Ducati has finally made its factory team and AMA team shuffle official. Troy Bayliss leaves the AMA team for the official factory (Ducati Corse) team in Europe. Ben Bostrom leaves the Ducati Corse team for the lower-rung Ducati NCR team (also a World Superbike team) and is replaced on the Ducati Corse team by Juan Borja (promoted from the Ducati NCR team).
Meanwhile, in the United States, American John Kocinski takes Troy Bayliss’ place on the AMA Vance & Hines Ducati team.
Do you think Ducati is serious about winning? The injury to Carl Fogarty earlier this year (he is hoping to return for the Brands Hatch round later in the season) threw Ducati into a tail spin. As we mentioned in our recent article [link here], Ducati is definitely embarrassed to be losing races to the new Honda v-twin, and is anxious to not only get back on the podium, but back on the top rung of the podium.
There are so many stories within this story, it is hard to know where to begin. AMA champion Bostrom has struggled all year (see our story on Bostrom’s difficulty with the switch to Michelin tires), and, just as his results start to improve a little bit, he gets demoted. The former AMA champion, who is already adjusting to a million different changes to his lifestyle and his team, must have his head spinning right now. We wish Ben the best of luck (maybe the NCR team uses Dunlops — we haven’t checked).
What about Australian Troy Bayliss? He gets two pole positions in the AMA series in his first two races (although the second race was rained out). Replacing Fogarty, he crashes in his World Superbike debut and takes two fourth places his second weekend on a World Superbike. Bayliss is fast and tenacious — he probably is Ducati’s best bet for a victory before Fogarty’s return.
Finally, John Kocinski returns to racing following many years on the World stage, including one World Superbike championship for Honda (Honda’s only World Superbike championship with its RC45 Superbike). The last time Kocinski rode a bike, he rode a Honda NSR500 in the World Championship GPs (without much success). He has been retired from racing for a while, and just won a huge lawsuit against Bell Helmets.
Kocinski is an interesting, and somewhat strange, character. Many of his teammates have hated him, yet no one denies his talent on a motorcycle. Very eccentric, and, apparently, a total perfectionist, Kocinski rode a Ducati in the World Superbike championships several years ago. He was fast on the Ducati then (although he didn’t win the championship), and he is probably capable of being fast on the Ducati today. It is expected that he has kept himself in pretty good physical shape, but he goes into this weekend’s round of the AMA Superbike championship with virtually no seat time on his new bike. It should be interesting.
As a side note, it is reported that Kocinski salary demands are quite large — indicating, once again, Ducati’s commitment to winning both on the World stage and here in America.