MotoGP 2017 preview: Ducati

Time to preview our second factory team, and another exciting tandem that could be very interesting to watch this year. The big red horses have removed a potential psychopath, and replaced him with a world champion. 2017 could be a good year for Ducati.

The bike

11-_tin3199-_tin3194-middle

Picture from MotoGP.com

Name Ducati Desmosedici GP 17
Engine 1000cc inline four cylinder
Power >250bhp
Chassis Aluminium alloy twin-spar
Transmission DST-Evo chain final drive
Brakes Brembo, 2x340mm front, 2×4-piston callipers. Single disc rear with twin-piston calliper

Welcome to the 2017 Desmo. Isn’t it pretty? I mean, it’s a red and white Ducati, so of course it is, but that’s not the point. The key selling point on this year’s Desmo is the power – the 250bhp is supposedly a conservative estimate, and is rumoured to be pushing 300bhp. In a 1l 4-stroke. Madness. And when you consider who’s going to be operating it…

The riders

Out Andrea Iannone (Suzuki)
In Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha)

It was announced pretty early in the year that Jorge was coming in. What wasn’t clear, at least for the first half of the season, was who he was replacing. Iannone was faster for much of the first half of the year, but he struggles to keep the bike on the black stuff, and ultimately that’s what cost him his ride – Dovi’s win at Malaysia proving Ducati had made the right call.

jorge

99 – Jorge Lorenzo
Age 29 Born Palma, Tenerife, Spain
Honours 5x world champion over MotoGP and 250CC
2016 3rd, 233pts, Movistar Yamaha
Race Record
Class Races Wins Podiums Points Best
125CC 46 4 9 279 4th, 2004
250CC 48 17 29 768 1st, x2
MotoGP 156 44 107 2600 1st, x3

There’s not much you can say about Jorge that hasn’t been said before. He’s a multi-time world champion who, on his day, is easily in the conversation for best of the modern era. The problem with him, that puts a lot of people off him, is that he can also be a petulant child who throws the toys out of the pram. He learned from the best at that, though. His record speaks for itself, though, and if he can get a good feel for the Desmo straight off the bat, he’ll be a serious contender for the title.

dovi

Picture from MotoGP.com

4 – Andrea Dovizioso
Age 30 Born Forlimpopoli, Italy
Honours 125CC World Champion
2016 5th, 171pts, Ducati
Race Record
Class Races Wins Podiums Points Best
125CC 49 5 15 492 1st, 2004
250CC 49 4 26 721 2nd, x2
MotoGP 160 2 34 1646 3rd, 2011

Dovi is just part of the furniture now. He’s good, but not elite. In a field containing Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, Dovi is just kind of there. It’s a shame, as I was a big fan of his in the baby classes, but the raw talent that was obvious when he won the 125cc title way back in 2004 hasn’t translated into bigger titles. He is very dependable, and will be great at testing the bike, but world champion? Unlikely.

The team battle

Fun stat for you. Ignoring one race Dovizioso had in the 2001 125cc championship, Dovi and Lorenzo’s careers have mirrored each other. They both spent three full years in 125cc, then three years on 250cc’s, and have been on GP bikes for the same length of time. In that time, Dovi has only bettered Lorenzo’s performance three times – 2003, 2004 and 2005. Since Lorenzo won his first 250cc championship, he has beaten Dovi in points every single year. Whether that continues depends on one thing – how quickly Jorge gets to grips with the Desmo. If he learns quickly, he’ll win the team battle. If it takes him some time, Dovi’s familiarity with the machine could win out.

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