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Ducati satellite teams shift gears

Sponsorship pull-out may move Canepa to Onde 2000

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 06, 2009
The withdrawal of a major sponsor may force Ducatiís satellite MotoGP teams to shuffle their rider line-ups.

Spanish sports publication AS reports that Italian telecommunications company Alice is pulling its sponsorship of the Ducati-powered Pramac Racing team. With the loss of the sponsorship, Pramac Racing may be forced to run one rider for 2009. Pramac had planned to race a pair of young riders for 2009, Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa, but AS reports the team will only retain Kallio who finished third in the 250cc Grand Prix championship in 2008.

Niccolo Canepa may be switching teams, but will remain on a Ducati Desmosedici GP9.Canepa, a Ducati test rider that played an important role in the development of the 1098R and Desmosedici GP8, would not be left adrift however. AS reports the 20-year-old Italian will be transferred to Ducatiís other satellite squad, Onde 2000 to partner with the returning Sete Gibernau.

Such a move would keep five Ducati bikes on the MotoGP grid, with Kallio, Canepa and Gibernau joining factory team Ducati Marlboroís Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden. More importantly, it would not decrease the number of entrants in the premiere class. Kawasaki is expected to formally announce its withdrawal from MotoGP racing this week, decreasing the number of entrants to 17.

Keeping Canepa on a Ducati bike makes sense for the manufacturer. His youth and experience on a Desmosedici make him a rare commodity. As Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri have shown in recent seasons, few riders seem to be able to make the most of the machineís potential.

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