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Ducati Hires Luigi Dall’Igna to Rescue Its Racing Efforts … Or, Why Nicky Hayden Can’t Make Up His Mind About 2014

Nicky

While Aprilia has been busy winning two WSB titles with Max Biaggi, and developing the most successful CRT in the MotoGP championship, engineer Luigi Dall’Igna has been leading the effort.  Dall’Igna is a good friend of the new CEO at Ducati, Claudio Domenicali, and guess what? Ducati has announced the hiring of Dall’Igna away from Aprila to serve as General Manager of Ducati Corse, where Dall’Igna will have overall responsibility for both MotoGP and WSB Ducati teams.

What does any of this have to do with Nicky Hayden?  Hayden had all but signed with Aprilia to ride its CRT in MotoGP next year, largely because Hayden was impressed by the direction Dall’Igna was taking Aprilia in the Premier championship. Reports indicate that Dall’Igna’s departure for Ducati has had an impact on Hayden’s decision about his 2014 employer.  Apparently Hayden is now leaning towards riding a Honda MotoGP production racer for the Aspar team next year, with at least partial funding coming from American Honda. There is even some indication that Dall’Igna wants to draw Hayden back to Ducati MotoGP for 2014, on a satellite team.

We can’t recall seeing a prominent rider, such as the former champion Hayden, still weighing employment opportunities this late in the year. Perhaps we will know something definitive about Hayden’s 2014 employment before the end of the Malaysian round this weekend.

Here is the press release from Ducati regarding Dall’Igna’s signing.

Engineer Luigi Dall’Igna to become new Ducati Corse General Manager

  • Bernhard Gobmeier to assume a new important role within Volkswagen Group Motorsport
  • Luigi Dall’Igna to be appointed Ducati Corse General Manager
  • The new positions will become effective from 11 November, 2013

Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 10 October, 2013 – Ducati announces the appointment of Mr. Luigi Dall’Igna as the new General Manager of Ducati Corse. Having played key roles for many years in both MotoGP and World Superbike championships, 47-year-old Mr. Dall’Igna has acquired significant experience in the world of motor sport. His expertise will enable the Bologna-based manufacturer to increase its focus on the technical aspects of its racing activity, continuing to lay the foundations for a new phase of development and improving its competitive results. Mr. Dall’Igna will report directly to Ducati Motor Holding CEO, Claudio Domenicali.

Bernhard Gobmeier, who has been the General Manager of Ducati Corse for the past ten months, will return to Germany to pursue the opportunity of a prestigious and strategic position within the Motorsport organisation of the Volkswagen Group. In his new position, the 54-year-old Engineer from Bavaria will continue his upward professional curve within the VW Group.

Paolo Ciabatti, who has been the MotoGP Project Manager since January, is confirmed in his role and will report directly to the new Ducati Corse General Manager, as will 39-year-old Engineer Ernesto Marinelli, Ducati Superbike Project Manager for the past two seasons. The new appointments become effective from 11 November, 2013, immediately after the end of the 2013 racing season.

Ducati Motor Holding CEO, Claudio Domenicali commented: “Thanks to this appointment, we can look forward to the next racing season with renewed motivation. We are confident that the new Ducati Corse organisation, and a strategy even more focussed on technical development, will help us achieve our targets, ensuring that Ducati once again becomes a key player both in MotoGP and Superbike. I would like to personally thank Bernhard for his work during these past ten months, and wish Gigi a warm welcome. I am certain that his solid experience combined with our technology and R&D and the technical support supplied by the Audi/VW Group, will help us restore Ducati to the level of racing excellence it had in the very recent past.” 

28 Comments

  1. p . lee says:

    hi a few people writing nicky off as has been… he,s on average just behind dovi.who is not doing so well this season .. most of it is the bike . better bike better results.. the aprillia with bit more power .would be better than the duke

  2. Troy says:

    we have seen this sort of things from many other riders that we would like to see move from satellite motogp to wsb. the food must be better, the paddock more interesting…the show is certainly awesome and nobody wants to leave it. sure would have liked to see Nicky in wsb though.

  3. Silver says:

    That’s just simply incredible riding around that the back of the MotoGP is better than winning a World Championship in SBK

    • Paul says:

      He want’s to stay in MotoGP for a couple of more years. The Aprilia project would have made him a factory rider in a rising program. Now that’s likely gone. He’s got to go to plan B, or C, as the case may be.

      Besides, the Panigale is far from a lock to challenge for a championship any time soon. Honda WSBK is an also-ran until they get a new bike. BMW is gone. And the Kawasaki and Aprilia seats are filled.

  4. Paul says:

    Oy, some of you guys need to catch up.

    Technically, there will be no “CRTs” next year. The bikes will be classed as “MotoGP” (spec ECU/software, 24 liters of fuel, 12 engines per year) and “factory option” (spec ECU/custom software, 20 liters of fuel, 5 engines per year). But essentially the former are production racers and production-based bikes and the latter are full-fledged factory prototypes.

    The Aprilia that Hayden had agreed to was (or is) a heavily upgraded successor (pneumatic valves, new chassis, seamless gearbox) to the ART bike that Aleix Espargaro is using to give Ducati nightmares. In fact, the Dall’Igna’s plan was for it to become a factory option bike, making Hayden their #1 rider. This was not a step down for Nick at all, and a much more promising option than the Honda proddy racer which will never be allowed to get within sight of a Honda prototype.

    The problem is that it seems a beancounter at Aprilia put the clamps on the budget, so Dall’Igna defected to Ducati, where he now has all the keys to the kingdom (MotoGP and WSBK) and is planning a complete renovation of Ducati Corse. It’s been widely reported that Luigi wants Aspar and Hayden to follow.

    Hayden is not really thrilled about that prospect, but he will likely ride whatever Aspar can get. And being that Martinez (Aspar) and Dall’Igna are very close friends, there’s a real possibility that he could be back at Ducati.

    Aprilia has not given any indications yet as to what their plans are for MotoGP.

    • mickey says:

      Doesn’t matter what you call them, although calling them ” motogp” is rather stupid, they..with they being production racers have no business on the same track as full factory prototype bikes. All they are, are grid fillers that are much too slow. Guess it does give the fans at the track something to at least look at while they are waiting for the fast bikes/ big names to come around again.

      • Paul says:

        Well, I can’t say I disagree with you. I personally don’t like Honda and Yamaha dominating the bike supply, which will only give us production racers that will never be allowed to get near the prototypes. We’ll be stuck with a programmed three-tiered series, at least until 2017, when the factory option bikes, or prototypes as we know them, are likely going away.

        Until then, Aprilia seemed to be the best hope of breaking up the Honda/Yamaha cabal, but, sadly that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Maybe Ducati becomes a real challenger again in the next couple of years.

      • Dave says:

        The ART bike was beating the Ducati prototype. The disparity in performance is far less than it was in generations past. Saying they don’t belong on the track is ridiculous. There will always be a range of performance from the front to the back. The fact that MotoGP is essentially ‘fixed’ is what should be addressed now (as in before the next round). As long as there are only 3 bikes with any real chance of winning, the series is irrelevant. I love motorcycle racing and I’ve only watched a couple telecasts of MotoGP in the past several years for boredom.

  5. Dave says:

    Nicky should move to a WSBK team. His moto gp career is over……..

  6. rg500g says:

    When is it time for Nicky to call it a day in MotoGP? From premier factory rider and one-time world champion, kicked out of premier factory team to land in a 2nd tier factory team but still factory team (and factory that fielded a world champion in its own right) where he was second fiddle to a golden boy w/feet of brass, to ‘first among equals’ on 2nd tier team only to get beat by #2 boy, and rightly so dumped from that team, to CRT rider right up there with Edwards and those on (they hope) an upward trajectory while Nicky’s is certainly down. The prognosis for any of his options simply does not include a change in career trajectory. When is it time to recognize this and depart with some grace?

  7. endoman38 says:

    Take the Honda ride, Nicky. It’ll give you the best chance at a podium.

    • mickey says:

      Not much of a chance

      • raivkka says:

        As Dave stated above, this series is fixed. Honda decides which of it factory riders will win. Yamaha also decides which of it’s factory riders IT wants to win. The only unknown is whether honda’s chosen rider or Yamaha’s chosen rider will win.

        No other bike/rider will ever win a race unless it’s a fluke.

        It’s time for the factory supported teams to be booted. If Honda wants to race it should make available for sale, the exact same equipment/support to every rider that rides a honda motogp motorcycle. The same for all the other factories.

        This will allow teams sponsor the opportunity to purchase (at a profit for the manufacturer) a bike that could win races.

        I could care less if every rider on the grid is on one manufacturer, as long as it’s epic racing.

    • Jim says:

      Honda burned him last time. I don’t see him going back.

  8. paulysr says:

    I wonder if He’s considered taking a season off from roadracing to chase his Grand Slam?

    • Jon says:

      A rider stepping out of motogp by choice would mean a locked door to never come back. I think thats the reason Spies went with the satellite motogp ducati team to keep his foot in the door.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “A rider stepping out of motogp by choice would mean a locked door to never come back.”

        it used to be, but now that control of WSBK’s been “wrestled” it’s all good. star-effin’s the business model, so like Survivor, WWE, Nascar, Duck Dynasty, etc. the more “characters” the writers have to weave into a script, the better.

  9. dino says:

    Hmmm… Go with the Aprilia CRT in MotoGP (didn’t even know Aprillia was in there?), or step back to a Ducati Satellite team (and hope that trickle-down fixes eventually reach the satellites?), or a Honda production racer (what class is that? MotoGP? WSBK? AMA?).

    Coin toss, perhaps.. I would lean toward Honda, but I just don’t know what class it is.

    I guess just go with Aprilia and get another set of really cool looking race leathers to go with your Honda and Ducati sets from the past seasons!

    • Vrooom says:

      “Apparently Hayden is now leaning towards riding a Honda MotoGP production racer for the Aspar team next year”
      This is the easiest decision Hayden’s ever had to make.

      • Dave says:

        The Honda Production racer might turn out to be a CRT, even if it isn’t named as such. Stoner has tested it, said it felt good despite being down on power. One of the reasons is that it has conventional valve springs. I’m guessing it will never be competitive with the full factory bikes.

        • mickey says:

          None of the CRTs or satellite teams are

          • Dave says:

            And so it is easy to see why sponsors wouldn’t be interested in participating in what amounts to a “fixed” racing series. The best thing Dorna could is to drop heavily restrictive spec rules on the class (all CRT, something like that) and make a competitive series that is beneficial for sponsors again.

        • raivkka says:

          What is the point of a sponsor wasting money on team that has NO chance of winning.
          I don’t see that as good business.

    • rg500g says:

      There is one option no one mentions, retire. How long do you need to hang around with a ‘has been’ sticker on your back before someone puts a fork in you? Nicky has had a great career and I would like to believe that he has been reasonably sane with his money, so he ‘should’ be financially independent at this point. I would also hope that he has the maturity that would keep him from letting his career define his sense of self, allowing him to successfully transition to another stage of his life. I’m quite sure his love of the sport is still as strong as ever. His competitiveness within that sport at a certain level is no longer such that he can maintain employment within that sport at a level to which he has been accustomed. He can either retire, work in a different venue (WSBK) or be like Colin and hoon around on CTR iron and not worry. I can only speak for myself, but if I was at the pinnacle I’d not be satisfied with relegation to the ‘bush league’ of WSBK, nor would I relish being at the back of the grid on woefully inadequate equipment while my former team mates were 4 or more rows in front of me.

  10. j.davis says:

    “Reports indicate that Dall’Igna’s departure for Ducati has had an impact on Hayden’s decision about his 2014 employer.”

    Well, duh!