Ducati will not have a major presence in the British Superbike Championship in 2009 for the first time since the series was launched in its present form in 1995, it has emerged today.
The Italian V-twins have won seven of the 14 titles in that time, but the collapse this week of a potential deal between the North West 200 team and Ducati means that the BSB title battle will be an all-Japanese affair next year.
Alistair Kennedy’s North West 200 squad became the sole option for Ducati after GSE Racing – who have won four BSB titles with the Italians – abandoned the big twins after an 11-year affiliation with them. GSE were tempted away in September by a Yamaha factory contract, and all other major BSB teams are also committed to Japanese four-cylinder bikes for 2009.
In November it looked like a deal would come off for Ducati, when the 22-year-old Australian Brendan Roberts was lined up to head Kennedy’s team, with backing from Ducati Corse. But after Roberts won this year’s FIM 1000 Superstock Cup world title, and accepted a World Superbike assault with Guandalini Ducati, Kennedy was left negotiating a new deal with the Italian manufacturer.
The title sponsor for the famous Irish road race then became desperate to retain BSB veteran Michael Rutter, but the pair decided not to set up their own Ducati-based team because “economically it didn’t make sense”, according to the Irish businessman.
Ducati UK are expected to comment today on the situation.