Althea And Ducati Split: Whither The Panigale In 2013?

The Althea team have terminated their association with Ducati. After prolonged negotiations between Althea team boss Genesio Belvilacqua and Ducati Corse, in which the two could not reach an agreement on several key areas, Belvilacqua has decided to end their collaboration, and look for another manufacturer to work with.

The decision comes as a shock. Althea and Ducati have worked together for just three short years, but in that time, they have secured both the World Superbike title and the Superstock 1000 championship with their current riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano. It had been expected that the collaboration would continue in 2013, with the two men helping to develop Ducati's new 1199R Panigale superbike machine.

Althea's decision was the result of a number of factors. The first and most obvious one is financial, with Althea claiming that Ducati was unwilling to invest the extra resources required to help develop the Panigale, which is to make its debut in World Superbikes in 2013. With World Superbike regulations inching closer to Superstock, there are doubts over whether the Panigale can be made both reliable and competitive, with the high revs the bike requires to make the power taking its toll on engine internals. The length of time the discussions went on, and the failure to make decisions quickly was also a point of contention, Belvilacqua telling Italian website that it had taken Ducati months to respond to proposals he had sent them back in June. Althea were also unhappy with the contract specifying that Ducati would control certain technical aspects of the effort, though Belvilacqua failed to detail just which aspects those were.

The split leaves both Althea and Ducati in a quandary. Carlos Checa is contracted to Ducati, and Ducati are committed to racing the Panigale in World Superbikes next season, but they currently do not have a team to contest the series with. There have been reports, first made on, that Davide Tardozzi could make a return to Ducati to run a factory-backed team, now that the factory BMW team has been disbanded. Althea have Davide Giugliano under contract, but no bike to race. If Althea are to remain in World Superbikes, they will also have to find a large slice of additional budget, with rumors that Ducati Corse was already picking up a sizable chunk of the tab for the Althea team.

The accusations of a lack of decisiveness made against Ducati by Althea are perhaps the most damaging. One of the unfortunate by-products of Audi's acquisition of Ducati has been that a number of important decisions surrounding Ducati's racing program took an inordinate amount of time to get sorted out. The situation surrounding the Ducati junior team exemplified this lack of decisiveness: at Mugello in July, Ducati MotoGP boss Alessandro Cicognani told that he expected the situation surrounding the Ducati junior team to be resolved before the summer break, a couple of weeks later. In reality, an announcement was not made until mid September, nearly two months afterwards. The Marc VDS racing team had been one of the teams earmarked to run the junior squad, but as negotiations dragged on, their enthusiasm for the project waned, leaving Pramac to be appointed to run the squad.

What the future holds for both Althea and Ducati's WSBK program remains to be seen. Decisions are expected within the next week or so, a necessity given just how quickly the 2013 World Superbike season is approaching. Arranging affairs in time for next season could prove to be a challenge for both parties.

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I rather liked the picture painted by the commentators of a relaxed Checa on a lower-stress (than a factory effort) team, enjoying racing and doing well.

Hopefully something works out to see him on a Panigale.

As an aside to that, I'm not sure how much the info will carry over, but I've been wondering a lot whether the stressed-engine construction that Ducati abandoned in MotoGP was ever the problem. It clearly wasn't the entire problem, and as a piece of neat engineering I'd love to see it tested, developed (and hopefully vindicated).

and as a piece of neat engineering I'd love to see it tested, developed (and hopefully vindicated). "

+ 1

It looks as if the Audi and Ducati pairing has already combined the worst traits of each others corporate characteristics. ( NB, I say ; corporate = meetings, committees etc. )

I guess there is no direct translation in either language of those three essential little words..... " Just do it ! "

I think back to Baylis, Valencia Moto GP , 2006.......

The engine as part of the chassis is a nice idea from an engineering point of view but the only clear step forward Ducati made this year (getting rid of the unpredictable front end crashes) probably came from abandoning that concept.

Rossi's latest comment was that it was frustrating having the same problems at PI that they had at the Valencia test in 2010. All the changes they made and still having the same issues make it quite apparent that the problem was not down to the specific design or the material.

I think if Rossi had an open mind and tried to work with their technology instead of slowly having them convert to an aluminum beam frame (with no improvment I may add) they would have made progress. As it is they were reluctantly making changes without a firm plan so wasted a lot of time and money with no improvements and more importantly, no knowledge gained.


Regardless of what Rossi said in this interview the Ducati raiders are crashing a lot less this year and there are no mentions of surprise vibrations on the front end leading to a crash. And I think Rossi has talked about those front end crashes not happening any more.

My personal observations suggest that they aren't experiencing crashes simply because they are going slower than all of the other prototypes... add a second or three to their laptimes and we'd be seeing Ducatis folding the front on a regular basis.

Stoner used to save the front end every other lap when riding the Ducati at the pointy end of the field.

Except this year of course not that I'm being picky.., he's struggled as much as anyone, the bs tyres being both his midas touch and his achilles heel depending on whether he has them or not..(a sort of Gary McCoy but with a huge electronic hand out and indestructable tyres). I also have to question whether his title challenge in only 17.7% of his career backs that up. No to say that he isn't one of a very small bunch of very special riders..
Casey was an anomally end of, he's gone no better on th ehonda ,than he did when he first got on the duke, on what would be for most the best bike they have ever ridden.. He can ride round stuff given the correct set of circumstances as can the other top riders. They just happen to have a different criteria..

re: "It clearly wasn't the entire problem, and as a piece of neat engineering I'd love to see it tested, developed (and hopefully vindicated)."

it's already vindicated. bayliss tested and helped developed preziosi's design, and it's now in production being sold (for profit) to receptive, "valuing" consumers the world over regardless of championships won. short of losing the plot, this is the be all/end all of vindication.

It would be great to see Davide Tardozzi back. He was as much fun to watch when Bayliss was winning as watching Bayliss race. Never seen a Team Manager so colorful. His reactions were more like a fan watching a race with his favorite racer than a stoic Team Manager. I think one race in 2007 I believe, with Bayliss in Qatar summed it up. Bayliss pushed on the ragged edge and Tardozzi looked like he was about to have a heart attack because he wanted Bayliss to tone it down. Then after the race, when Bayliss won, he was hugging Bayliss. He is fun to watch and I think, a good Team Manager.

Carlos Checa with Tardozzi would be an interesting mix. Hopefully Ducati do a team. I would love to see Ducati in the mix with the new Panigale.

Althea I thought had already signed on for next year with Ducati, that is why this is so sad to hear. Best of luck to the riders. Althea.......

hey people,i have a question about engine and cc's in wsbk

you can ride a 4 cilinder with max 1000cc or a twin engine with 200cc More! now Yamaha has revealed to develop 3 cilinder engines. so my question is can Yamaha run an 3 cilinder with 1100cc then? 4=1000. 3=1100. 2=1200. would be honest right in my eyes. can anyone comment on this!

re: "can anyone comment on this!"

yup, sure can. sales are down so you should probably let go of the dream that yamaha is developing any kind of triple for open class racing. until such time that it shows up in grandprix under rossi and lorenzo...? they have no way of knowing if simply lopping off a cylinder is going to produce a competive engine. in fact, they do know if the ne-er-do-well benelli and petronas triples are anything to go by...? meanwhile, BOTH their 4-cylinders literally just put 2 more trophys on the mantle. this is not an indicator major change is forthcoming. it's not like a spec ecu'd triple has a snowball's chance of matching pace with any 4 pot honda.

I doubt you'll ever see a 3 cyl engine in MotoGP again. To keep within the 81mm bore limit, the stroke would need to be prohibitively long. IMHO.

There is no info available to determine if they are even putting that engine into a sportbike based application. They have simply released a new engine concept. Judging by the amount of money they have put into the R1 and the R6, I would not expect them to simply drop that and turn to a new and unproven concept engine.

But to answer your question: No. All 3 and 4 cylinder machines are limited to 1000cc. Rule 2.4.3, which can be found here:

hey people. i wasn't talking about engines in motogp but for wsbk.
because ducati can use 1200cc 2 cilinder. and the others have 4 cilinders 1000cc. so i thought if yamaha would bring a new engine for wsbk and it would be an 3 cilinder i would be fair to have 1100cc. but thx to the post about regulations now i know an 3 cilinder must have 1000cc. now after reading the regulations i can only say Ducati is allowed to CHEAT big time!! with 1200cc. can't say anything else about it. why 200cc? give them 100cc extra.! why is there no room between the engines? 3cilinder 1100cc? seems fair 1000cc4 1100cc3 1200cc2. minust 1 cilinder + 100cc = 3 cilinder 1100cc.! i never liked the 200cc extra. because it needs extra weight it need air restrictors etc. why +200cc if you have to detune the engine! ducati choose for torque power out of corners and not straight line speed. now they are trying to have both.

The rule about 3 cylinders being forced to use 1000cc capacity does not make any sense when compared to super sport where you can run 750cc twins, 675cc triples & 600cc I4, I honestly thought they would use a similar pattern in the bigger bikes.

If someone actually produces an 1100cc triple they want to race in WSBK, I'm sure the rules would be adjusted. Until that happens, no need to worry about it. WSBK accepted Ducati's desire to run a 1200cc twin, created rules around it, and all in all it ended up pretty equal to the other bikes. Sure, Checa won on it last year, but didn't do so hot on it this year. Remember how well Haga and Fabrizio got on with the 1198 the last year of the Xerox team? Not so well.

What messed up is that you have more engine configurations in a production-based series than you do in a prototype series.