When Ducati announced that it had signed Marco Melandri to a two-year contract this past Sunday at Laguna Seca, it became hard to imagine that Melandri would be the old man in a two-man team. Casey Stoner is just 21 years old, while Melandri is 24.
Although still uncertain, it appears that Loris Capirossi will leave Ducati next year (perhaps, for Suzuki), but the clear focus at Ducati is on younger riders, and they have two of the best. Stoner is likely to be World champ before this year is over, and Melandri already has several wins in the premier MotoGP class.
The rider part of the equation has been taken care of for the next couple of years, but Ducati must continue to develop its already excellent 800cc machine. Suzuki and Kawasaki are now coming on strong, and quality riders are spread throughout all of the major manufacturers at this point.