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News has come in this morning that Ducati is building a four-cylinder superbike for 2017 that will replace the Panigale.

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This comes from deep inside the World Superbike paddock where the talk is of the new bike being already in development to push the Italians back to the front of the championship.

With Kawasaki very likely to be about to take the title again in 2015 and the rules for next year in WSB remaining largely the same, there’s not going to be any ‘artificial’ benefits to the rules system to bring the Ducatis back to a competitive best. Previously, Ducati was allowed to run larger capacity engines in order to be competitive with the four cylinder bikes.

Because that is not happening, Ducati insiders are telling us that the factory has opted to make the four-cylinder bike in order to compete on track and in the showrooms. There’s no more information on the exact spec of the bike that’s coming for now, but we’ve been told that it will follow a similar path in terms of product-development and sales marketing as the BMW S1000RR.

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We’ve known for a long time, and reported here for months now, that Honda is coming to the 2017 WSB championship with a new Fireblade – although whether that bike will still be called the Fireblade is unknown because the company has already re-trademarked the iconic RVF name ahead of this.

Re-trademarking the RVF name happened a couple of months ago via southern hemisphere trademark offices which suggest that a ‘super Blade’ with the RVF name could well be on the way and Honda is starting to sort out exactly how it’s going to market the bike.

So with that and the new four-cylinder Ducati joining the ‘much more powerful’ ZX-10R that we exclusively told you about six weeks ago, plus the Yamaha R1M coming into a third year of race development for that season, 2017 looks like having WSB back to its technical best.

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Tony Carter

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