In the old days of WSB racing Ducati was not only one of the most dominant manufacturers but also supplied the vast bulk of the privateers on the grid.
This was good business for Ducati, with bikes, parts and fresh engines supplied through the season, offsetting the cost of a full factory WSB effort.
Now Ducati looks to be resurgent on track once more and is returning to a role of privateer supplier. Only Kawasaki will have more WSB bikes than Ducati in 2015.
The factory team returns with Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano, as in 2014, when they had only one Evo bike for Niccolo Canepa in the Althea Evo squad.
Now Ducati runs the same factory duo plus Nico Terol and Matteo Baiocco in the Althea Racing Team, and Barni Racing’s lone rider Leandro “Tati’ Mercado.
Cost cutting and a reduction in machine complexity has been at the core of Dorna’s intentions in the SBK class and in 2015 this will have a very practical consideration for teams who will need to buy new machines. The last time Ducati made pure customer bikes to sell, two or three years ago, they cost 135,000 Euros but this year a complete bike will be 95,000 Euros.
Ducati Superbike Project manager Erensto Marinelli gave more details of the expected costings involved. “We do not do engine refreshing service but if you buy an engine to build, in a box of parts, it is 20,000 Euros. The life of the engine with the contingency of the engine now has to do 1000 to 1,500kms. 1,500km is more or less its normal life.”
The reduction in the ‘ticket price’ of a 2015 Panigale R racebike is primarily because of cost capping of components and because the electronics will be simpler and less powerful than before. The pure processing power of the new ECU box will be less, but not much less.
“The 2015 ECU is called an Marelli MLE and it is an ECU that Marelli sells to everybody,” said Marinelli.” That is what we have chosen as the base.”
Some connectors for sensors that do not be separated on a regular basis will no longer need to be full military style connectors, thanks to a redesign of the Ducati wiring harness.