because anything can happen on track. I think both Andrea and Jorge are very respectful of each other. They don’t like to do crazy things on track. When riders respect each other, it’s because of the way they’ve been seeing each other for many years. [Because of this] I think 90% of the job is done.

“We don’t live in an ideal world. There might be moments – and there were moments last year a few times – but it’s quite easy for us to sit them together and explain to cut any potential problem from the beginning and let them explain each others’ reason, if there is some misunderstanding so it doesn’t grow to a higher level.”



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