Not surprisingly, the official launch of the long-awaited Ducati Desmosedici road bike has got race fans and lots of MCN users all a-quiver over the prospect of seeing one racing at a track near them, perhaps in club racing for the well-off, or something a bit more serious such as – whisper it – World Superbikes.
As we know, Ducati have already ruled out fielding the bike in WSB, saying the championship is where they showcase the ultimate incarnations of their V-twins, that engine configuration still being very much central to ‘who’ Ducati is. On that basis, they have always said that they do not ever plan to send the Desmo-RR into battle against GSX-Rs and the like.
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But, some have reasoned, could a private team not race the Desmo-RR…? Well, for that to be allowed, firstly Ducati would have to formally homologate the bike so it would be legal in the series. They are planning on making it in sufficient numbers, so that wouldn’t be a problem, but they would still have to go through the legal process of applying to have the bike approved for WSB racing – which would send out such a mixed message, that I can’t see them doing it.
Secondly, buried within the current WSB technical regulations is a fairly obscure rule which more or less makes it impossible for anyone to race a Desmo-RR in WSB with its true performance levels on show. The rule is meant to prevent the four-cylinder bikes moving to ultra-short stroke motors and revving higher and higher, and basically says that if you have a bore which is 1.5-times wider (or more) than the length of the stroke, then you can’t rev to over 14,000rpm.
Ducati say that the Desmo-RR will have identical bore and stroke to the current MotoGP bike, and while those numbers aren’t known, they are reckoned to be around the 1.8:1 ratio – which means any team using a Desmo-RR would never be able to truly ‘open them up’ in terms of tuning.
As a guide, the current most ‘extreme’ of the Japanese superbikes in WSB is the R1, which has a bore/stroke ratio of 1.43:1 – a clear guide as to quite how radical the Desmo-RR is in the first place, and how far backwards it would be forced by being rev-capped to 14,000rpm.