Loris Capirossi to Pramac Ducati

Henny Ray Abrams | October 28, 2010

Loris Capirossi will enter his 22nd career in grand prix racing by returning to Ducati as a member of the Pramac Racing Ducati team.In a widely expected move, the 37-year-old three-time world champion will leave an underperforming Rizla Suzuki team for the Italian Pramac team. Capirossi will be the most experienced rider the Pramac team’s ever had, with 313 GP’s, 29 victories, and 11 years in the premier class.The move will be something of a homecoming for Capirossi, who was one of the original riders on the Ducati Marlboro team. The rider with the familiar number ‘65′ rode for the team from its inaugural season of 2003 through 2007. His best season was 2006, when he won three times, finished second four times and third once, had two poles, and ended the season third overall to Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi. His final win came in mixed conditions at Motegi in 2007.The move to the Rizla Suzuki team has been nothing but frustrating. In three years he’s had but one podium and this year has been more of a struggle than most. He’s scored points in only seven of 16 races and hasn’t scored a point since damaging the little finger on his right hand in a collision with Nicky Hayden on the first lap of the San Marino Grand Prix in Misano. Capirossi returned to racing after sitting out Aragon and Japan, but with little success. He fractured his right hand in Malaysia, then suffered a groin injury at the end of qualifying the following weekend in Australia. Still, he’s expected to line up for this weekend’s penultimate round of the championship in Portugal.The youngest ever world champion, when he won his first 125cc title, currently sits a career worst 17th overall, though he should improve at least one position with the absence of Mika Kallio, the Pramac Racing Ducati rider he’s replacing. Kallio ended his two-year stint with Pramac by withdrawing from the final two races, citing lingering injuries from the French Grand Prix. Carlos Checa is replacing him in Estoril and Valencia.Alvaro Bautista, Capirossi’s teammate this year, is expected to be the lone Rizla Suzuki rider in 2011, though that isn’t official.”This return on a Ducati bike make me feel like a child; I do not feel my 37 years,” Capirossi said. “I have a great desire to start this new adventure. I’m enormously pleased about this new agreement that was reached with the Pramac Racing team. This will allow me to ride and be part of an Italian team. I would like to thank the team principal of the Pramac Racing team, Paolo Campinoti, for giving me this great opportunity and for the confidence placed in me. I’ll find again the Ducati, with whom I had very good results over the past years and that I was able to develop in the 2007, this is an unique sensation for me. I thank Suzuki for the years we spent together and thanks also to the excellent relationship maintained with them. They have given me the possibility to race with my new team since Valencia’s test of next month.”Capirossi will likely team with current Pramac rider, Aleix Espargaro, though the second seat has been an object of intense speculation. At one point it was believed German Max Neukirchner would make the move from World Superbike, but that came to nothing. Next Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias was linked to the team. Now it appears he’s heading for LCR Honda to replace Frenchman Randy de Puniet, who could end up teaming with Capirossi. The Pramac team has made no announcement concerning a second rider.LORIS CAPIROSSI HISTORY2010 – MotoGP – not finished yet

2009 – MotoGP – 9th

2008 – MotoGP – 10th

2007 – MotoGP – 7th

2006 – MotoGP – 3rd

2005 – MotoGP – 6th

2004 – MotoGP – 9th

2003 – MotoGP – 4th

2002 – MotoGP – 8th

2001 – 500cc – 3rd

2000 – 500cc – 7th

1999 – 250cc – 3rd

1998 – 250cc – 1st

1997 – 250cc – 6th

1996 – 500cc – 10th

1995 – 500cc – 6th

1994 – 250cc – 3rd

1993 – 250cc – 2nd

1992 – 250cc – 12th

1991 – 125cc – 1st

1990 – 125cc – 1st

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.