Max Biaggi To Test Ben Spies' Ducati At Mugello, Pirro To Replace Spies At Barcelona

Max Biaggi is to make a surprise return to riding a MotoGP machine. The former 250 and World Superbike champion will take a seat on Ben Spies' Ignite Pramac Ducati as part of a one-day test at Mugello, as part of Ducati's testing program, according to Italian site

Spies was scheduled to stay on at Mugello to take part in a two-day test, but after the first day of practice at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, it was clear to both Spies and Ducati that his shoulder was still too weak to ride a MotoGP machine. With work continuing on the Desmosedici, it was important for Ducati to get as much data as possible on their bike, and so Biaggi was offered the chance to ride the machine.

The test, Ducati team boss Paolo Ciabatti told, is just an opportunity for Biaggi to enjoy himself, and to provide some feedback on the bike. Not much is expected of it, as Biaggi has not ridden a MotoGP machine since 2005, when an ill-tempered split with Honda saw him forced to leave the MotoGP paddock. Biaggi has never ridden a Bridgestone MotoGP tire which, though much improved, are still tricky to learn. And electronic controls have come on in leaps and bounds since then, though the electronics Biaggi used at the factory Aprilia team in World Superbikes last year were at a standard very close to MotoGP.

Biaggi will join factory riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso on track on Thursday, with the factory men due to stay on for another day after that. Up for testing will be the latest iteration of the lab bike, which features further improvements over the Desmosedici GP13, mainly in the area of chassis stiffness. When asked team coordinator Vitto Guareschi when the race version of the lab bike would make its debut at a race, Guareschi replied that no decision had been made yet. "When we know the new bike is ready, we will race it," he said. The lesson had been learned in the past two years, when Ducati had rushed to introduce too many new parts at race weekends without thoroughly testing them beforehand. "In the past, we introduced too many things, now we wait until it's ready," Guareschi explained.

Biaggi's test does not mean that he is a candidate to replace the injured Ben Spies in the upcoming races, Ciabatti told For the Barcelona race, Michele Pirro will step in for Spies once again, though this time, he will ride with the lab bike, rather than Spies' standard GP13. The engine of the lab bike has the same basic dimensions as the standard GP13, and so Pirro will be able to use the lab bike without disrupting Spies' engine allocation. Ducati had been hesitant to have Pirro race on the standard bike, as Pirro is such a crucial part of Ducati's testing plan, and their MotoGP project, Vitto Guareschi told on Sunday. They feared that the project could suffer severe delays if Pirro was injured in a crash.

Back to top


Although Biaggi has nothing to prove I expect him to be no more than a second off the factory boys. And I base that on... absolutely nothing, but in any case I'm curious to know how it will go.

I would love to see Max back in MotoGP.

He has unfinished business even though his new life as retired and family man will probably mean that its only fun and games.

Still great to see him back.

I find it very interesting how eight years have passed since Mr. Biaggi last twisted a throttle of a GP bike, and how the man was ridiculed, hated, and bashed off of the racing planet. Now...he's viewed with adoration and respect. Why? Is it because he won two WSBK titles? How has he redeemed himself in the eyes of racing fans? I, for one, happen to be a long time fan of Max as a racer, and I'm glad to see the guy doing well! I guess time does heal all wounds...

He mellowed out a lot in WSBK I believe, at least when he wasn't slapping Melandri around :-)

I got the lucky chance to meet him at the airport after the Miller round in 2011. He was very nice, not pretentious at all like I'd imagined.

I had the chance to meet him at a WSBK race in Miller as well. Intense, but very polite, well spoken.

Also met him outside of a racing environment while he was having some supermoto fun out at Grange kart track. Wicked fast, great sense of humor and just another guy out at the track who loves talking about motorcycles. Very much a fan after having met him in person.

Would it be fair to say the press may have a lot to answer for in regards to how he was portrayed?... Another victim of being the anti-rossi?

I hope some day soon Max releases an auto-bio of some sort. I think it would contain some fascinating stories from an amazing career.

Its nice (& important) to have both sides to every story.

I'm very interested to see how the test goes for Max. Coming at it with a fresh approach (having never ridden the bike, tyres etc), his feedback may be like Iannones, but coming from different ends of the experience ladder. I would be surprised, as big a fan as I am, if he was faster than Pirro, Dovi or Nicky.

I still laugh at the Melandri 'handbags' incident! Classic flyweight contest... He's lucky Marco's girlfriend didn't step in and hit him with her baseball cap.

I miss Max in WSBK, but he was smart enough to retire uninjured.

Biaggi is still an unsafe rider. He runs off the track and renters without regard for the safety of those that didnt mess up. He should have been sanctioned many times... seems like the test is only for the 'factory' boys (plus Biaggi). Wasn't it supposed to be four factory bikes not two factory and two satellite. All that being wondered, perhaps all four will be at the test?

That Ducati was too afraid to risk injury to Pirro but Spies was given the "all clear" to get back on and attempt to give it a go?
Yikes. I am sure i am over-thinking the way that statement was written.

Biaggi riding a Ducati is news on the level of a North Korea/South Korea unification or a marriage between a Hatfield and a McCoy. Google "Biaggi Ducati championship shirt 2010" if you don't remember ...

Stoner have been a far better choice?

Got to figure Casey would enjoy a one-off go without having to endure the politics. Safe to say his brutal uncensored input would be FAR more useful to actually advancing the bike than a silly joy-ride.

One really has to question Ducati's seriousness. This just seems like a futile attempt at getting a headline....

Was Ago too busy?

are probably not too happy about this, I suspect. Biaggi has a reputation for being 'undiplomatic' and a prima donna. I agree with above comments that he may very well be a nice bloke in normal social situations and I have previously changed my opinion (greatly more positive) of riders having met them.
He struck me as being quite sensitive to the 'respect' being shown to him in a Eurosport interview at Donington.(He was 'door-stepped' in the pit lane, so caught off-guard and unprepared). He does look much more relaxed though.
The key thing here seems to be that he has a lot of experience of the Aprilia and 'allegedly' led most of the RSV4 development. The fact that Ducati have invited him to test probably adds a lot of credence to that.
How he will cope with the Bridgestones and brakes after such a long time out of the series is a question, but we will know more soon.....
His 250 style is probably more relevant to modern MGP than some other riders and his discussions with Dovi should be interesting.
Somebody please bug the pit and hire a stenographer! (Perhaps Piaggio have...)

Probably we're reading way too much into this as far as Ducati seeking Max's input on the bike goes. He's riding the GP13, not the lab bike. I doubt that Ducati is still actively seeking input on that bike, Pirro's lab bike will be the one to advance development. More likely they're trying to see if he's a suitable replacement for Spies, if Spies has to sit out an extended number of races, which is more and more what it looks like. I can understand their trepidation of using Pirro as Ben's replacement - I can see the value of maintaining a known quantity with the test rider when you're developing a bike. Losing Pirro to injury, or even losing Pirro to several race weekends in a row, could set their timetable back considerably. So if Ben is going to be out a long/indeterminate length of time, which we know can happen with shoulder injuries, I'd expect to see Biaggi on the Pramac bike.

What if instead they are looking for a replacement for Pirro? I'd rather have Biaggi as a test rider and have Pirro run the championship...