Ducati is one of the big names in the world of MotoGP. Their past speaks a great deal of the dedication and technical superiority they possess as compared to most other teams. Barring the superior Repsol Yamaha team, no other factory outfit has come close to beating Ducati’s supremacy in the 125cc, 250cc, Superbike series and to some extent, in the MotoGP series as well.
Ducati has been a regular member of the World Superbike championships since 1988. Using the mammoth 1000cc V-twin power stations, the team has dominated the Superbike championships for a number of years. Between 1993 and 1999, Carl Fogarty ran his Ducati to the limit, taking four Superbike World Championships. In 2003, rule changes in the MotoGP regarding 4-stroke machines meant that teams were paying lesser attention to the Superbike arena and Ducati, who entered just two 999 machines, won 20 of the 24 races with Neil Hodgson taking the championship. In 2006, Troy Bayliss returned to Superbikes after 3 years at the topmost level and straightaway took Ducati to the top with 12 unstoppable wins in the season.
Troy Bayliss successfully defended his title in 2007 on the same 999 bike that he rode the season before. The bike will now be replaced by the tougher and more powerful 1098 which promises to be a handful for its opponents in 2008.
When things changed at the MotoGP level in 2002, 4-stroke machinery got the preference and Ducati’s eyes lit up at the prospect of getting back to the top level of racing. At Mugello, in 2002, the team launched the bike that they would use in the 2003 season and Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss would be the two who would lead the charge for the Italian outfit. The first season was impressive for Ducati as Capirossi finished the season in 4th place while Troy Bayliss ended it in 6th. The team, however, came second overall, an impressive result for their first round.
In 2004, their MotoGP season was in shambles as they failed to keep up with the other teams. Although both riders managed to end up on the podium by the end of the season, the bike was competitive a bit too late in the season to make a difference. Things became better in 2005 with Bayliss out of the way and Spaniard Carlos Checa replacing him in the team. Capirossi and Checa, between themselves, scored a lot of points and helped Ducati reach a respectable finish to the season.
Things were just getting better as they moved from strength to strength and victories were beginning to come in. Even Troy Bayliss returned for the last round of the season and made an impact with his maiden MotoGP win. In 2007, Checa was permanently replaced by Casey Stoner and the move paid off instantly. Stoner dominated the 2007 season and won the MotoGP championship for Ducati, with four races to go.
In 2008, Casey Stoner will look to defend his world championship against a Valentino Rossi who will come hard at the Italian team’s rider. Along with Marco Melandri, the team will look to continue their good performance of recent years.
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