The Endurance World Championship has changed its regulations, making Ducati’s Panigale V4 R eligible to race for the 2019-2020 season. And rumours are swirling that the Italian factory will have an official team at this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours.
Following two Ducati Panigales V4 Rs being disallowed from this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours after failing to meet existing Superstock regulations – the FIM has changed the rules. Moving forward there’s going to be a separate class in Endurance World Championship which allows Superbikes.
Back in November last year, Ducati’s race boss Gigi Dall’Igna revealed he had been thinking about the championship. He said: “The Resistance (EWC) is important for us, now we have to work to return to Superbike with a high level but then that next step will come.”
And in an interview with GPone a couple of weeks ago, Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati’s sports director spoke about the V4 Rs eligibility – and the Italian factories plans for the 2019-2020 race season. He said: “In 2020 we will participate in the World Endurance with the Panigale V4R, but we will not do it in official form. It will be a private team that currently runs with BMW in the world EWC to deploy our bike, but even if we are not directly involved, we will give the support needed to do well in a championship that is growing a lot and that interests us.
“We will start this collaboration only with the first stage of 2020, then with the 24 Hours of Le Mans in April. The team has a contract in place with BMW that expires at the end of 2019, and will respect it. Then it will start working on our bike.”
When asked about the Suzuka 8 Hours, Ciabatti said: “I am convinced that Suzuka is an almost completely different race compared to the rest of the World Endurance race, a real event that despite being part of the calendar represents a very different challenge for the Constructors who intend to participate and do it in a way official. It reminds me somewhat of the 200 Daytona Miles. “
“I want to say that in my opinion if we ever decide to participate in the 8 Hours of Suzuka in an official way in Ducati, it will be a project of our own, which will require a great deal of effort. We have to plan tests on the track when it is available, we have to field the best ones. Riders available in the Ducati family and then we have to think that to win there, the Bridgestones must be used. A challenge in the challenge. It is fascinating, but if Ducati decides to participate, it will do so to fight for victory.”
Although that’s not a concrete confirmation that Ducati’s going to be racing at this year’s Suzuka – it does confirm that the Italians are starting to get serious about the Endurance World Championship. And it’s about time. They’ve won Superbike championships (both nationally and internationally), MotoGP championships, races at the Isle of Man TT and at the Daytona 200 too. What else is there to conquer?
TO HELP YOU KEEP ACROSS ALL THE ACTION, HERE IS THE FULL EWC CALENDAR FOR THE 2019-2020 RACE SEASON