When Casey Stoner gave Ducati their first ever MotoGP manufacturers championship titlein 2007, it seemed that the small Italian marque had found not only a spectacular rider, but importantly they had beat the Japanese big four, Honda, Yamaha,Kawasaki and Suzuki in the development game with their desmodronic system, L-engine and tubular steel trellis frame while remaining true to their long standition traditions..
However Ducati had one problem, no one else could ride the GP prototype like Stoner did, and in the past few years, the bike slowly became less and less competitive, despite the introduction of carbon fibre frames and other evolutions. Even Stoner started to win less and crash more often, as the single tire rule came into play and despite all this, the Australian in his final seaon with Ducati still managed to take three victories, six podiums and four pole positions and making the MotoGP prototype still look good
Ducati then hired Valentino Rossi to help develop a more rider friendly machine, but the nine-time World Champion, despite his reputation as an excellent development rider, failed miserably. In the two seasons he was with Ducati, the entire project went from bad to worse with no wins and only three podiums, with the rider unable to adapt and the bike plagued by chronic front endand understeer issues, despite the introduction of aluminum frames, something that was completely out of Ducati's traditional prototype concept.
Ducati was bought by Audi and the Germans did a major shake-up of the entire Corse department, bringing in outside people and axing Filippo Preziosi from his position as project manager, and in the first official test of the 2013 season at Sepang, the Ducati’s were in the same place as before, massively behind the rest of the other prototypes – more than two seconds adrift - but this was to be expected as Nicky Hayden, Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, and MotoGP rookie Andrea Iannone had at their disposal the 2012 version and not a new one.
Despite calls to be patient and that 2013 will be a transition year, hardcore fans are fed up with the situation and one in particular, a certain Alex Garcia has launched an online petition on Change.org, asking Ducati to do something about their MotoGP program or cut their losses and get out of the championship.
Here’s the message that accompanies the petition that is made out to:
Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A, Ducati Corse & VAG group Race real Ducatis or leave the Moto GP Championship. "We ask the responsible members of our beloved brand to stop the shame and irritation of its fans. We understand Ducati is a wining and innovative brand, that has conquered an outstanding position in the history of motorcycling racing by a mix of loyalty to its traditions, and continuous innovation. The route Ducati has chosen 3 years ago to go into the mainstream and abandon its differentiation, has not only resulted dramatic for the sportive results and the brands image, but it has also brought great embarrassment and sorrow to its loyal customers and fans. We beg Ducati to either make a 360 degree turn going back to the carbon or tubular frame, or to quit competing Moto GP and concentrating in the WSBK championship. Forza Ducati!!!"
MotoGP racing may be an embarrassment for Ducati fans, but the Italian company has posted rising sales in the past three years – especially in the North American market, and their flagship superbike the 1199 Panigale is every sports biker’s wet dream.