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Ducati Introduces 2018 MotoGP Team; Must Sign Both Riders for 2019

The 2018 Ducati Desmosedici GP was unveiled yesterday.

Factory Ducati will return to the MotoGP grid this year with the same two riders, including Andrea Dovizioso (who won 6 races in 2017) and Jorge Lorenzo (winless last year). The full press release is below, and you can read the thoughts of team management and riders on the new season and the new bike (with new livery). More interesting, perhaps, are the thoughts expressed by Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali on the efforts needed to re-sign both riders for 2019.

The majority of the MotoGP field, including nearly all of its top riders, are unsigned for 2019, which could lead to quite a bidding war between the factories. With his success in 2017, Dovizioso is understandably looking for a big pay raise, but Domenicali is damping expectations.

When Jorge Lorenzo was signed by Ducati prior to the 2017 season, he was a five-time World champion moving to a team with a largely unproven bike. As a result, he negotiated an extraordinary, reported €12 million per year guaranty for two years (this is equivalent to 15 million U.S. dollars). Domenicali stated regarding the huge salary of Lorenzo: “This was an extraordinary one-off effort. … In the future there will be more balance when it comes to signing riders.” In other words, Dovi will be offered a substantial raise, but shouldn’t expect “Lorenzo money”.  Of course, both riders will be free to explore offers from other teams for 2019.

Here is the full press release from Ducati:

  • Ducati Motor Holding CEO Claudio Domenicali: “We are ready! 2017 was an important and positive year, both on a business and racing level, and it allows us to look to 2018 with optimism and confidence. Ducati is there…”
  • Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna: “It won’t be easy, because we are fighting against tough opposition and bigger companies than us, but we will do everything possible to make 2018 a memorable year for all Ducatisti”
  • ​2017 runner-up Andrea Dovizioso and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo line up for their second season together
  • Brand-new livery for 2018 Ducati Desmosedici GP 

Borgo Panigale (Bologna), 15 January 2018 :  The 2018 Ducati Team, which will take part in the MotoGP World Championship with Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, was presented today in the heart of the Ducati factory at Borgo Panigale, Bologna. Final preparations have now been made for this challenging season, which gets underway with the first of 19 rounds on the calendar in Qatar on March 18. Andrea and Jorge will be back on their 2018 Desmosedici GP machines, which were unveiled in a brand-new captivating red and grey livery, at the end of the month.

Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Motor Holding CEO, declared at the start of the presentation: “2017 finished well both from a business and racing point of view, and we sold almost 56,000 bikes. We are ready for 2018 and we are really confident that it will be another positive year. It is a year in which, for the first time, our fans will have available a bike which is a close relation to a bike we developed in racing, the Panigale V4. It’s a very important year also for the Scrambler, with the arrival of the 1100 adding a completely new dimension to this world, made up of larger dimensions and better comfort, performance and technology, all clearly in perfect Scrambler style. It will also be the year of World Ducati Week at Misano from July 20-22, and we want to organize the best and most complete WDW of all time.

Ducati is a strong and solid company that has become big enough to allow important investments for the future. We are in a fantastic period: the digital revolution and the world of social media are changing all of our lives and Ducati wants to be an agent of this change, all the time preserving its own values.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those in the company who have enabled us to obtain the results in 2017. Thanks to all of the partners who are by our side for this new MotoGP adventure, and all the best to Ducati Corse for a 2018 with Ducati as protagonist.”

Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, added: “When you come close to winning the title, like last year, it’s easy to lose direction in the development of the bike, and so all the innovations that we will introduce on the new Desmosedici GP will be characterized by evolution, not revolution. I believe that both Ducati Team riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, are true added value for us and that both of them can aim for the world title in 2018. We only have to make one final step, and we know that it’s not going to be easy because we are up against some really tough rivals and with companies that are much bigger than us. In any case we will try and do everything possible to make 2018 a truly memorable year for us and for all the Ducatisti.”

Andrea Dovizioso (#04, Ducati Team rider): “Last year was a superb and very successful one, and we also learnt a lot of things on which we can continue to work this year. Our bike still had certain characteristics that made life difficult on several tracks and for 2018, we have focussed on improving these aspects because we must always be in a position to fight for the podium, at every circuit. After finishing runner-up with six wins in 2017, naturally our objective can be nothing less than fight to win the championship, but we must remain with our feet firmly on the ground because we know that each year brings with it something different. In any case we are starting off with the competitive level of last year and we must only remain focussed 100% like last year, when me and my team worked really well together.”

Jorge Lorenzo (#99, Ducati Team rider): “2017 was quite a difficult year for me, because I didn’t even win one race and at the start of the championship I wasn’t able to fight for the podium, but I was patient and never gave up, and in the last few races we finally scored some quite good results. The work of the team was very important and Ducati helped me a lot to adapt the bike to my riding style, and so I think that in 2018 we’ll be starting with a much more competitive base. Andrea and the Desmosedici GP demonstrated that we have everything in place to try and win the world championship, and I think that I have the strength and the experience necessary to fight together with him to achieve this aim. I believe a lot in our chances and I’m convinced that we are stronger than one year ago. For me to be a Ducatista is something really special: I’m very proud to have accepted this challenge and I have felt part of the family since the very first day, and so I’d like to repay the passion and the support we receive from Ducatisti all over the world with lots of wins and, if possible, with the world title.”

The Ducati Team will leave in a few days’ time for Malaysia where the first session of official pre-season tests will take place at the Sepang circuit from 28 to 30 January.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. fred says:

    2018 should be a great year for MotoGP fans. Ducati has stated that they would like to sign both Lorenzo and Dovisioso for 2019 early this season, or even before the races start. Regardless of what some fans may think, there are no big rifts in the Ducati camp. Lorenzo has help transform Dovi from a good rider into a winner, with the mind and heart of a champion. Ducati has given Lorenzo a racing home and family after Yamaha turned their back on him. Both Lorenzo and Dovi (and Stoner) have helped Ducati go from also-ran to championship contender once again.

    I fully expect Ducati to sign both riders again for 2019.

    • VLJ says:

      “Ducati has given Lorenzo a racing home and family after Yamaha turned their back on him.”

      How do you figure Yamaha turned their back on him? They didn’t release him or refuse to sign him. Quite the opposite. He simply decided to go off and take the Crazy Money Ducati was offering him.

      Fact is, Lorenzo turned his back on Yamaha. As a result, he suffered through the first win-less season of his MotoGP career.

  2. mickey says:

    Man I can’t wait for April to get here. THEN we will SEE who is producing and who isn’t (forget preseason hype..remember 2017 and the Vinales is going to dominate talk ?)

    • Onto says:

      MotoGP! It is dominated by one country – Spain. It has become a skinny little boys club. Real men need not apply. And as impressive as it appears to the gullible, the bikes are now partly controlled by computers. It no longer is the great sport it was.

      I love the Dakar. That’s where the tough guys and gals are.

      • mickey says:

        MotoGp is dominated by 2 countries, Spain and Italy because those two countries love and support motorcycle road racing. They each have national programs that develop riders from a very young age, unlike most coutries including the U.S. Their racing champions are heroes known to practically every man woman and child in their respective contries. Whereas our national sports heroes play baseball, football and basketball. They are going dominate MotoGP for many years to come.

        I bet 1 in 100,000 Americans couldn’t name our last MotoGP champion OR who won the last Dakar race.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “MotoGp is dominated by 2 countries, Spain and Italy”

          aw man, what about the Brits…?

          oh wait you said MGP not WSB.

    • VLJ says:

      Vinales dominated the first couple/few rounds once the season started, too. His domination during off-season testing wasn’t a fluke.

      • mickey says:

        Yet he hardly dominated the season did he? So how he did in preseason testing was certainly not an indicator of who would dominate the season.

  3. Vrooom says:

    I can’t imagine that Ducati will resign Lorenzo unless his performance significantly improves this year. With the way he impeded Dovi in the final race, clearly violating team orders, it’s hard to believe Dovi would stand next to him. Yamaha won’t want him, Honda probably won’t if they have Marquez’s younger brother or another young rider. He could get a ride with Suzuki, Aprilia or KTM. No question he was a great rider, but last year did a lot to soil his reputation as smooth and unbeatable.

    • fred says:

      Funny how people can see the same facts, but observe them so differently. Ducati has already stated they want to sign both Jorge & Dovi before the 2018 season starts. The only real questions seem to be when and for how much.

      You may not like Jorge, but both Ducati and Dovi are glad he’s on board.

    • Dave says:

      Dovi was not impeded, he was doing everything he could to stay with him in hopes that Jorge could pull them to the front. He plainly explained it in the interview afterwards.

  4. Norm G. says:

    guys, “these are NOT the droids your looking for” (Norm waves hand). the kit shown is the 2017, as the 2018’s are apparently not even ready yet. they have a schedule to keep and as such are just showing us OG’s the livery. daddy likey.

  5. dt 175 says:

    hope she goes better’n she looks…

  6. Pete says:

    IMO those winglets don’t do anything for aesthetics. And the flat paint looks rather plain. Ducks are supposed to be red, eye-popping red. Certainly looks impressive but not in a sexy way. Sure looks better than my 05 Multistrada.
    As for pay, well Dovi is worth more due to his excellent performance last year, but he just doesn’t have the championships to negotiate with, especially when you come to a new team like Lorenzo did. If Dovi wins it in 2018 then cha ching for 2019.

    • Randy D. says:

      I’ll bet Dovi. & Lorenzo are REALLY going to be competing this year since both will want to prove their value on a new contract! If Ducati can’t afford to keep both riders 1 of them will be leaving.

      • mickey says:

        every factory contract is up at the end of this year I believe, both Honda riders, both Yamaha riders, both Ducati riders, both Suzuki riders,not sure about Aprilia and KTM

        2018 should be a great year, but 2019 could prove more interesting

    • jimmihaffa says:

      To each their own, eh? I like the aerodynamic accoutrements, especially the F1 air intake style tail section. The fresh color scheme and graphics speak to something bold and new and highlights the aerodynamics in red…nice!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “the flat paint looks rather plain. Ducks are supposed to be red, eye-popping red.”

      oh wait, this ^.

  7. Onto says:

    In racing, function is everything and looks aren’t important. But this is the best looking MotoGP bike ever. It has a very aggressive look, and I like that.

  8. Wendy says:

    Bold New Graphics!

  9. VLJ says:

    “It is a year in which, for the first time, our fans will have available a bike which is a close relation to a bike we developed in racing, the Panigale V4.”

    Now, wait a minute here. “For the first time”? Really? Then what was the Desmosedici, and every freaking street-legal L-Twin Superbike Ducati ever marketed as being ripped straight from the WSB wars?

  10. Provologna says:

    Wow, the bike looks the business!

    IMO Dovi’s working for any company not named Ducati in 2019. There’s no way on earth your #1 employee finishes a close second for the season, while your #2 guy barely places, while you pay the #2 guy a bigger salary.

    The above situation reminds me of DB Deion Sanders going to the NFL Dallas Cowboys in 1995. Cowboys Running Back Emitt Smith was brutalized for several years prior, helping win a couple of Championships. Sanders, with a well earned reputation of avoiding all physical contact, earned significantly more than Smith, which did not exactly increase locker room joy, in spite of winning the Championship for the 1995 season.

    • VLJ says:

      Difference there is Sanders came in and, once again, dominated. He delivered on the promise of that huge paycheck.

      Lorenzo? #99 was less Deion Sanders and more Morris Claiborne.

  11. deckard says:

    Ducati has never used an aluminum twin-spar frame on anything except their MotoGP bikes (since 2012). They have a lot of ground to make up.

  12. jimmihaffa says:

    The machine looks amazing. Will be interesting to see what it can do. Not sure what the reason is for the strange frame welds, anyone?

    • Dino says:

      Good eye… I have no idea why the welds would be running like that, and closer to the head, it is like a patchwork of pieces welded together.

      I can understand the concept of lateral flex to improve feedback and handling, but welds like that would be less predictable (and reproducible) with such an important feature. Unless they are “tuning” each frame by adding weld in spots to change the feedback? Maybe they aren’t welding pieces together, but just adding ridges? I dunno, the more I think about it, the crazier it sounds!

      Both bikes had similar welds..

    • joe b says:

      I can only assume, the welds are there because of the construction of the frame. In mx, anyone can make a frame that doesnt break, but having one that flexes the right way, gives more feel to the rider. I assume this is same in RR, and its what is needed, not something to make the bike “look” right.

  13. HS1... says:

    This year could be even better than 2017 in MotoGP. Marquez is the favorite but he doesn’t have to leave much on the table for either Dovi, Lorenzo, or Vinales to come to the front of the standings. The number of contracts due should just add more hops to the brew.

  14. Hot Dog says:

    That’s one damned beautiful machine!

  15. Scott says:

    Is is just me, or does that bodywork look like it was made on a 3D printer?

  16. Dave says:

    ” In the future there will be more balance when it comes to signing riders.” In other words, Dovi will be offered a substantial raise, but shouldn’t expect “Lorenzo money”. ”

    He’s not asking for “Lorenzo money”, but he certainly asking for “Dovi money”, which should be as big as everyone but Marquez’ and Rossi’s money.

    • Randy D. says:

      Seems to me if Dovi. wants more 2019 $ he needs to perform similar to his record during 2017 to get it.

      • Dave says:

        He delivered to a level only a couple of riders in this generation have been able to on a Honda or Yamaha. He deserved to have his contract adjusted upward after his 2nd win. I think all he has to do put Ducati on notice is to let them know that red isn’t necessarily his favorite color.

        • Dave says:

          I’ll also add that if he is unable to win, I think this upcoming season could be Lorenzo’s last in MotoGP.

          The Ducati has delivered wins under two other riders, and extremely competitive results under even more. This proves that unless JL has a blue Yamaha (a black one or any other color won’t do), he is victory proof, and therefore unemployable at championship level salary.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          True, but he has only ever performed like that once. If he can repeat those kinds of results in 2018, Ducati won’t let him go. If not, Ducati will still keep him surely, but he won’t have any leverage.

          Also, I have to disagree about Lorenzo. If he has another terrible year and gets dumped by Ducati, Suzuki, KTM or possibly even Yamaha (particularly if they themselves have another bad year) would love to get him. He will take a pay cut, but c’est la vie.

          • PatrickD says:

            Unemployable? Terrible year?
            The mis-quotation; ‘news of my demise has been greatly exaggerated’ leaps to mind.
            There’s a strong anti-Lorenzo vibe running through the motorcycle world. But it is overlooked that JL’s record, whilst he was teammate to Rossi, was superior, and he’s also younger. JL made no grandiose predictions about his first year with Ducati (see VR for notes on this), and indeed provided the most interesting insights to his and the bike’s development throughout 2017. He reported back on changes to himself and the bike that demonstrated progress throughout the season.
            So many want to light a fire beneath him, but it just isn’t a problem for Ducati, JL or AD. Plenty of others are sweating it, looking for a story.
            Given Yamaha’s struggles, JL looks like the only meaningful barrier between MM and MotoGP title domination in the next few years. JL is a 30 year old 3-time MotoGP champion. Think about that.

          • Vrooom says:

            Trying to reply to Patrick below, but he doesn’t have a reply icon. I’d say Dovi poses a meaningful challenge to Marquez. Zarco and Folger on the right bikes might do so as well. Lorenzo is a three time champion, but clearly ignoring Ducati’s orders to allow Dovi through in two consecutive races probably means he’s not getting another contract with them unless he performs much better this year. You’ve also got some new skin in GP this year which may be competitive, given the right equipment. Morbidelli comes to mind.

          • Scott says:

            Not Folger… See “Industry Press Releases”, above…

          • Dave says:

            We’ll see. JL has had a career as a champion. The pay cut would be severe and the chance to win would be all but gone. Maybe “unemployable” was too strong a word but I can’t see him hanging around in those circumstances.

    • guu says:

      What is known of these contracts? When you win six races I would assume win bonuses will be a huge part of your overall income, much more than the base salary of a non-champ, even?