After a two-month winter break, the 2014 season got underway for the Ducati Team today with the first of three days of IRTA testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Following a restructuring during the winter months with the arrival of Luigi Dall’Igna as Ducati Corse General Manager and British rider Cal Crutchlow alongside Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso, the Bologna-based manufacturer now has to archive a disappointing 2013 season and look to the future with confidence and renewed commitment.
In this pre-season test, the first of three scheduled for Sepang and Phillip Island in the months of February and March, the Italian team’s work will revolve around back-to-back comparison tests between the Desmosedici GP14 and the GP13; visually the new model presents revised aerodynamics, both in the front and rear fairings, in addition to improved rider ergonomics and more possibilities for chassis adjustment, as well as several new electronic solutions.
Dovizioso and Crutchlow spent the first day of activity comparing the two bikes and working on general set-up. In particular Dovizioso, entering his second season on the Desmosedici, continued to try the two versions, while the British rider, who stepped aboard the GP13 for the first time at Valencia last November, opted to continue his learning curve in the afternoon solely with the new bike.
The Ducati Test Team was also out on track with Michele Pirro, once again back in his role as test-rider. During the year however the young Italian will also have the chance to take part in at least four rounds of the world championship as a ‘wild-card’.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 12th (2m02.497s)
“Today was a bit of a strange day, the first day of testing in Malaysia should not be taken with too much importance because you have to find the right feeling again after months of inactivity. We had a different bike to test, but we were not able to do a lot of laps and test everything we had scheduled. Luckily we’ve got another couple of days here in Malaysia so it won’t be too much of a problem. It was the right decision to start with the 2013 bike to resume where we left off last season, then we immediately switched to the new bike to see the difference, but unfortunately I only managed 27 laps today. I feel sure that things will go a lot better tomorrow.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 14th (2m02.860s)
“First and foremost, it was good to be able to get back onto a bike after two and a half months off. We rode the GP13 in the morning and the GP14 in the afternoon, and it’s clear we have some work to do because the bikes are not too dissimilar at all. Most of the changes are cosmetic, but the feeling of the bikes is similar. The GP14 enters the corner a bit better, which is what we were looking for. We only used two sets of tyres all day so now it’s about building confidence to go faster with this bike. We also had a lot of electronics stuff to try so I never did too many runs in the afternoon. Ducati are definitely working hard and I’m excited about that.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team #51) – 13th (2m02.552s)
“Today we tried to continue the work we started in the two days here last week, when unfortunately I crashed on day 2, so today I had to get the feeling with the bike back again, focussing on some new components. All things considered it was quite a positive day, my lap time wasn’t bad but we have to improve and I’m confident we’re going in the right direction, but we need more time. Our rivals are in a better shape than we are, and for us it’s the first time we’ve put the bike on the track.”