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Marco Melandri

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As we expected, the GRT Yamaha squad is moving out of the World Supersport Championship, and into the World Superbike Championship for the 2019 season.

Riding for the GRT Yamaha squad is not who we expected however, though it will be two big names in the sport: former world champions Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese.

Melandri makes the defection from Ducati, where he was reportedly paying for his ride, to Yamaha. He hopes to best his fifth place in the 2018 championship standings. Meanwhile, Cortese comes into the World Superbike racing having just won the World Supersport Championship title.

Factory-backed in World Supersport last year, the GRT Yamaha team will keeps its factory status next year as well, which leaves Yamaha with four factory-backed YZF-R1 racing machines on the grid in 2019.

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.

12 Ducati racers. 12 Ducati Panigale V4 S superbikes. 12 race liveries to drool over. If you are not on the Adriatic Coast of Italy right now, you are missing out on one of the motorcycle industry’s best events…even if you don’t ride a Ducati motorcycle.

This is because World Ducati Week 2018 is about to kickoff in Misano this weekend, and while the festival has plenty to keep you entertained, one of the highlights to the three-day event will certainly be the Race of Champions.

Slotted to race will be a dozen names that should be familiar to motorcycle racing fans: Troy Bayliss, Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, Michele Pirro, Chaz Davies (who will miss the race because of a broken collarbone), Marco Melandri, Jack Miller, Danilo Petrucci, Xavi Fores, Michael Rinaldi, Tito Rabat, and Karel Abraham.

The race will take place on Saturday, and be shown live on Italian TV, but fans around the world can get in on the action as well, as each of the Ducati Panigale V4 S superbikes being raced will be auctioned publicly on eBay, giving Ducatisti a chance to own a very special race-prepped motorcycle.

For those of us without the coin, however, we have 12 gorgeous machines to drool over on the interwebs.

It is hard to pick a favorite, but I will say just this…Ducati would sell the beans out of a special edition Bayliss replica…and the MotoGP livery looks fantastic when applied the Panigale V4 street bike. Which is your pick?

Five riders from four manufacturers stood on the Misano podium to show the strength and depth of WorldSBK.

“This is the real Superbike racing” was how Marco Melandri assessed the Sunday’s racing at Misano, and it was hard to argue with the Italian.

Under blue skies and a burning sun, the action on track was just as hot with Jonathan Rea, Michael van der Mark, and Melandri all fighting it out for the win.

With Chaz Davies keeping a watching brief following his Saturday podium, and Eugene Laverty having stood on the Race 1 rostrum, it was clear this was the best race weekend of the 2018 season.

Five riders spraying Prosecco on the podium, and four manufacturers able to see their riders on the box, it was a fantastic weekend to bring a close to racing before the summer break.

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?

They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Chaz Davies will certainly be hoping that this isn't the case.

The Welshman has had a turbulent start to the 2018 World Superbike season, but after four rounds he finds himself closer to Jonathan Rea in the standings than any recent season.

Davies has been able to win twice already this season, in Buriram and Aragon, and sits 30 points behind Rea. After four rounds he'll have every reason to feel that this year he could finally be in a position to mount a season long title assault.

A tire issue at Assen robbed him of pace in Race 2, but he has proven again that he, and Ducati, are the only realistic opposition to Rea's quest for a fourth title.

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