Ducati at Magny Cours – End of an Era
Ducati compete this weekend at the final round of the 2010 WSBK championship, as they bring to a close an era of fielding a factory team.
This weekend, October 1-3 2010, Ducati will put either a close, or at least a break in what can only be described as a glorious run of racing success.
While there will still be Ducati’s racing in the 2011 World Superbike season, there will not be a factory team. For those who have followed the “supers” through its seasons – starting in 1988 when the series got going – it will be strange to not see the familiar red bikes at or near the front.
Ducati riders have won 13 World Superbike championships, Ducati itself 16 Manufacturers championships in that time.
Australian fans have a close connection with Ducati’s success, with firstly Troy Corser winning the 1996 title, then almost the 1998 crown, missing out due to a warmup crash at the last round while leading the points. Aussie Ducati fans didn’t have long to wait, another Troy was just around the corner.
Troy Bayliss was headed for the American AMA series in 2000 after winning the 99 British title, but got redirected to World Superbike after Carl Fogarty’s career ending crash at Phillip Island. Troy made an immediate impact on the series, winning 2 races and finishing 6th that year.
2001, and Troy Bayliss grabbed the first of his titles, then followed up with a 2nd place in the 2002 championship behind Colin Edwards, a title earned in the final round at Imola, and regarded by many as one of the all time great superbike races. Both riders then moved to MotoGP, where Edwards remains today.
Bayliss headed back to Superbikes and Ducati in 2006, ringing up another championship win and 11 race wins through the season. Then in his final season of 2008, he racked up yet another title for the Italian manufacturer, before retiring from racing, perhaps one season prematurely.
The reasons behind Ducati’s withdrawal from the series as a factory team have been discussed at length elsewhere, and it remains to be seen if they are gone for good, or just having a 1 or 2 season break to regroup, while focusing on The Rossi/MotoGP effort.
There are bound to be a few tears in the Magny Cours paddock, and around the world, as the 2010 season closes and with it an era.
In early practice Michel Fabrizio -Ducati Xerox – was fastest, with team mate Nori Haga – Ducati Xerox – in 5th.
Although racing rarely follows a preordained script, a pair of Ducati wins would be a fitting finale.