The contrast between the factory Ducati seats in World Superbikes and MotoGP could hardly be greater. In MotoGP, Livio Suppo has been offering all of the top riders multimillion euro sums to come and ride the Desmosedici, and has been turned down by everyone that counts. In World Superbikes, by contrast, the line at Davide Tardozzi's door stretches a couple of times around the block with riders keen to have a go on what remains the best-run team and arguably the most competitive bike on the grid.
Despite having his pick of the cream of the current World Superbike crop, as well as a selection of outstanding MotoGP refugees, Ducati have today announced that they will be staying with what they know. Ducati issued a press release stating that current riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio have both signed new 1-year deals to stay at the factory Xerox Ducati squad for the 2010 season. Haga was brought in with the specific goal of winning the World Superbike championship this season, an objective he probably would have achieved with ease if it had not been for a pesky Texan on a Yamaha, and will be given another chance to take the WSBK crown in 2010. Team mate Fabrizio hung on to his seat by the skin of his teeth at the end of last year, but this season has finally started to realize the potential he had previously shown in flashes, winning his first race and running a relatively close 3rd in the championship. The title will remain a clear objective for both men in 2010, and Haga has still not given up on the 2009 championship.
The signing of Haga and Fabrizio also creates a couple of problems for Ducati, Xavier Simeon being one of them. The Belgian rider was promised either a factory or a factory-supported ride by Ducati if he took the FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup this season, a goal he looks likely to fulfil given his 40 point lead with three races left. With Fabrizio and Haga taking the Xerox spots, room will have to be made at one of the satellite teams, but given the experience of Brendan Roberts - who made the step up to World Superbikes with Guandalini Racing after taking the Superstock crown for Xerox Ducati's junior team last season, and has struggled ever since the switch and is now without a ride - that may not be such an attractive proposition.
Then of course there's the influx of top MotoGP names. James Toseland had been linked to the Xerox Ducati team, but given the reported offers from Yamaha, Suzuki and Ten Kate Honda, he should have no problems finding a place elsewhere. Alex de Angelis, meanwhile, would have been an attractive option for Ducati if the team had not retained Fabrizio, ensuring an Italian presence in the team.