We have a love/hate relationship with unverified rumors here at Asphalt & Rubber. On the one hand, we strive to break timely and accurate stories for our readers, which means getting the best information as possible, and sharing it with you as soon as possible.
On the other hand though, some wild rumors are worth repeating, not so much for their accuracy, but for how fanciful and romantic it is to think of them being real. Today’s news falls into the latter category, though it comes from the reliable Carlo Baldi of Moto.it.
According to the Italian publication, Ducati is working on a four-cylinder superbike platform, which is likely being developed with World Superbike competition in-mind.
We know, we know, the very concept of a Ducati superbike without a v-twin platform borders on heresy. The rumor isn’t that crazy though, if you think about it, which is probably why it is so delicious to share with you.
Ducati Corse’s racing woes have been noted, many times before, and not just by Asphalt & Rubber. The brand last won the MotoGP World Championship in 2007 with Casey Stoner, and last won the Superbike World Championship in 2011 with Carlos Checa.
While the company’s MotoGP project has been plagued by technical and organizational issues, the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 seem to show that Gigi Dall’Igna has the group on the right path now. It should be only a matter of time before Ducati is claiming race victories, and possibly world championships, once again.
In World Superbike, things are a bit different for two reasons, primarily because the new WSBK rules have pushed race bikes to be much closer to what’s being sold on the dealer floors, and also the WSBK rules don’t favor two-cylinder machines like they once did.
The Ducati Panigale R suffers from WSBK’s air restrictor limitations, and though the machine has an extra 200cc in displacement, that advantage is partially wasted because the higher revs and larger pistons are not as effective of an advantage without more air coming into the combustion chamber.
Like the Japanese manufacturers in the late-90’s, it is therefore not inconceivable that Ducati would try the other side of the rules sheet, where the four-cylinder bikes play – trying to beat the Japanese, Aprilia, and BMW at their own game.
Of course, it is almost impossible to imagine Ducati giving up as sacred of a cow as the v-twin superbike platform, but if there’s one thing we’ve seen at the Italian marque, nothing is out of the realm of possibility, especially when it comes to winning.
Just about the only way we see this rumor panning out is if Ducati’s four-cylinder machine is limited only to the Panigale R (or whatever they’re calling it at that point in time), with the “customer” versions of the machine still a v-twin, and outside of the WSBK technical specs.
Do we expect to see a new superbike for 2017? That sounds about right, considering where the Panigale is in its development. Do we expect it to be a four-cylinder machine? Nope, not at all.
It could be a very interesting day in Bologna if this rumors pans out to be true though. Unfortunately, we have some time to wait, and discuss this rumor in the comments. Check back in a couple years to see if Mr. Baldi was right.