With Troy Bayliss’ double victory today at Assen, he is crowned World Superbike champion with one round remaining. His closest pursuer, Colin Edwards (Honda), had an off day, and Bayliss now has an insurmountable points lead.
Ducati has the constructor’s championship, as well. In fact, Ducati has virtually dominated the WSB series this year despite the best efforts of Honda, Aprilia and others. Its 996 Superbike, despite being one of the oldest designs in the paddock (leaving aside its new engine), still handles better, more consistently, than other, newer designs. The Testastretta engine, new to the 996 this year, has kept Ducati competitive with the Hondas in the horsepower wars, as well.
Ducati also had the deepest well of riding talent this year. Although Bayliss had his ups and downs, he was consistent enough to clinch the championship one round early. Ben Bostrom went on a five race winning streak, and Ruben Xaus has most lately emerged as the fastest rider on the track (most observers would acknowledge that his two, second-place finishes today were pursuant to “team orders” and he could have easily passed his teammate Bayliss).
Together with Carl Fogarty’s four World crowns, and even American Doug Polen’s championship many years ago on the predecessor to the 916, Ducati has been at or near the top of four-stroke racing for more than a decade. Not bad for a relatively small, but passionate crew. Congratulations, Ducati.