Ducati Willing to Stop WSBK Efforts to Get Rossi?

06/25/2010 @ 6:13 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

This Friday silly season rumor was too good not to publish, but according to GPone (usually a very reliable site) Ducat is at least pondering closing its World Superbike effort if it means securing Valentino Rossi on a MotoGP ride. It sounds like the work of fiction, but let’s take a minute, and forget the fact that Ducati rests its racing laurels on WSBK victories, and examine this rumor a bit further before we dismiss it.

In World Superbike, Ducati is facing two major issues: the un-competitive nature of its team, and rules that favor in-line fours in WSBK racing. The first issue likely stems from the dismissal of Davide Tardozzi, whose talents are noticeably now seen at BMW, while the second issue stems from Ducati’s ties to the v-twin power plant, and the current drafting of WSBK regulations.

With the absence of Tardozzi there is a serious lack of leadership at Xerox Ducati, and the team is obviously going through teething issues as it re-organizes itself without him present. There is little question that Haga and Fabrizio are capable of winning races, if not the Championship, but at the pinnacle of superbike racing, it’s not just enough to have good riders, the support team must be there as well.

Another element to that puzzle is the racing platform, i.e. the motorcycle. Ducati has already successfully lobbied for weight concessions this season, and will likely see more concessions from the series as WSBK wears on. But the fundamental problem, running a v-twin motor, is almost surely not going to be remedied.¬†For Ducati, racing with v-twin is tangibly linked to the brand identity, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see the company start producing in-line fours anytime soon (you might be able to hold your breath for a V4 though, but we wouldn’t suggest trying).

However as we’ve seen in the results, the in-line fours are favored very well, and have become the paddock favorite for some time now. Unless World Superbike returns to the v-twin favoring rules that brought about the TLR and RC-51 Japanese twins, its unlikely that Ducati will have a sure-footing in the series.

Neither of the issues are easy to fix, and will likely take additional seasons to rectify, meanwhile Ducati has an unparalleled opportunity to put the nine-time World Champion on its GP11 race bike. Making things more enticing is the presumption that focusing all its efforts on MotoGP, Ducati would not only be able to put more resources behind developing the Desmosedici and winning races with Rossi on-board, but also marketing itself strongly around these efforts…in perhaps a manner that makes the Ducatisti forget the Italian company has made an exodus from a series it helped build.

With the current WSBK team in shambles, and Ducati’s star MotoGP rider likely to jump ship, this is a definitive moment for the Bologna brand, and it’s not completely out of the question to see them make some decisive actions in the near future. Whether those actions would be as drastic as trading WSBK for MotoGP is up to speculation at this point, but if GPone is correct, Ducati is at least contemplating that very action.

Source: GPone

  • doug

    I love GP racing, but WSBK is 100 times more exciting. May God help Ducati if it pulls the plug on WSBK racing. In my humble opinion, WSBK made and makes Ducati what it is, not Moto GP.

  • scott

    WSBK is what I prefer, its what the public can relate to in terms of riding the product they see on the track. I would much rather Ducati consentrate their efforts on all of their WSBK riders, and teams that choose Ducati as their ride.

  • Sean Mitchell

    Agreed. MotoGP isn’t linked to production bikes like SBK is. This would be a huge mistake. To turn their backs on the better racing series, which put them on the map, just to get one rider is insane. I’ve never liked Rossi, and this makes me like him even less. How many people would lose jobs just to get that one rider? WSBK is where companies should be putting their money. We don’t need MotoGP. It’s more expensive, less exciting, and barely linked to customer machines. I say scrap MotoGP.

  • Skip

    I have never liked v-twin motors and maybe Ducati should look at a V-4 or inline 4. I think a major reason for the poor sales of Ducati is the problematic v-twin motor. Ducati is like Harley Davidson in many ways as far a being married to the v-twin.

  • Joe Silverio

    I think it’s premature for Ducati to make any decisions until they get consistent riders first. Bayliss testing with Haga and Fabrizzio didn’t help at all since Troy was riding circles around the two after being retired for over a year. The Ducks are special bikes that require special riders and Polen, Foggy and Bayliss are a very rare and elite bunch of jockeys able to harness the Italian Stallion.

    Ducati’s Moto GP squad is only in its infancy stages compared to the Japanese manufacturers. With that said it’s still a large feat to win a title in the 4th year of its return to the premier class with a rookie Stoner at the helm (Krapasaki and Suzucrap haven’t even come close). Acquiring Rossi ( I am a Rossi fan ) may be good now since Rossi is an icon worldwide, but may backfire down the road. I seriously doubt Vale can win the title back in 2011 with the displacement going back to 990cc but then again he won it on his first year with Yamaha in 2004. The competion is stiffer this time around with all the talented riders going after Rossi and his throne. You have Lorenzo mimicking Vale’s celebrations, Simoncelli trying to look like Rossi and Spies saying he’s not affected by Rossi’s mind games.

    One things for sure, economic downturn and all sure doesn’t affect the abundance of hearsay,gossip and flat out creative imagination in our two wheeled world.

  • scott

    Skippy, is that what they call you? the twins and the ducati bashing have nothing to do with the topic on hand. Do triples intrest you at all? We can let Triumph in and all meet in the middle with trips!

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  • aarwar

    why not just let the ducati bikes run 1400cc motors? I mean, seriously… what’s with these tiny motors manufacturers are forced to run? if things go too much in favour of the twins again, the fours can always be boosted to 1100 or 1200cc to even things up again.

    sarcasm aside, ducati has a very good 4cyl streetbike already. just restart D16 production if fours have it too easy!

  • aarwar

    ducati did (kinda) make an inline 4. in the 90’s parent company cagiva thought it was the way to go. they even put some ferrari formula 1 tech into the design to make it competitive. when money got tight and cagiva needed to raise some cash to both stay stay alive and continue development of the 4cyl, the ducati brand was sold. the engineering of the 4cyl ducati was retained and when it went into production was badged as a mv agusta.

    …I think. maybe my memory is off, but I’m positive the MV F4 started life as a ducati project. I ‘m also pretty sure there were a few inline 4 prototypes in the 60’s when ducati was looking at designing a grand prix bike.

  • Sean

    Im not sure that i believe this argument that the rules in WSBK favour the inline 4s. The results are more a reflection of the failure of the factory team. Checa’s results in a privateer team suggest the Ducati is very competitive. The fact that Ducatis arent winning half of the races doesnt mean the rules favour the inline 4s.

  • Dr. Gellar

    I agree with Sean. If you check qualifying so far for the Misano WSBK round, you’ll see the fours and twins are mixed pretty well throughout the grid. The current rules for WSBK are not four-cylinder biased at all. It’s just that the fours are all more or less catching up to the Ducatis in terms of performance, and as Sean states…the factory Ducati team doesn’t have their s#&t together this season. Besides, it is rather refreshing to see other brands at the top of the points, both in rider and manufacturer rankings.

    If what this article mentions is true, maybe Ducati feels it can still have a presence in WSBK through a very well supported privateer team, such as the Althea squad, while it puts all it’s eggs into the MotoGP basket. Carlos Checa has certainly been very competitive on non-factory equipment.

    Ducati is definitely struggling in WSBK this season, and not just from a factory team perspective. Checa, despite having a great season, lost two sure victories at Miller due to mechanical problems, and Jakub Smrz’s Pata-sponsored team is considering a switch to BMW. Neither of those issues look good for Ducati on the WSBK front.

  • Jake22

    This is typical. If the factory Ducati team struggles the rules need to be changed because they are unfair. I really would hope Ducati pulled the plug on their WSBK dept because then I wouldn’t have to listen to cry all the time when they are getting beat.

    funny how these unfair rules allow the private Ducati teams to out pace and run with the 4s. If Checa’s team could keep his bike running or SMRZ could find race consistancy there would be more Ducati wins these season.

    I guess since they haven’t won or podiumed in MotoGP that means those rules are stacked against them also?

  • Grimmy

    I have to agree with both Dr. Gellar and Jake22. Also maybe it is time for some serious development by Ducati. Look at the Aprilia, leaving the V-twin format and developed a V-4 which was pretty much a competitive bike straight from the first meeting.
    I think if Ducati pulled out of WSBK it would do more damage than good, the link between the product they sell and what they see racing on the television is gone. I lost all interest in Ducati in the MotoGP after Stoners little after race performance. He got back everything he gave to Rossi and he was just out ridden on the day. Here is one for you, Max is doing a brilliant job this year, what about putting Rossi on the RSV4 next year!