As the Ducati Factory World Superbike team finalizes its plans for the introduction of the 1199 Panigale into the series, two things are certain: 2011 champion Carlos Checa will be the team’s lead rider, and Team Althea Racing, who have worked with Ducati since 2010, will not be the team’s sponsor.
The first bit of news shouldn’t be a surprise, as Checa has been helping the Bologna factory develop the Panigale since mid-year. Checa won the 2011 championship with a masterful display of domination on the 1198, a model many believed to be dated and an underdog before the season began. Details of Checa’s new contract with Ducati have yet to be released other than his role in continuing to develop the 1199 and being the team’s lead rider next year.
A bigger surprise is the split between Ducati and Team Althea Racing, as the two seemed to be enjoying a healthy partnership. Despite winning the 2011 Manufacturer’s and Rider’s championships in both Superbike and Superstock, neither party could reach an agreement for next year. However, it was an amicable parting between the Bologna factory and Team Althea owner, Genesio Bevilacqua, so don’t rule out a future partnership.
In case you’ve forgotten, Ducati deliberately postponed fielding a 1199 in the World Superbike Championship until 2013 in order to use the time to test and develop a worthy contender for the title. With most of Ducati’s plans finalized for 2013, expect more details to be released soon.