“We’ll be working with only one aim in mind: to win.” Those are the words of Gigi Dall’Igna while talking about Ducati Corse’s WorldSBK program, which made its public debut today.
Officially the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike team, the rider duo of Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista have a lot of weight on their shoulders. After all, the Italian marque made an historic switch from a v-twin to a V4 all in the name of winning the World Superbike Championship title.
Usually though, the expectations for a team with a brand new bike are reserved, as it can take a season to extract the full potential of the machine on the race track, but with Ducati, it seems that the grading curve is a bit steeper.
In our inbox today was an interesting email from Ducati, telling us that an updated press kit for the Panigale V4 R superbike was now available on the press site.
Why was there a need to modify the available information? Well, it seems a key technical component on the 998cc machine was changed…more specifically, the 2019 Ducati Panigale V4 R now comes with a dry clutch from the factory.
And so the season ends for WorldSBK. The weather finally behaved at Jerez, and the four WorldSBK teams and three WorldSSP teams got a full day of testing in at Jerez.
Or rather, nearly a full day of testing: the track opened at 10am, but the riders didn’t go out for about 45 minutes, as cold track temperatures made it a perilous undertaking in those early minutes.
But the sun soon did its work, heated the asphalt, and away they went.
Three factories and eight WorldSBK riders turned up at Jerez on Monday, Ducati bringing their brand new Panigale V4R, but at the end, Jonathan Rea was fastest. Plus ça change.
All eyes were on the Ducati garage, and Alvaro Bautista’s first day on the Panigale V4 R. “First day at school” was how the Spaniard characterized it, taking some time to adapt to the bike. It was quite a switch from the Desmosedici he had been riding in MotoGP, the bike having a lot less power.
But, the V4 engine still has plenty, rival teams complaining that the Ducati was 10km/h faster than the others at the Aragon test. Here, the difference was less, but the Panigale was still clearly quicker than the rivals.
Jonathan Rea may have had a third consecutive double at the Portuguese round of WorldSBK, but that’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of action and intrigue as WorldSBK resumed following the summer break.
Step aside Marco Melandri, because Alvaro Bautista just stole your seat in the factory Ducati World Superbike team. Announcing his signing today at the British GP, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will have Bautista within its ranks for the year.
Additionally, Chaz Davies has signed up again to be on the Ducati Corse squad, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the paddock.
Both Davies and Bautista will ride on the new Ducati Panigale V4 superbike, which will make its first proper racing debut in the 1,000cc format next year.
The street model for this machine has yet to be seen, though we have caught glimpses of the test mule for the race bike making laps around various circuits – and it has shown astonishing speed in the process.
More bad news from the World Superbike paddock, as Chaz Davies joins Leon Camier in the list of riders who have injured themselves during the two-month summer break
Davies broke the collarbone in his right shoulder during a training incident. As such, Davies will miss the Race of Champions at World Ducati Week 2018, but he should be ready for racing action when WorldSBK convenes in Portugal for the official WorldSBK test in August, and later in September for the Portuguese round.
It is not clear at this time if Davies will undergo surgery to plate the collarbone fracture, or if he will let the fracture mend on its own. Either way, the injury should not prevent the factory Ducati rider from performing his WorldSBK duties.
Episode 76 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and in it we mix things up. Recorded at the Laguna Seca WorldSBK round, on the mics are Steve English and Jensen Beeler, and the duo covers the World Superbike Championship season thus far.
The show is the first part of a two-part series look at the WorldSBK paddock, which is currently on a two-month summer break.
Starting with the opening round at Phillip Island, we look at what has happened thus far in production racing. We then move to the WorldSBK silly season, as the rider market for next season is just starting to get interesting.
Lastly, we make some predictions for the rest of the season, and take some quick looks at what is to come for the 2019 season in terms of riders, teams, and machinery.
All in all, we think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info on the World Superbike Championship, and insights from teams and riders in the paddock.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
Laguna Seca is one of the world’s most famous race tracks, and it could play host to a memorable race this weekend.
Yamaha is on a roll, Kawasaki is in the midst of what could become a difficult break-up, and Ducati is looking to recapture lost form at a venue of past glories.
The rolling hills of Brno have produced one of the most iconic circuits on the MotoGP and WorldSBK calendar, and this 5km circuit has been the home of some classic races. What goes into a fast lap though is a lot of work on your bike settings and not forcing the issue.
Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri, two former 250GP champions, have been hugely successful at the Czech track, and it’s no coincidence that both riders were schooled riding bikes that needed high corner speed.
Former MotoGP rider Michael Laverty is in Brno this weekend, and he sat down with us to talk about what goes into finding speed at the track, and what he’s seen from watching trackside on Friday.
Round seven of the 2018 WorldSBK season will see the paddock head to Brno in the Czech Republic.
The fast and flowing circuit is a firm favorite with MotoGP riders and fans, and is sure to be well received by the Superbike riders when they return to action in the hills and valleys for the first time since 2011.
That season saw Marco Melandri do the double for Yamaha, but will that past form materialize this weekend?