Top level execs rarely know much about the realities of racing. Some of those that see value in going racing seem to believe that bad times can turn into good times
--and a championship--overnight. Oftentimes they have not designed bikes, worked with riders or collaborated with members of the press. They seldom seem to know the real value of racing on company morale or on future model development. Their expertise is in managing an entire company, not trying to find a way to shave two ounces off an engine case.
When Ducati made Claudio Domenicali CEO yesterday it was a major victory for every person who ever worked for a team on a racetrack. Domenicali, although he has not worked intimately in racing in some time, has the racetrack in his blood. It will always be his first love.
Domenicali oversaw Ducati's race department for many years. He was one of the people who formed Ducati Corse in the late 1990s, and helped designer Filippo Preziosi retain his job as an engineer at Ducati after he was paralyzed. Ducati, as a racing entity in the modern era, has Domenicali's fingerprints all over it.
Claudio still says that one of the motorcycles he keeps in his heart is the famed Ducati Supermono. With full rights--after all, he, designer Pierre Terblanche and Massimo Bordi designed and built the Supermono. He's done a lot of other things at Ducati as well: negotiated with Carl Fogarty, was one of the few who saw Bayliss to be Fogarty's replacement and oversaw some of the most popular models in Ducati's history.
Nicky Hayden knows Domenicali and sees him being made CEO as a positive change.
"It is nice to have somebody in charge who knows racing and likes it," said Hayden last night. "Somebody who doesn't think (racing) is a silly expense, or don't understand why they're spending all that money on testing. He knows that the testing that we're doing does help the company, does make for better streetbikes."
"I don't know how much change this will have on racing," Hayden said of Domenicali's promotion. "but it's definitely not a bad thing."
"Anybody who has talked to Claudio knows that he's a pretty smart guy. No doubt he knows a lot about racing, but not just about racing; definitely a very sharp guy."