Although it had been one of the worst-kept secrets in racing, Ducati finally made a formal announcement today that MotoGP project director Livio Suppo (above) was leaving the team. Rumors have been swirling for weeks in the scandal-mad Italian press that the long-time MotoGP manager was being forced out in order to pave the way for Valentino Rossi to ride for Ducati when his current Yamaha contract expires at the conclusion of 2010 (some were even wildly speculating that Rossi would renege on the final year of his Yamaha contract to make the switch, an idea that was quickly squashed by the nine-time World Champion). Whether that speculation will prove to be true obviously must wait, but Suppo didn't have to wait in the unemployment line; he has been quickly snapped up by rival manufacturer Honda as marketing director for HRC's MotoGP racing activities.
More surprising than Suppo's...
More surprising than Suppo's move was the unexpected news that Ducati WSBK team manager Davide Tardozzi (left) is also leaving.
Much more surprising, however, is the news that longtime World Superbike team manager Davide Tardozzi has quit as well. Although he has stated that his exit was for “motivational” reasons, many are speculating that Tardozzi’s additional role as agent/manager for Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio, as well as the somewhat surprising lack of team orders when Fabrizio was finishing ahead of Nori Haga and taking valuable world championship points away from his teammate in the last few races of the season, possibly caused friction with Ducati management. Whatever the reason, Tardozzi’s move was definitely unexpected, considering his long and successful (10 World Superbike Championships under his watch) career with the company.
Suppo is being replaced by Ducati Corse marketing manager Alessandro Cicognani, with test rider Vittoriano Guareschi assuming a new role as team manager to help assist the riders with his obvious wealth of knowledge on the Desmosedici MotoGP machine (he has been the primary test rider since the beginning of the project).