.

The Dry Spell is Over

After three years without a single World Superbike victory, Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies brought home leading performances at Motorland Aragon last weekend, breaking the losing streak.  Meanwhile, in MotoGP Andrea Dovizioso and teammate Andrea Iannone have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Ducati GP15 is at last a formidable competitor.

SBK, the defining racing series for the Italian manufacturer, has been an unhappy hunting ground since 2012 when the introduction of new rules and new competitors like factory BMW, Kawasaki and Aprilia teams changed the sport.  In the period before 2012 Ducati had won 14 of the 24 SBK championships held, making their racing motorcycles the heavy favourites for official factory and privateer teams.  The domination was so total that for several years Ducati was the only official manufacturer competing in the series.

 

Chaz Davies taking home first place in race 2 at Motorland Aragon
Chaz Davies taking home first place in race 2 at Motorland Aragon

It is worth noting that the rise of Ducati as a mainstream, well known brand is tied directly to the company’s racing ownership of SBK.  Once an obscure, fading European boutique manufacturer, Ducati was able to leverage its SBK conquests into a compelling narrative that painted them as the tiny, passionate David against the lumbering Goliath of Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki.  The very public beating that Ducati received in the SBK championships from 2012 on, in particular from rival Italian brand Aprilia, took a lot of luster away.

In MotoGP, the spectacle of Australian Casey Stoner’s aggressive style and storybook world championship win in 2007 became the capstone to Ducati’s brand laurels, by finally winning at the highest level of motorcycle racing.  Subsequent failures, and the crushing disappointment of Valentino Rossi’s dismal years with Ducati only added to the blemish on the brand’s image.

At the MotoGP round and both SBK races this past weekend, it is clear just how strong Ducati is in both series today.  On every straight, the GP15 of Andrea Dovizioso blasted past the Yamaha of Valentino Rossi almost like it had an extra gear, while Chaz Davies demonstrated precise control of the entire second race in Aragon, something you can only do if your hardware is reliably fast.

The Ducati racing renaissance may be a reflection of new found stability in the company itself, which a few years ago was acquired by Audi,the premium division of automotive giant VW.  New management, new money and perhaps a re-energized workforce may be what it took to get David back on his feet.

10 thoughts on “The Dry Spell is Over”

  1. Racing is a passion for ALL of the teams, including the folks at the big Japanese factories. Do you suppose that the suits inside the boardrooms of Iwata and Hamamatsu don’t get excited when they talk about racing? I’ve worked for many of those people and they got into the motorcycle industry for the same reasons that Europeans at Ducati did…

    By the same token, Ducati, like everyone else, is in racing for business reasons. No company, unless we’re talking about Norton, goes racing without a solid business case and financials to back it up.

  2. What rui said.

    When you have 2L more fuel, you can afford to let the engine use that extra power. Ducati is nowhere near able to compete evenly with Yamaha, as witnessed by the fact that they both ran out of gas before they could finish the parade lap. “We don’t use 22L of fuel anyway.” Sounds like they use 21.9L. Stoner won as much because Bridgestone was so much more superior than Michelin as anything else, regardless of his talent or ability to bring that bike to heel.

  3. Even my cat knows that Ducati’s history of “winning ways” in SBK was mostly a result of rules favouring their bikes.

Leave a Reply to Blackie's Evil Twin Cancel reply