Coming tantalising close to winning the 2017 MotoGP championship, Ducati presented its 2018 Ducati Desmosedici GP race machines at its Borgo Panigale factory. Despite an awesome effort by Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who eclipsed his team mate Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo with 261 championship points to 137, Ducati is making an evolution, rather than a revolution, in the GP bike’s design.

Now clad in a red and grey livery, the Desmosedici GP is said to bear a close relationship with Ducati’s top-of-the-line superbike, the recently launched Panigale V4. Gone are the aerodynamic winglets from the previous two seasons, on grounds of safety, and the wings on the Desmosedici GP are now faired into the bodywork.

“Last year was a superb and very successful one, and we also learnt a lot of things on which we can continue to work this year,” said #4 rider Dovizioso, who finished with six wins last year. “Our bike still had certain characteristics that made life difficult on several tracks and for 2018, we have focussed on improving these aspects because we must always be in a position to fight for the podium, at every circuit,” he said.

Meanwhile, three-time world champion Lorenzo, who rides the #99 Desmosedici GP, failed to impress in 2017, managing only two third places and one second place finish. “2017 was quite a difficult year for me, because I didn’t even win one race and at the start of the championship I wasn’t able to fight for the podium,” said Lorenzo. “I’d like to repay the passion and the support we receive from Ducatisti all over the world with lots of wins and, if possible, with the world title,” he continued.

Going into the 2018 MotoGP race season, winter testing is being held at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on January 28 to 30. Season proper begins with the Grand Prix of Qatar on March 8, and the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix will be held on October 28.