Ducati quits World Superbike

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Ducati-Quits-SBK.jpgDucati is quitting the racing series it helped popularize and that came to define its corporate success. This morning, Ducati announced it would no longer field a factory team in SBK, instead concentrating on MotoGP. Reading between the lines, it’s easy to jump to the much-rumored conclusion that the money Ducati had been putting towards seeing its 1198 lose to the Aprilia RSV4 will now go towards Valentino Rossi’s retirement fund. The move also marks a radical change for the company’s marketing strategy, purchasing a Ducati superbike will no longer be a case of purchasing a race-winning motorcycle, but instead one that’ll allegedly include trickle down technology from MotoGP. Does this mean future Ducati flagships will look more like the Desmosedici than they will a living, breathing set of SBK homologation rules? What does that mean for v-twins?

Update: SBK has issued an official statement, essentially calling out Ducati for lying about its reason for quitting the series, it’s below.

Ducati’s official statement:

Borgo Panigale (Bologna – Italy), 27 August
2010 -   Ducati, having participated with a factory team in every
edition of the World Superbike Championship since it began in 1988,
winning 16 Manufacturers’ world titles and 13 Riders’ world titles
along the way, has decided to limit its participation to the supply of
machines and support to private teams.

“This decision is part of a specific strategy
made by Ducati, the aim being to further increase technological content
in production models that will arrive on the market in the coming
years. In order to achieve this objective, the company’s technical
resources, until now engaged with the management of the factory
Superbike team, will instead be dedicated to the development of the new
generation of hypersport bikes, in both their homologated and
Superbike race versions,” declared  Gabriele Del Torchio, President and
CEO of Ducati. “I would like to thank Nori and Michel, and all of the
riders that have contributed to the great history of Ducati in
Superbike, but above all the Ducati employees; it is their hard work
and professionalism that has allowed us to achieve such important
results. A big thank you also to all of the partners that have
supported us, first and foremost Xerox of course. I would also like to
acknowledge the Flammini brothers who have managed the championship for
so long, and the FIM, the organization with which we have continuous,
constructive relations.”

By making this important decision Ducati aims to
increase the speed and efficiency with which it transfers advanced
technological solutions, currently tested in the prototype championship,
to the production series.

The task of testing innovative technical
solutions in Superbike racing will therefore be entrusted to external
teams in the coming years, teams that will have the chance to receive
technical support from Ducati personnel. This choice will allow the
teams to benefit from even more competitive machines and parts.

Despite the decision to interrupt its official participation in the
World Superbike Championship, Ducati will continue to work, in
collaboration with the championship organizers, other manufacturers and
the FIM, to define a technical regulation aimed at containing costs.
Strong in the sporting spirit that has always allowed this manufacturer
to compete, line-up against its rivals, and win, it is fundamental for
Ducati to identify, together with the other interested parties,
solutions that can guarantee the future of the championship in the
medium-long term.

Recently the Superbike World Championship,
according to the current regulations, has been interpreted as moving
more towards competition between prototypes rather than for bikes
derived from production machines. This has led to an increase in costs,
both for the manufacturers and the teams participating in the
championship. This picture does not correlate with the current
worldwide economic situation, which has made the securing of
sponsorship even more difficult. Ducati trusts that the work carried
out by all parties will lead to improvement also in this area.

The SBK statement:

Infront Motor Sports has learnt with
disappointment of Ducati’s decision not to participate with a factory
team in the 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship.

The Borgo Panigale manufacturer
has built a large part of its history and reputation on the back of its
wins in the world championship for production-based bikes, in which it
has taken part since the very start and in which it has obtained 16
Manufacturers’ and 13 Riders’ titles with its strictly twin-cylinder
production models. As recently as last year Ducati was fighting for the
championship title right down to the final round of the season at
Portimao, proving the outright competitiveness of its flagship model,
the 1198, and demonstrating the extremely well-balanced nature of the
current technical regulations.

“We are disappointed and also a
bit surprised at Ducati’s decision,” declared Paolo Flammini, CEO of
Infront Motor Sports, “especially since we have been asked numerous
times for a change in the regulations to bring about a better balancing
of twin-cylinder 1200cc machines towards the four-cylinder 1000cc bikes,
but it must be mentioned that last year, without the presence of a
phenomenal Ben Spies, the Ducati 1198 would have dominated the
championship with Haga and Fabrizio, and it is therefore difficult for
us today to comprehend this decision, which of course we must respect.

Moreover the FIM Superbike World
Championship can today boast the participation of six manufacturers in
addition to Ducati, with Aprilia, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and
Yamaha and is therefore obliged to maintain a total balance in the
regulations, without privileging one or other manufacturer in

We are however pleased that Ducati
has confirmed its technical support for private teams that will be
competing with its models in the 2011 championship and that the
development of its new generation of hypersport bikes, in both
homologated and Superbike race versions, will continue.”

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D


  • General Apathy

    WOW! Did not need that coming. What about satellite temas? That’s like 6-8 bikes off the grid.

    • http://twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

      Satellite teams will still be able to be in there if they want to be. It’s just the factory team represented by this announcement.

    • Drew Teague

      I’m sure the privateers can still use Ducatis, since they are footing the bill themselves.

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Holy Balls!

    Actually, this is my story as well. I quit watching WSBK some time back, and focused on MotoGP.

  • Tim

    I wonder if the cognicetti among us can draw parallels with the LeMans car series of the 70s? The battle between Enzo Ferrari and Ford comes to mind- but not really the buyout dynamics. I’m thinking about the consequences of a big Italian manufacturer pulling out of hotly contested, high profile racing and its impact on the series. When Ferrari pulled factory support out of sports car series, it withered.

    It seems sad that WSB and Ducati could not get along. Of course, if they won’t listen to a team’s requests then they have the option of “taking their ball and going home.”

    I wonder if this may be why Nori Haga hasn’t been charging hard this year?

  • http://damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Shite! I was kind of hoping to see Colin Edwards rip it up on a Ducati next year. Oh how quickly Ducati has fallen in WSBK this past year. Yikes.

  • http://www.anotherdamndj.com Hecksyeahs

    ^ = V4 desmo to showrooms as standard production bikes, NOT $74K limited types.

  • vic

    i thought Marlboro was going to front the cash for Rossi .fuck dammit i smoked 2 packs/day of their poison for 8 years and this is the thanks i get

    ps:Wes those press statements need more blabla in them and less actual letters
    check out the post Ivar made for the blueprint

    • Ivar

      Lol – thanks vic. Special for you my friend:

      Borgo Panigale (Bologna – Italy), 27 August 2010 – Ducati blah blah bla has decided to blah blah quit.

      “Specific strategy. Increase technological content. Dedicated. Development,”declared Gabriele Del Torchio, President and CEO of Ducati.

      This choice will allow the teams to benefit from even more competitive machines and parts.

      Blah blah blah technical regulation blah blah containing costs.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Ivar “Blah Blah” Kvadsheim.

  • Patrick from Astoria

    Sad panda face. Ducati has built up a tremendous amount of credibility and good karma building streetbikes that were just a few parts and some tuning away from their racebikes. Really disappointing to see this happen.

  • Sean Smith

    After seeing the difference (or lack there of) in speed between the factory bikes and the privateers this year, I can kinda understand why ducati would do this. Well, that, and the whole rossi deal. He’s not cheap.

  • EJC

    Can you blame them? All the ballast and restrictors making their bike uncompetitive?

  • K2theM

    V-twins suck. Bring on the V-4′s!

  • pdub

    big deal. Aren’t Honda only there via Ten Kate? Honda’s waaay bigger than Ducati to pull back and concentrate on the GP factory team. If this results in a V4 street bike and/or production racer Ducati could still do quite well in WSBK.
    Note the barely veiled criticism and maybe threat to Aprilia. Translation “You cheating bastards with your gear driven cam GP in WSBK clothing machine. We’ll get you. We’ll just use our real GP bike as the template and, ah, hire the rider that used to beat yours Sunday after Sunday”. I can picture Biaggi’s eye twitching now.

  • http://www.DucCutters.com/ Bill Johnson

    With all do respect, Ducati can stick Rossi and MotoGP up there ass!

    To quit racing the bikes they actual sell to concentrate on bikes that represent less then 1% of there sells, just go to show how retarded there new management is.

    - Bill Johnson
    President of the DucCutters Desmo Owner’s Club.

    • Sean Smith

      Hey Bill, MotoGP competition actually represents 0% of Ducati’s sales. Fine, the desmo uses an engine similar to that of the GP05, but it’s a different bike altogether, and because of the nature of MotoGP rules (prototype racing), they can never sell those bikes. Sure they use them as a technology testbed, but there are and never will be any MotoGP bikes for sale to the public.

      Besides, Checa is more fun to watch than either of the factory guys, he’s probably still gonna be on a ducati superbike.

    • connor reed

      @ Bill Johnson

      Sorry Bill. Hate to be a grammar and spelling Nazi but you make it tough to get on the bandwagon when I’m distracted by the mess you wrote.

      Prez? Really?

      Just saying

  • RT Rider

    I was never interested in a Ducati motorcycle anyway.

  • ERIC

    Makes sense with MotoGP going to production based 1000cc engines

  • AGP

    The reason Ducati are bailing is the same reason many other manufacturers are pissed: WSBK has become a prototype class, just like MotoGP, and as a base for prototypes Ducati’s platform less and less competitive.

    The case of Aprilia is emblematic. The RSV4 racer’s use of gear-driven cams has been the subject of much protest by other teams, but it took 2 years for WSBK to finally make the bike illegal (next year’s RSV4′s engine will resemble its production counterpart a bit more).

    Given the above you can hardly fault Ducati for recognizing they cannot compete. If you want to see production-based racing watch SuperStock, if you want prototypes watch MotoGP. WSBK is a really strange hybrid right now.

  • Bald Shaun

    My $0.02. This is only temporary. Until Ducati can get finish the street going V4 “Superquadrata” that’s been rumored for a while now. Until then, if they don’t think they can win, they’re not going to compete. Kind of lame, but it makes economic sense to focus on the new design and then come back in force when they’re competitive. Of course, this is all 100% pure speculation, but I really can’t believe that Ducati, a company that more than any other built its brand on racing, would stay out of WSB for long.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Racing’s (of any kind) has always been a case of bending the rules as much as possible. I really think this is more significant than Ducati throwing their toys out of the pram over the RSV4′s success, after all, how many years total has Ducati had a huge capacity advantage now? 1000cc vs 750cc in the ’90s then 1200cc vs 1000cc now, can’t get much more unfair than that.

  • Rob

    Sure Ducati may have a displacement advantage, however the throttle bodies sizes are limited and therefore it almost doesn’t matter how much the combustion chamber can hold, it matters how much air/fuel gets in there. The larger displacement bikes will always produce a little more torque, but given a 2cyl instead of 4, it will sacrifice overall power. It will also sacrifice whatever top end it IS truly capable of because of restricted throttle body inlets.

    Take WRC for example, 2 liter cars making 300whp and 450ft lbs of torque because of restricted inlet size. The displacement that Ducati has is NOWHERE NEAR as much of an advantage as people make it out to be. Eespecially since they’re down 2cylinders anyway.

  • RSVDan

    There is a whole lot of conjecture here that is uneccesary as Ducati’s own CEO has already stated the plan for the 2012 SBK, including many technical features. He publicly stated the bike will go frameless, ala the GP10, using cast aluminum on the standard bike, and CF on the “S” and “R” versions. The motor will will be ditching belts in favor of gear driven cams (so the Aprilia haters can STFU now) as well as a very short stroke, oversquare bore & stroke allowing over 14K redline. The motor will also no longer be a real L-Twin as the motor will be rotated back in the frame to allow for better weight distribution and front end geometry. The “Superquadrata” is nothing but an internet rumor, and Ducati will be back racing a V-Twin within a couple of years.

    It is of absolutely no surprise to me that they have opted to bow out for a season or two. Why continue to pour money down a dry well when you have just hired Rossi on to campaign your GP bike which will nicely cover marketing exposure, have a new SBK to develope as well as a new 1000cc GP bike to design and build, all in the course of a little over a year. Save your pennies and come back punching with a new bike.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com Michael Uhlarik

    I saw a pig flying past my daughter’s second floor bedroom window today …

    Seriously, in Bologna the mantra for over two decades was “SBK is our root”. Everything that is iconographic about Ducati’s sports bikes comes from World Superbike, World Endurance before that, and F1750 before that. The single-sided swingarm (for rapid tire changes), the adoption of twin headlamps, the aircraft style fuel cap, to the DesmoQuattro four valve head that gifted the 851-888-916 with such phenomenal power all came from this development stream.

    In the words of Massimo Bordi, the father and architect of modern Ducati, at the launch of the 916:

    “Ducati had a glorious tradition and had played a major part in the history of biking. The fame that Ducati had garnered from their racing division-from the 50′s to the 70′s- was too great a heritage to go untapped. Indeed, that tradition was one of the foundations upon which the DesmoQuattro was based. We could not continue to follow the pattern of the past: winning big on the race track without exploiting those victories in the showroom in terms of production models.”

    “…the first effort focused on two objectives: rejuvenate Ducati’s racing image, and to offer a reliable production bike, upon which the company could build a solid commercial structure. AND BOTH OF THOSE ASPECTS HAD TO MEET IN A SINGLE MOTORCYCLE.”

    (all caps emphasis added)

    The relationship between MotoGP and street bikes are as tenuous as Formula One cars and the road cars. Marketing bullshit and styling are the only things that connect those dots, and have not done particularly well with mass production vehicles in the past (think Jaguar and Toyota’s wasted F1 efforts).

    Everyone that can remember Doug Polen’s amazign first wins with the 851, the Fogarty years, or Chili pushing an obsolete 998 past factory Japanese hardware with equal engine capacity will be sad to see this chapter in history end.

  • Richard Gozinya

    Doubt it’ll have much impact on their sales. The real cash cow for Ducati is the Monster, so no WSBK, at least for now, isn’t going to have a noticeable impact on sales.

  • ChuckNorris

    Loving you more everyday, Ivar! Blah blah rocks! Hallelujah!

  • toeCutter

    Who Gives a flyin italian fuck, they are cheaters , they need to go home.. Oh

    And now got Rossi yeap after all his success with Honda and Yamaha they overpaid for a drained Superstar of the 00s.. Rossi isnt what he used to be and NO… Italians wouldnt buy Ducatis just because Rossi rides One they are not that stupid!!!

    Sure they will sell some over fuckin priced tshirts and hats with VR46 and Ducati PUMA Oups.. i mean Ducati new logo on it and that’s about it…

    And how about this cool motogp desmo 16? look on ebay you can get one for less than 40k anymore…

    Oh one last thing!
    Aprilia fuckin rules such a great machine, makes 1198 to look like a train!!!! suck on this ducatisti

  • stratkat

    wow! so much anger on this and other sites about Ducati pulling out, and Rossi. i for one cant wait for next year, also cant wait to see what Ducati has waiting in the wings for the street!

    • TwinMe

      +1. (_ ) If any of RSVDan comments are true i can not wait for what those guys on their White Lab Clothes are dyno testing already for sure.

      Im drooling at the prospect of a “1200cc 14k Rpm GEAR-DRIVEN Cams V-TWIN”…(wich im really skeptical is true)…if what is known up till now is anything to use as a reference…(isn’t the red line for the 1198 something like 9k-9.5k rpms ?). But what do i know, i just like to ride and do my own casual wrenching.

      I don’t care about the rest of the bike. Not a Ducatista here, just a distant “Admirer”.

  • Mocioclistu

    Good ridance. Never been a fan of Ducatis in SBK racing.
    They only won when the rules were greatly slanted in they’re favor or when the grid looked like a Ducati cup.
    Even back in the 851/888 days they still got away with a lot of BS just because they were Italian.
    Win in MotoGP with even rules and build proper V4 streetlegal bikes instead of overhyped Vtwin waterpumps and I might be a fan someday.

  • Mike

    It’s very simple. You Buy more Ducatis and they can afford not only Rossi but Haga and Michel. So what’s it going to be? Buy one of those sad pathetic sport classics that their dealers have been sitting on for 3 years, or buy a Hypermotard that they have been dusting off for 2 years, or buy a 1198 that they have been begging you to to buy for the last year?

    Sponsor Ducati, and they will race for your entertainment!!!! This is the way of things.

  • g

    its ridiculous, sbk is basically what ducati is, i mean 1198 = superbike, its just like synonymous, so i cant see ducati maintaining its cult image if it quits sbk… plus sbk was for year favoring ducati’s and bending rules to suit them, thats one of the reasons thy won so much and its the major reason ducatis are what they are today.
    it just seems like they are destroying the whole ducati image and what its stands for, i can imagine all those ducati fans arnt very happy, hell ive never owned a ducati but im not happy.

    sbk is AWESOME!! race bikes sold for the street, its like the Le Mans of the motorcycle world, the ducati had the aura of the gt40 and the ferraries at Le Mans, some special machines, thats what sbk is to bikes, cant believe they are giving that up…

    it just doesnt sound good…

    look up ducati in the dictionary of our collective consciousness and it means “superbike”, might as well just change the name ducati for something else

  • Isaac

    I think they quit so they could pay Valentino’s salary in Moto GP.

  • Marco

    Such fowl language! Ducati has done what many other companies have done over the years…being an old racer, I guess you young spuds don’t recall how Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, MV, Moto Guzzi, etc. all took time out of racing primarily due to the high racing costs and marketing considerations…Remember, once Mr. Honda died, Honda has had a strategic marketing plan which included racing…racing not for the “love of the sport”….of all the teams over recent years, it has been Ducati and Yamaha who race for reasons other than just marketing! Also, regarding Ducati “cheating” since they had a capacity advantage, you guys really need to study the rule book and study some engineering….and guess what…you’ll find out you just don’t know as much as you think….(in passing…when Ferrari threatened to leave F1, the FIA literally BEGGED them to come back….why?…because everyone wants to see them race…like it or not, this is the way it is…and to some degree it applies to Ducati….hope they come back soon so I can enjoy their racing efforts and whose who dislike the Ducati label can get angry every time they win…have a good day……

  • connor reed

    +3 to Marco for:
    1) Keeping it friendly while reminding us of the past.

    2) Remaining unbiased about a specific brand and appreciating that without a diverse field of competitors it means less when your favorite team wins.

    3) Hoping for the best in the future instead of picking apart the negative right now.

    Every competition, regardless of origin, is subject to periods of change and turmoil. In turn, the sport’s competitors are forced to make difficult decisions to accommodate those difficult periods. This situation is no different.

    It is one thing for a lone person to casually make a forceful and defiant statement behind a computer regarding their course of action, were they in the same situation.

    It is quite another for a company who answers to stockholders and brutally competitive marketplace, to come to a decision such as this.

    When viewed in that light, Marco’s perspective is dead on.

    For me, more brands on the grid bring a richer flavor to racing, and i’ll miss that Italian spice when it’s gone.