Ducati’s World Superbike project leader Ernesto Marinelli will depart the Italian squad at the conclusion of the 2017 season to pursue ‘new professional challenges.’

Marinelli has been a part of the Ducati fold since 1995 and worked as a track engineer for WorldSBK legend Carl Fogarty, as well as Neil Hodgson in 1997.

From 1998 to 2000, Marinelli headed Bologna’s assault in the AMA Superbike series with the likes of Antony Gobert, Troy Bayliss, Ben Bostrom and John Kocinski.

Marinelli worked with Bostrom in 2001 and 2002 in WorldSBK as a track engineer before being promoted to technical director in 2003. In 2010, Marinelli took over the role as Ducati’s WorldSBK project manager.

The Italian has enjoyed a highly successful career with Ducati, aiding the marque to five Riders’ titles in 2003 (Hodgson) 2004 (James Toseland), 2006, 2008 (Bayliss) and in 2011 (Carlos Checa), as well as six Manufacturers’ crowns in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

“After 22 years, it’s not easy to say goodbye and turn over a new leaf, and if you leave a company like Ducati, the decision becomes even more difficult,” said Marinelli.

“Nevertheless, for each and every one of us, the time comes to raise the bar and face up to further challenges.

“I’m leaving Ducati in the knowledge that I have lived numerous unforgettable and successful moments, sharing passion, dramas and satisfaction, as well as defeats, disappointments and difficulties.

“All of these have marked and shaped my professional career and they have helped me to understand that ‘never give up’ is not just a saying, but to all intends and purposes a style of life.

“For my future, I’ve decided to accept a new professional challenge and put myself to the test again, albeit with the awareness that everything I leave behind will always have an important place in my memories and my heart.”

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport

With his time at Ducati in WorldSBK coming to an end, Marinelli says he is even more determined to help Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri end the 2017 season on a high in the final four races at Jerez and Qatar.

“There are still four races to go before the end of my final season in SBK, and it will be an even more special and motivating reason for me to continue to fight and win together, before saying farewell to all my colleagues and the Ducatisti, with whom I’ll continue to share friendship and passion, and with whom I’ll still be supporting our red bikes from Borgo Panigale.”

Ducati has tallied up eight victories in WorldSBK this year – with Davies securing seven of those and Melandri the other, at his home round at Misano – and sits second in the Manufacturers’ standings.

2018 will be the final year of the Panigale before the Italian marque switches to its V4-powered Superbike – which will launch on the roads next year – in 2019.