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GP Week : Issue 192
In a move that contradicted strong rumours of past weeks and set tongues wagging in the Italian motorcycle industry, Ducati have successfully poached Aprilia’s senior race engineer Luigi ‘Gigi’ Dall’Igna (pictured), throwing the rival company ’s race programme into doubt while promising a potential revival of fortunes for the down-at-heel Desmosedici. The news broke on the eve of the Malaysian GP, barely a week after Dall’Igna has insisted that he had rejected all offers from Ducati to stay put with Aprilia. At the same time, Ducati announced the departure of the German engineer appointed to take over from original designer Filippo Preziosi after Audi’s takeover of the Italian firm last year. Bernhard Gobmeier had overseen a fruitless programme of evolutionary development, but emerges free from blame to take up “a prestigious and strategic position within the motorsport organisation of the Volkswagen Group,” according to a Ducati statement. The recruitment of Dall’Igna follows promises of a complete redesign of the Desmosedici for next year, with this year’s unsuccessful factory bike to be used by satellite teams next season. It brings hope to current rider Andrea Dovizioso personnel changes to try and break the technical deadlock at Ducati. “I am happy abo said: “It could be a good move for Ducati. He obviously does a good job because that (Aprilia) Superbike is as good as a MotoGP bike.” Bearded Dall’Igna has headed Aprilia’s highly successful Superbike programme in recent years as well as being the brains behind the Aprilia ART, by far the most successful machine in the CRT category. Before that he headed Aprilia’s domination of the 250 class and serial success in 125s. The official reason for his change of heart in joining Ducati, having refused earlier blandishments, was down to “strategic differences” with Aprilia. Sources close to the factory suggest that Aprilia are proposing major budget cuts to the racing department, which would have scotched Dall’Igna’s plans for an upgraded ART for next year, close to the factory bikes, with pneumatic valve springs and a seamless shift gearbox. The future of this machine is now in serious doubt. MOTOGP >>> nEWs HAYDEN BAMBOOZLED BY APRILIA DEFECTION US former champion could return to Honda after all All-change at Aprilia has left the plans of Nicky Hayden and his proposed Aspar MotoGP team in tatters, with time rapidly running out to pick up the pieces. Hayden had visited engineer Gigi Dall’Igna at the factory prior to the Italian GP, and had also formed close links with the Jorge Martinez-owned Aspar team, the top independent team, with entries in all three classes. At the same time, Aspar had been having exploratory talks with Honda concerning next year’s production racer, but was committed to continuing a well-established relationship with Aprilia, for whom they acted in an unofficial factory development role. Although insisting that “I haven’t signed anything yet,” the American 2006 World Champion said: “I was very close to a deal, so I was very shocked to see Gigi leave. I need to understand what Aprilia is going to do without Gigi. He has achieved a lot, and that is why the Aprilia option was looking so good.” The most attractive plan B for both team and rider is Honda, but with the official order book already closed, HRC have put a tight deadline on any possible late order from the spanish team. In support of the plan is the possibility of backing from Honda America, whose earlier attempts to find sponsorship budget fell short when Hayden was linked with the LCR team. Aspar might require less money. Hayden admitted that “the Honda thing came back up, but there is a lot to sort out, like bike price and sponsors. “Ducati aren’t doing me any favours,” he added wryly. “Not only have they sacked me, they’ve taken the guy who was going to be my new engineer,” he said. DuCATI sNATCHEs ApRIlIA guRu Audi nominee outed in Bologne reshuffle 14 GPWEEK.com // 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: