Bernhard Gobmeier hasn’t even spent a full-year at Ducati Corse yet, though the German’s time in Borgo Panigale will officially come to an end at the end of the MotoGP season. Taking a “prestigious and strategic position within the Motorsport organisation of the Volkswagen Group,” Gobmeier will be replaced by Aprilia Racing’s Luigi “Gigi” Dall’Igna, as was rumored earlier this week.

Dall’Igna brings with him an arsenal of experience in managing Aprilia’s World Superbike and MotoGP efforts, and his first task at Ducati Corse is an obvious one: right the ship.

With Ducati Corse listlessly floating in MotoGP for the past few years, and now hitting a wall in WSBK as well, Dall’Igna’s move to Bologna may be a small one from Noale, but the task at hand is monumental. Ducati Corse explains the move and new hierarchy in its press release is after the jump.

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.”

Source: Ducati Corse; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Salvador

    Now THAT’s serious!

  • TheBrain


  • smiler

    Clever. Made Ducati stonger in WSBK as Aprilia loose their senior man. BG has done the hatchet job on Ducati Corse as Audi said he would. Leaving it possible for the new man to make progress. He can now start phase 2, radical changes to the prototype and actually make a prototype bike this time not a CRT bike. Look forward to it.

    What is Hayden going to do now?

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    Nicky will either go to WSB with Ducati (given this development) or he will hope like hell HRC America steps up to the plate so he can hitch another ride in MotoGP.

  • Xracer264

    smiler…Good question about Hayden. From what I’ve read Aspar might end association with ART since Gigi is leaving and pursue the customer Honda route. Maybe HRC USA will help with Nicky???

  • Damo

    Ducati making some serious moves. Very curious where Nicky heads now.

  • Pete

    Aspar to get Ducatis

  • Pete

    Aspar to assume role as rider development program, i.e. Ducati junior team (“Spies”/Iannone). But next year Hayden/Iannone. That would be a great combination!

  • sburns2421

    I am somewhat surprised by this but I guess everyone has their price. He still had work to do at Aprilia but perhaps the allure of being the guy to turn Ducati around was too great.

    As for Hayden, Aspar, Honda, Aprilia, Ducati…it all makes my head hurt. With that said I have a feeling Hayden was holding off signing precisely because of this possibility. Is Aprilia attractive without Gigi? Would Aspar cut ties with Noale without him and Honda graces them with the production racers? Tough to know from the outside.

    My gut however says Hayden still signs with Aspar. He doesn’t have options on factory teams and apparently doesn’t want to ride in World Superbike. My other thought is that Aprilia is most likely still for that team, with Ducati offering as the second most-likely. American Honda has to get their act together if they want Hayden on the Proddie racer, they should have had the money approved weeks ago to put this whole thing to bed. Getting very late in the year for the 2014 season.

  • Aspar Martinez has known and worked with GiGi since 1995 or so and wont stay with Aprilia without him. Aspar 90% to Honda production racer for next year and jump to Ducati in 2015.

    Hayden will stay with Aspar on Honda even though GiGi is trying to talk Nick into replacing Spies and moving Spies to WSBK on the Ducati Panigale….don’t think Nick anything to do with Ducati next year.

  • neil

    Nicky has said this morning that he is staying in MotoGp, hopefully he can make a final decision now that Gigi has made his decision…

  • ZootCadillac

    Regarding the Nicky to Aspar thing. I know everyone thinks it’s a done deal, but Gigi moving on will put a huge spanner in the works. I know there is talk now of American Honda funding the Aspar team to run Nicky on a production Honda. My concern about that is the reason that plan failed at LCR Honda is that American Honda could only come up with half the money LCR thought they needed to run another bike. Perhaps more funds have become available or more worryingly, perhaps Aspar think they can do it cheaper?
    It’s no secret Gigi would like to take Aspar to Ducati now this deal is done and that puts Nicky in an awkward position, given he’s cutting ties with the team after feeling he deserved better treatment.
    One of the largest obstacles, both for Nicky and Dovi, may actually have been removed back to Bavaria.

  • jaybond

    A very interesting news to say the least. What sort of technical changes that Gigi will introduce to the Ducati GP machines? The current Ducati GP bike has a V4 engine and aluminum frame chassis, two almost similar traits that Gigi had fully mastered with the WSBK winning Aprilia RSV4 and the giant killing Aprilia ART machines. Will Gigi just try to adapt and improve the current Ducati GP bike design , or will it be big changes especially to the engine configuration (from the current 90 degree V4 to smaller v4 angle like the RSV4)? and more compact chassis construction? You can’t hardly wait..

  • Anvil

    Aspar staying with Aprilia is nearly impossible. As some already mentioned, Martinez and Dall’Igna are close and Martinez has already stated that in the event of Gigi leaving Aprilia, Aspar will go, too. And without Gigi, it’s not clear that Aprilia will even stay in MotoGP, as he was the one pushing to expand the program.

    American Honda and HRC are angling for Aspar and Hayden. The reason this deal might work when LCR failed is that Honda is much more eager to sell the remaining RCV1000Rs being built. To date, only two riders will be on them: Scott Redding and Karel Abraham. I’m sure they also see getting Hayden as a PR coup, as they’ve never really lived down the way he was pushed out in 2008.

    But, and this is potentially big, Dall’Igna wants Aspar and Hayden, and being that he’s now the top man at Ducati Corse, this may be too much for Aspar to pass up, especially since Ducati could pay Hayden’s salary. It’s easy to see Aspar replacing Pramac as the junior team as soon as contractual issues allow.

    This puts Nick in an odd situation, as there won’t be a new bike available until well into next season, even if he’s given one. So he could end up on a customer GP13 for the forseeable future, which can’t be very appealing to him.

    An interesting scenario that someone mentioned above is that Aspar runs the Honda this season and then becomes the Ducati junior team in 2015. Certainly a possiblity but it looks like there are a few more twists coming before we get an answer.

  • ZootCadillac

    @Anvil. Good post. Still personally concerned where American Honda can find the money to pay for the Aspar team when they could not for 1 extra bike in the LCR stable ( they found about half before talks broke down ).

    Also I would not be so sure that a new bike will be late. For sure the GP14 is not built yet but Gobmeier has stated publicly that the GP14 will be a completely new bike based around the data collected from the lab bike testing this year. This has been a departure from the way Ducati would normally do things and in terms of development should prove to work out for the better. It does however annoy Dovi that he won’t get a new bike to test immediately at the end of season.

    You have to remember that all versions of the GP13 run this year are still the bike that Rossi held Ducati to ransom over to get built. Nobody at Ducati wanted it or knew what to do with it. There will be a new bike because there has to be. Audi have started the stopwatch ticking on this programme.

    I agree that it would be appealing to Honda to get customer bikes into the Aspar team but I think that even with American Honda ponying up, Aspar bringing what money they can and the prospective riders bringing in their sponsors, there still would be a big shortfall, especially if one of the riders is Nicky and he wants anything close to what he’s been getting ( which might be less than you think, Ducati considered him ‘cheap’ ) and Honda Japan might have to subsidise it out of their budget. That’s not unlimited and a big chunk of change is going into their Moto3 programme for next season.

    As you say. Expect more twists.

  • Anvil

    Zoot, you have good reason to be concerned because it’s not a lock that American Honda can put together a deal, just a bit more likely now that HRC is willing to bargain. And I’m sure they’d be pleased to knock an Aprilia off the grid if Noale decides to continue in MotoGP.

    As far as a Ducati is concerned, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll have an all-new bike ready for the start of next season. When Gobmeier spoke of the “revolution” bike, he was likely referring to whatever his successor comes up with. It seems clear now that the plan was to hire a new chief, whether it was Dall’Igna or someone else. So it appears that they’ll be starting from nearly scratch.

    I doubt that much will be carried over from whatever the current staff was working on, which doesn’t seem to be a lot. The sum total of their efforts this year has basically amounted to a revised frame and some exhaust parts. Anything else in development is in serious danger of being scrapped.

    The tipping point for Dall’Igna was when Ducati returned with an offer of unlimited authority. Apparently he turned down Ducati’s first offer because they wouldn’t promise him the power to employ who he pleased. He now has that. Expect a pretty serious housecleaning in the Corse engineering ranks.

    Rumor has it that Gigi already has plans to poach some Aprilia chassis engineers, so maybe there’s a chance that they get an “evolution” version of the GP13 on the grid by the beginning of next season that’s at least better and introduce a completely new bike later in the year. But that is total speculation on my part. They have a huge task ahead of them and even with Audi/VW’s blank check, all the money and manpower they can muster isn’t likely to buy them enough time to design, build and test an entirely new bike by March. That said, I hope they can pull it off.

    As for Aprilia, they’ve been pretty quiet so far. Hayden said today that they’re still in the picture, but he and Aspar are obviously considering other options being that they have no assurances that Noale is still committed to the project he was sold. Hayden revealed that it was indeed going to be a full-fledged factory option entry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that those assurances are coming, since it’s widely suspected, and hinted at in Aprilia’s own press release, that the reason Gigi left was because Aprilia pulled the plug on the project. And, of course, Martinez is not likely to go with Aprilia without Dall’Igna.

    It’s a shame because a lot of people were excited about that project and it looked very promising.

  • ZootCadillac

    @Anvil I have immediate family that works in Ducati Motor Holding at a senior position, I myself do some freelance media work for them in British Superbikes and also this year at the British MotoGP. I only mention this to explain that whilst i may not know anything for certain, I do hear things.

    My understanding is that the lab bike and changes will continue to be run at the Valencia and Sepang tests with more changes over winter testing. The new bike that is sto start the season is said to be coming no later than the Qatar tests early March.
    I think Gigi will have enough time to get his input into the project and now that Ducati have access to the manufacturing that was previously sourced out and was often a source of the delays.

    I don’t have a crystal ball to say if there will be better results to come but I’m confident that there will be a new GP14 that is not an iteration of the current bike. (the lab bike is not based on the GP13 so if nothing is ready they at least have that platform to build on ).

    We shall see.

    Anyway, GP Sepang quali’s are about to get off so I have pressing issues at this ungodly hour in the UK ;)

  • ZootCadillac

    Something that surprised me. Gigi has already been replaced at Aprilia and has packed up his desk. The press release mentions that Dall’igna left for “differences in strategic vision with regard to the management of sports activities” which everyone who knows anything about anything is suggesting that this is confirmation that the full factory Aprilia with the pneumatic valves, has been shelved, making up Gigi’s mind for him.

    Here is the full press release from Noale.

    “Noale, 10 October 2013 – The Piaggio Group announces that Romano Albesiano will take responsibility for management of Aprilia sports activities in addition to his current role as head of the Group’s Motorbike Technical Centre. The Piaggio Group has also accepted, with immediate effect, the resignation of Luigi Dall’Igna – wishing him of course all the best for the future – due to the differences in strategic vision with regard to the management of sports activities, as well as in view of the results achieved so far in the 2013 season of the Superbike World Championship.

    Born in Carrù (Cuneo) 50 years ago and a graduate of Turin Polytechnic with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Romano Albesiano began his career with Cagiva Motor S.p.A., where he also participated in the development of the 500 GP bikes during the 1991-94 seasons. From 1995 to 1997 he also worked at Fondmetal Technologies as aerodynamics project leader for the Mercedes AMG vehicles in the DTM championship (finishing in 1st place in 1995 and 2nd place in 2006) and the GT FIA championship.

    Returning to Cagiva Motor in 1998, Albesiano rose through the ranks to cover the position of Motor Vehicles R&D manager for the Cagiva and Husqvarna brands, as well as managing the sport operations for the Husqvarna brand, winning two world titles.

    Joining the Piaggio Group in 2005 as Aprilia Product Development Manager, Romano Albesiano currently manages the Bike Technical Centre which operates for the entire Piaggio Group, a responsibility that he will retain together with his role of leading the Aprilia Racing team of mechanics, also for the purpose of reinforcing the strategy of close cooperation between Piaggio Group factory production and competition operations.

    As Bike Technical Centre Manager Romano Albesiano also directed development of the Aprilia RSV4 bike and its 1,000 cc V4 engine, an extraordinary technical foundation around which Aprilia Racing was able to achieve the four world title victories that have been won thus far in the World Superbike Championship.

    In addition to having developed the current Aprilia brand bike range at Noale which, alongside the RSV4 boasts models such as the Tuono V4, the Caponord 1200 and the Dorsoduro range, Albesiano and his team of engineers have successfully managed revamping the Moto Guzzi product range, which included developing the new generation 750 cc V7 range and the extraordinary Moto Guzzi California 1400 in its Touring and Custom versions, the crowning jewel of the Mandello del Lario “Eagle Brand”.”

  • Anvil

    Zoot, that’s encouraging to hear. Most of us out here in the world are only working with what’s coming out in the press. I don’t think I’ve read a single report that mentions the lab bike is a complete departure from the current bike. I think the assumption has been that it’s more of an evolutionary test bed.

    Although, honestly, I also haven’t heard anything from any of the riders that’s particulary promising, either. Neither Dovi or Hayden thought it was big step forward when they’ve ridden it. Maybe there has been signficant progress since then. It’ll be very interesting to see what Cal can do with it.

    One would also have to assume that all bets are off until Dall’Igna gets fully dug in. He’s got ultimate authority, so I don’t think anyone’s sure which technical direction he’ll take. Again, only speculation, but based on his reported demands, there will almost certainly be big changes coming. The lab bike might be very different in the future. Still, if he thinks it’s a good direction, then maybe there’s reason for hope.

    As far as Nick goes, I’m wondering if Gigi makes him and Aspar an offer they can’t refuse. It’s probably going to take that to get Hayden to warm up to the idea. If there really is that strong of an interest in Hayden, I can only assume Dall’Igna sees him as valuable to developing a completely new bike in a short period of time: Ducati gets another fast rider with more experience on the old platform than any other current rider. Hayden and Aspar get a factory-spec bike when they’re available. I could even imagine Nick helping with the WSBK program, where he could end up when he’s done in MotoGP.

    That, maybe, is an offer worth considering.

    Anyway, enjoy qualifiying. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see that on this side of the pond. And thanks for the inside info. Feel free to keep it coming.

  • Anvil

    Zoot, regarding the press release, that’s the one I mentioned in my earlier post. It does not seem promising for Aprilia MotoGP or maybe even the WSBK project.

    I’m not surprised it’s effective immediately. Ducati and Aprilia, as you well know, are pretty fierce rivals. Aprilia, I’m sure, doesn’t want Ducati’s fox in its hen house. I also wonder if this parting was totally amicable as it’s easy to speculate that either Aprilia led Gigi, Aspar and Nick down the garden path, or Gigi attempted to use Ducati’s advances as leverage to force Aprilia to agree to expand the MotoGP project.

    This whole thing is fascinating.

  • Anvil

    Zoot, sorry, one more thing. I just noticed that I misread your post on the lab bike. It seems that the lab bike is just a test bed, is that correct?

    It still seems like a long way to go from data to new GP bike. My fingers are crossed. I’m tired of the Honda and Yamaha show.