The grid has changed over the past few years with the number of Ducati bikes increasing and overtaking Kawasaki
With just 10 days to go before the start of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season at Phillip Island and before riders and teams hit the track in a competitive setting, the grid has had a number of changes over the past few seasons as independent teams change the bike they use and where manufacturer support has gone.
For the first time in a number of years Ducati has more bikes on the WorldSBK grid than Kawasaki despite the manufacturer´s stronghold on the riders´ and manufacturers´ championships. Kawasaki has won the last five of both championships and six of the last seven riders´ championships since 2013.
Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing, Team Pedercini Racing and ORELAC Racing VERDNATURA will all run the Kawasaki ZX-10RR in 2020 while ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati, Barni Racing Team, Team GOELEVEN, Motocorsa Racing and Brixx Performance have all committed to using the Ducati Panigale V4 R throughout the 2020 season.
Team GOELEVEN switched from Kawasaki to Ducati when the Italian manufacturer introduced the Panigale V4 R bike ahead of the 2019 WorldSBK season, showing the trust independent teams have put into the Ducati machine. The switch from the Panigale R to the Panigale V4 R has been a cause of the increase in the number of Ducati machines lining up on the grid.
For the 2017 season, there were three Ducati Panigale R bikes on the grid and it was the same in 2018. Kawasaki had seven ZX-10RR bikes on the grid in 2017 and six for 2018. It was 2019 where Ducati started making up ground in terms of numbers when it had four bikes on the grid compared to five for Kawasaki. It has taken three years for Ducati to catch up and the increase in bikes for Ducati coincided with the introduction of the Panigale V4 R.
Yamaha is another example where independent teams are showing their trust. In both 2017 and 2018, Yamaha had three bikes on the grid. This increased to four for 2019 and another Yamaha bike was added to the grid for 2020.
In 2019 Ducati and Kawasaki picked up wins at every round and between them won all but one of the races, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (now Team HRC) picking up the majority of the victories between them as they finished first and second in the riders’ championship. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team), Toprak Razgatlioglu (now Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team) and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing - Ducati) were the other victors in 2019 as they picked up four wins between them.
The numbers suggest Ducati now has the favoured bike for competing in WorldSBK but with Kawasaki´s recent success and Honda´s return as a full-blooded factory outfit, it remains to be seen how the grid having more Ducati bikes than any other manufacturer will impact on the 2020 season. BMW and Yamaha are in the 2020 season too and all five manufacturers will have their eye on the championship crown at the end of season.
You can catch the action from the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship using VideoPass.