Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) as a pilot in the WorldSBK in the 1997 season – today the Spaniard for rights owner Dorna is responsible for the series -related World Cup. After a more than questionable decision by his boss Carmelo Ezpeleta and FIM President Jorge Viegas, he and his employer threaten to run away the japanese manufacturers. With regard to a minimal weight already agreed with the manufacturers, these two decided to perceive their veto law and to cancel this agreement. This is scandalous and is reminiscent of the later 1960s when the FIM confronted the Japanese manufacturers with a profound change in regulation of the motorcycle world championship, whereupon Honda and Suzuki retreated immediately.

Adaptation of the rev limits in the WorldSBK – too late?

From the introduction of the new MotoGP Replica Panigale V4R from Ducati, the Superbike World Cup has never changed in its many years of history. For the first time, a manufacturer had exploited the applicable regulations in a form that was never intended. The idea has always been the same and absolutely contrary to the approach of Ducati shortly before the Covid-19 pandemy since the foundation of the highly popular AMA Superbike series from the USA. They wanted to have tuned series machines from different manufacturers compete against each other and the buyers of such bikes should identify with the products in order to be able to buy them themselves at the next dealer. In the 1970s, many US stars drove in the AMA to start in Europe a few years later. Names like Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Freddie Spencer are still a term today and they had dominated the World Cup for years.

Eddie Lawson (Kawasaki) in front of Freddie Spencer (Honda), caused a sensation before moving to the Grand Prix Sport on the Ama superbikes. At first glance you can see that these were tuned series machines that corresponded to today’s Naked Bikes, because the Japanese manufacturers knew at most steering cladding as with the Suzuki GS1000-S. More on this in our richly illustrated history.

After the FIM and Dorna scandal possibly a too late attempted reparation exercise
It was obvious that the competitors of Ducati had to feel stuck by the self -empowered approach of men Ezpeleta and Viegas. It can be assumed that after the refusal of an introduction of a minimal weight, Kawasaki, in particular, openly threatened with a withdrawal from the WorldSBK. The Japanese had to have felt strongly swarmed shortly before the start of the season 2021 when the FIM, in questionable interpretation of the regulators, had a significantly higher maximum speed than the previous model. At this point, all tests had already been completed at a higher speed than the pre -model. The data collected had thus become unusable in one fell swoop. Rea plunged more like never before this season because it had to go over the limit too often. He lost the title to Yamaha Ass Toprak. But since Alvaro Bautista returned to Ducati after his initial dominance from 2019 to the 2022 season, he and the other opponents have finally not laughed. However, it could be too late that you are now doing action in one night and fog on the part of FIM, which would have been necessary in 2019.

Podium from the 2nd run in Phillip Island (Australia) from 2023 with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (P2), winner Alvaro Bautista (both Ducati) and Andrea Locatelli (Yamaha, P3) behind the first place. Four drivers from the top 5 were on a Ducati Panigale V4R and even the work drivers of the competition were majority against them in a lost position.

The Panigale V4R – no comparison with the bankruptcy of the Petronas FP1

Already in 2001 a similar approach was followed with a motorcycle developed for the race track. The motorcycle of the Malaysian oil company Petronas 2001 was originally developed together with Sauber-Petronas as a MotoGP prototype with 989 cm³. The donor Petronas decided during the development of using the machine instead in the Superbike World Cup. This was associated with the production of “series machines”. Due to the regulations of the FIM, a number of 150 copies of a homologized street version was prescribed so that a small series received approval for the racing series. The displacement for the three-cylinder engine was reduced to 899.5 cm³, but the “Foggy-Petronas” named after team boss Carl Fogarty was not competitive. Despite the top drivers such as Troy Corser and then modest commitment from the Japanese manufacturers, a fourth place in 2003 and 3rd place in the designers’ World Cup were the highest of feelings. The Panigale V4R, on the other hand, directly comes from the MotoGP prototype from Ducati and thanks to the maximum speed granted by FIM until recently 16100 rpm, hardly any herb had grown against them. It is more than questionable whether this will change with a ridiculous 250 revolutions less.

WorldSBK 2003 Debut from Foggy Petronas with links in the picture team boss Carl Fogarty – despite gigantic effort, the success remained rather modest. For Topfahrer Troy Corser, lost 3 years, without which he would probably have won more than his two titles from 1996 (in Ducati) and 2005 (for Suzuki).

Did Kawasaki get out after the scandalous decision by FIM and Dorna?

From a sporting point of view, the first rounds for many observers were like a bad joke. The little Spaniard drove as in another category and flew away in Top Speed and acceleration his opponents again this year. Before the fourth round of this season, the FIM managers therefore pulled the emergency brake for the first time and reduced the permissible maximum speed of the Ducati Panigale V4R by modest 250 rpm. At the same time, the Kawasaki got the long overdue increase around the same value, which at least is now on the level of the Yamaha R1. It is certain that this is a kind of emergency brake to prevent the withdrawal of Japanese manufacturers. The future will show whether this is too late. The Japanese works are absolutely right to be rocked by the highest motorsport authority and they threaten their exit. See also the Suzuki, which is surprising for all observers, from MotoGP to the end of 2022, which shocked the motorsport world. Below is the new figures on the spontaneously decided new maximum speed, which already apply to Barcelona.

When Jonathan Rea dominated Kawasaki primarily thanks to his driving art, there was even a reduction around 500 rpm in one fell swoop, although the Kawasaki was anything but clearly superior to the competition. On the contrary, even the Ducati Panigale V2 at that time had a clear torque advantage on numerous courses due to its displacement plus by 200 cm³ compared to the competitors with 1000 cm³ four-cylinder machines and certainly not a performance Manko or problem with the top speed.
Group picture in front of the promenade of Barcelona with Eric Granado (Petronas Mie Racing Honda Team), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon Worldsbk), Xavi Vierge (Team HRC), Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing WorldsBK) and Danilo Petrucci Racing Team). After the World Cup leader Alvaro Bautista has just announced the contract extension with Ducati, it is still open to the time whether the men in the picture have a lot to laugh about in the near future. From an expert’s point of view, a reduction of only 250 rpm for the Panigale V4R is more like a drop on the hot stone.

Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).