If nothing else, 2012 has finally shown the Ducati 1198R for what it truly is – obsolete. At least that is the case in World Superbike spec, where Carlos Checa is getting an almost weekly lesson in what ‘Blew by You’ means care of 4 cylinder mega horsepower. And a bunch of extra weight which seems pretty unfair. No matter, he’ll be on a Ducati 1199 Panigale next year won’t he?
Its pretty strange that with just one round to go of the 2012 World Superbike Championship, we still don’t know whether the Ducati 1199 Panigale will be homologated for World Superbike duty and furthermore if the reigning (for a few more days) champion Carlos Checa will be on board with Althea or otherwise.
Contrast this situation with MotoGP where the champion announced his retirement after just a few races and Valentino Rossi bailed out on Ducati shortly afterwards. With 5 rounds to go almost every seat that matters is decided for 2013.
Rumors persist that El Torro doesn’t like the Panigale after testing it even though he tweeted out his satisfaction to his followers at the time. In FIM Superstock spec, despite the 195hp claim, the Panigale isn’t exactly a rocketship. It has won just two races and is noticeably slower than the Kawasaki and BMW in a straight line. To be fair the Panigale is a brand new bike still in the relatively early stages of development and Eddie La Marra’s consistency has kept the Pani close to the top of the points table.
We must be only days away from Checa finally showing his hand as all the plum rides have been snapped up, unless Max Biaggi announces his retirement after (presumably) taking his second Superbike title in France in a few weeks and opens up an empty seat on an RSV4 for ’13.
Despite this possibility, at least one blog is claiming Althea Ducati has confirmed its current rider lineup of Checa and Davide Giugliano for next season on the new Ducati 1199 Panigale. We’ll wait for the press release before we believe that given that Carlos only signed with Althea for this season last October just days before his contract expired.
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