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GP Week : Issue 175
DUCATI DESIGNER PREZIOSI PAYS THE PRICE WINNING FROM THE BACK Somebody's head had to roll at Ducati. The conclusion is inescapable. Two years of high-profile disappointment with the one-time greatest rider in the world (and possibly still the greatest tester) saw a stain on the company's reputation growing and hopes fading. Then Audi took over. And Rossi resigned, in spite of that company's best efforts to persuade him to stay. News broke at Valencia, in advance of any official announcement, that the first sacrificial victim was the head of Ducati Corse (the racing company) and the chief design guru of the Desmosedici GP bike. Filippo Prezioso, once the hero who built the bike that Casey Stoner took to a dominant championship in 2007, is to be replaced. It's sad: the wheelchair-bound engineer has to pay the price – he is a respected and charismatic figure with a good past record. But not surprising. He has been the man responsible throughout. And the past record has been thoroughly effaced by Rossi's fruitless endeavours. It's not surprising for another reason: replacing senior staff at companies they take over is an established principal for the VAG group. Usually it is done later than this, but generally within the first 12 months of ownership. Which poses a question that will be worrying many heads in the corridors of power at Borgo Panigale, as well as at the race team. Both top guys – CEO Gabriele del Torchio and general manager Claudio Domenicali - were kept on after the initial take-over; but the CEO of Audi, Rupert Stadler, took the position of president of the board. Who will be the next to go? It is not often that a rider starts right at the back and comes through to win. It happened twice at Valencia. Funnily enough, the two riders to do so will be team- mates next year – Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez. The latter had an amazing last race in Moto2. On the back of the grid as punishment for knocking Simone Corsi down in free practice, he passed 22 riders on the first lap alone. Now among the fast guys he had to fight hard. Which is how helikesit.Onlap20hemadeitto second, and gradually pegged down the long-time leader Julian Simon to take a classic win. It's not the first time he's done it in his career, or even this season. On a 125 he crashed on the sighting lap of a restarted 11-lap sprint at Estoril. His bike was patched up in time for him to make the back of the grid. He won. This year he was at the front of the grid at Motegi, but failed to select first gear. By the time he got going he was last. Again, he won. Historians were puzzling over who else had ever done that. Nobody could come up with any names, at least from the modern era. Even while they were poring over the records - blow me down, it happened again. In some ways, Dani's MotoGP win was even more impressive. Marquez is the stand-out Moto2 talent; Dani merely one of the top three or four in the premier class. And he wasn't just on the back row. He started from pit lane. Asked after wards what he'd thought of Marquez's ride, he raised a laugh: "I saw what he did and I thought it was a good idea. That's why I started from pit lane." It was a landmark ride. Maybe it's time to make it compulsory. Turn the grid around, and put the fastest riders at the back. That'd sort the men from the boys. 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> VALENCIA