Ducati made the swirling rumors official by announcing today that the Althea Racing team—which helped Spaniard Carlos Checa take the World Superbike Championship in 2011 with the 1098R—will not be running the Bologna factory’s WSBK racing efforts in 2013. Numerous news sources in Europe are reporting that Althea team owner Genesio Bevilacqua was dissatisfied with numerous aspects of the relationship, including Ducati’s financial commitment, its feet-dragging on development of the new 1199 Panigale superbike with the specter of new technical rules looming in 2014, and keeping Checa’s erstwhile teammate Davide Giugliano in the fold (Checa is contracted with Ducati, while Giugliano’s contract is with Althea Racing). Interestingly, it was the Althea team that handled the public debut of the 1199 WSBK racebike at Aragon last month.
While Bevilacqua can look around for another manufacturer to run, where this leaves the Ducati Corse racing arm of the factory is anyone’s guess. Announcing the split this late in the year leaves little time for gathering the resources to form another team, and there’s no other available team in the WSBK paddock with the experience and know-how of Althea to contract with. Ducati states that Checa “will now continue development of the new Ducati 1199 Panigale (to make it) ready for its World Superbike debut (next) year” but the trackside support necessary to accomplish this requires a good amount of manpower that the factory will have to rustle up. Most of the personnel who were part of the 2010 factory racing team have since moved on to other teams, and getting any of them back may prove to be problematic at best.
Although there is obvious disappointment from both sides on the split, it appears to be somewhat amicable from Ducati’s point of view. The last paragraph states, “However, the exceptionally good relationship that Ducati has enjoyed with Team Althea Racing, combined with the friendship and gratitude towards team owner, Genesio Bevilacqua, for his continuing efforts and loyalty during these years, means that other forms of cooperation between Ducati and Team Althea may still be found in the future.” The release states that “more details will be released in a few days.”