Sometimes things are hard in WorldSBK.
The perennial difficulty, however, is defining, balancing and homologating exactly what a WorldSBK machine is. And consequentially, what the technical rules should be.
Now that every single WorldSBK machine is a 1000cc four-cylinder of some kind you would think that the old issues of balancing machines against one another would have been homogenised out of their long-lasting and controversial existence.
After all, Ducatis and eventually Hondas and Aprilias were all bigger on twin-cylinder engine displacement than their four and occasional three-cylinder competitors for almost every season in WorldSBK until this one.
And therefore, usually, they delivered better results. Look at the stats.
Kawasaki’s voracious last few years in WorldSBK have promoted them to second place in almost every conceivable statistical ranking for manufacturers. But Ducati is way out in front still, and thanks to this year’s literal win-or-bust results from Bautista and Davies, they are keeping their relative advantages intact.
The reason Ducati made it to the top in the first place is the same reason Ducati has been unbeatable in more circumstances than any other in 2019.
They sought to subvert the tech rules from day one.
Don’t get me wrong; I intend no criticism of this approach, partly because others have been just as expansive in their willingness to look at the rulebook and work out how to maximise their particular advantages in their next homologation model. Many have also produced as few examples of their road bikes as they possibly can while still meeting the prevailing homologation rules.
Bizarrely, the traditionally hardest envelope pushers of all - Ducati - are probably more successful at actually selling their WorldSBK connected road bike models than any other manufacturer. And it matters little the cost of the machine to the customer or how impractical they can be as road-going machines. Ducati’s trickest sportsbikes are real products that usually sell strongly, if only in a specialised niche sector of the overall marketplace. Some maybe just to collectors, but a sale is a sale.
When Ducati felt they had to build a V-4 model range to keep up a purely fanciful level of performance for their road bike customers, it opened up a new world of possibilities to them.
Allowed to think outside their former V-twin box, they made an 1100cc base model and studied the WorldSBK rules (and general direction of the rules) very carefully before building the final 1000cc V4R for WorldSBK – and BSB, etc.
Without question it is currently Ducati who have looked closest, most avariciously, at the veneered wall of technical rules in WorldSBK and then just made a taller ladder to scale it in 2019. They built a rocket boys.
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