World Superbike is expected to announce after the Magny-Cours round next week that the Ducati 1199 Panigale will not incur the same 6kg weight ballast penalty as the current Ducati 1098R Superbike. A part of WSBK’s fluidic formula for Superbike racing, World Superbike rules allow for the air intake to be restricted and weight ballast to be added to twin-cylinder motorcycles on an prescribed basis, to compensate for the 200cc displacement capacity advantage the twins have over the four-cylinder machines.

With Carlos Checa handily winning the 2011 Championship, the recipe was set for Ducati to continue to incur a 6kg disadvantage this season, which has sent the Spaniard to fourth in the World Superbike Championship standings this season. Mathematically out of the hunt for the Championship in 2012, Checa is expected to re-sign with Althea Ducati for the 2013 season, where he will campaign the Ducati 1199 Panigale, which will race without the 1098R’s restrictions.

A topic of seemingly some debate, the move should not be a serious surprise to WSBK followers, as the Panigale represents a new machine in the WSBK paddock, and as such would start a clean slate for the balancing act in the racing formula. Nearly at the WSBK minimum 165kg weight in its street-going production form of 166.5 kg, the WSBK-spec Ducati 1199 Panigale race bike has some serious leeway that will allow Althea Racing and other teams explore a variety of racing setups.

With Carlos Checa testing the Ducati 1199 Panigale at Misano this week, Ducati is sending a clear sign that the former World Champion will ride for Borgo Panigale next season. Said privately not to care for the Panigale, Checa has publicly been very positive about the machine. With 195hp in its stock form, Ducati is said to be developing a monster of a bike in WSBK-spec, and with the Panigale starting at 165kg (at least during the first few races of 2013), Checa should be very competitve on the 1199, despite his reservations about the Panigale.

What will be interesting is to see which bike Ducati uses for World Superbike homologation: the Ducati 1199 Panigale S, which is likely, or the mysterious Ducati 1199 Panigale SP that popped up on the leaked EPA documents sheet. Only time will tell.

Source: GPone; Photo: Ducati

  • Sean in OZ

    So Ducati could in theory win the championship ever second year by sandbagging the year following winning a championship to get favourable rules treatment. I think most teams would settle for winning the championship ever two years!

  • Mears

    Proscribed or prescribed?

  • What WSBK did this year was just crappy!!! Completely taking the reining champ out of title contention from the get go with restrictions and weight penalty… I think everyone wanted a four way battle between the Ducs, Rsv4, BMW’S and the Honda of Rea… The Ducati was clearly slow on speed making up lots of time on the brakes and turns only to lose it on the straights… With all this crying of who has an advantage b.s. all bikes should run stock motors, stock electronics with exhaust systems and mandate dyno runs after every couple of races to end all the nonsense…. P.S. im not bias to any manufacturer just want to see the best riders go at it for the championships….

  • Gutterslob

    WSBK should have followed the formula MotoGP had going when they first brought in the 990cc 4-strokes.
    All bikes muct be same displacement. Twins and triples get a 5kg (or more, if needed) weight reduction over the fours. Simple.

  • Even displacement singles, twin, or triples can’t compete with four cylinder or five cylinder motors with the same amount of tune… part of the reason WSBK is so popular is diversity in engine configuration and the ability to have 5-6 manufacturers competiting for race wins. MotoGp is boring even if the bikes are the “PINACLE” of technology.

  • Halfie 30

    @Gutterslob: it used to be that way when Troy Bayliss was winning in the Ducati 999. However they were running the bikes at such a high state of tunethat they we blowing engines way more then the inline 4’s. Even displacement is not the answer due to piston configuration. Twins and triples will never be on equal playing ground at the same displacement as an I4. It’s been proven over and over again…

  • Gutterslob

    Well, I don’t find the formula they employed last year any better either. You could clearly see that Checa was running away with it. He was almost there at the top-end and had much more drive coming out of corners, and I’m pretty sure not all that drive was just down to the traction from a twin.

  • smiler

    I guess there is no easy formula.

    dc4go – you need to watch a one make series like the 848 cup.

    If you look at the championship since 2005. There have been four or five manufacturers in the top 5.

    So the formula works reasonably well. When BMW turned up it took them a while to get into the groove but they are there as well. Just a shame there is no Triumph triple there.

    Seems also that riders are happier to jump to different teams. The racing in the last few years after the end of the reign of the 916 has also been great.

    Perhaps if they tried to take weight, torque and horsepower at the beginning of each season for each bike as a base, made adjustments there and tested each bike through the season for changes to the original baseline.

    Anyway much better than MotoGP (always has been) you get 2 races not 1 and a bigger cross section of riders.

  • Ed Gray

    The displacement advantage that has been given to the ducatis has been joke since the second year of the championship. In the beginning the twins (read Ducati) were allowed to be 1000cc vs the 750 fours. The 851 while not dominant (should it be?) was clearly not at a disadvantage. They won races! So why did they leave the rules at 1000/750 they clearly should have capped the twins at 875 or 900. Had they done that I believe we would not have seen the unreasonable dominance of the Ducatis over the years. However I am not unhappy with what this has done for Ducati as a business.

    I am so glad that WSBK has not adopted the STUPID MotoGP rule of limiting engines for the year. MotoGP (CRT) bikes in a lower state of tune that WSBK!?!?!?!?!?! WTF.

    I am excited to see how the Panigale works as a full on superbike. It certainly went well in SuperStock.

  • Damo

    @Ed Gray

    To his credit, Carl Fogarty was still a badass. It speaks volumes that Honda had to design the RVT1000 from the ground up just to win a championship. The RC51 is still (IMHO) the best overall superbike to come from Japan, obviously not as fast by today’s standards.

  • Ed Gray

    That is exactly my point. Would Honda have built a Vtwin if the rules were not ridiculously slanted towards them at that point. Notice that as soon as they allowed the fours to go to 1000cc Honda dropped the twin.

  • TD

    As it stands now, the equivalency formula, though a bit flawed, is very much a step in the right direction… the racing’s awesome!

    First and foremost, corrections need to be applied more frequently. For Ducati having to struggle all season with a glaring power disadvantage is ridiculous, as Althea’s recent threats to quit the series, and Checa’s greatly increased crash frequency evidences. The Ducs are competitive pretty much only when it’s not a dry race.

    Second, and based on what smiley said, power needs to be taken into consideration in the formula. At this point in technology, the fours are be able to more reliably produce more power than a twin, for less expense. One wonders how much longer Ducati will continue to heavily invest in twin R&D, to make less power than their four cylinder competitors, AND be rewarded with a restrictor plate AND added weight for all their efforts? Why bother?

    WSBK is great racing now, and I sure don’t want to see it become a runaway for Ducati, but the formula needs a bit more tweaking. In theory, the 1199 Panigale should even things up a bit next year, and hopefully when it does the organizers don’t penalize it into non-competitiveness in 2014 like they’ve done with the 1098R this year.

  • Gutterslob

    Ed Gray has a point. No replacement for displacement, it seems.
    I actually think this year’s rules are fair enough. C’mon, it’s Checa!! Last year he had a huge advantage. This year he’s where he usually is when on equal terms.

  • Ed Gray

    I agree that the racing has been very good this year. So I am a little surprised that they have reduced the weight allowed on the Ducati. I really can’t understand the complaints from Althea. Have they been winning less than Suzuki or Honda. Do we really expect the Panigale to be less powerful than the1098. Is it really that embarrassing to finish fourth. It really seems to me that Ducati feels that they are at a disadvantage if they do not win the title. I am seeing several Ducatis finish inside the top ten on a regular basis on a several year old design. That sounds like a competitive package. Unless the Panigale turns out to be as big a disaster as the recent MotoGP bike I expect they will continue ( note this is continue not return) to be a threat to win on any given weekend. And if Ducati does not win the title for two years in a row does that mean that there is something wrong with the formula will they threaten to quit. WTF.

  • @ SMILER i like bikes from every manf. not sure what ur statement meant guess you interpet stuff wierd…. If twins were at such an advantage with the rules everyone would be racing one…If KTM joined the series i bet they would be at the very back with their twin…..

  • @ TD i think your statement is right on point rules are really good just a little tweaking is needed… In SS trim all the bikes are pretty even of course some do things better than others but overall no real advantage in either direction and the championship is going to the last race… AWESOME!!! Checa was robbed a chance to defend his title just my opinion coming from a race fan and fyi i ride an RSV4 factory and would have loved to see a battle to the last race between Sykes, Biaggi, Melandri, and Checa.. Rider of the year for me Sykes on the Kawi awesome effort all year!!

  • Gidgster

    @ SMILER, ED GRAY, GUTTERSLOB…. Do we (as motorcycle riding / racing enthusiasts) care primarily about a given engine configuration or do we care about the performance characteristics of our bikes? For my part, I care about the latter, so weight, power, power delivery and top speed are primary concerns of mine, regardless of the engine configuration / displacement that gives this to me.

    Singles, twins and triples at a given displacement will always be at a power disadvantage compared to fours, fives and sixes (i.e. low cylinder count makes less power than high cylinder count) due to the lower relative valve areas that are possible given the limitations of bore size over stroke. The displacement advantage given to twins simply comes close to evening the possible valve area between the twin vs. four cylinder engines.

    If the current 1000cc four cylinder BMW S1000RR engine design is compared to the current 1200cc V-twin Ducati Panigale engine design, it becomes aparent that the four cylinder bikes STILL have the advantage in the ability to package large valve areas; more specifically, at a less oversquare B/S ratio, the S1000RR has greater valve area than the radically oversquare B/S ratio of the Panigale . To put this simply, the BMW still has the possibility of producing more HP than the Panigale, even given the 200cc displacement advantage of the latter machine.

    A simple way that the racing organisations governing bodies could control this is to specify the total allowable valve area of the engines.

  • sunstroke

    All of the bikes in WSBK are competitive b/c they all make roughly the same horsepower via rev limits. The bikes are rev limited during homologation. That is the equivalency formula that makes all cylinder counts roughly equal.

    Ducati were perfectly happy to participate in the 1000cc formula, until their company fortunes began dwindling. They asked for 1200cc for two reasons. First, the 104mm x 58.8mm Desmoquattro was tuned to the max. Ducati couldn’t get any additional power out of the engine, and since the rev limit rises over time, Ducati needed to build a new racing twin. Second, Ducati wanted 1200cc production motorcycles b/c their 1000cc production twins had a substantial power deficiency in stock trim compared to their 1000cc 4-cylinder counterparts.

    When Ducati moved to 1200cc, WSBK basically reinstated the competitive paradigm from the 750cc era. Though Ducati only increased bore by 2mm, the new 1200cc engine altered power delivery. Since neither the Flamminis nor the Japanese were interested in returning to the 750cc/1000cc era of Ducati dominance, they introduced weight ballasting and air restrictors to the rulebook. These rules gave the organizers a great deal of power over the Ducati’s performance in race trim, and Bologna (and it’s investors) are not keen to base the race performance of the company on political rules writing and questionable equivalency formulas.

    If Ducati want to be rid of the air restrictors and weight ballasting, they only need to return to the 1000cc, rev-limited formula introduced in 2003. They performed well under the 1000cc rules from 2003-2007, and extenuating circumstances may be in their favor if they return to 1000cc for 2013. Suzuki’s engine is also maxed out, which means Duc have an ally in the fight for twin-relevant rev limits. Furthermore, BSB have fixed the rev limit to control development costs. The FIA may follow suit to control the long term engine design/development costs, though the FIA will probably put the rev limit in the homologation papers, not the rulebook.

  • Gutterslob

    ^ Yeah, and all that sounds like Icelandic to me, mate. All I care about is the racing.
    You can include as much techno-bable as you like, but you still aren’t explaining why everyone chooses to ignore the significant torque advantage (if you say torque doesn’t matter, then you haven’t raced before, even at amateur club level) the 1200cc bikes have.

    I’m still with Ed Gray here. If a company with as much resources as Honda/HRC decided they needed to make a 900+cc twin in order to compete, then the rules were obviously flawed then…. and now the Ducs are given a ~200cc advantage (as opposed to a 150cc+ one back in the 750vs9xx days) and they’re still complaining? I say we tell them to screw their “tradition” and make a four and compete fairly, of sod off.

  • Ed Gray

    Gutterslob, I think I was not clear. I have no interest in making the displacement levels equal for all cylinder counts. my main point is that the rules makers are way to willing to bow to complaints from Ducati to adjust the rules when Ducati doesn’t win a title. Not winning the title does not meant the bike or the formula is not competitive. from my point of view if the model of bike is placing regularly in the top ten with multiple teams then the rules do not need adjusting.

    An unfortunate complication is that there is only one brand running a twin. This could make Ducati feel ganged up on in the rules meetings. I was so sad to see Aprilia drop out, and it is unfortunate that Honda has so little appreciation for twins.