MotoGP Austin 2019 – Ducati Island

In Travel by AbhiLeave a Comment

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Every year at MotoGP, the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers set up a tent to show off their newest products, offer demo rides, and try to develop more of a community. They all set up together in what Circuit of the Americas calls the Fan Zone.

Fan Zone, where all the other OEMs share space.

Then Ducati blows them all away with Ducati Island.

“Island” is an odd name as it’s not surrounded by water, but the Ducati-fest is definitely isolated from the rest of its competitors, taking up over 74,000 square feet of space on the east end of the main grandstand. It’s telling that the only manufacturer listed on the key of CoTA’s official map is Ducati:

Note that in the Fan Zone (#13), only Honda’s logo is displayed. Click to enlarge.

At a base level, Ducati offers up the same things that most of the other OEMs do at MotoGP Austin – buy merchandise, talk to some representatives, maybe even test ride a bike like the Scrambler Cafe Racer if you sign up early enough.

Scrambler Cafe Racer – dumb name, good bike. Photo by Nathan May.

I know that I’m spoiled, which is why I normally don’t care for this kind of thing – I don’t like crowds and I’m lucky enough to see these bikes throughout the year at several events. On the flip side, I also know that events like MotoGP can be the only time that a US motorcyclist can test ride a bike they’re interested in purchasing as many manufacturers (looking at you, Japan) make it basically impossible through their dealer network. So if you’re a American fan of a specific OEM, MotoGP in Austin may be your best opportunity in a given year to get a feel for their products and connect with the brand.

Or drink espresso. Photo by Nathan May

I can’t comment on how well different companies run their test rides out of MotoGP, but Ducati shines above the rest when it comes to connecting with fans. I think that’s due to how much their leadership gets involved. Every booth has models who have been somewhat prepped on the products they’re presenting. But Ducati fans end up seeing the US and Global CEOs all over the place, and that can be very rewarding for potential customers.

Global CEO Claudio Domenicali (L) serves lunch to Ducati Island attendees.

Petrucci and Dovizioso sign memorabilia for fans.

Does the average rider of a Honda or Kawasaki know what the CEO of their company looks like? I’m not sure the average Ducati fan knows what Claudio looks like either, but they had multiple opportunities to find out at Ducati Island, whether he was serving up lunch, taking in the sights, or signing memorabilia. Same thing goes for the US CEO, Jason Chinnock, who served lunch and interviewed the factory riders.

Jason Chinnock interviews Petrux and Dovi. Photo by Nathan May

All of this is just a long way of saying kudos to Ducati for making their fans feel special. Race weekend is packed, and there’s always three different places that fans should want to be at any given time. Getting someone’s attention can be difficult, but Ducati does a good job at the American round of MotoGP.

Ducati’s management also leads the Ducati parade lap – 175 bikes participated this year.

Here’s a few more photos from my quick visit to Ducati Island if you weren’t able to make it yourself:

Photo by Nathan May

Photo by Nathan May

An artsy Scrambler 1100. As you can tell from this post, I’m behind on several stories – a review of the Scrambler 800 and 1100 is coming soon!

MotoCorsa out of Portland, Oregon (one of the nation’s biggest Ducati dealerships) built a tribute bike to Nicky Hayden which they would later go on to auction on a few platforms but it never met reserve. It’s available at a lower price if you’re interested…

Photo by Nathan May

Someone got their hat signed…

Photo by Nathan May

…and they were quite excited about it!

Photo by Nathan May

Ducati did a great job of giving their fans something to get excited about at the “Horsepower Rodeo.” Photo by Nathan May

Because Marquez crashed out of the Austin round, Ducati fans were extra happy as Andrea Dovizioso took the overall lead – though of course, he’s since relinquished it and Marquez has locked up this year’s championship anyway.

Nathan and I will be at CotA next year for MotoGP 2020 – maybe we’ll see you at Ducati Island?

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