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"Fast Bikes", May 1, 2013

The Road is Long!

Alstare’s Panigale is a truly stunning piece of kit to behold...

PIC: KEL EDGE

It is genuinely going to be a long round for Ducati in WSB – if the opening round at Phillip Island is anything to go by. One minute all looked grand, the next it went tits-up...

Pole Man

After some serious stomach issues, which meant missing the first PI test, Carlos Checa and the Panigale stunned WSB by scoring pole-position in its debut event. It would seem odd to many, given the bike’s rather tumultuous testing regime, that Checa could achieve this so quickly. However, even though we heard reports about the Panigale’s development woes direct from the horse’s mouth, that was now over a year ago. Since then, Ducati has made several smart moves.

Keeping The King

The best thing Ducati did, was to keep Carlos Checa. The equally as brilliant next move was to replace outgoing squad Althea (who moved to Aprilia kit), with one of the most beloved teams in WSB – Alstare, with Francis and Patricia Batta at the helm.

Devilish Bad Luck

Under Batta’s guidance, Ducati’s new factory team made leaps and bounds with Checa and team-mate Ayrton Badovini. It all looked so good, until Ayrton smashed himself up before Superpole, ruling himself out of the running. Checa grabbed pole, but then miscalculated the gap to Marco Melandri in race one, tagged him, and down they went. Checa was sparked out, leaving just Max Neukirchner to carry the Ducati flag on his privateer 1199. It’s a shame after things were looking so rosy for the team. Clawing back those lost points on Aprilia’s factory pairing will be tough, but if Checa stays fit, he could just be the man to prove the 1199 is the real deal. The next race is Aragon, April 14th.

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