Tuesday, November 8

DUCATI DELAYS SUPERBIKE RETURN


By Michael Esdaile


AFTER withdrawing its factory team from the Superbike World Championship at the end of the 2010 season, Ducati was reputed to be set for a return with its all new, ultra-short stroke V-twin in 2012. But ahead of the official unveiling of its radical new 1200cc sports bike, Ducati announced it would not race the new bike in the Superbike class in 2012.



Instead, the new bike will be raced in the close-to-standard spec. FIM Superstock 1000 class.



“Developed as a true sport bike with competition in its DNA, the Ducati 1199 Panigale will first see racing action in the 2012 FIM Superstock Championship and, in accordance with the factory's development programme, make its d├ębut in World Superbike in 2013,” the official Ducati press release states.



“The two-stage introduction enables Ducati additional development for the Superbike version of the 1199 Panigale, appropriate to the more open regulations of the World Superbike category, and in addition help control costs for World Superbike teams who can continue to compete with a 2012 version of the 1198 with technical support from Ducati engineers,” the statement adds.



There is no question the 1198 – introduced in 2008 – is still competitive: Carlos Checa won this year’s Superbike World Championship on an Althea Racing 1198R Ducati , taking no less than 15 race victories from 26 starts. And in the FIM Superstock 1000 class there was even more Ducati domination, with Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano taking four of the ten races in the series while Danilo Petrucci of the Barni Racing Team also rode a Ducati 1198R to another four wins. Giugliano was more consistent though and scored a total of 171 points to Petrucci’s 169 to take the title.



In 2010, the FIM Superstock 1000 class had been dominated by BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini on the then new S1000RR four, but this year he contested the Superbike class, and BMW only scored two race wins in Superstock 1000.



So although BMW has a revised S1000RR for 2012, will it be competitive against the radical new Ducati 1199 Panigale in the FIM Superstock 1000 class?



April 1, 2012 at Imola should provide the answers.



For a look back at the 2011 FIM Superstock 1000 Championship season, click on: http://www.worldsbk.com/en/news/5-news/9441-superstock-1000-fim-cup-season-review.html