Ducati factory MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso has told an Italian website that Ducati may abandon Factory status in 2014 and race all of its machines in the new Open category in MotoGP. There are numerous incentives to switching. The Open class bikes are allowed to carry 20% more fuel during a race, and each rider is allowed 12 engines per year (versus 5 for factory riders). Bridgestone may also allow Open machines exclusive use of a softer compound rear tire.
Dovizioso says Ducati will decide which path to pursue after the factory riders get to test the Open machine back-to-back with the Factory bike at the first 2014 test in Sepang during February 4 through 6. The only negative to Open status is the requirement that a Dorna supplied “spec ECU” must be used while the full Factory teams can use their own ECU/software. Open status will also free up Ducati’s top riders to engage in more testing … something Ducati desperately needs after being dominated by the Honda and Yamaha factories last year.
Update: since this story broke, Ducati has said it “has no further plans” for the Open class, and that its factory riders will be comparing full factory machines at Sepang. Perhaps, Dovizioso spoke out of school…. but we wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of a switch to Open machinery given the advantages it could bring