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2021 Ducati MotoGP recap: A stellar year for a data-driven racing team

Team Ducati
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James Whitemore
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When bikes average 100+ mph on the track, fractions of a second can mean the difference between first and second place—with data deciding the winner. Racing week after week, the life of a MotoGP circuit rider during the racing season can be a mesmerizing blur. The same goes for pit crews, engineers, sponsors, and everyone else who makes the magic of top-level racing possible. Staying on or near the front row and ahead of the competition takes fearless riding, exceptional engineering, deep crew talent, and plenty of ever-important data.

The power of data and the endless opportunity it brings to motorsports is why NetApp continues to sponsor the Ducati Lenovo Team. NetApp® data management solutions not only help the team keep its racing operations humming, but in 2021, they also underpinned Ducati Corse’s best year since 2007 in the MotoGP premier class. So, as we all throttle up to a new year, let’s take a moment to recap the team’s incredible 2021 racing season and check out what our partnership has in the works through the 2023 MotoGP season.

Seeing a LOT of red

If you thought you were seeing a lot of Ducati Lenovo Team red at the head of the pack and on the podium, you were right. In 18 Grand Prix starts, Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia and Jack Miller battled against the competition with their sights set on victory.

Pecco started six races from pole position and stood on the podium nine times, with four wins, three second places, and two third-place finishes. Miller secured five podiums, with two wins and three third-place finishes.

Ducati Lenovo Team 2021 highlights

Wins: 6

Podiums: 14

Poles: 6

Fastest laps: 4

Total points: 433

The Ducati Lenovo Team didn’t stop at winning a third of its races and being a regular on the podium; Ducati Corse also took top honors in its second-consecutive MotoGP Constructors’ World Title. The team members capped off a great season in style with first and third-place finishes at the Valencia MotoGP, where they secured the 2021 MotoGP Teams’ World Title.

Personally, being at the Valencia track with NetApp’s Cesar Cernuda and Denis Nalon to watch Pecco and Jack light up the track and clinch the world title was a dream come true for me. Celebrating the wins with Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’lgna and Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti was truly a special moment.

Finding an edge with data

In the time that NetApp has partnered with Ducati, the team has made some huge performance strides. Without a doubt, access to near-real-time data on rider and bike performance using a custom-built data fabric from NetApp, NetApp AFF A-Series systems, and NetApp ONTAP® data management software is paying dividends for the Ducati Lenovo Team. This is in addition to the many interesting projects we have collaborated on with Ducati engineers, such as motorcycle racing and aerodynamics simulations, proactive maintenance solutions, and a bike data feedback loop.

Keep on pushing: A winning partnership turns 5

Are you wondering what’s next, beyond having those accomplishments under our collective belts, and—perhaps best of all—our mutual excitement about how we can use data to give Ducati even more of an advantage in the hypercompetitive MotoGP game? You guessed it: NetApp has extended its partnership with the Ducati Corse motorcycle racing team for another 2 years.

We are thrilled to have various new projects already underway, including a new virtual desktop environment that will enable engineers worldwide to collaborate on 3D product design, automating the engineering team’s data workflows, and much more. These projects will allow Ducati’s engineers and developers to securely leverage and archive project data and to further harness the power of race data.

Looking forward to the 2022 season, the NetApp and Ducati Corse teams are bullish on the ability of data to drive better racing outcomes. Luigi Dall'Igna, General Manager at Ducati Corse, is all in, saying, “We look forward to working together to continue to optimize our performance with the limitless possibilities that the power of data can bring to the motorbike racing world.” 

Hang on tight

I hope you’re as pumped about the 2022 MotoGP season as I am. It will no doubt be full of breathtaking thrills—especially given the inclusion of the brand-new Mandalika International Street Circuit in Indonesia and Finland’s KymiRing. We’ll be following the action closely and helping the Ducati Lenovo Team make the most of its data. See you on the podium.

Read more about our data-driven partnership.

James Whitemore

James Whitemore is the Chief Marketing Officer at NetApp. He is responsible for advancing the company’s global marketing strategy and strengthening market recognition to accelerate growth. As a veteran of the cloud computing, networking and storage industry, James has more than 25 years of experience leading and implementing successful global sales, product management and marketing strategies. A key part of the team since joining NetApp via the SolidFire acquisition in early 2016, James has been central to the development and execution of our Marketing strategy to reposition NetApp from storage to data and the cloud. In his previous role as VP of Field & Demand Marketing at NetApp, James built and led a modern demand engine as well as managed Field and Partner Marketing, Demand Centers, Global Campaigns, Event Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social, Influence and Community Marketing. As CMO at SolidFire, James led the mission to advance the way the world uses cloud and was responsible for all corporate, product, and field marketing functions. Prior to SolidFire, James has led sales and marketing functions in cloud orientated start-up companies holding a variety of sales and marketing positions in Europe, Asia and the U.S. with SAVVIS, Sun Microsystems, IBM, StorageTek and Standard Telephones and Cables. James holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Northumbria University in the UK.

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