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."

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