Ducati and the sponsor-owner Aruba.it had been repeating it over and over again: “We want to confirm both Marco Melandri’s and Chaz Davies’s contracts. These were the last famous words…but it was clear that something wasn’t right. As weeks went by, there were no clear decisions and no signatures. The news that Melandri’s contract would not have been renewed and that Alvaro Bautista would have taken his place is full of unintelligible passages. After the official announcement (these days?) it will be interesting to know the truth coming from the directly involved characters: Ducati, the sponsor, and the rider.
A LOW-COST HIRING – in the meanwhile, some interesting details are coming out: Melandri’s failed renewal is not a matter of money. To ride the Ducati V4 Marco accepted a low-cost employment: apparently, in the two years as the official Ducati’s rider he only cost 75.000 € (per season) against Chaz Davies’s 650.000, and he had probably been re-confirmed with something like 450.000€. Actually, Ducati pays the SBK Welsh rider more than the official MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci. The Italian rider gets around 300.000 per season. A leak says that Alvaro Bautista accepted a 0-paycheck just to keep riding, balanced out by (substantial) rewards according to ranking and points in the World Championship. But we’ll see, for now, only those directly involved know the truth.
THE TESTS – A couple of months ago both Melandri and Davies were asked about the missing renewals and they said that “first we want to try the V4 to see its real potential”. But the negotiations didn’t seem to proceed and no tests were organized. Eventually, Davies signed anyway because he was lacking any real alternative. Melandri wanted to, but Bautista came out as an alternative. The marketing strategy related to riders is just one of the many mysteries around Ducati’s 2019. Some persistent voices are saying that the V4’s development is going much slower than it should be and the test team that was working with Lorenzo Zanetti until last December has been nowhere to be seen for a long time. Are the test being kept extremely secret, or they just didn’t run any?
WHO CHOSE? – At the moment, it’s hard to know if the Spanish rider was chosen spontaneously by Ducati Corse or if it was a choice made because of Dorna’s pressure. In Spain, there is a near-0 attention on SBK in terms of audience, TVs and the media in general. It’s hard to believe that Bautista’s hiring will change everything all of a sudden. Clearly, a team made up of two foreigners, a Walsh and a Spanish rider, doesn’t play on Aruba.it side. And they are not just the sponsor but also the owners of the official Ducati’s team. “We will tell you more after the official announcement”, said an Aruba Racing. Spokesperson. It will be interesting to receive some explanations from the CEO Stefano Cecconi. In the meanwhile, Marco Melandri and Michael Rinaldi, his pupils, will be unemployed.