With 13 rider's and 16 constructor's championships, the name Ducati is virtually synonymous with World Superbike. In good times and bad Ducati has exemplified the hoary racing aphorism "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday." Indeed, there were years that the Italian marque's presence was so pervasive in the series that wags called it the Ducati Cup.
A variety of sources are reporting that this active participation will come to an end at the finish of the 2010 season when the factory team will cease to compete in WSBK. A plethora of factors are said to have contributed to this decision, perhaps foremost the recent signing of Valentino Rossi to the MotoGP team and the attendant salary and developmental costs that will presumably entail. Ducati has alao apparently decided that, with the Doctor on board, their PR lira would make more of an impact being spent in GPs.
Another factor is that the 1198 platform, which then team manager Davide Tardozzi had said reached it's developmental apogee in 2009, is long in the tooth and will be replaced by a radical new platform that doesn't really resemble its 916/999/1098 forebearers much at all.
The last factor is the performance of this year's team. With both riders well down in the standings, Haga lying seventh and Fabrizio ninth, there have been whispers that long-time sponsors are questioning the economic efficacy of continuing to support the team.
The withdrawal by the factory team may not mark the death knell of Ducati's involment in the series however. There have been rumors that Althea Ducati would become the de facto factory team, much like Ten Kate's role with Honda. Ducati may also continue to supply other privateer teams although the extent of that committment is unclear at this writing.
A press release confirming the Team's withdrawal is expected at 3pm in Italy