One of the last pieces of the 2009 MotoGP puzzle has just fallen into place. The satellite Ducati team have just announced that Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa will be competing for the team next year.
The move is no real surprise, as rumors had been around that Kallio and Canepa would be joining the team for over a month. And it also underlines the role Ducati sees for the satellite team run by Paolo Campinoti. The Pramac team is very much the Ducati junior team, a place where up and coming riders can be groomed and tested.
Both Kallio and Canepa are interesting prospects. Kallio was twice runner up in the 125cc championship, his chances of a title in 2005 controversially ruined when he was beaten over the line by his team mate Gabor Talmasci in Qatar. Now in his 2nd season in the 250 series, he has looked like a title contender ever since moving up. The Fin is a promising talent.
His team mate is another interesting prospect. Niccolo Canepa was the 2007 FIM Superstock champion, aboard the brand new Ducati 1098. He so impressed Ducati's technicians that the Italian was hired to work as their main test rider for 2008, helping to develop both Ducati's GP8 and GP9 Desmosedici MotoGP bikes, as well as the 1098R which carried Troy Bayliss to his 3rd World Superbike title. Canepa's times at Mugello have been very impressive, the only man on a Ducati capable of getting within shouting distance of Casey Stoner's times there.
Another item of note in the press release is that the team, currently racing under the Alice Ducati name, refers to itself only as Pramac Racing. There has been talk that Alice, the Italian-based telecom provider, could reduce its sponsorship of Ducati's race program, and this press release would seem to confirm that suspicion. The financial crisis has bitten deeply in all aspects of life this fall, and now it's starting to sink its teeth into motorcycle racing. Let's hope it loses its appetite soon.