'Ours is a winning machine': Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse

We stick to the rulebook, and sometimes change it, says Ciabatti

70-paolo-ciabatti Paolo Ciabatti | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

Fans, riders and technical staff are usually tensed ahead of big races, but Ducati Corse general manager Luigi Dall’lgna and sporting director Paolo Ciabatti are always composed. Ducati Corse is Italian motorcycling giant Ducati’s racing division. Ciabatti spoke to THE WEEK after the first practice session on day one of the three-day MotoGP Indian Oil Grand Prix of India.

Edited excerpts:

Q/The fight for podiums and championship this season is mostly among Ducati teams. How do you feel about it?

A/We are proud to have eight riders on our bikes—all capable of getting good results. So far, three riders have won, with Pecco (Francesco Bagnaia) winning the most number of races, [followed by Marco] Bezzecchi and [Jorge] Martin. Obviously, it proves that Ducati is a winning machine with riders of different styles.

Q/Enea Bastianini, whose performance with the satellite team in the last season was incredible, is now struggling after moving to the factory team. Is it normal?

A/Good question! Obviously, it is not normal. It is not what he expected, and it is not what we expected.

Last year, in his second year in MotoGP, Enea had a fantastic season starting from that incredible first win in Qatar…. He was a contender for the title and so aggressive sometimes that even we were worried of his aggression with Pecco!

For the factory team, the two contenders were Jorge Martin and Enea. Martin is an incredible talent, so the decision was not easy. [Enea] being third in the championship played a role in the decision to give him a chance in the factory team.

[But] Enea came without his crew chief, because his crew chief went to KTM. That might have had an impact [on his performance]. Sometimes it’s just a matter of luck. He broke his shoulder in an accident in Portimao (circuit in Portugal)…. If you break your shoulder, [the recovery] takes long and there is no operation that makes sense. You lose your muscle and morale…. Hopefully, all the bad things will happen to Enea [only this season]. Next season, we can start from a better position.

Q/Can you reveal some secrets about your 2024 plans?

A/(Laughs) Obviously not! As you mentioned, we are proud of being innovative. Other manufactures are not so happy about it, but everything we do is by the rulebook. Sometimes, we decide to change the rulebook.

There was the famous protest for that spoon (an appendage in Ducati bikes that allegedly gave them an unfair advantage). We had to go to FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) court, which was not really nice. Because, when you are there you need to show everything. Show your data and [argue] why you do it.

In a way, you defend yourself and tell other manufactures what you do and how you do it. Which I think is unfair. You could see that everybody adopted something similar [to the spoon]…. Sometimes, it makes you feel a little bit too much under attack when you see that your good ideas are taken by others and we know that we got that idea first.