Confirmation arrived two months behind schedule, but Ducati believes Andrea Dovizioso’s contract renewal “is very good for both parties” and insists the Italian “will be a central part of our MotoGP project” in 2019 and ’20.

Factory bosses had indicated as early as January they had hoped to conclude renewal deals for both Dovizioso and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo before the season had even kicked off in Qatar in mid-March.

But Dovizioso’s future remained unresolved until the fifth round at Le Mans. Before then, the 2017 runner-up was linked to an eye-catching move away from the factory with whom he has won eight MotoGP races since joining in 2013.

Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti revealed the delay was, in part, due to sponsorship issues. Lead sponsor TIM departed at the end of 2017 and deals to replace the gap left by the Italian telecom group were only secured in March and April.

Ciabatti also admitted the factory and its rider also took some time to agree on the value Dovizioso currently represents.

“You know, sometimes there are circumstances where you cannot move on contract renewals as fast as you would like,” Ciabatti told Crash.net in France. For example, finalising a sponsorship deal on a multi-year term, like we did with Net App and Lenovo. But Net App happened just before Qatar and Lenovo just before Austin.

“So quite late when the championship was about to start. Obviously for a company of our size, it’s vital to know that we have a viable budget for the development of the bike that allows us to spend the correct amount of money for riders. This surely didn’t help to speed up the negotiations with Andrea.”

“But I have to be honest, we had some moments in the negotiations which were not easy but the good thing is we worked in a very open and positive way – even in the difficult moments with Andrea and his manager Simone Battistella, who has been of great help in order to help us come up with a final solution that is very good for both parties.

“Andrea, he’s happy and we are happy because he is getting what he deserves in terms of money. And he will be a central part of our MotoGP project and has been one of the keys to get where we are now, together with the work of Gigi and the engineers. It’s not just work from our side; you need also riders who are capable of guiding you through the development process in the correct way.”

It is believed Dovizioso’s team-mate Lorenzo will not renew with Ducati to stay beyond 2018, with Danilo Petrucci expected to step up to the factory squad.

Turning attentions to two of Ducati’s satellite teams, Ciabbatti also confirmed the Bologna factory has agreed “in principle” to continue supplying machines to Avintia and Team Angel Nieto, with the bike specifications and rider line-ups still to be confirmed.

“Well, actually in principle with both Avintia and the Angel Nieto team to continue for one more year,” said Ciabatti. “We offered them a few options in terms of bikes they can get.

“Obviously with different prices and I think by the end, we didn’t give them yet a deadline, but there is a deadline probably around the end of June when we need to know, to order parts for one model or another, to manage the maintenance of the bike next year.”

 

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