News 25 Oct 2023

Ducati formally confirms entry into dirt bike market

To shape motocross program from 2024 led by Tony Cairoli.

Image: Supplied.

Italian manufacturer Ducati has formally moved to confirm its entry into the dirt bike market, beginning in 2024 with Tony Cairoli leading motocross development, with intentions clear to introduce a world-class racing program and to release a full off-road product line.

Current world champions in both MotoGP and WorldSBK, Ducati’s arrival in dirt bike competition will begin with Alessandro Lupino – also contracted as a test rider – in the Italian Motocross Championship onboard prototype equipment that has already been two years in development.

Ducati has teamed up in a multi-year agreement with Maddii Racing, which has operated Fantic’s official program in recent years, and will be the base of Ducati’s factory motocross operations upon its entry into the sport. It’s expected that MXGP and AMA Supercross are together high on the priority of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer.

“I am proud to announce Ducati’s entry into motocross,” stated Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali. “A totally new world for Ducati in which we want to bring our talent in designing lightweight motorcycles, with excellent components and high performance and – above all – which can excite more and more motorcyclists.

“Just as we believe that the track is the best laboratory to develop and test the bikes that will then be available to customers and enthusiasts.

“This is why we have decided to cooperate with an undisputed champion like Tony Cairoli who, together with the passion and dedication of many of us here in Borgo Panigale, will contribute to making Ducati in off-road as capable in offering very high-performance products to its passionate customers as we have proven on the asphalt.

“The project is possible thanks to the company’s excellent results in recent years and confirms our desire to extend our presence into new worlds, speak to new motorcyclists and therefore grow the Ducati community.”

For nine-time world champion Cairoli, the 38-year-old Italian joins Ducati following a decorated career as one of MXGP’s greatest-ever competitors, and directly after it was confirmed that he has separated from KTM following a single term managing the factory grand prix team.

“I am extremely happy to become part of the universe of Ducati, which has always been a symbol of Italian spirit throughout the world, and to begin this exciting new adventure, in an all-Italian project,” Cairoli said. “Being able to make my contribution to the development of the Borgo Panigale motocross bike is a dream come true and a source of great pride for me.”

Technically, Ducati has confirmed that its dirt bike range will use a Desmodromic system, which is used on all the sportsbikes of the Bologna-based company, including MotoGP. While not announced, it’s understood that Ducati will begin with a 450 class model, before adding a 250 four-stroke following that.