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GP Week : Issue 150
Audi’s purchase of Ducati Motor Holdings was finally confirmed last week, with the VW group member rumoured to have paid “about 860 million Euros” for the jewel in the Italian motorcycle industry ’s crown. Audi already owns Lamborghini, overseeing a new less finicky generation of the Italian Ferrari rival; and premier auto design company Italdesign. Ducati is a third Italian venture, but the company’s first on two wheels. Reuters reported the rumoured price, and quoted some experts as surprised at the purchase of this relative minnow, producing 40,000 motorcycles a year to Honda’s 16-million. One described Ducati as “just a trophy in the wall cabinet.” But Ducati has, among other things, world-leading desmodromic valve technology, and Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler announced: “As a sporty, global premium brand, Ducati is an excellent fit for Audi.” The statement continued: “The progressive control systems and special combustion chamber process of Ducati engines, their resulting sporty character, and Ducati's extensive know-how in lightweight construction thus offer great potential for Audi AG and the Volkswagen Group.” There will be no immediate change to the company’s racing programmes in MotoGP or World Superbikes, but racing insiders are speculating about the future for MotoGP, especially if the Rossi-Ducati partnership continues as an embarrassment. The VW Group has steered clear of F1 while embracing other racing disciplines with closer production links, and if the same policy is applied to Ducati this would turn the tables towards Superbikes, where the marque has been pre-eminent and sometimes dominant since the series inception in 1988. On the other hand, greater investment and new-broom engineering could see a radical upgrade to the MotoGP programme. The acquisition is subject to anti-trust clearance, but no delays are expected. NEW DUKES AT AUDI BUY DUCATI Will MotoGP programme suffer? Lower fuel consumption Increased power output Less engine wear Improved cold-start ability Audi does have a distant motorcycle connection, from the NSU part of its complex history. NSU’s 125 Rennfox and 250 Rennmax were world-beaters in the 1950s. But another inherited connection might leave a sour taste: the MotoGP team is part-sponsored (and transported) by Mercedes Benz specialists AMG. 12 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS