Ducati back in WorldSSP: Italian manufacturer ready for Panigale V2’s debut

Thursday, 24 March 2022 11:13 GMT

For the first time since 2007, Ducati will be part of WorldSSP with the new Panigale V2 taking to the track and aiming for glory

A new ruleset has come into the FIM Supersport World Championship in 2022, allowing for more bikes to compete as part of the “new generation”. The new rules have enticed two manufacturers back to the Championship with Ducati entering WorldSSP for the first time since 2007 as they bring the Ducati Panigale V2 machine.

Six teams have agreed to use the Panigale V2 machine on Ducati’s return to the Championship with seven riders competing on Ducati machinery; enticing some famous names and historic line-ups to return. Racing WorldSSP Team will make their WorldSSP debut, having run the WorldSBK factory Ducati operation, with Nicolo Bulega while Oli Bayliss will make his full-time WorldSSP debut in 2022 with Barni Spark Racing Team, reuniting the famous Bayliss name with Ducati machinery.

WorldSBK title-winning team Althea Racing will compete with Federico Caricasulo in 2022 in WorldSSP, while the Orelac Racing squad have switched from Kawasaki to Ducati for this season with Raffaele De Rosa. Another WorldSSP outfit have switched manufacturer with CM Racing opting to race with the Panigale V2 after using Yamaha in 2021; Maximilian Kofler will make his debut on the Ducati. The final team with Ducati in 2022 is the D34G Racing squad running brothers Filippo and Federico Fuligni in the WorldSSP Challenge.

It means that, despite the bike having its debut in WorldSSP this year, the Ducati Panigale V2 is already the second-most popular bike on the grid with six teams and seven riders. Yamaha, title winners for the past five seasons, will be represented by 13 riders and seven teams, while Kawasaki, also with title-winning pedigree, will have six bikes from four teams lining up. Both MV Agusta, bringing a new machine for 2022, and Triumph who return to the Championship have just two riders with one team opting for their bikes.

The bike got its first public test at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto in November, shortly after the 2021 season ended, with Bulega testing for the Racing WorldSSP Team. At that test Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator at Ducati Corse, explained some technical aspects of the bike and his hopes for the 2022 season.

He said: “The base of the bike is the Panigale V2 that is 955cc. It is the news rules, we are confident to be competitive from the beginning because, with the FIM, we are discussing to have a good balance from the beginning of the different bikes and different displacements. It is the first year. It will be harder to understand at every track which is the best setup because we don’t have any references. It’s a part of our job and we will do our best.”

Ducati’s return to the Championship means they will have two classes to focus on and work in for the first time since 2007, with Zambenedetti acknowledging that this will make a round “special” for the Bologna-based manufacturer. He added: “It’s special because, during the race event, we have more than one category to follow, to work on and developing a new vehicle is always interesting for our engineers to understand what the limit is and how to push that limit. Aruba is happy to follow us in this project. We are waiting to understand the first configuration that the FIM will decide.”

It has been a strong start to the Panigale V2’s WorldSSP life as, in testing at both Portimao and Misano, the bike in the hands of Bulega went faster than the pole lap record at Portimao and the all-time lap record at Misano; although at Misano, Kawasaki and MV Agusta also went under the lap record set by Cluzel in 2015.

The first rider to test the Panigale V2 publicly, Aruba WorldSSP’s Bulega, explained, at a Portimao, test how he hopes his rookie season will go. Bulega moves across to WorldSSP after seven years in Moto3™ and Moto2™, bringing plenty of experience to the team as they prepare for their first season in the Championship. He also opened up on how the Panigale V2 suits his riding style.

Bulega said at Portimao: “I really like the tyres; I like the bike because I can brake hard and for my riding style this is good. I think, until now, we can be happy. It’s too early to think of goals because we’ve done only two days of testing. It’s early but the target for me, and for the team, is to be in the top five in all the races.”

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