Ducati has refused to confirm speculation that it is seriously contemplating a radical strategy change by racing in the new Open class format in the 2014 MotoGP world championship.
It has been widely reported that the Bologna factory, now led by former Aprilia boss Gigi Dall’Igna, is pondering not racing under regulations for factories like Honda and Yamaha when the new season commences in Qatar on March 23.
By becoming an Open category entry, Ducati would be allowed to run 24 litres of fuel and benefit from using softer compound Bridgestone tyres.
The most significant advantage of embracing the Open format is that Ducati will not be restricted by new engine regulations introduced for 2014.
If Ducati continue to race as an official factory effort, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow will have to race a Desmosedici motor that can’t be modified at all during the season, with a new engine freeze coming into force for 2014.
If Ducati does enter the Open class, then it will not be restricted on engine development and it can also benefit from using 12 instead of five engines.
For a factory like Ducati, which has fallen on hard times of late with some disastrous results, the ability to tweak and develop its engine is vital to hopes of a turnaround in fortunes.
Ducati though would have to sacrifice running its own electronics strategies, with all Open class participants having to run the standard Magneti Marelli hardware and software.
A final decision on Ducati’s immediate future strategy is expected after the forthcoming first major winter test of the year at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia early next month.
It is there that well informed reports in Italy say that Dovizioso and British rider Crutchlow will test both a factory spec GP14 and a Desmosedici configured for the new Open class.
Ducati already planned to run at least one bike in the new Open class, with South American Yonny Hernandez racing the new project in Pramac livery.
But the Bologna factory has distanced itself from the Open class link, with a Ducati spokesman releasing a short statement that read: “Ducati thinks that it is important to explore the potential of the new “Open” regulations, also because this should be the future technical direction of the MotoGP Championship, and for this reason has decided this year to enter one GP13 bike with Yonny Hernandez for Pramac Racing Team under these rules. Currently there are no further plans regarding the “Open” option and all the other Ducati GP riders will conduct back-to-back tests comparing the GP13 and GP14 “Factory” bikes in the first Sepang test from the 4th to the 6th of February.”