"I think we can expect a lot of good racing… it’ll be very, very tough" – Domenicali previews WorldSBK in 2023

Monday, 23 January 2023 13:01 GMT

The CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, Claudio Domenicali, discussed the return of the #1, the 2023 WorldSBK season and Ducati’s hopes of repeating their 2022 success…

With defending Champions Racing – Ducati unveiling their 2023 Panigale V4 R for the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign, Ducati Motor Holding CEO Claudio Domenicali was on hand to give his thoughts about Ducati in 2023. Alvaro Bautista has opted to run the #1 plate in 2023 with Domenicali reacting to this as well as previewing the 2023 V4 R machine and what to expect from the Bologna-based manufacturer in the upcoming season.

There had been lots of talk about Bautista would run the #1 plate as he looks to defend his WorldSBK crown and it was revealed at the event in Madonna di Campiglio that he would switch from his #19 to the #1 plate for 2023. It will be the first time since James Toseland in 2005 that a Ducati has featured the #1 on its fairing and this is something Domenicali reacted to after the stunning launch event in the Italian Alps, also discussing Pecco Bagnaia’s decision to run the #1 in MotoGP™.

“It’s very emotional,” Domenicali said. “I’ve been working in the company for more than 30 years so I’ve grown up in the era of WorldSBK with Carl Fogarty, the #1 on the bike. The bike is in the museum! I think that, today, when we lifted the cover off the bike, it’s a piece of history. The bike will be in the museum when it finishes racing. We wrote another page. We did not push the rider because it’s a very personal thing but I’m so happy that both of them decided to do that. I think they showed character as well. They showed that they want to really put honour on what they achieved the previous year. The potential to do it again is there even if, as I said earlier, it’ll be very, very tough.”

Despite winning the Teams’, Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Championship titles in WorldSBK last season, Ducati have introduced a new Panigale V4 R for 2023 as they look to retain all three titles. Domenicali discussed the process of updating the V4 R machine as well as how the learnings from MotoGP™ have translated into the production model in order to find more performance.

Expanding on the development of the bike, he said: “We started the project of updating the current model we used last year some years ago. It’s part of the continuing development philosophy of Ducati. The bike was very good, but you can do it better. It’s part of continuous improvements. We learnt a lot in MotoGP™ and part of that we translate into the production model and it gets tuned for WorldSBK. The engine, especially of the new R, have some components like the connecting rod, the piston that are very sexy I would say; very, kind of, high piece of engineering, and that should help to get a little bit of extra performance.”

The 2022 season was defined by an incredible three-way fight at the front between Bautista, 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) and six-time Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Several last lap fights featured throughout the season as the trio fought hard for the title, and Domenicali also discussed what he expects from Ducati in 2023 with the potential for ‘more of the same’.

He added: “I think we can expect a lot of good racing and more of the same, I hope! We will always try to win and the Championship is very long, so we depend a lot on how much Alvaro and Michael can keep training properly, can be focused mentally… motorbike racing is a sport. A lot about technology but also, at least the same amount or even more, about rider confidence and focus. It’s difficult to keep that for the long term but I think both Michael and Alvaro have really good potential of keeping this focus. Jonny and Toprak are really very complicated competitors but that’s why the racing will be so good.”

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