Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna is the man responsible for the firm’s racing success from MotoGP to domestic Superbike championships.
We sat down with him and chewed the prosciutto over Bautista, Davies, the Panigale V4R’s problems and the Suzuka Eight-Hours…
What has been apparent in 2019 so far is that only Bautista has made the very best of the new Ducati, so how much is man and how much machine?
“It is very difficult to split the bike performance and the rider performance,” replied Dall’Igna. “This is a combination of both. Even in MotoGP it is not possible, in my opinion, to split Marquez’s capability and Honda’s performance. Or Dovizioso’s capability and the Ducati’s performance. Every time it is a combination of the two things - the package. We can speak only about the combination of the two.”
Always a championship challenger in recent seasons for Ducati, Chaz Davies has toiled ever since the V4R arrived under him. Winter test injury and missing significant track time in winter testing has not helped his cause, but Dall’Igna knows that more can be forthcoming.
“For sure we are struggling with him. But I think that step-by–step he will come back to the normal performance for him. I think he was really unlucky in Jerez in race two, because he was quite strong at the beginning of the race and I am convinced he can have this performance all through the race.
“In Imola he did quite well and we will see here. For sure he was struggling quite a lot during the test (at Misano) but with a set-up that we found in Jerez in the Sunday race I think he can improve his performance quite well.”
After all that early season domination for Ducati, with Bautista winning every race in the first four rounds, it has now stuttered a few times, introducing the possibility that the new Ducati is actually a tricky bike. Maybe you have to get it ‘just so’ to get the best out of it?
“No, the bike is completely new. We do not have the reference set-up because we are building the reference set-up. Every time for us is a gamble between if we continue to use the set-up of the previous race, or if you have to change a little bit. I think this is the reality.
The overall performance of the bike is quite good but for sure we have a lack of experience with the bike, with the problems of the bike and we have to find out during the weekend at different racetracks.
“Honestly speaking I am quite happy with the performance of the bike. Not only in the WorldSBK, but also BSB for example, or the Italian championship. I think the level of the bike is quite good. So we are quite proud about this project.”
It also seems that Bautista and crew only found his happy set-up in the final pre-season test in Australia, but for Dall’Igna that just happened to be the time when the number 19 rider put all his experience together.
“When Alvaro jumped in Superbike he did not know anything about the tyres, the bike, people and so he had a clever approach to the programme. He was not really fast from the beginning because he knows that he has to learn something before he tries. I think this is a part of the step that he did in Australia. The rider is a man and you have to treat him like a man.”
With two customer teams in WorldSBK, and Ducatis running well in the BSB championship too, the next level for Ducati must be having more paying customers for its race bikes, by seeing its satellite teams reach the same level as the Bautista factory garage.
“We are quite happy about the performance of the bike. And we have to put also our satellite team in a good position. I do not know if we have more customer interest for next year, but we are ready to give to some other teams the same package we use in the factory team. We would for sure like to improve the numbers of riders, with our bike.”
With the Suzuka Eight-Hours looming for some of the WorldSBK big stars and all of the Japanese factories, the new Ducati would appear to be the ideal bike to make a jump into that hybridized sprint race/Endurance race format.
“We will see. I think our bike is capable and with a good programme I think we can do quite well even in Endurance and so in Suzuka. Now I think the bike to do this and we can think to do this, but it is not something we have to do.”