On October 24, 2023, Ducati announced a new plan for 2024. The team from Borgo Panigale is about to get dirty with its newest project, a motocross prototype that will compete in the 2024 Italian Motocross Championship. Rumors about the program have been in the ether for some time—but now Ducati has confirmed that both the prototype and the program exist.
In fact, Ducati says that it’s been hard at work developing its new MX bike for the past couple of years. Also, its monumental dirt digging days don’t stop there. If all goes according to plan, Ducati says that “this is a multi-year project that will see the creation of a complete range of off-road engines and motorcycles.” It goes on to say that “the models will gradually become part of a family of knobby motorcycles branded Ducati, starting with motocross.”
Although Ducati has also been celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Multistrada, and very recently unleashed the DesertX Rally on the world, it hasn’t historically been known for playing in the dirt. Its Scramblers might indulge themselves in a fire road or two, but dedicated off-road pursuits were seemingly an area that Ducati didn’t delve into—that is, until now.
To show how serious it is, Ducati also announced that nine-time Motocross World Champion Antonio “Tony” Cairoli has signed on as a test rider for the project. Previously, Cairoli joined Red Bull KTM Factory Racing back in 2009, where he won multiple titles before retiring at the end of 2021. He then became the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team manager for 2023.
Earlier in October, KTM officially announced that the team and Cairoli had officially parted ways. That news came just one day before Ducati confirmed its own motocross ambitions, and that Cairoli will be a key part of them.
“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. 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,” Cairoli, who is Sicilian, said in a statement.
As for technical details, Ducati is keeping those quiet for the moment. The one piece of information that it has shared so far is that its new motocross prototype uses Desmodromic valves, as all its competition bikes (including its MotoGP entries) do.
We look forward to learning more about Ducati’s progress as it enters a totally new segment—and of course, seeing what new bikes find their way both to its racing efforts and to production.