Ducati will back a full factory team in World Superbike during the 2014 campaign and joins with former partner Feelracing in its effort. The news reflects the Bologna-based brand’s intention to regain its status as challenger for the top-step in the series, where it remains the most successful marque in World Superbike history with 313 race wins, 782 podiums and 163 pole positions.
Ducati’s return comes after the brand announced mid-2010 that it was pulling factory-backing from World Superbike to “focus its technical resources on product development.” The brand continued to work in collaboration with SBK teams such as Althea Racing, offering technical support from brand personnel and in 2011 the move appeared to have little effect on Ducati’s performance. Carlos Checa decimated the competition in his run for the title, winning a total of 15 races.
Rule changes after the 2011 title-winning season included weight handicaps set on 1200cc machines that directly affected the 1098R. BMW, Aprilia and Kawasaki gained ground in 2012 while Ducati began to slide back, with Checa notching four race wins during his title defense and finishing fourth in the points. The introduction of the 1199 Panigale in 2013 didn’t help – and there were no Ducati pilots within the top-10 at the end of the Superbike season.
As a result of the 2010 decision Ducati dropped its partnership with Feelracing as well. Feelracing remained in the series and most recently worked with BMW’s factory team, though after the German marque pulled its factory support after the 2013 season concluded, Feel came back on the market. The revived partnership is one more step in Ducati’s recent push to resuscitate its entire racing program, marked by Luigi Dall’Igna’s move from Aprilia to Ducati Corse General Manager earlier in the year
Dall’Inga will direct the Ducati Superbike Team along with Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti. Ernesto Marinelli continues to direct the 1199 development as Superbike Project Director, with Serafino Forti (who comes from the BMW Motorrad GoldBet squad) serving as the SBK squad’s Team Manager.
In 2013 MV Agusta returned to a world championship road race podium after a 37-year absence. Roberto Rolfo took third-place at Donington Park in World Supersport competition, marking the first rumblings of a return for the brand that once dominated world championship road racing. MV extends its efforts in World Superbike in 2014 through a new partnership with Yakhnich Motorsport, the team that helped propel Sam Lowes to the 2013 World Supersport championship title. MV plans to continue battling in Supersport through 2014 with its F3 machine, but has eyes on entering World Superbike by 2015 with the F4-RR once the series wide EVO spec regulations kick in. There’s been no announcement yet of who will pilot the MV Agusta Supersport mount, but the company has promised word by the end of November.
Giovanni Castiglioni, MV Agusta President commented, “Our official return to racing is a very ambitious and important step for us. Racing has always been my dad’s greatest passion and this drove the brand to victory in many disciplines of motorcycle racing, from 500cc GP to Paris-Dakar and to the first Superbike World Championship titles won with Ducati. His dream was to see MV back to racing and I am so proud to be the one doing so.”
Alexander Yakhnich, President of Yakhnich Motorsport added, “”We worked very hard to achieve the great results of 2013. The partnership with MV Agusta opens a whole new set of opportunities. We are truly happy of the agreement and we look forward to further success.”