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WSB Championship: Is Kawasaki Planning a Radical Superbike to Counter the Ducati Panigale V4 R?

Kawasaki is racing in WSB with a modified Ninja ZX-10RR that has a U.S. MSRP of $24,899, while Ducati campaigns a modified version of their homologation special, the $40,000 Panigale V4 R. Based on their stock redlines, WSB rules (at the start of the series this year) allowed the Ducati to rev to 16,350 rpm , while the Kawasaki was limited to 14,600 rpm. The results so far? Ducati has 11 wins (from rider Alvaro Bautista), while Kawasaki has none (despite the best efforts of defending champ Jonathan Rea).

Rea has been quoted as saying that, as things stand, he does not believe he can beat Bautista at any track on the WSB calendar this year. Kawasaki Race Director Ichiro Yoda has this to say:

“Catching Ducati this season is difficult. Their engine comes from the MotoGP World Championship, their whole package is from MotoGP. This is a MotoGP bike with Pirelli tires. Even if we were allowed to use concession parts, we would be limited. With the homologated concession parts we cannot reach the performance of the Ducati. We would not be able to reach their speed.”

Kawasaki does not have a MotoGP team or effort. It has placed all of its eggs in the WSB basket where it expects to win, and even dominate (Jonathan Rea has 4 straight championships for the Green brand).

Apparently, Kawasaki will not stand still and watch the technologically superior Ducati run away from it. Yoda is quoted in a SPEEDWEEK article stating that Kawasaki is prepared to homologate its own MotoGP-like superbike prior to next year’s championship. The only question for Yoda (and Kawasaki, apparently) is whether Dorna will allow this “arms race” to escallate, or change the rules to bring the bikes back to the production bike (available at reasonable cost) philosophy that traditionally underpins the superbike championship. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


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107 Comments

  1. Gutterslob says:

    I’m not a Ducati fan. A couple of bad ownership experiences in the past and this “luxury malaise” I’ve developed over the years make this brand (and some others) a total non-consideration every time I’m looking to buy a new ride these days. I’d be the last person to back Ducati at anything, but c’mon, it’s only been Bautista beating Rea. Credit to the rider here. Davies is at pretty much the same place he was in past years, even on the new bike.

  2. Relic says:

    THEY should’ve done more to separate wsb and gp. Maybe 500cc turbocharged only.

  3. Stinky says:

    I’ve not watched the races, just looked at results and lusted after the bikes. Kawasaki has dominated the last four years with Ducati taking a few wins. A twin with a displacement allowance could win on certain tracks with Chaz Davies (where’s he?).
    Ducati has come out with a homolagation special (that is affordable? not Desmosedici), hired an exGP rider (not Biaggi) and is spanking Kawasaki. Aprillia won a couple of championships with that engine configuration and rider combination.
    The Japs are tied to the inline 4. amd Ducati the V with desmo. Hondas homo special, took many years and great riders to finally beat Ducatis displacement advantage. Now the desmo is bearing fruit without a displacement advantage with an engine that can take all the revs a design can bear. The Japs can step up or step aside for a year or two.

  4. Grover says:

    Kawasaki seems to be stuck on the inline 4-cylinder for racing. It would be neat to see them offer a performance V-Twin, V-4 or triple.

    • TimC says:

      I-4 has its own advantages though. Cf Suzuki’s bike in MotoGP.

    • Dave says:

      There are advantages to both engine configurations. Ben Spies dominated WSBK on an I4 Yamaha. Rea and Sykes also did so on the Kawasaki’s and Yamaha has GP Championships with their I4 vs Honda’s V4’s.

      In the case of Superbike, a V’s are more expensive to make for a production machines (twice as much of almost everything on the engine), which is the main reason you see so many bikes committed to it.

  5. Mick says:

    I can’t understand how people can ignore the fact that Kawasaki was winning the top two spots consistently for years with its team bikes. Those same people are now up in arms because one obviously talented rider is winning regularly on a bike that isn’t green. They want to hamper the talented rider’s bike bike because if it is beating the those two green bikes, it must be cheating.

    Nice logic stream. What surprises me here is that Honda is not involved in any way. Though Honda tends to go after more sweeping rule changes to cater to its advantage.

  6. Ralph W. says:

    I’ve often felt sorry for Giacomo Agostini. He truly is one of the greatest ever motorcycle racers, having won more GP titles than anyone. But he and everyone else know that for much of the time he was on a vastly superior bike – the only “works team” in the field. So now whenever someone is asked to list the top three GP riders of all time his name often isn’t mentioned and never at the top. If not for having had a vastly superior bike he could be rated as the GOAT. But we will never know. Winning on a very superior bike is a hollow victory and nobody wants to see that.

    So why didn’t the others build better bikes? Don’t answer that because I’m not interested in the predictable replies. Just think about it.

    BTW, I do have some favorite riders in WSBK but no favorite brands, so I am not biased against Ducati as some of you are saying. I just want to see fair, competitive racing instead of the current debacle.

    • Superlight says:

      I’ll answer the “why didn’t the others build better bikes”. For most manufacturers racing is a marketing activity, done to prove their machine is capable/competitive under severe conditions of use. For a company like Ducati (and Ferrari) racing is much more than that; it’s the soul of the company. Ducati must race to support their brand image. For the Japanese brands racing is a “sometimes” thing – they’ll participate when new models are introduced, but they’re not really wedded to competition. This is not an indictment of the Japanese players, but a statement of fact. Why do you think a company as strong as Honda is paying lip service to world superbike? They’ve decided it just doesn’t fit into their marketing budget this year.

      • Ralph W. says:

        “they’re not really wedded to competition”

        But the Japanese manufacturers have been the dominant force in MotoGP for decades. The current problem in WSBK is because it is a production based series and the Japanese don’t make production sports bikes as expensive as the Ducati. Ducati is a smaller, almost a niche manufacturer when compared to the others which can attract some buyers (at least enough to meet the homologation rules) at their high prices. One of the main reasons for the popularity of Japanese bikes over the decades is because they produce great bikes at lower prices. If the Japanese start making production bikes that cost as much as the Ducati, will they sell enough to make a profit (being a production based series means they have to sell them to the general public)? People will pay a lot more for something they perceive to be exclusive.

        The current rules could result in a repeat of what happened years ago when 4s were limited to 750cc and twins to 1000cc. Eventually some of the Japanese refused to participate because it gave Ducati an unfair advantage, and so the rules were changed to the current capacity limits. However, Honda did produce a V-twin and won two championships with Colin Edwards riding, proving that the Japanese can make bikes just as good as Ducati. The problem for them is making it commercially viable at a time when market conditions are tough for motorcycle manufacturers.

        The solution is to lower the price cap and/or greatly increase the numbers required to be sold for homologation. Again, I’m not biased towards any brand or any country of origin. I just want to see fair, competitive racing on bikes that are reasonably equal without the rules needing to be altered to artificially fabricate close racing.

        • TimC says:

          Again, it’s only one Ducati rider that is cremating the Kawampetition.

        • Superlight says:

          Ralph, I think you missed my point. The Italians have always been into racing with more fervor than the Japanese (except, perhaps, when Sochiro was still alive). For the Italians racing is a matter of national pride, for the Japanese it’s just “what marketing support do we have to spend this year?”.
          Do I really have to repeat why the series needs different displacement limits for twins vs triples vs fours? It’s not “unfair” to allow twins and triples more displacement than fours – it’s essential for close competition given the physics involved.
          The rules you describe are Superstock, not Superbike. WSBK could go that way, but Superbike rules have always permitted modified machines. And you’d better believe those factory Kawasakis cost just as much to build as the Ducatis, if not more. Don’t penalize Ducati for taking advantage of the rules.

          • DeltaZulu says:

            “Do I really have to repeat why the series needs different displacement limits for twins vs triples vs fours? It’s not “unfair” to allow twins and triples more displacement than fours – it’s essential for close competition given the physics involved.”

            EXACTLY! It seems VERY FEW people making comments on here understand even basic engine architecture. All things being equal, a 1200cc twin will NOT make as much power as a 1000cc four.

          • downgoesfraser says:

            DeltaZulu, you do know that Ducati now runs a 1000 cc V-4, right? If the number of cylinders were not limited to 4, Honda would be there with 5,6,8, maybe 10.

          • Ralph W. says:

            “Do I really have to repeat why the series needs different displacement limits for twins vs triples vs fours?”

            What you said is a misunderstanding and an overreaction. I am well aware of the need for twins to have greater capacity than fours. But when it was 750/1000cc it was not fair. Ask the factories who decided to not participate. The 1000/1200cc system seems to work well.

            The Japanese are fanatical about winning, always have been. Look at the effort they put into MotoGP.

            I’m not interested in penalizing anybody. But when the rules are detrimental to the series they need to be changed. No matter what you say about Superstock and Superbike, WSBK is a production based series and the bikes are based on bikes sold to the general public. If it doesn’t suit the marketing strategies of some manufacturers they may withdraw.

            The real issue here is that they now are attempting to artificially fabricate close racing by adjusting rpm limits when they see fit. This gives them the ability to apply bias to the outcome, which means it is no longer a true sporting competition. Dorna is a European company whose main objective is to make money, and most of the financial support and fan support comes from Europe, so we all know which way the bias will be.

            Remember, you are biased towards one brand. I’m not. I just want a decent race series to follow.

          • Ralph W. says:

            “Do I really have to repeat why the series needs different displacement limits for twins vs triples vs fours?”

            What you said is a misunderstanding and an overreaction. I am well aware of the need for twins to have greater capacity than fours. But when it was 750/1000cc it was not fair. Ask the factories who decided to not participate. The 1000/1200cc system seems to work well.

            The Japanese are fanatical about winning, always have been. Look at the effort they put into MotoGP.

            I’m not interested in penalizing anybody. But when the rules are detrimental to the series they need to be changed. No matter what you say about Superstock and Superbike, WSBK is a production based series and the bikes are based on bikes sold to the general public. If it doesn’t suit the marketing strategies of some manufacturers they may withdraw.

            The real issue here is that they now are attempting to artificially fabricate close racing by adjusting rpm limits when they see fit. This gives them the ability to apply bias to the outcome, which means it is no longer a true sporting competition. Dorna is a European company whose main objective is to make money, and most of the financial support and fan support comes from Europe, so we all know which way the bias will be. Perhaps they should go back to the original formula for rpm (stock plus 10%) and let Ducati win everything. It would be real racing, but the series would die. Maybe the Japanese will bring out more expensive bikes to match the Ducati and they will stop adjusting rpm limits. But at the moment the series is a farce.

            Remember, you are biased towards one brand. I’m not. I just want a decent race series to follow.

          • Ralph W. says:

            I’m finished with this discussion now.

          • mickey says:

            Ralph W said
            “The Japanese are fanatical about winning, always have been. Look at the effort they put into MotoGP.”

            Kawasaki doesn’t care about MotoGP, they were perfectly happy having Rea stomp everyone in WSBK.

            Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are interested in MotoGP and put out great effort, but then they are practically no shows in WSBK. They just pay lip service to that series.

        • mickey says:

          Honda concentrates on MotoGP as it is the premier motorcycle competition in the world and has been for 50 years. Win at the highest level of competition and the whole world knows you know how to make a great product.

          In the world of motorcycle sport WSBK is minor leagues.

          Riders yearn to ride in MotoGP. They dream of winning the MotoGP world Championship. Even champion WSBK riders want that MotoGP ride in order to test themselves against the best of the best, on the best equipment made.

          Guys may want to play college basketball, or baseball but what they really want is to play in the Major Leagues or NBA. MotoGPis the major leagues. The rest is just minor leagues.

  7. Tom R says:

    Since Rea is being beaten by only ONE GUY on a Ducati, perhaps some of the credit should instead go the particular rider of the ONE Ducati that is beating him.

  8. downgoesfraser says:

    I bet the Kawboys are working on a pneumatic valve system as we speak.

    • Superlight says:

      As I understand it, pneumatic valves won’t work for “normal” motorcycle use, as they pump down over time.

      • downgoesfraser says:

        Read Kevin Cameron’s article, a small pump could supply the 150 psi needed and a computer could regulate the pressure as needed.

        • Superlight says:

          Didn’t see his article on that topic, but if it were that simple to accomplish and provided performance benefits, many streetbikes would be so equipped.

          • Jeremy says:

            The truth is that street bikes just don’t need the stratospheric rpms that justify the cost and complexity of a pneumatic system. That’s why we don’t see them. But now that Ducati threw the gauntlet down and built a street bike engine that probably can’t go 20K miles without a rebuild, pneumatics may indeed be in the cards for anyone who wants to be competitive in WSBK now.

            If it does go there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Honda, Yamaha and BMW leave the series again.

          • Hot Dog says:

            I read that pneumatic is superseded by electric actuation.

          • downgoesfraser says:

            Pneumatic is well proven and used in F1 and motoGP.

  9. Rendell says:

    I have bought 10 new sportbikes in the past 18 years. None are Ducatis. I thoroughly dislike Ducati because they have been getting unfair advantages since I started following racing in the early 90s. I have bought Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Honda. I might get a new Suzuki GSXR-1000R next.

    • Provologna says:

      Yeah, even farther back than 18 years Ducati has been cheating. Take for instance when the late Cycle Magazine’s Editor Cook Nielsen won on a Ducati 900 twin, tuned by the magazine’s technical editor the late Gordon Jennings (RIP). That was some serious cheating right there, a tiny independent team on a tiny boutique brand vs. factory Japanese teams.

      /sarc off

      PS: it’s not exactly Ducati’s fault that their market is ultra high performance motorized jewelry while the Japanese specialty is cheaper mass market alternatives. Why is Ducati to be blamed when KHI brings a knife to a gunfight?

    • bmbktmracer says:

      What do you mean by “Unfair advantages”? Maybe Carl Fogarty was an unfair advantage… Going all the way back to 1990, Ducati has won 14 of the 29 championships, more than twice any other brand. They’ve also had some legendary riders.

      However, if you go back over the past 10 championships, Ducati has only one once. That being the case, they responded to Kawasaki’s dominance by building a $40,000 MotoGP-inspired production bike to take full advantage of the rules. Then they put a MotoGP rider in the saddle. None of the other Ducatis are beating Rea.

      What WSBK should do is create hard rules, such as a 15,000 RPM rev limit, minimum weight of 400 pounds, etc.

      • Superlight says:

        Be careful what you ask for – you may get it. A 15,000 RPM rev limit for all would stifle manufacturer creativity – HP varies directly with RPMs, everything else being equal. So you’d probably get all bikes at the same power level, but is that what you want, really? Or would you rather see each company innovate their designs to improve power output? In this case Ducati caught Kawasaki resting on their laurels.

        • bmbktmracer says:

          I have to agree with you. It seems as though WSBK is fiddling with the rules trying to achieve parity and then giving people the impression Ducati is being given an unfair advantage, which is unfair to Ducati and especially Bautista. Personally, I like the current rules which help tie the race bikes to the production machines. It’s just sad to see Bautista’s riding get undermined by the mistaken perception his motorcycle is getting special treatment by the rules committee.

    • Superlight says:

      Not surprisingly, many of us disagree with your views, Rendell. I’ve owned some 23 bikes over the years, starting with the Japanese brands, but once I tried a European bike (a Moto Morini 3 1/2!) I haven’t bought another Japanese bike. I respect most of their engineering solutions, but absolutely hate most of their (Transformer or insect) styling. When I go to the annual IMS shows I walk right past the new Japanese models. To each their own.

    • Fred M. says:

      By “unfair advantages,” I *suspect” that Rendell is referring to higher displacement allowances for V-twins (usually all V-twins, not just Ducati, by the way). That argument (and I’m not saying that it definitely is his) displays a basic lack of understanding of engineering.

      What matters isn’t the displacement — it’s how much air and fuel the engine ingests per minute. In other words, it’s the displacement times the rpm. So a 1000cc four that revs to 14K should make about 27% more horsepower than a 1000cc V-twin that revs to 11K, everything else being equal (let’s not nitpick flame travel speed and other minutiae). V-twins, with their longer strokes and bigger pistons just can’t rev as fast as short stroke, smaller bore V-4s. It’s just physics.

      If a V-twin configuration lets a manufacturer produce a bike that’s competitive in weight, ergonomics, and power to a 1000cc I4 superbike, that’s all that should matter to us street riders. Who cares if it’s 1000cc, 1200cc, or 1300cc? We’re not going to get to the end of a weekend ride, or a commute to work, and be “disqualified” because a tech inspection revealed we had more displacement. I want the best engine, not the best 1000cc engine.

  10. Hot Dog says:

    Would somebody explain why a 1000cc 4 cylinder Duc gets a 1750 rpm advantage over a 1000cc 4 cylinder Kawi?

    • Provologna says:

      For the umpteenth time, all Japanese fan boys read real slow: Ducati has absolutely positively no “advantage” as the word appears above. Each factory bike’s maximum race RPM is 10% over the stock bike’s redline.

      Send your hate mail to KHI. Ask KHI why their stocker has a lower redline than Ducati. It’s solely KHI’s fault they brought a knife to a gun fight. To describe KHI’s fault as Ducati’s “advantage” is wrong, inaccurate, ridiculous, and false.

      The answer is that a $40k Kawasaki would collect dust on the showroom floor, while Ducati shall sell every $40k superbike.

      A $40k lipstick red Ducati V-4 oozes pure unadulterated sex. A $37k exorcist puke green Kawasaki…not so much.

    • Superlight says:

      Kawasaki was asleep at the switch while Ducati was hard at work applying what they’ve learned in motoGP to WSBK. With all due respect to Bautista, Ducati has also built a better machine.

    • LIM says:

      Perhaps I can rephrase Hot Dog question.

      At 10% above max rpm, how many horsepower is each of the bikes on the starting grid making?

    • JVB says:

      Hotdog, 2019 ZX10R BxS 70×55, and the V4R BxS is 81×48.1.
      The shorter the stroke, the higher the rev limit that can be achieved. One of the key limiting factors for engines is the piston-to-bore friction. Piston speed is critical. EX :two engines with different strokes, if piston speeds are the same at their redlines, the shorter stoke engine will be at a higher RPM.

  11. Michael says:

    Bunch of sore losers imo…

  12. Don says:

    Not hard to figure out. Its the rider.. Rea could have 300 hp and still Batista would win.

    • Jabe says:

      I’m surprised how many people act like Ducati is being unfair. The 40k price tag is not outrageous, it’s beyond what I want to spend on a toy, but I could afford it and I am far from wealthy. I live in a neighborhood filled with people of similar income with 50-60 thousand dollar pickups driven by guys who don’t tow or haul anything.

      Ducati is a small company compared to the other bike makers. A small company that is focusing on both MotoGP and WSBK and they can somehow can afford to develop a game changer which follows the rules (and hire an outstanding rider). I’m not sure any of the other bike makes have a valid complaint. And for Ichiro Yoda to call the Duc a MotoGP bike with Pirellis is over the top whining. Sure the Duc uses MotoGP technology, just as all bikes, cars, etc. benefit from racing technology. I’m pretty certain the Ducati MotoGP bike is lighter, a lot more powerful and probably 10 times the cost. If we prodded Bautista for an honest answer and asked if he was riding a MotoGP bike I’m sure he would say no, and he would know better than any of us.

      Let us not forget that Ducati introduced the standard Panigale V4 a year before the homologation arrived giving the competition a heads up. They had been served notice and failed to react.

      • viktor92 says:

        I’m not against Ducati, I’m even a fan of them, I like they use MotoGP technology, but the RPM limits was introduced to stop Rea-Kawasaki’s dominance (I’m always against this practices), and now that a bike so advanced arrives to the field with a very good pilot, it’s pointless and unfair to maintain limits in a way that the rest can’t compete with the Bautista-Panigale R duo, free them all and we’ll see the fastest combination win, in an uncompromised way, without excuses nor guesses.

        • Jabe says:

          I don’t disagree with you Viktor92. I think there are good arguments on both sides of the fence here. I never liked the RPM limits against Kawasaki when they came out, but at the same time was tired of watching the Johnny Rea show. We all want close racing.

          I half heartedly would like to see all the manufactures at the same RPM limit and see what happens. That might at least to some degree settle the argument who is the better rider.

        • Dave says:

          “free them all and we’ll see…”

          ..who’s willing to spend the most money. Then the class will die off. We’ve seen that movie before. This is a production based series. They will need to make adjustments to level the playing field if it’s deemed appropriate.

          • viktor92 says:

            What sport is that where the rules are changed each three races to try to level the bikes performance ??, imagine that on MotoGP or F1 !!, do we want that the best pilot-bike wins, or artificially close racing by changing the rules constantly ??. I value more justice than forced “spectacle”

          • mickey says:

            Dave is right,

            For as long as I can remember in the modern era people have complained about Honda spending whatever is necessary to win in any race series they enter and hiring the best riders to take that machine to the finish line. I would think most would find that trait admirable, but people are funny…win and they start to admire you…win too much and they begin to hate you. Weird. It’s in all sports though, look at the Yankees, and the Patriots because the team owners in those franchises out spent everyone on player talent. Now there are salary limits to “level the playing field”.

            Unless you have spending limit/and mechanical advantage rules, it will just be whoever wants it the most and is willing to spend the jack, that will end up winning. The people that are not willing to spend the jack will take their balls and go home. IE: end of the racing series as you know it.

          • Dave says:

            The rules for the sports you cite change annually and they aren’t always applied equally for the specific reason to make the racing closer and the spectacle more compelling.

            We want the best pilot to win. The bike is just the sideshow (see moto2 and 3, which almost always have better racing). Would you be interested if a lesser rider were able to win because his bike is superior? No. Nobody would.

      • Provologna says:

        Read that last sentence above again, and weep, Japanese fan boys!

      • fred says:

        Friend, you are both wealthy and ungrateful. Being able to afford a $40k play-bike is a sign of wealth.

        • Superlight says:

          Yes, some will buy the $40k V4R model, but many more will spring for the $21k base model or $27k V4s model. And what’s wrong with wealth?

          • mickey says:

            Isn’t that why we get an education, get a job, go to work everyday, watch our spending but watch our savings even more?..to accumulate some wealth?

            Is a motorcycle any different than a BMW car, a fancy pick up truck, a camper or a boat?

    • viktor92 says:

      Didn’t knew that a rider can make a bike faster by more than 10 km/h in straight line…

      • Superlight says:

        More power = more speed. Ducati has a better engine for racing than Kawasaki.

      • ill_mostro says:

        While I agree it’s probably mostly Ducati’s superior motor, the rider can help top speed on the straights with high corner speed/good line choice in the last corner, and body positioning for better drive, etc. These all might be worth a few extra kph on the following straight? Anyone know how Chaz Davies’ top speeds are compared to Rea’s?

  13. Dave says:

    Ducati has not produced a world beating motorcycle, they’ve hired a world beating rider. Until Ducati produces consecutive 1-2-3 finishes with a healthy margin to 4th, and not a day before, this discussion is without merit. Yoda just needs to get KRT back to work.

    • viktor92 says:

      It seems that this discussion will repeat on every WSBK race…
      When Kawasaki produced 1-2-3 finishes ??, and the speed advantage is evident even with Davies, that slowly is catching up. I didn’t see the best Ducati pilot turn faster or brake harder than the best Kawasaki pilot, it is THE ENGINE that make all the difference.

      • Jeremy says:

        The engine plays a big part, but it isn’t everything. Ducati has had the most powerful bike in MotoGP for years now, and none of their riders ever really gap the field. Nor have they won a championship. Even the under-powered (relatively speaking) Yamahas and Suzukis can be quite competitive against the Ducatis at certain GP tracks.

        In this case, I really do think it is the rider.

      • Dave says:

        Fair, Kawasaki didn’t produce 1-2-3 finishes, but they did produce a couple of YEARS of 1-2 finishes, while their satellite teams were in the back.

    • Jeremy says:

      While I lean towards that opinion myself, there is the possibility that Rea and Bautista are both comparably exceptional riders, elites among the field, capable of getting everything out of the bikes they are riding, and the Ducati just has more to give. So I can’t agree that the discussion is without merit, even if you are probably right.

      If Kawasaki does indeed put out a MotoGP-ish homologation special next year, I guess we’ll see.

      • Dave says:

        I’m also looking for an explanation about Yoda’s “MotoGP” comment. That feels like empty sensationalism. What I’d “MotoGP” like about this new bike? It has a frame type that they could never get to work in GP, and a single-side swing arm, which also hasn’t been on a GP bike since the two-cylinder customer Honda 500 2-strokes. Feels like he’s trying to gaslight FIM into taking bigger steps to handicap it.

  14. dt-175 says:

    i’d be surprised if butler & smith sent 40G for the whole season on pridmore’s championship.

    • Superlight says:

      That was literally decades ago. Bikes (and inflation) have changed a lot since then.

    • Dave says:

      I have no doubt that Pridmore’s bike cost more than $40k before he started the engine for the 1st time. I’d also bet any of the current superbikes in stock trim + race tires would beat it around any track. Progress..

    • Anonymous says:

      My Grandpa’s first car cost less than an iPhone X. So there’s that.

  15. Jeremy says:

    The arms race is already capped. The cap for the homologated specials in the current rules is $40K. Ducati took advantage of it. Kawasaki can too. What is there for Dorna to disallow?

    • ill_mostro says:

      Do the manufacturers have to produce/sell a certain number of WSBK homologation specials to be allowed to race them? I thought they had to produce a few thousand of them to qualify.

      It looks like everyone is playing under the same rules, so it seems fair to me. I can only imagine how upset Japanese (and German) engineers are to be embarrassed on the world stage by the Italians. Granted Honda obviously still has the best overall MotoGP bike (w/Marquez at the bars), but every time a Ducati strips the stickers off the fairings of a Honda or Yamaha on a straight I’m sure it just drives them crazy.

  16. tMarski says:

    Have to pretty much agree with Jaime Cruz

    All I was going to add was I don’t think the $40K/$20-somethingK argument has much merit – Economy of Scale comes to mind. My “production figures” are not from any official source but just to make the point, which most would accept as common knowledge, Kawasaki probably produces and sells more ZX10’s than Ducati entire model lineup …
    One more point on rpm …
    Compared to their road worthy iterations vs. their Full-Spec WSBK track machines, Ducati was allowed, roughly, a 2 1/4% increase while Kawasaki was allowed about 3 1/2% increase …

    But as Mr. Cruz points out, if it was REALLY the bike, Ducati would be finishing 1-2&3 (like Indian in AFT) with Bautista and Davies battling over 1-2, and a less supported V-4RR coming 3rd. As it is, Davies finishing no better than last year.

    • Dave says:

      ” Kawasaki probably produces and sells more ZX10’s than Ducati entire model lineup …”

      Not a chance. I would bet Kawasaki doesn’t sell many more ZX10R’s than Ducati sells Panigales. Open class sport bikes are a very low volume business, no matter the brand.

      • Provologna says:

        If I had to bet, I’d agree with Dave. tMarski’s estimated sales numbers are way off.

        Ducati is kicking arse and taking no prisoners across the board.

  17. Jaime Cruz says:

    It’s NOT the bike, it’s the rider. Take Alvaro out of the picture and everyone else would be exactly where they were last year with Rea dominating. People forget Alvaro Bautista is a former 250GP World Champion. He just never had a competitive factory ride in MotoGP.

    I would credit the bike if Davies and Bautista were finishing 1/2 every race (as Rea/Sykes used to for Kawasaki). It’s Bautista, pure and simple.

    • viktor92 says:

      OMG, the same story again…
      Take away Rea, and the Kawasakis are almost non existent. Bautista isn’t the unsung hero, it’s a good MotoGP rider with a bike that has at least 10 km/h more of speed than the best Kawasaki, thanks to an engine directly derived from MotoGP.

      • Dave says:

        Before they got Rea, Kawasaki won the championship with Sykes in 2012 and missed the title in 2013 by just a few points.

        In the case of Ducati, they really wouldn’t be anywhere without Bautista this year, with their 2nd best rider (Davies) languishing between 5th and 7th place at most of the races so far.

        • Jaime Cruz says:

          Thank you. My point exactly. Haslam is getting more and more acquainted with the Kawasaki and will soon be running with Rea. Remember, Rea also made that boat anchor Honda look good; I KNEW once he was on a competitive motorcycle he’d be damned near unstoppable and I was right. It took a better rider to join the series to stop his run.

      • Anonymous says:

        Viktor 92 says
        “Take away Rea, and the Kawasakis are almost non existent.”

        Doesn’t that prove the value of the rider, more than the value of the motorcycle that rider is on?

  18. Artem says:

    Ducati is far ahead, now.

    • Superlight says:

      Competition always improves the breed. Ducati has laid down the gauntlet. Now let’s see if another manufacturer responds with something better – nothing is stopping them from doing so.

  19. PatrickD says:

    The premise of the homologation specials was to allow the smaller factories (Ducati, Bimota etc.) compete with the larger factories, and the production limits were supposed to have some relationship with the factory’s output. So a run of 50 bikes from Bimota might compete with Japanese factories.
    It’s not looking too bright for Kawasaki just now, but the season is young. I remember a similar ‘problem’ in 2002 when Troy Bayliss was running away with things at Ducati in the first half of the season. A certain Colin Edwards kept in touching distance, kept the pressure on, and we had the greatest finale to a motorcycle racing championship that I’ve ever seen.
    Whilst not wishing ill on any racer, we just need to see one blip in the performance of Bautista, and it’s game-on.

    • Jeremy says:

      I don’t know. Assen should have been a track where the power advantage of the Ducati was nullified, possibly more so than any other track on the calendar. I think a rider of Bautista’s caliber on a really good machine is just going to be a tough nut to crack. If the 4-time WSBK champion himself doesn’t see a scenario where he can beat Bautista this year, then I’m inclined to believe that is the case save for several DNFs.

      • Dave says:

        “Assen should have been a track where the power advantage of the Ducati was nullified”

        It kind of was, if Ducati/Bautista’s advantage is power (why aren’t any of the other V4 bikes winning?). Bautista only won by a few seconds, instead of 15.

  20. Ralph W. says:

    I would rather they have a lower price cap that eliminates bikes like the $40K Ducati because I want to see them racing bikes that are based on the bikes us average riders buy. But that is just my preference.

    • Superlight says:

      It sounds like you are describing Superstock racing, not Superbike. The Superbike class has always featured machines with engine and chassis modifications, while Superstock has remained much closer to production intent. With a price of $21,495 the Ducati V4 is at the upper end of pricing, but still attainable for most serious sport bike buyers.

      • HM says:

        I have been saying STK 1000 for years to anyone that might listen. “Superbike” has always been modified at best. A few years ago one of the big Japanese companies were caught supplying frames with VINs in place that were not stock ! It was most likely reported in Roadracing World iirc?

  21. Justin schober says:

    Bautista is the difference here as well as the bike he’s not the only guy riding a v4r

  22. Stuki Moi says:

    Dorna should up the number of homologation bikes that needs to be sold; and/or cap the price and/or demand the factory honor all orders. Otherwise, The $25K Kawa gives way to the $40K Duc to the $60K Kawi to the $100K Duc to the $150K BMW and so forth. Until Honda eventually wins by simply having the deepest pockets.

    Even in MotoGP, they have rules aimed at keeping costs at bay. WSB, for the sake of sport biking, really needs to be race on Sunday, sell to “all” buyers in “all” markets on Monday. Not just a curated set of collectors pieces pretending to be “production” bikes.

    • Guy says:

      There is rules in places to prevent un-restricted/skyrocketing costs in WSBK.
      Ducati designed the Panigale V4R to follow the rules, produced the required number and sell those at the upper price point allowed by the book.

      Kawasaki can go ahead, like the other manufacturers, to build such a bike but it will be a hard and long development road for them…

      Ducati invested a colossal amount of money to get where they are.
      I can tell you that after riding the V4S on track in January last year I knew it was coming. It’s a game changer in the sportbike world.

    • Superlight says:

      Stuki, WSBK homologation rules already stipulate how many bikes need to be sold and have a 40k Euro price cap on every manufacturer, so I don’t understand your comments. All Ducati did was build a better bike within the rules structure. And the Ducati V4 starts at $21.495, not $40,000, so it’s certainly not cheap, but is affordable to most serious enthusiasts. Kawasaki was caught resting on their laurels while Ducati was hard at work.

      • LIM says:

        Ducati has been hard at work since Carlos Checa last won for them.

        Hope next year, there won’t be a repeat of 2003 Ducati Cup.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        They need to stipulate more bikes being sold. And for lower costs. Costs more in line with what most liter sport bikes are sold for. There probably exists no greater concentrations of “serious enthusiasts” in the world, than in Indonesia. And virtually none of them, is even within a lifetime of paying 40K Euro (and no doubt rising due to lobbying, if this kind of arms race is what it will take to win WSBK going forward.) Even in Europe, Japan and the US, 40K Euro is way beyond what most enthusiasts are ready to pay for their bike. Were it not, that’s what liter bikes would sell in volume for.

        The point is, WSBK has to make a choice about whether it wants to be a race series relevant to the kind of young people sportbiking needs to recruit to stay viable, in the markets where there still are young people interested in sport bikes. OR, if it wants to be a race series for old guys collecting unobtanium, until those guys dies off.

        If the latter; the current model of selling a capped number of 100+K bikes to a limited number of collectors for 40K, and accounting for the losses as a marketing expense; probably works just fine. But if the former, the manufacturers should have to sell as many bikes at the homologation price as there are orders for it, not just a capped number. And that price needs to be in line with what tomorrows sport bike riders can realistically expect to at least one day be able to pay.

        • Superlight says:

          I’m repeating myself here, but you’re talking about the Superstock 1000 series, which has rules much closer to production specs than Superbike.

  23. Bart says:

    The advantages of optimized desmodromic valve train are obvious in this matter. Desmo drive requires way less power at high revs, doesn’t have springs that are surging off their seats.

    I remember when Muzzy was fighting with this issue years ago. The penalize approach is a distasteful solution.

    I hope Kawasaki can come up with something to match, I’d love to see green bikes dicing with red bikes again.

  24. endoman38 says:

    Instead of making the rules to fit various bikes, make one set of rules and let the manufacturers produce the production bike they wish to fit the rules, i.e., same rev limit for all bikes. BTW…Kawasaki needs to go to MotoGP. Everyone else is there.

  25. Mikey says:

    Sounds like you have to grease a few palms more heavily.

  26. mickey says:

    Don’t think Dorna has much of a choice. If they let the Duc in, they have to let the new Kwacker in.

    If they don’t, somebody isn’t going to be happy.

    If they penalize the Duc, someone isn’t going to be happy.

    Looks like a lose lose for Dorna.