When Ducati announced its new 2021 factory line-up, signing first Jack Miller and then Francesco Bagnaia, the choice perhaps seemed a little confusing, as did the Andrea Dovizioso split. And yet in the first four races, the riders have already scored great results.
The Italian is already leader
Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Bagnaia who, in 2020, had put in some interesting performances, yes, but then finished the year on a low. He finished just one of the last five races, and concluded the Valencia race outside of the top 10. And yet the Italian who showed up in Qatar appeared more sure of himself, more mature and perfectly capable of taming his Ducati Desmosedici GP. The results speak for themselves, third in Qatar, sixth in the second Qatar race following an error and then two second-place finishes at Portimão and Jerez, plus leadership of the championship. After just four races. Something extraordinary that tells us he has everything he needs to fight for the title.
Great rider management
Miller’s season start was more complicated, also due to compartmental syndrome in his right arm, which conditioned his performance in Qatar. He followed this with a zero at Portimão and then a fantastic win at Jerez. At a tough track for the Ducati, and after Fabio Quartararo suffered a physical problem, but the Australian did it. Back on the top step of the rostrum for the first time in nearly five years (his last win dated back to 2016, with Honda) following a victory that brought a special something. It tells of a renewed Miller, one who is finally aware of his talent and abilities, but it also tells of solid rider management on the part of Ducati, the team able to reassure him, make him feel at home, and support him so that he was able to ‘rediscover’ himself.
The future looks bright
And so it is that the Andrea Dovizioso-Danilo Petrucci pairing is just a distant memory. Despite the criticism it has received, the Borgo Panigale manufacturer is proving that it made the right decision and even the atmosphere in the garage seems healthier and more relaxed. Whether or not Miller or Bagnaia are able to bring the title home for Ducati, after a 14 year absence, only time will tell, but what is clear is that they’ve definitely started out on the right path.
Translated by Heather Watson