Livio Suppo On Stoner, Hayden, The GP9 And The Untouchables

Ever since Casey Stoner decided to pull out of three MotoGP races due to ill health, a tsunami of speculation concerning the state of the Ducati squad has washed over the internet and the written press, with millions of fans and journalists venturing opinions on the subject, while only a few actually had any facts to base those opinions on. None of the protagonists have been particularly easy to reach, nor very forthcoming about the situation.

At Indianapolis, that changed, at least a little. Though we have heard virtually nothing from Casey Stoner, and only brief quotes from the Ducati organization so far, at Indy, Dean Adams of Superbikeplanet sat down with Ducati team boss Livio Suppo for an extended interview. The interview covered many subjects, from the obvious - such as the current state of Casey Stoner's health - to the philosophical - such as the question of whether switching to an 800cc formula made MotoGP more expensive, and raised some interesting points.

Two points were of particular interest, though. The first was the question of why the Ducati is perceived to be such a difficult bike to ride. Suppo denied that a problem existed, pointing out that since Barcelona, the gap between Nicky Hayden's pace on the GP9 and Casey Stoner's was broadly comparable to the gap between Valentino Rossi's and Colin Edwards on the dominate Yamaha M1. Suppo believes that the problem - if you can call it that - is just down to the difference between the four top riders (Rossi, Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa) and the rest of the field. "So in the last seasons, if you don't have one of these top four guys, you don't win races," Suppo told Superbikeplanet.

The Ducati boss also had an interesting take on the financial problems which MotoGP faces. Instead of worrying about cost-cutting, MotoGP should be concentrating on maximizing income, Suppo said. The focus in the Grand Prix Commission was on technical challenges, not financial ones. "We speak about technical issue always, but there's no one commission that's tried to understand how to help each other and try to find more money," Suppo said. Whereas what was needed was a way to generate more income: "It seems to me that in this world, nobody's really focused on how to increase the revenues," Suppo told Superbikeplanet.

There was much, much more in the interview, and Suppo touched on a whole range of subjects. For anyone wanting to understand Ducati's position, and their way of thinking, they really need to go over and read the entire interview.

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wow,, is he vague or what. No problem with the Duc? Bautista & Lorenzo turned down some big coin to ride it. Pasini was offered a free ride into motogp, took one ride and couldn't run fast enough away. "Difference in riders" ,, please! It temporarily de-railed the careers of Melandri & Elias. Suppo is in total denial.

oh, there is a 2% chance of rain at Misano,, get the rain tires mounted! :)

Livio Suppo hasn't been the nicest guy with the riders in the MotoGP, and I think Ducati should think about the way he handles things.

What about Casey getting sick and he goes running to Jorge to throw a pile of money, how do you think that affects Nicky, which besides being a hard worker rider, means a lot to Ducati in the american market.

And then, he runs to chase Dani Pedrosa, which I don't think it was a good manouver.

Personally, I would have done efforts to sign Ben Spies, put him for a year in the Pramac team, and then put him in the official team a year later.

Livio Suppo doesn't match the definition of "Ducati Family" that he praises so much.

Guys I have a genuine question to which I have no real knowledge about and could do with being educated on...

In a MotoGP team, who exactly decides which riders a team should have or not have? Whether they be kept or fired? Who they should chase for a ride and how much to offer / pay? How much of this decision making would involve Suppo? Or Davide Brivio at Yamaha or Paul Denning at Suzuki etc... am genuinely interested.

Ducati have come across to me as a very ruthless team in MotoGP, most recently Capirosi. After 2006 he was declared "Ducati Spokesman for Life" or something (anyone remember? I know there was quite a lot of press about it at the end of 2006). At the end of 2007 when Casey dominated everyone, Loris was dropped like a stone. I was shocked at the time and so were a lot of people...

In 2007 Capirossi was Ducati's no. #1 rider. Stoner was the new kid and not paid close to what Loris was making. Your #1 rider can only podium in the rain and your no. #2 rider is world champ. At the time I thought Capirossi should go. I don't think Ducati is any more ruthless than other teams. There is big money involved.

Loris was definitely outperformed by a better rider during the 2007 season, but to be fair he won a race in the rain and he scored several podiums in the dry. I can think of two dry podiums off the top of my head, Germany and PI.


Hayden won the WC in 2006 with Repsol Honda. Although many would argue it wasn't won in normal circumstances, it was still a world championship and, in my opinion, good for Nicky, he did better than people give him credit for! Pedrosa came 5th.

In 2007 (first year of the 800cc bikes) it was obvious to everyone the concentration and focus was on Dani Pedrosa. Hayden stayed and had a bad year. Pedrosa finished 3rd and Hayden finished 9th, but Repsol gave him another year. Ducati wouldn't have done that, don't you think? That's what makes them different no?

I'm no Ducati fan but didn't they just do exactly that, I understand Nicky's difficult time with the GP9, he's down in 10 or 12th in the points for the year and just got another year to tame the beast.

Machines don't win races, teams of good people do and I hope all the flack Mr. Hayden catches for his 09 performance is a motivator for next year. Suppo is just the typical corporate mouth piece, every company has them.

I think that for any factory team one of their main goals is to acquire the best riders, regardless of what secondary riders they have. The best riders are (in no particular order) Rossi, Lorenzo, Stoner and Pedrosa. Any time that these riders are not locked into a contract for the next season, ALL the factories all make bids for their services, it would be stupid not to. It shouldn't pain Nicky too much that the factories are all looking out for their best interests.

In regards to the 2007 season, remember that Pedrosa actually finished 2nd in the Championship and Rossi finished 3rd. As for the 2008 season, it's important to note that Hayden placed 5th...behind MotoGP rookie Andrea Dovisio on a satellite Honda.

In the entire article Suppo goes on to say the 800s have been a mistake (God bless him), but more interesting he says they should have put air restrictors on the 990s instead of cutting fuel and dropping displacement. I can't remember, but I don't think there was much discussion about such a simple solution; not even on here. How did we overlook such a seemingly simple solution to the problems in the 990 era?!