Andrea Dovizioso’s victory in the opening race of the 2019 MotoGP season at Qatar is currently subject to appeal. Dovizioso raced in Qatar using the aerodynamic components previously debuted by factory Ducati teammate Danilo Petrucci at the Qatar test, and used by Petrucci and Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller during practice at the Qatar MotoGP round.
It was 7:30 in the evening, and we were standing on the porch of the Petronas Yamaha SRT hospitality chalet, talking to Fabio Quartararo about how his day had gone when the rain came.
It was a brief, intense shower filling the air with the sweet scent that comes when rain falls after a period of intense heat. It seemed a somehow fitting end to one of the most intriguing MotoGP tests in years.
The weather had played a major role in the test, though this time, for all the right reasons. Normally, test days at Sepang are disrupted in the late afternoon by a heavy rainfall, leaving teams trying to cram as much work as possible into the mornings, and hoping that the track dries out in the afternoon.
Every shower brings dust and dirt to the track, washing away some of the rubber laid down on the track, slowing the track down.
But not this time. There was a brief thunderstorm on Monday night, but that was the last rain to fall at the circuit until Friday night. Three full days of a dry track, the pace increasing as more and more rubber got laid down. It should hardly be surprising that Jorge Lorenzo’s fastest ever lap of the circuit, set last year, should be broken.
But that it should be broken by nearly six tenths of a second, and by six riders, is a sign both of just how good the track conditions were, and just how competitive the field is currently in MotoGP.
How that competitiveness came about is a matter for another day, when I have time to take a much deeper dive into the many revolutions and evolutions currently underway in the paddock. But for now, a few short notes and instant reactions to the three days of testing at Sepang.
Though bikes have been circulating at the Sepang circuit already, the MotoGP season only really gets underway once the full field of full-time contracted riders takes to the Malaysian track on Wednesday.
After the long winter break, we finally get to see where everyone stands as the 2019 season approaches.
Well, almost everyone: injuries always play a smaller or larger role, as riders recover from surgery, or suffer new injuries while training for the coming season.
“We’ll be working with only one aim in mind: to win.” Those are the words of Gigi Dall’Igna while talking about Ducati Corse’s WorldSBK program, which made its public debut today.
Officially the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike team, the rider duo of Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista have a lot of weight on their shoulders. After all, the Italian marque made an historic switch from a v-twin to a V4 all in the name of winning the World Superbike Championship title.
Usually though, the expectations for a team with a brand new bike are reserved, as it can take a season to extract the full potential of the machine on the race track, but with Ducati, it seems that the grading curve is a bit steeper.
Episode 90 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and in it we see David Emmett, Neil Morrison, and Steve English on the mics, as we look towards the 2019 racing season, as well as look back on the big moments of 2018.
The show is short in duration, and the guys’ conversation give us a jumping-off point for the upcoming racing seasons in both the MotoGP and WorldSBK classes.
With the winter doldrums though, we don’t think you will mind a little racing talk in your earbuds, and don’t worry, the Paddock Pass Podcast is now gearing up to bring you more news from the preseason tests, team launches, and first paddock gossip as it comes to us.
Ducati launched their 2019 MotoGP campaign at the Philip Morris R&D cube in Neuchâtel, Switzerland this evening.
The Mission Winnow Ducati team, as it is now called, consisting of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci were presented to the world on stage in Switzerland, in a new livery with a lot more red and a lot less white in it compared to previous years, in a throwback to the 2008 color scheme.
Like that color scheme, there is a link to Philip Morris once again, though this time, indirectly. But much more on that later.
In a tightly-scripted presentation, Ducati managed to let slip just enough information to make the presentation interesting, without giving too much away.
But, what they did let slip was enough to allow observers to read between the lines for an insight into the factory.
Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna spoke briefly about the bike for 2019, but more importantly, sketched a picture of how the team and the team’s two riders will function in much more of a partnership. This was in stark contrast to the combative atmosphere which prevailed when Ducati had both Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo aiming to win the championship.
The objectives given at any team presentation are always the same: to try to win the championship, and win as many races as possible along the way. But for Ducati, those objectives are actually realistic.
Reigning champion Marc Márquez will start the season as strong favorite, but it is Andrea Dovizioso who has finished second in the MotoGP championship for the past two seasons, and pushed Márquez hardest.
The MotoGP racing season is almost upon us, as the next few weeks will serve as launching points for their championship bids for this year. First up is Ducati, debuting its 2019 team at the Phillip Morris R&D Cube in Neuchatel, Switzerland.
Of course, the star of the show is Ducati’s MotoGP race bike for the 2019 season, the Ducati Desmosedici GP19.
Sporting a very red livery, the design harken backs to the liveries of yore for the Italian brand, complete with a barcode-esque logo on the side, which slings the team title of “Ducati Winnow”.
As usual, Ducati is pretty mum when it comes to actual details about its two-wheeled offering, and merely quotes a peak power figure of “over 250hp” for the 1,000cc desmodromic V4 engine.
As we inch closer to the official start of the MotoGP season at Sepang, where the first test of the year is set to be held from February 6th-8th, we enter the season of team and factory launches.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, all of the MotoGP teams and factories will present their 2019 color schemes and riders at a series of events.
Ducati is the first to present its plans, as is the tradition. On Friday, January 18th, the Italian factory will present the MotoGP team of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci at an event in Neuchatel, Switzerland.
The MotoGP riders are just two weeks into their shiny new contracts, but already, there is talk of what happens next.
In Italy, there is a discussion of who gets the factory Ducati seat alongside Andrea Dovizioso in 2020. In Spain, they are looking ahead to 2021, and the option of KTM offering Marc Márquez a contract.
The start of the year is traditionally a chance to look ahead, and make predictions for what is to come.
But as an old Danish proverb, sometimes ascribed to the brilliant Danish physicist Niels Bohr, says, it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.
To demonstrate just how hard, we will kick off the year taking a look back at predictions I made last year, and what I got wrong.
I started last year with an article in which I made three predictions for the 2018 season:
The conversation starts with the champions, Jonathan Rea and the Kawasaki Racing Team, and we discuss how this has become the wining package in the WorldSBK paddock, especially with the contrasting fortunes of Tom Sykes.
The discussion includes a short interview with Leon Haslam, as he got his leg over the KRT-spec superbike during the Jerez post-season test.