Ducati boss Gigi Dall’Igna has admitted he has been surprised at the rapid rate of progress that the factory Desmosedici made under his stewardship in 2014.
Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso finished best of the rest behind elite foursome Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa in the final world championship rankings.
Dovizioso’s form in an impressive 2014 was in stark contrast to a torrid debut season at Ducati when he claimed only two top six finishes all season.
Last season, the former 125GP world champion scored two podium finishes in Austin and Assen, and he scored nine other top six finishes.
Dall’Igna, who joined Ducati just over a year ago after quitting as boss of Italian rivals Aprilia, improved the struggling Desmosedici throughout his first season at the helm.
Helped by special concessions given to a factory without a win the previous season, Ducati could use Open class benefits like softer Bridgestone tyres, four litres of extra fuel and 12 engines.
Crucially though, Ducati wasn’t part of the engine development freeze that Yamaha and Honda were as Factory entries, giving Dall’Igna more freedom to improve the Desmosedici.
The biggest upgrade was the GP14.2, which arrived at Motorland Aragon in late September and comes ahead of a major revamp for the new GP15 that will break cover in Malaysia next February.
Ducati scored its first pole position in four years when Dovizioso topped qualifying in Japan and claimed 10 other front row starts and Dall’Igna told MCN: “Frankly speaking I didn’t expect to get a pole position during 2014. I am really happy and proud for the results we achieved. The target, and it was an ambitious target, was to stay within 10 seconds from the winner and we did that in Silverstone and Misano and I think in Motegi we could do the same if Dovi didn’t slow down in the last part of the race. So we have reached this target and now we have to try to stay with the front guys. I know there is still a gap but we are working hard to close it.”