MotoAmerica: Three Reasons Why The Rahal Ducati Moto Team Is Important

MotoAmerica: Three Reasons Why The Rahal Ducati Moto Team Is Important

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Michael Gougis:.

First Person/Opinion:

Three Reasons Why The Rahal Ducati Moto Team Is So Important For MotoAmerica

by Michael Gougis

You could say that it’s just another team in the MotoAmerica paddock, two more bikes on the grid in a support class.

But that misses just how much the entry of the Rahal Ducati Moto Team means to MotoAmerica. Having series President Wayne Rainey on hand for the intro at the iconic Petersen Automotive Museum (a must-visit if you are ever in Los Angeles) is just one indication of how much the new Rahal team means to the series.

Here are three reasons why this announcement means so much to fans of motorcycle road racing in the United States:

1 – Team Rahal’s status and presence in the racing community is massive. I had a straight-up fan boy moment at the news conference when I went to get coffee and realized that Bobby Rahal himself was standing next to me. For those of you who are four-wheel illiterate, Bobby Rahal is an Indy 500 winner and a three-time CART/Indy Car Champion as a driver and a two-time winner of the Indy 500 as an owner. Son Graham Rahal, who is operating the motorcycle team, is a six-time IndyCar race winner who’s found a fair bit of success racing sports cars as well.

Why does this matter? Exposure. The Rahal clan brings attention, wherever it races. They are not just well-known but well respected, in the business world and in the racing world. Bobby Rahal served in a managerial position in the Jaguar Formula One team and was an interim president of the Championship Auto Racing Teams sanctioning body that ran open-wheel racing in the U.S. for decades. Rahal’s IndyCar team has David flippin’ Letterman as one of its owners, and his sports car team is the factory partner of BMW. Team Rahal has connections in racing, knows who to call to get things done, and operates at the highest levels of publicity and professionalism.

It would be hard to find a name that attracts more attention in North American racing than Rahal. The organization brings with it an audience that already follows road racing, admittedly on four wheels rather than two. That means exposure where Team Rahal goes, and the team is going racing with MotoAmerica. Good for everyone.

2 – Team Rahal knows what it is doing when it goes racing.

Graham Rahal pointed out, for example, that the team’s personal and in-depth interactions with Öhlins suspension equipment and personnel goes back decades. They know how to go racing, and when they show up, it’s a professional operation from the ground up. You don’t take 88 podiums at the highest level of American open-wheel racing over 17 years, as Bobby Rahal has, by accident. And Graham Rahal said the team chose to go into the Supersport class with the Ducati Panigale V2 because it could start with a bike in the showroom of one of its Ducati dealerships and make a simple, direct business case for racing on Sunday and selling on Monday. Racing is a business for him.

That works best when you’re running up front. And the initial impression is that Rahal Ducati Moto is putting together an operation capable of running at the front. Hiring Ben Spies as Team Principal is an example of how much effort Rahal is putting into the project. Spies, a MotoGP race winner, multi-time AMA Superbike Champion and Superbike World Champion in his one and only season in the series, has experience at the highest levels of International motorcycle road racing competition. As a rider, Spies knows what it takes to get to the front. Team Rahal is hiring that experience to get it out of the blocks as fast as it can.

Bobby and Graham Rahal aren’t gentleman investors looking to back a team in a sport that they enjoy. For Team Rahal (like Team Hammer) professional racing is its day job. Having a team like that in the paddock forces everyone to up their game. Again, good for everyone.

3 – New sponsors and a multi-year deal are good for the entire paddock. Racing Editor Chris Ulrich wrote recently that baggers were good for professional racing in the U.S., in part, because those were teams spending money on going racing. People get paid to work for teams on racebikes. Team uniforms get purchased. Dunlop sells more tires. You get the idea.

Team Rahal is bringing in XPEL film protectants as a title sponsor. And the plan is to spend 2024 in Supersport, then move up to Superbike in 2025 if all goes well. It’s a multi-year deal, so that means money coming into the paddock for years to come. Good for everyone.

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