- The MotoGP season is going down to the wire
- Andrea Dovizioso credits Luigi Dall'Igna for "evolution"
Last year the Italian marque celebrated its 90th anniversary, releasing a giant coffee table book -- Stile Ducati -- filled with sumptuously photographed bikes and telling the company's evocative story.
On the race track though, that story has its share of disappointing twists. Ducati's last MotoGP title came in 2007, via Casey Stoner. It has been a long and often frustrating drought.
This year however, things have changed. Andrea Dovizioso has chalked up six wins this season, with two other podium finishes. The 31-year-old Italian led the standings at points this season, and arrives in Valencia in second place, behind Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez, but still in with a chance of the title.
"When I led the table for the first time it was a period when we were going really well, so it was a well-deserved first place," Dovizioso tells CNN Sport. "It wasn't the start of the year, for example, and this makes you realize how competitive we have been."
The mild-mannered Dovizioso has seen teammates come and go in his five seasons with Ducati. He replaced the great Valentino Rossi, who endured two nightmarish seasons with the team, and no one since has ever managed to tame the bike.
A 'less brutal' bike
A year after Dovizioso joined, team principal and much feted Italian engineer Luigi Dall'Igna arrived. The transformation has been gradual but profound.
"Dall'Igna arrived and the evolution got underway. Bit by bit the bike was improved," Dovizioso says. "However, it always retained its Ducati characteristics, with strong and weak points."
In MotoGP, "Ducati characteristics" tends to be shorthand for incredibly fast, but incredibly hard to ride. Dall'Igna says this is changing: "I don't think our bike is as brutal as it was before," he told CNN.