As we mentioned last week, Andrea Dovizioso agreed to take the factory Ducati seat vacated by Rossi’s departure for Yamaha. His signature, it appears, was subject to certain conditions, though. According to reports in the Italian media, Dovizioso demanded guarantees of support and development from Audi before putting pen to paper.

Italian TV station Mediaset is now reporting that Dovizioso has now received those guarantees, and has signed a two-year deal to ride for Ducati in 2013 and 2014. Ducati’s choosing Dovizioso over Cal Crutchlow – Dovizioso’s British partner at the Tech 3 squad had earlier been offered the ride at Ducati – is an indication of the the future direction of the Bologna factory.

The deal appears to signal that Ducati has accepted that they need to focus their development on building a bike to suit a traditional Grand Prix style, as displayed by the Italian. It is perhaps a signal to Ducati’s new owners Audi that they understand the magnitude of the problem, and that the loss of Valentino Rossi is being taken very seriously indeed.

Dovizioso’s signing fits into Ducati’s strategy shift in MotoGP. The switch from a traditional satellite leasing model to a factory-supported junior team strategy is part of this shift, as Ducati MotoGP project leader Alessandro Cicognani told at Mugello. With four near-identical bikes from 2013 onwards, development and feedback should be much faster for the Bologna factory.

Audi will have an important role to play in this, in large part providing assistance in areas such as prototyping and increasing the speed with which new parts can be designed and produced. With two young riders likely to be moved up from Moto2 – Andrea Iannone and Scott Redding are being linked to the rides, as has current CRT rider Danilo Petrucci – Ducati’s strategy is more rounded and complete than it has been in recent years.

Dovizioso’s signing leaves the fate of Cal Crutchlow hanging in the balance. Earlier in the year, Crutchlow had offers from both the factory Ducati squad and his current Monster Tech 3 squad, but was holding on while waiting for a response from Yamaha. The Englishman has a long history with the factory, and was hoping for a shot at the second factory seat.

His patience may have cost him dearly: once it became clear that Rossi was serious about leaving Ducati, the Bologna factory quickly signed Nicky Hayden to provide some continuity – as well as help with sales in the key US market. With Rossi in the factory Yamaha seat, Crutchlow’s options are severely limited.

The Tech 3 deal could still be on the table, though team boss Herve Poncharal has also been involved in talks with fellow Frenchman Randy de Puniet, currently riding a bike for the Aspar Power Electronics CRT team.

The Dovizioso deal will probably be announced officially ahead of next weekend’s Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Once that has been announced, the rest of the seats aboard factory prototypes should quickly fall into place.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Jes

    I’d love to see RDP on the Tech 3 bike. Cal should take his big mouth back to BSB.

  • AC

    @Jes I think Cal is a personality that MotoGP needs. He’s a funny guy and this year he has proven his results on the track quite well. I think he should try to stay at Tech 3.

    Poor Dovi. I find it hard to believe anyone wants to ride the Ducati now.

  • John

    The fact that Dovi would not sign until he received guarantees of development assistance and other changes speaks volumes. The fact that Ducati agreed signals that Ducati is finally accepting that its bike is a real pig. I’m sure that this was a bitter pill for Ducati to swallow, but I think Rossi leaving is actually good for Ducati as well as for Rossi. It was a bucket of ice cold reality for Ducati when it was realized that a ton of cash was not enough for Rossi to ride their bike any longer because he had no faith in their promises of further development. Dovi’s conditions reinforce the fact that riders regard the Ducati as a non-competitive bike. Hopefully they will finally and belatedly get busy and offer a ride that deserves to be on a Moto GP grid. If that happens, it would be great for the series. As a bonus, we get to watch Rossi ride the wheels off a fully developed Yamaha.

  • MikeD

    Just to be safe i think he should buy some form of full coverage insurance against:

    ” I KNOW MY NEXT BIKE and RACING SEASON WILL STINK … but i still took the Plunge “.

  • Westward

    The Audi factor is greatly over looked by many, save Dovizioso, which is why it was a condition in his signing of the contract. Speed at producing parts is one thing, but the major drawback is in the production of a better working chassis, in house or otherwise…

    I do hope Cal and Spies remain in MotoGP. I would find it very interesting if Tech3 ends up with two Brits as pilots. I think it will be Spies or De Puniet that team up with Bradley Smith. Or better yet, Bradley will stay one more year in Moto2 and make everyone happy including himself, especially since Marquez is moving up, as well as possibly Iannone and Redding…

  • Really hope Dovi, Hayden and Ducati find the right direction and become competitive early next year… Glad Rossi gone cause he was slowly turning the GP12 into a Japanese bike…. want to ride Japanese sign for Honda, Yamaha , Suzuki or Kawi……

  • MikeD


    +1 on the SLOW but UNSTOPPABLE Japanitation that was going on there.
    Haven’t they tried already some derivative form of the Panigale’s new “frame” to make it work on the GP Bike ?
    Besides the Carbon version that is…im talking Aluminium here.

    I know a SuperBike and a GP Bike are very different animals but…Why wouldn’t it work with some lite tweaks here and there ?

  • Ken C.

    I’m glad to see Ducati signing some world class talent, even though Dovi isn’t a great PR move. Dovi (and Ducati) should perform well with Audi support. It will be an interesting season to watch next year.

    I hope Crutchlow finds a way to stay in MotoGP. He’s exciting to watch, and his improvement, season to season, has been nothing short of remarkable.

    I’m still waiting for news about where Ben Spies will be next year though.

  • DareN

    I do not think it is bad PR move on part of Ducati – after all, they signed 2nd best Italian rider available and it is a must for Italian company. I was hoping for Iannone (since the rookie rule is no more) but Dovi should be much better to devolop new bike with his experience. Crutchlow stays at Tech 3 where he belongs…

  • Jes

    @AC – Cal has his moments, but I had a hard time swallowing his ‘ I deserve a factory ride’ bit. Dovi had 7 podiums last year, how many has Cal had?

    I think Rossi resigned himself to riding around in 7th place long ago. Dovi NEEDS to push the limit to remain in MotoGP, whereas Rossi can toil around in last place and still make huge cash. With that said, hopefully Dovi, Nicky and the Ducati will be a bit more competitive next year.

  • Gutterslob

    A warm welcome to Ducati, the great sinkhole of Italian riders. May you follow in the footsteps of other greats like Loris Capirossr, Marco Melandri and Valentino Rossi.

    Joking aside, I hope Dovi and Hayden have a better bike under them next year. Not a Ducati fan (Bayliss being the only exception, cos everyone loves Bayliss), but more bikes competing for podiums is always good.

  • “Dovi had 7 podiums last year, how many has Cal had?”

    Fair enough, but Cal was a rookie last year. Dovi wasn’t. I sure hope that the Ducati is competitive next season. I’d hate to see Dovi getting walk over by Tech 3 (no disrespect intended; I’m a huge Tech 3 fan).

  • Mike Lewis

    @Trane — That is true but Cal was on his 2nd year on the bike; Dovi his first. In the end, Dovi is a bit of a mystery to those of us outside the paddock: He’s everyone’s fastest third choice as a rider. (It’s weird, everyone has overlooked him at some point, Honda, Yamaha, Ducati at first. I suspect Suzuki might come back just to deny Dovi a contract before talking to everyone else.)

    The fact is Cal overplayed his hand — a trait he carries onto the track. I love the guy and I’m hoping to see a pissed-off Tech3 Cal crawling up the tailpipes of the factory bikes next year. And on a related note, please Herve, I beg you, don’t give that sweet ride to RDP. I don’t want to see you have a coronary when Le Yardsale wads up his third bike in the first three races.

  • @Mike: Crutch debuted in the premier class in QAT 2011. He was racing WorldSBK in 2010. Despite riding a Yamaha in Superbike, it’s a serious stretch to suggest that what he’s riding in MotoGP is even remotely the same bike. My assessment of Cal as a rookie stands, with all it implies.

    I agree about Dovi and can’t quite figure out why he gets passed up. He seems like a really nice guy in addition to being one of the fastest on the grid these days. Crazy, innit?

  • BBQdog

    @MikeD: Haven’t they tried already some derivative form of the Panigale’s new “frame” to make it work on the GP Bike ?

    The Panigale inherited this ill fated ‘frame’ from the GP bike …. that’s the big (marketing) problem.

  • Mike Lewis

    @Trane I’d agree with you if only the facts did too. ;) I don’t think anyone in this thread suggested that Crutchlow’s WSBK experience gave him a leg up. At least I didn’t. At the MotoGP level, switching manufacturers IS a big deal. (Don’t believe me? Ask Lawson, Rossi, and Stoner as the only people who switched companies and won another championship.) So Cal, as a slower rider in year 2 on Tech 3 than Dovi is in year 1 on a new bike does say a lot about both riders.

    Mainly, it says Dovi’s quicker. One indication is Dovi’s number of podiums (4) and Cal’s (0). But let’s say for discussion’s sake that Dovi’s more extensive MotoGP experience is a factor. (I think that is what you are asserting anyway.) Let’s compare:

    Dovii 1st year, 2008: Fifth in the Championship, 174 points, one podium, average finish of 6th. (17 races completed.. I did not factor the DNFs into the average..)
    Cal 1st year, 2011: 12th in the Championship, 70 points, no podiums, average finish of 9th. (11 races completed. DNFs not factored although there were 5 with two non starts.)

    Dovi 2nd year, 2009 after 10 races: average finish 4, one win, (7 races completed, three DNFs)
    Cal 2nd year, 2012 after 10 races: average finish 5, no wins/podiums (10 races completed, no DNFs.)

    And the comparison is more valid still as both were/are on what was considered the top satellite bike of the time. So I guess I’m not sure I agree with you. And I don’t think the results do either.

    But in the end, if I had to pick a rider to have a beer with, to bring the fans out and to sign on the bike I foolishly funded with lottery winnings, I’d still take Cal. On that we can agree.

  • “But let’s say for discussion’s sake that Dovi’s more extensive MotoGP experience is a factor. (I think that is what you are asserting anyway.)”

    Yep, that was the point I was making, and I do think it’s valid. We’re also in agreement that Dovi is currently the faster of the two. The difference in Cal’s performance year-on-year has been tremendous. I just think that Dovi’s greater experience in the premier class counts for more than his lack of experience on a particular brand. Opinion only, though. :)

    At the end of the day the question has to be: Will Dovi adapt to the beast that is the Ducati as well as he’s done with the Yamaha or will it turn out to be his undoing? I don’t know, but it’ll sure be worth breaking out the popcorn to see.

  • Jes

    I think Audi and the guys at Ducati will be more pissed off than ever after this whole Rossi debacle. Hopefully it’ll drive further and faster development and we’ll see Dovi and Nicky much closer to the podium next year.

    I think next year will be a defining moment for many riders in the paddock. Pedrosa is running out of time to fight for a title and he’ll be back to the #1 rider spot, so he better bring it. Rossi is also on the same boat, not much time left to redeem himself after the Ducati experiment.