Ducati WSBK Fans Lash Out Against Rossi at Imola

09/29/2010 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

There were some not so happy racing fans this weekend during World Superbike’s penultimate stop at Imola. A home track for Ducati, the race stands where filled with Italian racing red, and also some signs from some very unhappy Ducatisti. Perceiving Valentino Rossi’s switch in the MotoGP from Yamaha to Ducati as the reason for Ducati shutting down its World Superbike racing efforts at the end of this season, Ducati WSBK fans aired our their discontent with anti-Rossi and anti-Ducati banners and stickers throughout Imola.

It’s almost a moot point to debate the reasoning behind the belief of these race fans, as the negative sentiment towards Ducati is very real. But while it’s easy to associate the two contemporaneous announcements from Bologna as being correlated, Ducati’s reasoning behind its World Superbike decision has probably a lot more to do with the fact that Ducati couldn’t get Infront Motor Sports, the media holder behind the World Superbike series, to make more rule concessions for Ducati’s 2012 Superbike program.

Ducati has always had a seesaw relationship with World Superbike, with racing regulations routinely being adjusted to meet the Italian manufacturer’s needs for racing v-twin motorcycles. This has at times left the WSBK series being drastically one-sided, resulting in critics calling World Superbike the “Ducati Cup” when the rules so heavily favored a twin-cylinder format. In the late 1990’s the rules so heavily favored v-twin race bikes, that it spurred superbikes like the Honda RC-51 and Suzuki TL1000R to be developed and entered into the series, as the Japanese manufacturers deciding to beat Ducati at its own game.

With Marlboro footing almost the entirety of Ducati’s MotoGP budget, and Xerox doing the same in World Superbike, the issue of paying Valentino’s salary isn’t really an issue at all for Ducati. An argument could be made about resources available to Ducati to support both racing efforts, but the real truth of the matter comes down to developing and selling more motorcycles.

Unable to get the rules it wants in WSBK this year, and unwilling to develop a four-cylinder motor, Ducati sees MotoGP as an alternative card it can play, effectively telling World Superbike “we don’t need you to market our bikes.” With the star power and marketing punchline of “developed by Valentino Rossi” Ducatisti will just as likely want the latest Superbike incarnation from Bologna, even if it doesn’t have a World Superbike racing pedigree.

Source: MotoBlog.it & Two Wheels Blog

  • Sean

    Whether the link to Rossi is real or imagined, I applaud these fans for airing said grievances.

    Whether the rules in WSBK have favored twins it completely up for debate. If so, why were the RC-51 and TL1000 halted and the Japanese went back to 4 cyls?

    Let’s not forget that the current rules hinder twins, i.e. intake restriction. So one could argue that the rules currently favor 4 cyls.

    I don’t understand it fully, and could be wrong on several points. I think Asphalt and Rubber should to an article on what exactly the rules are and spell it out. It’s all somewhat veiled, at least it seems to be.

  • Ken C.

    I agree with Sean. The restrictions and rules are a part of the sport that are often overlooked and often misunderstood. To me, all I see or understand is that prototypes race each other in MotoGP and suped-up production bikes race each other in WSBK. Doing an article explaining the subtleties would be really helpful.

  • Mark

    I don’t entirely disagree with Ducati’s decision to withdraw from next years WSBK series. I think it has more to do with the development of their new 1198 replacement Superbike for 2012 than any alleged strong arm tactic to bend the rules in their favor. Ducati is a very small company compared to the others, most of their race engineers are also their production engineers, and to get a totally new superbike ready for 2012 requires all hands on deck.
    They simply don’t have enough manpower to design and develop a completely new production Superbike, race MotoGP and WSBK, all at the same time.

    Fortunately, there are a large number of private Ducati’s in the field that will still challenge for race wins next year, as they did this year, and actually outperformed the factory team, so I don’t think Ducati’s withdrawal for one year is going to dramatically effect the series.
    I totally disagree with the assertion by the press that the WSBK rules favor Ducati. In fact, I think the opposite is true. They all forget the fact that Ducati is competing against bikes that the rules allow to run with twice as many cylinders.
    So this assumption that allowing Ducati a 200cc displacement advantage is somehow favoring Ducati is complete BS. The fact is, an engine is nothing but an air pump. The volume of air is dependent on valve area.
    If you compare Ducati’s valve area with the 4 cylinder bikes you’ll find that the 4 cylinder engines have approx 30% more valve area, which should theoretically provide a 30% increase in power. This is only partially offset by allowing Ducati a 20% displacement increase, so Ducati is still running with a 10% handicap. In addition, WSBK requires the Ducati to run with a weight penalty as well. Despite all this Ducati is still successful, which is a credit to the skill and engineering power of Ducati, and the skill of their riders than some bogus rule advantage.

  • The Venster

    This fact should put things in perspective for everyone, Ducati in total sells around 70,000 bikes a year world wide while a Japanese OEM such as Suzuki sells 70,000 bikes a year of just one model such as the GSXR 600. Essentially in comparison they are the Ferrari’s and the Japanese OEM’s are the Mercedes Benz’s, where you see a Mercedes at every street light but seeing a Ferrari is so rare you’ll remember it all day…

    The amount of gross money generated by Ducati versus the Japanese OEM’s is probably the amount the Japanese OEM’s spend on worldwide marketing alone… So they have to get the most marketing for the buck as they can to sell the most amount of merchandise and get the most amount of exposure to support the entire company and they’re racing program and that way is certainly going the MotoGP route instead of the WSBK route.

    Imagine the amount of Ducati/Rossi fans that next year will buy the Ducati/46 merchandise and I guarantee it will be more than they ever sold the Ducati/Xerox merchandise since they’re partnership started way back when. So I think eventually, could be a few years from now the Rossi move will pay for the Ducati Factory team to return to WSBK for the rest of their existence…

  • Jaime

    That doesn’t make any sense… Ducati races a four cylinder in MotoGP! How does that translate to a twin-cylinder bike for the street??

  • Mark

    Jaime, I think what Venster means is that the money that Ducati will make through their association with Rossi will help fund the WSBK team.

  • The Venster

    Bingo Mark!

    Not to mention Ducati got 2 wins this weekend on a Satellite team bike an all Ducati podium with Haga on the podium on the Factory Bike… What’s the issue???

  • Jake

    It’s funny how you guys who are quick to say that the rules hinder Ducati (with the restrictors) never mention the 200cc advantage that they are given. I’ve saying for the longest there rules are never going to be “fair or equal” going by cc’s and they should find a way to adapt a HP & weight limit and then let people run whatever they want. Or have separate classes for twins and 4s.

    second in regards to the questioning of twins having an advantage in the past and Honda & Suzuki abandoning their twin projects….Well Suzuki’s twin pretty much sucked as a race bike so that was easy. As for Honda it was the same reason Ducati won’t build a 4cylinder, it’s not their history to build twins. But you’d have to be blind if you didn’t see the difference in Honda’s results when they ran the RC51 as opposed to the RC45. Then you through in newcomers at time Aprilia and how competitive with their twin and yeah the twins had an advantage

    All this talk about how small Ducati is, is simply BS. What matters is how much Ducati is willing to focus and spend on racing and they’ve shown that they will out spend the Japanese. They’ve shown that at the drop of a dime they will build a specific bike just so that it can be raced. They’ve shown that they will build a limited edition MotoGP rep and lose money on it just because they want to. So if they feel the rules aren’t fair then all they have to do is build a 4. It’s not that they can’t it’s that they don’t want to. That is not a valid reason to run an entire series around them. If building twins were so important to them then why aren’t they running one in MotoGP?

    But this is typical Ducati (like Ferrari) everything is fine when they are winning. But as soon as they loose they complain that the rules are against them. Yes it sucks for Ducati to pull out but I think it’s better the series that they stood their grounds. Just like I applaud Yamaha for not jeapordizing their future to stroke Rossi’s ego

  • MikeD

    Any FLAT CRANK I-4 cc per cc, same state of tune (head gas flow, compression ratio, cam profile, etc) will always make more HP ON A BAD DAY THAN ANY 90* Twin.

    2002 Suziki TL1000R (996cc,11.7:1 ) HP on a good day…135HP@9500rpms ?

    2002 Suzuki GSXR 1000 (988cc, 12.0:1) HP 160HP@10800rpms ANY DAY.

    Is the Nature of the Beast. Look at Yamaha and their Chevy (90* rod pin phasing) small block crank style. Making the lowest HP Number of the 1K’s.

    Flat(180*) Cranks make more HP + rev harder. ASK Ferrari…is all they use on their V8s (Sound is a nice bonus).

    Besides, what good is an extra 200cc when u have restrictor plates choking them ? is like having a pig alive to feed ur family but u don’t even have a knife to stab it.

  • Ron

    Its the stupidest thing ever these fans are doing. Ducati cant pay Rossi’s salary, theyre still a tiny company. Marlboro has and always has paid the GP riders salary.
    Ducati quit simply because they rules arent going their way and xerox can leave them because them not running up front was a contract requirement for renewal.

  • Edward Kimmons

    Dont hate on Rossi. Its not his fault Ducati is pulling out of WSBK. They didnt get their way and they are pulling. ITS THAT SIMPLE!!!

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  • eze1976

    really, the reason honda wont build twins is because its not in thier history? How bout try cause you get more bang for buck with an inline 4 period, a twin well you must spend more and have to have a greater displacement to equal that of a IL4. I think that is alittle closer to a reason.

    How small is Ducati vrs a Japanese Yam/Suz/Hon/Kaw…. Tiny, you dont know what you are talking about. not even a quarter of one of the big four in manpower behind closed doors. Your talking for every 50 guys at honda their are 5 at ducati, no joke.

  • Jeram


    With reference to everyones obsession with HP

    dont forget the old saying;
    HP sells bikes
    TORQUE wins races

    Never forget the advantage that the ducati has coming out of corners with its two huge 600cc jugs.
    Sure the Jap bikes catch up at the end of the straight with their top end advantage, but this is what evens it all out and makes it so great to watch.

    Hp is just torque at high RPM, its completely derivative and not worth obsessing over as much as people do..

  • Dmoney

    I agree its just a matter of where the company wants to concentrate their resources, Ducati and Rossi have each made a commitment to each other and it will be enormously profitable for both. Besides, Phillip Morris is paying Rossi’s salary, not Ducati so I dont think it’s a money issue. I will miss seeing the two matching factory 1198’s in WSBK but if it leads to the production of a better superbike than its fine.

  • Xa

    just a couple notes after reading the responses:

    – the tl1000r and rc51 came about because honda and suzuki felt that the rules were VERY tilted towards v-twins during that time period. you have to remember that at the time those two bikes came out, v-twins (ducati) was allowed to have up to 1000cc of displacement as opposed to 750cc restriction on 4 cylinders. afterwards, when WSBK allowed 1000cc 4 cylinders, ducati complained until it got 1100 and then 1200 cc displacement. WSBK management makes the concessions for ducati because it is run by an italian promotion and the major market is in italy.

    – the point about intake restrictions and valve area is pretty moot. ducati (and all v-twins) have always made their living off of low-end torque driving them out of the corners. displacement is the source of torque. if there were no restrictors, the combined peak power and low end torque would make it a ducati dominated series, like it used to be. as it is, you’ve seen yamaha, honda, suzuki, aprilia, and a (privateer, lolololol) ducati win this year, as well as a kawasaki on pole position. i would think that the rules are quite fair.

    ducati doesn’t want to be in WSBK because they can’t win everything all the time now. plain and simple. give it a year, and the rules will be changed and they’ll be back.

  • Chris

    I can remember when there was only 1 green in line four that could run with the herd of 916s. I think the diversty in race winners this year proves that WSBK got the rules right. If Haga’s head would have been right this year Ducati very well could have won the title this year. Look what Checa did and he was robbed of two wins at Miller.

  • mylexicon

    1. WSBK is rev limited via homologation. Rev limits don’t work over multiple capacities that’s why the sport moved to 1000cc for everyone even though Ducati were accustomed to having a displacement allowance.

    2. The rev limit goes up over time, and it was known quite early on that the 999R only had a shelf life of about 5 years. The arrangement was fine until the 999 didn’t sell. By 2006-7 Ducati knew they wouldn’t have the money to continue racing 1000cc twins or to design a new 1000cc 4-cylinder. The cost of revving the engines was killing Corse and the privateers so Ducati begged the SBK commission for more stroke so they could reduce the rev ceiling. When they moved to 1200cc, it was no longer possible to rev limit the bike fairly so the SBK commission decided to air restrict and performance index.

    3. Since the rev limit goes up over time, other manufacturers like Honda and Suzuki are also going to be forced to redesign their engines (3rd engine design) so they can keep up with the rev limit. In response to the cost of high-revving engines, and to avoid further engine redesigns, the MSMA are trying to impose a new lower-rev limit on WSBK. The new rev limit will allow Ducati to run a 1000cc twin again, just like they did with the 999R.

    This isn’t about babies crying b/c they can’t win. Five different makes have won this year b/c it’s all about chassis geometry, setup, electronics, and the rider. Kawasaki can’t build a proper chassis (the new one is supposed to be much better). BMW are busy experimenting with proprietary Bosch electronics. Those are the only two manufacturers who didn’t win this season.

    That’s how the game is played. It’s about the rulebook we don’t see called the homologation papers. I’d kill for a copy.