Ital­ians ready to fight for race wins at last

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp Preview - By Si­mon Patterson MO­TOGP REPORTER

t’s been a hard few years for Du­cati since Casey Stoner left at the end of 2010, fu­ri­ous at his treat­ment by the Borgo Panigale fac­tory af­ter a sea­son be­lea­guered with ill­ness.

And things only got worse from there. A dis­as­trous spell with Valentino Rossi, fight­ing to man­age a bike plagued with chronic un­der­steer, never brought the fairy-tale end­ing that so many prayed for.

Re­cent years haven’t im­proved their lot much ei­ther, as Cal Crutchlow, An­drea Dovizioso, and Nicky Hay­den all tried to come to terms with the Desmosedici and failed; it’s now six long years since Du­cati’s last premier class win - Stoner’s fi­nal Phillip Is­land vic­tory back in 2010.

How­ever, the 2015 sea­son at long last showed that there might be light at the end of the tun­nel. Start­ing the sea­son im­pres­sively, the pair­ing of Dovizioso and An­drea Ian­none man­aged six podi­ums be­tween them in the open­ing six races as the GP15 ma­chine fi­nally started to find its form.

And build­ing on that progress, Du­cati may well be in their best po­si­tion in years to fi­nally re­turn to chal­leng­ing for race wins, as they roll out the all-new GP16 ma­chine.

The first bike built in its en­tirety since Gigi Dall’igna’s takeover of Du­cati Corse’s op­er­a­tions, it seems from the pos­i­tive feed­back of the squad’s rid­ers that those chronic prob­lems are gone, leav­ing the pair un­con­cerned for the first time about man­ag­ing the is­sues and in­stead con­cen­trat­ing on set-up, as Dovizioso told MCN.

“It is nice to not men­tion un­der­steer! When we tested it along­side the GP15, we im­me­di­ately

Ide­cided to use the new bike. But the change is so big, that we need to work to im­prove the feel­ing with the bike. We’ve found the base set­ting now though, which means we can con­tinue to im­prove on the bike.”

And ac­cord­ing to team-mate Ian­none, feel­ing is the buzz­word that Du­cati are con­tin­u­ing to chase. Work­ing to find some­thing that clicks with the Miche­lin tyres, he ad­mits that while they’re not yet show­ing their full po­ten­tial, that po­ten­tial is much greater than it ever was with the old GP15 ma­chine.

“At the mo­ment, we’re not at 100% - but I’m re­ally happy with where we are at. We work re­ally well to­gether, and we’re mak­ing big steps ev­ery time we go out on track. I think it’s been a sur­prise for the rid­ers - the de­vel­op­ment has gone in a very good di­rec­tion.

“It’s been im­por­tant in the tests to un­der­stand the feel­ing of the new bike – be­cause it’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent; it re­ally feels like a com­pletely new bike. When you change a lot, you ex­pect it to feel dif­fer­ently, so now we need to un­der­stand the new bike.”

And once that feel­ing comes, as it seems likely to, with Dall’igna’s hand on the tiller, 2016 could hold big things in store for Du­cati. Look­ing to repli­cate their 2015 sea­son start – some­thing that looks more than pos­si­ble, con­sid­er­ing Honda’s con­tin­u­ing dif­fi­cul­ties – Dovizioso ad­mits that wins are the tar­get for both rid­ers as the year pro­gresses.

“We can start in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to last year, very strong, but this year we can im­prove race by race. Last year, the feel­ing went away af­ter the start of the year, as we found the limit of the bike - but not this year!”

Prior hard work has paid off for the Du­cati crew Now with wings, Dovi’s ex­pect­ing to fly on the fac­tory Desmosedici in 2016. Watch this space

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