After just one year of a two-year deal, Alstare and Ducati have agreed to terminated the contract the Belgian team has to run Ducati's factory World Superbike effort. Today, the two parties made it known that they would not be continuing their collaboration, citing financial problems for Alstare and the loss of a major sponsor.
The split had long been expected. Alstare team boss Francis Batta had made no secret of his unhappiness with both the collaboration with Ducati, and the performance of the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Alstare had former WSBK champion Carlos Checa and highly rated Italian Ayrton Badovini in their ranks, yet after a solitary pole at Phillip Island, results have been very poor. Ducati ended the season without a win in World Superbikes for the first time in the history of the series. Batta had asked Ducati many times throughout the year to be allowed to do more development work, but Ducati had rejected his requests. Motorcycle technology had advanced to such a point that it had become almost impossible for a private team to have the resources to be successful, Ducati had told Alstare, and it was now the task of the manufacturer to do the development of a racing motorcycle.
There is a good chance that Alstare have left Ducati to fall straight into the arms of another Italian manufacturer, however. There have been rumors for some time now that Alstare has been flirting with Aprilia, and that Aprilia Corse's new boss Romano Abesiano was keen to work with Batta and the team. Stealing Alstare away would deal a sensitive blow to Aprilia's rival Ducati, after former Aprilia boss Gigi Dall'Igna was poached by Ducati Corse.
Having Batta on board would also solve one of Aprilia's problems: what to do with Eugene Laverty. Albesiano is keen to keep Laverty on an Aprilia according to Bikesportnews.com, and by offering a third factory-backed Aprilia to Alstare, Aprilia could retain the services of the man who finished second in the 2013 World Superbike championship. It would also allow Alstare to run Laverty at little cost to themselves, with Aprilia picking up much of the tab. Aprilia will have to make an offer soon, however, as Laverty also has an offer for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team for 2014. Toni Elias has been linked with the role of second rider at Alstare.
The matter of who will be running Ducati's WSBK effort next year is still open. The two main options are Feel Racing, who ran BMW's WSBK effort last year, and have a long and glorious association with Ducati, or the ParkinGO effort, who are currently running MV Agusta machinery in World Supersport after a brief foray into WSBK with Chaz Davies.
Below is the official press release issued by Ducati on the split:
Ducati and Alstare to terminate partnership
The decision was taken in common agreement after a meeting in Borgo Panigale, Bologna
Early partnership termination due to global economic downturn challenging Team Alstare’s 2014 expenses
Ducati confirms its participation in the 2014 World Superbike Championship with plans and riders to be confirmed in the coming days
Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 25 October 2013 – By common agreement, Ducati and Alstare have decided to terminate their partnership, which started in November 2012. Ducati and Team Alstare have reached the end of a very difficult season unable to achieve the desired results, despite the effort, commitment and resources applied by both parties.
The partnership between the Bologna-based motorcycle manufacturer and Team Alstare was expected to continue in 2014, however, the current economic climate and subsequent withdrawal of support by one of Alstare’s main partners, has dictated that the Belgian team must downsize its future plans.
In a meeting held at the Ducati factory in Borgo Panigale, Bologna, Francis Batta and the Ducati management decided the best course of action would be an early termination of the agreement before the start of the 2014 season.
“I am extremely sorry that an operation that had started on such a positive note had to be concluded before its time without achieving the results we were aiming for,” said Ernesto Marinelli, Ducati SBK Project Manager. “This was a very difficult year in terms of sports performance, but I am convinced that it nevertheless made us both grow and lay solid foundations for our future development and improvement. In these months together, I experienced the constant professionalism and expertise of everyone at Team Alstare, and I hope to be able to work with them again in the future. My special thanks, both in my personal capacity and on behalf of the whole company, go to Francis for the effort he has put in this year – as he always has throughout his career.”
“I am very sad because this challenge, which began last November, was very important for me as a fresh start after missing one year,” said Francis Batta Owner of Team Alstare. “Working with Ducati was incredibly thrilling, although unfortunately, we failed to achieve the results we had set ourselves. The 2013 racing season has been incredibly hard for us, and being unable to start from a solid position in 2014, I would rather not take risks that might compromise our ability to complete the season. I would like to thank Ducati for trusting me and I wish them all the success that they deserve."
Ducati has confirmed that it will take part in the Superbike World Championship next season, with 2014 riders and racing plans to be announced in the coming days.