The finale of a MotoGP season often marks the end of an era for many riders and team personnel who are heading for pastures new.
There are usually emotional speeches, singsongs and a few beers to mark the occasion. But the championship-winning factory Ducati went one hilarious step further by literally delivering a long-serving engineer to his new team.
After 30 years of loyal service to the Italian squad, chief engineer Cristhian Pupulin is following rider Jack Miller to the KTM team for 2023. As they partied in red wigs to mark the end of the campaign and to pay tribute to Miller and Pupulin, Ducati team members had a prank in store. It saw them strap Pupulin up with duct tape and literally carry him down the pit-lane and dump him outside the KTM garage.
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The chaos happened right in front of the BT Sport team, who were wrapping up their live broadcast of the race. Host Susie Perry said: “You need to turn the camera around because this is what MotoGP is all about. It’s like some weird stag do.”
On the track, Miller’s season ended in disappointment as he crashed out of third place with four laps to go. However, there were raucous celebrations for his teammate Francesco Bagnaia, who finished ninth to become the first Italian since the legendary Valentino Rossi to clinch the MotoGP title.
Miller said: “I am very happy for Pecco, who has had an extraordinary year, never giving up and proving to everyone that he is the best.
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“My last race with Ducati brings with it some sadness because, with this team, I had a great time and built fantastic relationships with all the people in the team, but now I will focus on my near future.”
Bagnaia pipped defending champion Fabio Quartararo to the title with the Frenchman, who needed to win, coming home fourth behind winner Alex Rins, Brad Binder and Jorge Martin.
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