The 2016 World Ducati Week broke records, with the inclusion of the Scrambler and Diavel crowds. Words & Photographs: Jeffrey Zani
Luca from Florence, Italy, walks with the red seat cowl off his Ducati 916 in his arms, the ink of a marker is still fresh – #27 Casey Stoner’s signature. Mario from Milan, Italy, wears a yellow safety jacket with sentences written all over it. One of them says, “With my heart from the Ducati Owner’s Club Reggio Calabria, Natalie.”
This and more, is Word Ducati Week 2016, the ninth edition of an event that celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Borgo Panigale company, an event that gathers Ducatisti from all around the world from July 1st to 3rd at the Misano World Circuit, in Italy.
There are people hunting for their heroes in search of an autograph, folks that meet like-minded riders and want to keep a sign of their friendship on their clothes or gear for remembrance and couples that made journeys of thousands of kilometers in order to be here and have a glimpse of summer in the Italian Riviera.
“We consider our clients as fans of our brand, like a big family,” says Ducati’s CEO Claudio Domenicali during the press conference he held on Day Two of the WDW. “It’s not by chance that we organize this event in a circuit,” he explains, “That shows the tight relationship we have with Racing.”
But World Ducati Week 2016 is, as the title of the event puts it, more than red. “We added the yellow of the Scrambler, which sold 26,000 units in 18 months, and the elegant black of the Diavel,” expands Claudio.
That means that the track-oriented part of this reunion, with its core still in love with speed, is now surrounded by a hipster mood and a sophisticated verve. And it has worked in Ducati’s favour Domenicali reveals, “The ticket pre-sale showed a 50 per cent increase compared to the previous edition – that’s a good sign indeed.”
By the end of the event the record of 65,000 attendees of the previous WDW would be broken, with most of the tickets sold to Ducati owners, who represented the majority of the World Ducati Week 2016 attendants.
“I never miss WDW,” says Luisa, known as Lady Ducati, while she shows the X-ray of a skull on which she is collecting the autographs of her grand prix heroes, “Stoner, Iannone, Dovizioso, Hernandez and more. Ducati is in my head, that’s what this represents.”
While Luisa talks, the roar of three Desmosedici GP attracts the attention of the paddock. People put their smartphones on record, the concert has just began – the team is heating up the V-fours of factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, plus Casey Stoner’s test bike.
That’s something special about WDW, the contact with the motorcycles, with almost no filters, just a few meters between the fans and the fastest prototypes of the top class bikes (354.9km/h at Mugello this year).
The same can be said about the riders – Stoner, Dovizioso and Iannone may need somebody to control the crowd during the autograph sessions, but Superbike legend Giancarlo Falappa, remembered for his reckless style and bravery, and Spaniard Carlos Checa, Ducati MotoGP rider in 2005, hang out freely and kindly take photos with the fans.
“If I wasn’t so famous I would like to walk around and enjoy the event,” says Stoner during Saturday’s press conference, “It is incredible, bikes just keep coming in. My last WDW was in 2010 but I was focused on the racing season and didn’t have too much time to enjoy it. Now it’s different.”
Australians seem to have a special relationship with Borgo Panigale, made of wins and glory. Despite the past and hot rivalry with the local hero Valentino Rossi, the double MotoGP champion is treated like a king by the staff and the fans, as is three-times SBK World Champion Troy Bayliss, who is still remembered for his epic move in Monza in 2000, when he overtook four riders in one braking maneuver.
Troy Bayliss’s number 21 was one of the main riders who took part in Friday’s Scrambler Flat Track Race, losing first place in the final duel with Dovizioso on the 800cc twin. Third place was for Ducati Pramac’s rider Danilo Petrucci, who went too hot into a corner and missed his chances to be on the top step of the podium.
“The rear brake overheated and didn’t work,” said the Italian, “I went wide and then crashed.” He was one of the riders who could barely stand the over-30 degree heat and killer humidity of Misano. Between one race and the other he chilled in a garage pointing an air duster gun into his leather suit. “It’s way too hot,” he kept repeating, soaking wet in sweat.
It was his team mate, Scott Redding, who went to win Saturday’s drag race involving, among others, Stoner and Loris Capirossi, the first rider ever to win a MotoGP race with Ducati, back in 2003.
Idols could not only be seen among those who stand on a podium or on a big screen. In the red wave that invaded the circuit several Ducati owners deserved a gold medal themselves. Such is the case of the members of a group of four that came straight from Beijing to show the Chinese flag on their Multistradas, or a man in a wheelchair that showed up with a Monster sidecar that enabled him to ride.
WDW makes the crowd feel the real soul of the event, partially thanks to the impressive parade on Friday night that saw tens of thousands on the tarmac before moving to a party in a water park on the coast.
The following night Ducati had to slightly change its schedule because of the soccer game between Germany and Italy, last-16 of the Euro 2016 tournament. Despite Stoner’s post on Facebook, in which he wore the blue Italian shirt in front of the TV, the team lost a long and tight match that lasted from nine-pm to almost midnight.
People could comfort themselves though with the view of the 1299 Panigale S Anniversario (Italian for anniversary), a 205hp limited edition model with a paint job that closely recalls the MotoGP and SBK colors, presented for the first time in front of Ducati’s fans.
That wasn’t the only premiere that the Bologna company offered during the three days either. A preview of a new model, with the sophisticated name “Project 1321”, was in fact shown to the public in a special stand, photos banned. Any clue for the public? “The riding position is not extreme and the bike is not track-oriented,” Domenicali said, “It’s a motorcycle that also considers the passenger.”
If the characteristics of the new model were not unveiled, that cannot be said for the numbers of the 2016 WDW. 81,000 attendees, participants from 66 different countries including Australia, USA, Brazil, India, Malesia, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. The event took place on a 90,000 square meter area and the participants made about 10,000 laps of the circuit.
Need more? How about the idea of coming back next year, something that can be done by everybody but one, who next year will say good-bye to Ducati’s MotoGP factory team. “I’m sorry to leave,” said Iannone. “These kind of things happen only at Ducati. I will miss these emotions.”