Ducati explains decision to replace Melandri with Bautista

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Ducati explains decision to replace Melandri with Bautista
By: Lewis Duncan , Journalist
Aug 29, 2018, 3:31 PM

Ducati MotoGP boss Paolo Ciabatti has explained the Italian marque's reasoning for replacing Marco Melandri with Alvaro Bautista in its factory World Superbike line-up.

Melandri's WSBK future had been in doubt for some time, with it thought an exit from Ducati was likely and a move to a possible GRT Yamaha outfit rumoured.

With Ducati confirming the signing of Nieto MotoGP rider Bautista last Thursday alongside Chaz Davies – who agreed a new two-year deal – Melandri's exit was confirmed.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Ciabatti says replacing Melandri with Bautista was based on the latter “probably” being more consistent with results, but stressed it was “not an easy decision” as Melandri has been “great” with Ducati.

“Obviously when you make a decision there are always pros and cons, and some people might agree, some people might disagree,” Ciabatti said.

“I think we made a choice, took a decision based on what we see as a very competitive team for next year, and by saying that I don't mean Marco is not competitive because he can be very fast.

“But we decided that probably with Alvaro we could achieve more continuity throughout the season, and it's always sad because Marco has been great with us, always behaving in a very professional way.

“He started the 2018 season in a perfect way, and he got great results. So, as I said, not and easy decision and time will tell [if it was correct].”

Ciabatti admitted he would “love” to see Melandri remain in the Ducati fold in WSBK, but does not see “any opportunities” to place him somewhere where he can be paid respectably.

Melandri currently sits fifth in the WSBK standings, 177 points from series leader Jonathan Rea, and enjoyed a double victory at the opening round of the year in Australia.

Marco Melandri, Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team

Marco Melandri, Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

Bautista: Ducati trusts me to deliver title

Next year Ducati will replace its current twin-cylinder 1199cc Panigale with its first 1000cc V4 Panigale, which Bautista is expected to test for the first time at Jerez in late November.

Bautista says Ducati “trust” him to win the WSBK title, and his experience with the Italian marque – whom he has ridden for at the Angel Nieto team [formerly Aspar] since 2017 – makes him confident it can deliver him the bike to do so.

“I work with Ducati in MotoGP and I know what they are capable of,” he told Spanish media at Silverstone.

“I know they want to fight for the championship. The Panigale V4 is an improvement on the V2 and its objective is to unseat the current champion.

“They trust me, they have told me that they are going to give the most to try to fight for the championship; when they tell give you a works bike to fight for the title, there no more motivation than that.”

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

Alvaro Bautista, Angel Nieto Team

Alvaro Bautista, Angel Nieto Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

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About this article

Series World Superbike
Drivers Marco Melandri , Alvaro Bautista
Teams Ducati Team Shop Now
Author Lewis Duncan
Article type Interview