The 2023 season of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicks off in Phillip Island, Australia in less than a month and the fever is building by the day. This year’s inaugural World Speed Championship promises to be an exceptional year as WorldSBK approaches its 35th anniversary. However, many wondered whether reigning World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) would wear the traditional number 19 or 1. After the great presentation of the team in the Italian Dolomites of Madonna di Campiglio, the Spaniard will really defend. with his crown #1. #1 is back on the Ducati in WorldSBK, but it’s been a while…
DEADLINE: #1 Rare for Ducati in WorldSBK
It has been 11 years since Ducati won the WorldSBK crown with Spain’s Carlos Checa after a dominant season in 2011. Again in 2012, he chose to stay with number 7. Although he won the competitions, he could not defend his title. Before that, Ducati relied on Troy Bayliss in 2008, the triple Champion’s final season. He was crowned but did not return to defend his crown in 2009. In 2006 he also became the Champion, but in 2002 he wore the traditional number 21, using the 1, but did not win. .
IN THE PAST: This was common
Who was the last Ducati rider to display the number 1 to defend his crown in WorldSBK? The answer is James Toseland; The youngest-ever WorldSBK Champion took the crown in 2004 with just three wins, but Toseland finished the race after team-mate Regis Laconi used the same engine used in the last three races of the year (Assen, Imola and Magny – Course). style.
But the curse of the No. 1 Ducati was widespread and Toseland failed to live up to expectations, finishing fourth at the end of the year. The “curse” began in 2002 when Troy Bayliss, who had dominated the 2001 season, wore the number 1 and led the overall standings from start to finish. With a gap of 58 points, rival Colin Edwards pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in motorcycling history, winning the final nine races of the year to defeat Bayliss in a breathtaking last-lap battle in Italy.
Bautista may be number 1, but who was the last Ducati Champion to defend his title? This has not happened in this millennium; Carl Fogarty reclaimed his third title in 1998, after being beaten by Troy Corser and John Kocinski, respectively, the previous two years. So in 1999, the number 1 returned to Ducati’s crown for the first time since 1995. Fogarty dominated the 1999 season, as he did in 1995, and retained his No. 1 spot in 2000 despite Fogarty’s career ending. Crash at Phillip Island. 1 number then became Honda and Colin Edwards. Other instances of Ducati retaining the number 1 are rare, with Doug Polen keeping it until 1993 when he took it from 1990 title holder Raymond Roche, in 1991 the Frenchman also wore the iconic number 1, the first Ducati rider to do so .
PREDICT THE FUTURE: Which roster will Bautista be on at the end of 2023?
Back to Bautista and whether we can expect him to successfully defend it, the answer is certainly unclear. However, in 2022 he had an exceptional season with 16 wins and 31 podiums, and won the title in Indonesia with three races to go. He then took two more victories after a bold bet on tires during the Tissot-Superpol Race in Australia. On a wet but drying track, he bet on skids while his rivals opted for intermediate or rain. Adding in some historic victories at the last round, which put the Ducati Panigale V4 R on top of circuits where it had previously struggled, one can imagine the same happening in 2023. will try to outrun him…
Watch the 2023 season by subscribing to WorldSBK VideoPass now.