The word from Italy is that former Ferrari sporting boss Stefano Domenicali going to join Ducati, the Audi-owned motorcycle company based in Bologna. The word is that he will work alongside Gigi Dall’Igna, the former boss of Aprilia racing activities, who was appointed general manager of Ducati Corse a year ago.
Andrea Dovizioso is currently fifth in the championship but has not won a race, while Cal Crutchlow is 12th and Ducati is a distant third behind Honda and Yamaha. This is better than the dismal 2013 season. The story was much the same in the Superbike World Championship.
Things may get slightly complicated by the fact that Claudio Domenicali (no relation) remains in charge of Ducati Motor Holding, the parent company of the bike racing team. The company wants to return the Ducati name to the same kind of level that allowed Casey Stoner to win the MotoGP title in 2007.
There has been speculation that this could lead to Domenicali moving up in the Audi empire and one day replacing Wolfgang Ullrich as head of Audi Motorsport. There is little doubt that Audi is on the lookout for new management as Ullrich is now 64 and has been in the same job for 21 years, leading the Audi team to no fewer than 13 victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Perhaps it will be useful to have someone like Domenicali on its books if Audi does finally decide to enter F1, although this is largely speculative as the VW-owned brand is not going to do that until there are one of two changes in the way F1 is run.
The Ducati news has yet to be confirmed.