Ducati has officially confirmed it will quit superbike racing at the end of this year unless rules change to allow 1200cc twins to race in the championship.
The Italian manufacturer insists the 1200 rules MUST be implemented within the next two months to allow it to get ready for the 2008 season.
It has given a deadline of the end of May for new regulations to be thrashed out between rival manufacturers and the sport’s governing body, the FIM.
Only last week Alstare Suzuki told MCN at Donington Park they would leave WSB and take Max Biaggi back to MotoGP if the rules were changed.
In response, Ducati race team manager Davide Tardozzi told MCN he thought Ducati would leave if they could not race their new range of 1098-series road bikes. For the first time, the official word from the top has confirmed that threat.
Ducati Corse boss Claudio Domenicali is the man in charge of all Ducati racing and road bike projects – he is the firm’s second-in- command to President Federico Minoli.
In an exclusive interview with MCN and Italian sport paper Gazzetta dello Sport over the Bank Holiday weekend, Domenicali outlined Ducati’s position.
He explained that unless Ducati is allowed to race with an 1198cc race version of the V-twin 1098 road bike, it will quit all superbike racing at the end of this season, including the domestic series it supports.
Domenicali explained: “There is no way we can continue racing in superbike with the 1000cc V-twin engine we currently use. It’s not in the spirit of superbike racing because we no longer produce a road- going 1000cc V-twin sports bike – only bigger capacity bikes. It cannot be made any simpler – we will withdraw from superbikes completely unless the rules are changed.
“The whole point of superbike racing is to race what you sell, and this is not the case any more. We always knew 2007 was going to be an interim year – we have been racing the 999R when we do not sell this bike any longer. This cannot continue after 2007.
“Ducati understands very well the importance of the spirit of superbike racing – some people think we are crazy asking for what we have been asking for in terms of the 1200 rules because we are doing so well in the World Superbike series with Troy Bayliss.
“But this is not about performance gains – this is about us being able to race under the same rules as the 1000cc four-cylinder bikes currently do. We are racing a 999cc V-twin that is effectively a prototype because of the exotic materials we are forced to use to remain competitive.”
Domenicali went on to explain the budgetary implications of being allowed to use a race-ready 1098, spoke of how much power it will make, and outlined Ducati’s willingness to submit the bike to restriction and midseason re-assessment of its competitiveness in 2008.
For the full interview see the April 11, 2007 issue MCN.