Ducati braced for challenging recovery in 2012

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Ducati boss Filippo Preziosi has conceded the Bologna factory faces a huge challenge to try and compete with Japanese rivals Honda and Yamaha in the 2012 MotoGP world championship.

Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden scored just one rostrum each in a nightmare 2011 campaign for Ducati as it failed to win a race for the first time in the 800cc era.

Former rider Casey Stoner dominated the campaign with 10 victories for Honda and in a bid to fight with the Aussie this year, Ducati will roll out a radical new GP12 machine in the first winter test in Sepang on January 31.

Speaking at Ducati’s annual team launch at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in Italy earlier today, Preziosi said: “Ducati is a company which with facts has shown over the years that it can win impossible challenges. It is a company that is courageous and I’m extremely proud of being part of this team. We have raced and won with a two-cylinder engine, when it seemed that all sports bikes in the world were destined to have four-cylinder engines. We have tackled the challenge of MotoGP as a small European maker when it seemed that over the last 34 years it was not possible to participate successfully without being a major Japanese manufacturer. And we are fully aware that we are about to do is something extremely difficult. However, as mentioned the team is strong.

“We have two world champions within the team and we have an extremely flexible structure. So to be small has some disadvantages, but at the same time it gives also some advantages. So the fact that we can define the design target after a test done in Valencia and to get to the racetrack with the bike in Sepang is something that perhaps only a small, lean and flexible company can do. Having said this, of course, we have great respect for our adversaries. Our competitors have a long tradition; they have a long tradition also in the use of technology such as that of the perimeter frame that they have used for 30 years. For us this is a new technology but we’re fully aware of the challenge that is ahead of us.

“Our adversaries start with the competitive advantage that was seen during 2011. But they are also working with great commitment for the next season, so they’re further improving the bike that they have. So it’s going to be very difficult for us. Now to compete successfully it is not enough to do well. You have to do your homework and you have to do it better than the others during races, and when the others are Honda and Yamaha, this is something extremely difficult. Having said this, we have not stopped. Our designers have just completed the designing of the bike which now our staff is assembling in Bologna, but we are also working on some future developments that we are going to introduce during the winter tests and others will be presented instead during the first races of the season.”

At the majority of tracks in 2011, Rossi was frequently more than a second slower than the fastest pace as he failed to win at least one Grand Prix for the first time in his career.

And Preziosi added: “It is not taken for granted that since we are working we’ll reduce this gap. We can cut down on this. If the quality and quantity of the work that we do is superior to what our adversaries are doing then it it is still not easy. To take for granted that during the winter you work better than Honda is, of course, a bit presumptuous. But what is important is we are fully aware that we can do it because we have done this already in the past.”