After the shocking news this weekend that Ducati and Althea Racing would go their separate ways, the Bologna Brand has issued its own press statement about the break-up. Confirming that it has contracted former World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa to its payroll for next season, Ducati Corse also reaffirmed its commitment to race the Ducati 1199 Panigale in the series.
Ducati Corse has yet to release its official plans to race in the series, but the writing on the wall hints towards a factory team for 2013. Citing its strong ties and good relationship with the Althea Racing team, Ducati’s press release mentions the possibility of a “cooperation between Ducati and Team Althea” that could still be “found in the future,” which suggests that Althea could come on as a satellite team for 2013, or again takeover as the factory-backed effort at a later point in time.
While Ducati’s WSBK racing effort is still very much in the air, names like Liberty Racing and Davide Tardozzi are being banded about, and it is certain that Ducati Corse is exploring every option available. What is perhaps most intriguing in the news is Ducati Corse’s reconfirmation of its plan to race the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 next season.
Early reports on the bike’s progress have pegged Mr. Checa as finding the front-end of the motorcycle to be vague, a similar complaint to the ones against the Ducati Desmosedici GP12, for which the Panigale shares a similar design philosophy.
However, more recent complaints about the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 have centered around the machine’s Superquadro motor, which features a massively over-square 1199cc v-twin lump, that has valve diameters large enough to eclipse the sun.
Designed to be a peaky and high-horsepower machine (not to mention bordering on anorexia when weighed), the Ducati 1199 Panigale makes comparable horsepower in its stock form to the inline-four machines of Japan and Germany, however the WSBK-spec version has failed to develop as readily.
It is rumored that while the Panigale’s engine design was built with the idea of higher-revs in mind, Bologna has been unable to increase the RPMs on the machine much further beyond stock.
Down on horsepower compared to the other factory bikes, the engine’s peaky nature also means that Ducati has lost its mid-range advantage, which in the past has been the great equalizer for the brand, as Checa could carry more corner speed and exit the turns quicker than the other riders.
The worst of both worlds, Ducati is facing a steep level of resource involvement to bring the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 up to speed (pun intended), which ultimately means money.
With World Superbike seemingly set to become more like World Superstock in 2014, that significant time and money expenditure is looking to have a very potent diminishing return. And with zie Germans now looking over the balance sheets, it is debatable as to whether Ducati’s new owners could find such an investment worthy of Ducati’s euros.
As always, time will tell. Ducati Corse’s press is below.
Ducati confirms Carlos Checa in its 2013 World Superbike preparations
- Ducati continues preparations for 2013 World Superbike season.
- Carlos Checa confirmed as official rider.
- Cooperation with Team Althea Racing discontinued.
Borgo Panigale (Bologna), 29 October 2012 – Ducati is finalising its plans for the 2013 World Superbike Championship, both in the development of the 1199 Panigale and how it will participate in the series.
The company has already confirmed the renewal of its contract with Carlos Checa, who won the 2011 World Superbike Championship on a Ducati 1198, and the Spanish rider will now continue development of the new Ducati 1199 Panigale ready for its World Superbike debut year.
After three years of constructive cooperation, the relationship between Ducati and Team Althea Racing will now come to an end. The cooperation from 2010 to 2012 reached major sporting achievements, including winning the 2011 Manufacturers’ and Riders’ Superbike World Championship in addition to the 2011 Manufacturers’ and Riders’ titles of the Superstock series.
Despite both parties’ intention to continue the collaboration, an agreement, which meets the requirements of both Team Althea Racing and the Bologna-based manufacturer’s management, has not been found for 2013. However, the exceptionally good relationship that Ducati has enjoyed with Team Althea Racing, combined with the friendship and gratitude towards team owner, Genesio Bevilacqua, for his continuing efforts and loyalty during these years, means that other forms of cooperation between Ducati and Team Althea could still be found in the future.
With Ducati’s 2013 plans now almost finalised, more details will be released in the next few days.
Source: Ducati Corse