Pirro to continue as Ducati MotoGP test rider until 2026

Michele Pirro has been re-signed by Ducati to continue in his role as test rider for the brand's MotoGP bike - a role he has held for 10 years.

Michele Pirro, 2023 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas. - Ducati Press

Ducati has renewed its contract with Michele Pirro, for the Italian rider to continue as the official test rider for the Bologna brand’s MotoGP project. 

Pirro, a one-time Grand Prix winner in the 2011 Moto2 Valencian Grand Prix, began as Ducati’s official MotoGP test rider in 2013, at the end of which year Gigi Dall’Igna arrived in Bologna from Noale - where he ran Aprilia’s WorldSBK-focused racing programme - to try to turn around Ducati’s racing fortunes. 

In the time since, Dall’Igna has transformed Ducati, MotoGP, and also WorldSBK, in large part down to the development carried out on the Desmosedici GP MotoGP bike, for which Pirro has been the primary test rider for 10 years now. 

By 2023, the Desmosedici is generally regarded as the best motorcycle in MotoGP, and has won three manufacturers’ and teams’ titles in succession, as well as the riders’ title last year with Francesco Bagnaia. At the same time, Ducati’s road-going sports bike, the Ducati Panigale V4 (and variants), finds itself equipped with an engine derived from the first Dall’Igna-designed MotoGP engine, that featured in the GP15 from eight years ago. With that engine, the Panigale V4 R has become the bike to beat in WorldSBK, in which Alvaro Bautista won Ducati’s first riders’ title since 2011 last year. The Panigale V4’s success has led to Ducati transplanting versions of its engine into other bikes in its roster, such as the Multistrada, Streetfighter, and Diavel.

When Dall’Igna and Pirro arrived in Ducati, it was a company which raced V4s in MotoGP and produced V-twins for its production bikes. Although the V-twins remain in the likes of the Ducati Monster, and the Scrambler Ducati range, the primary layout for Ducati in 2023 is the V4, and, although Pirro did not design the engine, he played a large part in its development. 

More recently, Pirro has also found himself testing the Ducati V21L MotoE bike, which debuted at the most recent round of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship at the French Grand Prix.

At the Italian Grand Prix next month, Pirro is unlikely to produce a performance similar to that which KTM MotoGP test rider Dani Pedrosa put together at the Spanish Grand Prix at the end of April, but his role in the development of, not only Ducati’s MotoGP project, but also the brand’s production range, and therefore its wider public image, is not one to be undervalued, and his new deal takes him up until 2026.

Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, said: "We are delighted to be able to count on Michele again for the next three years. Pirro started his work as a test rider eleven years ago, so no other rider knows our Desmosedici GP as well as he does.

“It is also thanks to his valuable contribution that we have been able to make our bike as competitive as it is today. The goal is to continue to grow; being able to count on Michele's great experience is definitely an asset in our development work."

Michele Pirro added: "Most of my sporting career has been with Ducati, and I can't imagine myself in any other colour than the red of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer. I arrived here in 2013, probably during the most difficult years for Ducati Corse, but now I am also experiencing the best ones for the company. 

“I am very proud of what we have done together. I have worked closely with the new generation of Italian riders and always learn something new from them. As always, I will work hard to continue contributing to developing the Desmosedici GP and the Panigale V4. I thank Claudio, Gigi, Paolo and Davide, and all the people who believe in me. Forza Ducati always!"

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