Dall’Igna talks 2018, Lorenzo - welcomes Petrucci, Bagnaia

'Lorenzo helped us a lot in the development of the bike. So even if we are not completely happy, I think the balance is positive' - Gigi Dall’Igna, Ducati.
Dall’Igna talks 2018, Lorenzo - welcomes Petrucci, Bagnaia

Monday at Valencia was a time for Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna to weigh-up the 2018 MotoGP season and look ahead to 2019, which starts with testing on Tuesday.

Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso once again finished title runner-up to Marc Marquez and Honda, in a season that also saw the belated first Desmosedici wins for triple MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo.

But those victories came too late to extend the Spaniard's Ducati career and Lorenzo will join Repsol Honda in 2019, when Ducati will promote Danilo Petrucci to the official team and place Moto2 champion Francesco Bagnaia at Pramac.

"We are at the end of the season and, honestly, we are quite happy about the improvement that we did on the bike during 2018," Dall’Igna began.

"First of all, because we won more than last year, seven races and only six last year. Secondly, because we improved quite a lot on tracks where normally we are struggling, like for example Phillip Island, Aragon and Sachsenring, where last year I think we lost the championship.

"This year we are able to fight for the victory until the end of the race. And so I think that we improved the bike in the area where we have to improve, without losing anything in the other riding phase.

"Another reason why we are quite happy is because we won with both riders [Dovizioso and Lorenzo] and for a manufacturer this is important, because is you can achieve the results with two completely different riding styles, that means that the bike is quite well balanced."

As such, Dall’Igna admitted that the primary goal for the GP19 is not to undo any of the progress made with the GP18.

"Tomorrow [Tuesday] we will start the new season. Because of the results of this year it's important not to do any strange things on the bike," he said.

"So the main target for tomorrow morning will be to have the 2019 bike quite similar to the 2018 and, after that, start to put on the bike the improvements and understand if they are real improvements or not.

"So we have in mind a lot of steps to do here and in Jerez next week, before we order the [final] new parts for the Sepang test."

Turning to Lorenzo, Dall’Igna was disappointed it took so long to win races and that they couldn't achieve their goal of fighting for the title with the #99, but declared that on balance it had been 'positive'.

"I think we have to do a balance of the two years of Lorenzo with our bike. Because we struggled quite a lot on the first year, the second year was completely different, from Mugello we started to win races," said the Italian.

"So to be honest I'm not completely happy about these two years, because our idea mainly was to fight for the championship also with Lorenzo and at the end we didn't reach this target.

"But anyway we won three races this year, we fought for the podium positions in many other occasions, we have some sort of bad luck in the final part of the season because he cannot take part in many races.

"And another important thing to take into consideration is that Lorenzo, anyway, helped us a lot in the development of the bike. So even if we are not completely happy, I think that the balance is anyway positive."

Taking over from Lorenzo will be Petrucci, whose results improved steadily during his first three years at Pramac, but stalled with another eighth place in this year's championship, with one podium compared to four in 2017.

"Tomorrow we will start with another rider in the factory team, Danilo Petrucci. He has a lot of history with us because I think this is the fourth year with the Ducati, so we know perfectly the potential of the rider. He grew up quite well in the past years," said Dall’Igna.

"This year, honestly, he was struggling with something in the final part of the season. But we are sure that he can improve and fight for the victory and podiums positions the next season."

Upon discussing the arrival of Bagnaia, Dall’Igna also emphasised how closely the factory and Pramac teams are connected due to the sharing of factory engineers.

"Another important rider to join us is Bagnaia, the Moto2 world champion, and I would like to underline that we approach the new riders in a different way in comparison with other manufacturers, because we rotate the technicians between the two teams, the Pramac and factory Ducati team, in order to have the continuity for the riders," Dall’Igna explained.

"So we did this with Danilo, he continues with his chief technician and his electronic [engineer] for next season and Bagnaia will have in his [Pramac] team the chief engineer and electronics engineer of Jorge Lorenzo."

Dall’Igna also agreed with Bagnaia's recent comments about his riding style being similar to Lorenzo.

"I think this is true and this is the reason why we will use a set-up of the bike quite close to Lorenzo's one," Dall’Igna said. "For sure we don’t know exactly Pecco, but watching on TV it seems his riding style will be quite similar to Jorge's one."

Dall’Igna added there was little he could say about Dovizioso, who has now won 11 MotoGP races for Ducati, other than he remains their main title hope for 2019.

"I don’t want to speak too much about Dovi because Dovi is the continuity for us, he is the rider that won a lot in the past two-three years because he started to win with us in 2016.

"So he's the rider that we think we can win the championship and we'll try to do our best to achieve this target."