Ducati won’t use team orders to salvage crumbling MotoGP title bid

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti says the marque “won’t give team orders” to any of its riders in order to save its 2022 MotoGP title bid.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

At the halfway point of the season, the highest-placed Ducati rider in the standings is third-placed Johann Zarco, who is 58 points adrift of championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

The marque’s leading factory team rider Francesco Bagnaia cut his deficit down from 91 with victory before the summer break at the Dutch Grand Prix, but still remains 66 behind Quartararo in fourth having registered four DNFs in the first 11 races.

With just nine races remaining in 2022 when action resumes at the start of August with the British GP, Ducati’s options to reignite its fading title hopes are dwindling.

Even with this, and its roster of eight riders on the grid, Ducati insists it will not enact team orders at this stage out of a principle dislike for them.

“Ok, first of all I must say that obviously at the moment there are still races to go,” Ciabatti said during the Assen weekend last month.

“In principle, with a few exceptions in the past, we don’t like team orders.

“Obviously, if it’s the last race and one rider has no chance to win and the other rider has the chance to win, you might think about a strategy.

“But this is an exceptional case. Now, we’re not in that situation.

“We won’t give team orders, the only indication we give to our riders is to avoid making extreme moves on each other.

“We still remember the experience of [Andrea] Dovizioso and [Andrea] Iannone in Argentina many years ago [when the pair collided on the final lap while running in podium places], and we would like to avoid a similar situation.

“But this is the only thing we tell our riders, [which] is to respect the riders in the same brand a little bit more, do not try extreme manoeuvres if possible.

“But for the rest, they are free to do what they want and if they can win a race, they should win a race.”

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team, Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team, Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team

Photo by: Ducati Corse

Ducati has used team orders in the past, most notably in 2017 when it issued a ‘mapping 8’ message to Jorge Lorenzo at the Malaysian and Valencia GPs, which was his signal to move out of Dovizioso’s way in a bit to help the Italian win the championship.

Lorenzo ignored the latter order in the Valencia finale, as he felt the position wouldn’t have made a difference to Dovizioso’s own hopes.

Last week, Ducati rider Bagnaia admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol when he crashed a road car on his way back from a party in Ibiza.

Issuing an apology, Bagnaia was found to have been three times over the legal alcohol limit and, under Spanish law, could now face a ban on his road license.

Ducati has not publicly commented on the incident.

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