Gordon Ritchie has covered World Superbikes for over a quarter of a century, and is widely regarded as the world's leading journalist on the series. MotoMatters.com is delighted to be hosting a monthly blog by Ritchie. The full blog will be available each month for MotoMatters.com subscribers. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.
We have never seen anything quite like the arrival of Alvaro Bautista and his big red rocket of a Ducati Panigale V4R in WorldSBK history. Well, we kinda have, in the form of Doug Polen on that year’s ballistic desmo missile back in 1991. Just not quite as dominantly in only two rounds, as Polen won five from six, after a retirement in race two at Donington.
Whatever the comparison, ex-GP runner Bautista has entered WorldSBK at Star Trek levels of spacetime continuums by winning the first six races of the 2019 season, his first ever races in WorldSBK. The fact that there are three races per meeting now, not two, only slightly detracts from the glorious arrival of the new class act - stage left, right and centre.
Really, can you pick holes in the fabric of Ducati’s Alvaro effort so far?
We’ll have a go but it’s a crimson chemise of Kevlar cloth, stitched together with Kevlar thread.
So how did we get here, six out of six for a guy who never used Pirellis before, or used steel brakes since he was a kid?
Blame the rules. Or praise them, depending on your personal viewpoint.
For some years now Dorna (OK, the FIM, if you must keep up the fourth wall) has sought to level the machinery landscape in WorldSBK, both between all the manufacturers, and from privateer right up to the official teams.
They have been highly and repetitively successful. Not really their fault that some are not making the most of these new opportunities.
Praise your chosen deity that there won’t be too much tech detail here and now but as I have alluded to many times, you can buy all the main performance parts on Jonathan Rea’s Kawasaki, with the exception of the relatively few things that a factory team will always have buried down in their deeper pockets. And deep pockets are right. If privateer teams had more cavernous ones they could have most of that extra stuff too. And expensive top technicians to send the rider out from pitlane the best possible way, which is just as important.
And let’s not forget the rider, who has to be a top talent or podiums will elude your team even if you have the best possible material and backroom staff.
In Ducati this year there has been a big-time improvement on their base bike, more specialised staff with fresh perspectives, and not least a new bike with an engine which more-or-less calls the 2015 MotoGP bike daddy and its own highly focused chassis mummy.
Not a bad start in racing life?
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