If you follow international motorsport, the month of January is always both a weird and an interesting time to observe. At the top tiers of motorcycle racing, this time of year is usually when teams busy themselves showing off their new bikes, liveries, and team members to the public for the first time.

2024 is a little different than previous years for Ducati, though. In addition to its usual MotoGP and World Superbike machines, this year marks the start of its newest branch of Ducati Corse research and development. The company hasn't historically been known for its dirtbikes, but it's looking to change that with the introduction of the new Ducati Desmo450 MX.

This competition machine is currently being developed by a pair of experienced Italian motocross riders. Leading the charge is nine-time MXGP champion Antonio "Tony" Cairoli, along with Alessandro Lupino. While Cairoli will assist in training and development, it will be Lupino who rides the bike in competition during the 2024 Prestige Italian Motocross Championship in the MX1 class.

While Ducati is hoping for great things from the Ducati Corse R&D Factory MX team, it's also keeping its feet firmly planted in reality with its expectations. For the first racing season, Ducati's main intention with its MX team is to gather and analyze data to further develop the bike. From there, it plans to take what it learns to further develop the Desmo450 MX bike, with plans to go into production sometime in late 2025.

During Ducati's Campioni in Pista 2024 presentation, it brought out the bikes, teams, and riders for each of its three major motorcycle racing efforts ahead of the 2024 season. Each group had time to present and speak onstage, offering a small glimpse into its corner of the Ducati racing universe.

When Cairoli and Lupino had the chance to speak, they expressed the observations that the new bike was intriguing because it was already pretty good during their first test rides. While there is always room for improvement, the progress in development that was on display already was encouraging, they both said. In terms of a research and development mission, isn't that kind of what you want?

With the exception of those who are completely obsessed with MX racing, most national-level championships tend to only be a big deal to fans from whatever country is hosting the championship. However, the 2024 Italian Motocross Championship will likely draw more international attention this year, simply because of Ducati's development involvement.

Previous Federazione Motociclistica Italiana series have been livestreamed on YouTube in the past. As of January 22, 2024, it's not completely clear what the plans are for international streaming for the upcoming season. However, RideApart will keep an eye on this and update you as and when we have more information.

In the meantime, here's the full 2024 Italian Prestige Motocross Championship MX1 schedule so you can mark it on your calendar. Both the MX1 and MX2 classes will compete at the following events:

Now that you've had the chance to take a good, long look at the 2024 Ducati Desmo450 MX competition bike, what do you think? Are you excited to see what Lupino does with it as Ducati goes MX racing for the first time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!