Ducati: We have lost nothing by replacing Dovizioso with Miller

Jack Miller

Ducati’s 2021 MotoGP line-up of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia has “no shortcomings” compared to those which featured Andrea Dovizioso, according to sporting director Paolo Ciabatti.

The Ducati Lenovo Team is all-change this year with Miller and Bagnaia called up from Pramac Racing after the factory team fielded Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci in 2019 and 2020.

While Petrucci’s fate was sealed before the belated start to the most recent season, talks with the latter dragged out until his management pulled the pin during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend in mid-August.

Money was thought to be a factor in the breakdown in negotiations but so too was friction with Ducati Corse’s general manager, Gigi Dall’Igna, and Dovizioso would later claim that their relationship had deteriorated to “zero”.

Regardless, the split represents the departure of a rider with 14 race wins for the Bologna factory, a tally second only to 2007 world champion Casey Stoner’s.

Miller, on the other hand, still only has the 2016 Dutch TT victory to his name, aboard a Marc VDS Honda, and Bagnaia has just one podium finish.

The former has, however, been spoken about as one of the title favourites for 2021, even before he set the pace in pre-season testing.

As Ciabatti noted, the Australian is already quite experienced with Ducati, having ridden for Pramac for three years.

“Obviously Andrea was very important for Ducati,” conceded Ciabatti in comments reported by Italian outlet GPOne.com.

“He won 14 races with us; after Casey Stoner he is the most successful rider with our bike.

“From this point of view, he made a very important contribution, but it is also true that Miller is in his fourth season on the Ducati and knows the working method very well, like Pecco, in his third season with us.

“I believe that there will be no shortcomings or contraindications compared to the past.”

While it was Dovizioso and Petrucci who scored Ducati’s only two race wins last year, Johann Zarco bagged its only pole, on a year-old Desmosedici run out of Avintia Racing.

Miller’s and Bagnaia’s promotions made room for Zarco to also be brought up the Bologna manufacturer’s hierarchy into Pramac, and onto a latest-spec GP21.

Ciabatti borrowed from football parlance to describe the potential from the aforementioned trio, referring to them as his “three strikers,” while also noting the seriousness which his Australian pilot has shown as a factory rider.

“I am convinced that Miller, Bagnaia, and Zarco have the possibility to do very well,” he stated.

“They have shown in the tests that they are very comfortable with the 2021 Desmosedici. I think we will be able to count on three strikers to score good results.

“Jack continues to be the playful and funny guy that we know and he brings joy to the garage, but he has taken the responsibility of being a factory rider very seriously and is very motivated.

“Pecco has a different character; he is more reflective but he has acquired a lot of self-confidence and knows he has what it takes to do well.

“For Johann, the fact of moving to the Pramac team with a bike identical to that of the two factory riders gave him further motivation.

“He is one of the strongest riders in MotoGP, as he showed in Yamaha, and he is mature.”

Moto2 and Moto3 is in action this weekend at Losail for official pre-season testing before the Qatar Grand Prix at the same circuit on March 26-28.

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