Could Ducati be on the way to racing MXGP in 2024?

Ducati are reportedly planning an entry to the MXGP World Championship from 2024, and could be testing a motocross prototype from the end of 2022.


We have known for a while that the British manufacturer Triumph is planning an expansion of its racing activities to include top level motocross, but now another traditionally road-focused factory is apparently putting together a motocross effort: Ducati. 

Triumph are of course the sole engine supplier to the Moto2 World Championship grid in the MotoGP paddock. When the news was announced that Suzuki would be pulling out of MotoGP, speculation began to circulate that Triumph could take those two grid slots. 

That would mean joining KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Aprilia, and Ducati in the MotoGP World Championship. 

Nothing has developed for a while now with regards to Triumph’s MotoGP plans, but they could be joined by one of the MotoGP manufacturers in launching a top level motocross effort. 

Ducati, apparently, are interested in joining the MXGP World Championship, and perhaps even from as early as 2024. 

Adam Wheeler - owner of On Track Off Road, and co-host of RacerX’s MXGP Review podcast - reported on Gatedrop that Ducati is developing a 450cc engine for a motocross project with a view to testing a prototype motocross machine by the end of this year. 

Additionally, Wheeler reports that Ducati is already looking at its options for a “racing alliance” in the MXGP paddock.

There is nothing concrete yet about Ducati’s MXGP plans, but if they were to enter the World Championship the assumption would have to be that a US-based team would also be in the Bologna brand’s plan.

North America is Ducati’s second-largest market after its domestic market of Italy, and the AMA motocross and supercross is arguably a better platform for publicity than MXGP. 

The Italian brand is of course synonymous with road racing, and especially the Superbike World Championship, where it found significant success in the 1990s and 2000s.

In MotoGP, Ducati is regarded as one of the most radical brands, with its project lead Gigi Dall’Igna and his engineering team generating a seemingly unending stream of intriguing components that keep the Desmosedici apparently always a step ahead of the rest.

At the most recent round of the World Championship, the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, Dall'Igna put rear wings on some of the Desmosedicis, including that of Enea Bastianini, who said they helped under braking.

Despite this technical progressiveness, Ducati’s success at World Championship level has been extremely limited over the last decade. 

They have not won a World Championship since Carlos Checa won in WorldSBK in 2011, and their last MotoGP Riders’ World Championship was in 2007 with Casey Stoner.

Of course, they have won Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles in recent years at Grand Prix level, but the main prize, the Riders’ crown, continues to elude them.

The closest Ducati has come to winning a MotoGP Riders’ World Championship since Stoner’s ‘07 victory was in 2017 with Andrea Dovizioso. He lost out to Honda’s Marc Marquez, and recently announced his retirement from MotoGP effective from the end of the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano in September. 

Dovizioso is well-known for his love of motocross. Like six-time World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea, Dovizioso is arguably as much of a failed motocross racer as much as he is a successful road racer, and there is a possibility that Dovizioso will race the Italian motocross championship after his retirement from MotoGP. 

Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but he did race some Italian championship races in 2020 before the MotoGP World Championship restarted after the Covid break. 

With Dovizioso and Ducati both seemingly looking for motocross opportunities in the future, perhaps there could be a reunion of the pair. It is an interesting hypothetical. 

Even if Ducati were to race a season of Italian championship before stepping up to MXGP, though, it seems unlikely that the #04 would be back in red, since the reason for him leaving was mostly a breakdown in the relationship between the factory and the rider. 

But, in any case, the possibility of Ducati joining the MXGP gate in the relatively near future is a curious one. It comes after the launch of their first truly off-road-focused bike in the DesertX, and after the announcement that Ducati will take over from Energica as the sole bike supplier to the MotoE World Championship in 2023 with their V21L, the breadth and diversity of Ducati’s intentions - and potentially their roster - is beyond doubt.

New Ducati DesertX 2022: Specs, Details & Features

New Ducati DesertX 2022: Specs, Details & Features