The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.
They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes. With WSBK looking set to switch completely to EVO rules in the next few years, having a strong partner to help develop the Panigale within the restrictions set by the EVO rules - basically, a Superstock-spec engine in Superbike-spec chassis - will help Ducati prepare for the future. Given how well the Panigale has performed in Superstock form wherever it has been able to use the Ducati ECU, the bike should suit the EVO rules well.
The signing of Niccolo Canepa to race the Panigale with Althea is indicative of how close the cooperation with Ducati is likely to be. Canepa has a long history with Ducati, having functioned as a test rider for the Italian factory for a number of years, and having won the Superstock 1000 title on a Ducati in 2007, and raced Ducatis for the majority of his career.
Below is the press release issued by Althea announcing their switch to Ducati:
Team Althea Racing with Ducati in the 2014 Superbike World Championship
Team Althea Racing is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Ducati to participate in the 2014 Superbike World Championship in the EVO class with a Ducati 1199 Panigale.
The Althea Racing and Ducati pairing thus makes a return, and is strengthened thanks to an agreement based on reciprocal trust and on the successes that these two important Italian companies have achieved together in recent seasons. The team, guided by Genesio Bevilacqua who has reconfirmed all of the technical staff, will therefore be Ducati’s reference team in the Superbike World Championship’s EVO class, thanks to the esteem that the Borgo Panigalebased factory has for a team that has always fought to be in front.
Ready to take to the tracks with Team Althea’s 1199 Panigale EVO is Niccolò Canepa, a young but very experienced rider who has worked with Ducati in various teams in the past. Canepa undoubtedly has all of the skills and requisites needed to participate in the 2014 Superbike World Championship’s EVO class.
Genesio Bevilacqua: “I am extremely happy to be able to collaborate once again with Ducati, a brand and a company with which we have achieved great success and results that we fully intend to repeat. I am certain that next year we will be able to bring great satisfaction to our fans and consecrate Canepa among the top Superbike riders. I have full faith in Niccolò and am sure that he is the right rider for our new and stimulating project. I would like to thank Ducati for its trust that I am certain that our team will be able to repay with the utmost dedication.”