Althea, Ducati set to announce shock split
Ducati insists it will continue in the World Superbike Championship next season despite ending its agreement with the Althea Racing team.
Althea Racing and Ducati have reportedly ended their World Superbike collaboration, raising question marks with regards to the manufacturer's future direction in the series.
Revealed by Italian publication Moto.it and seemingly confirmed by Althea boss Genesio Bevilacqua and Ducati's Ernesto Marinelli, the announcement comes as a shock given Althea recently gave the much vaunted Ducati 1199 Panigale its public test debut earlier in the month.
According to Bevilacqua, the reasons for the split are numerous, such as the economic commitment Ducati were willing to give Althea (having paid Carlos Checa's salary and introduced new sponsors in 2011), uncertainty over developing a new bike before new technical rules come in for 2014 and retaining the services of Davide Giugliano.
"We are used to doing things better," he told Moto.it. "Since the beginning of our history in Superbike we carried out a successful project and we wanted to continue on the same road. Without the conditions to do so, we are not interested in continuing.
"The main reason for the disagreement is obviously on the economic side and has amazed us, especially the fact that a company like Ducati, recently taken over by a giant like Audi, has no interest in investing in a new product, on a project that would lead to repeat the successes of the past with the consequent benefits that would result in terms of sales.
"Just as had happened in 2012, we were ready to invest all our resources and to confirm our sponsors in the new project Panigale and it was obvious that we expected the same commitment even by Ducati."
Despite the split, Marinelli insists the Ducati is prepared to continue in 2013, with Checa - but not Althea-contracted Giugliano - at the helm. However, the full structure is yet to be determined.
"We will run with Carlos and the Panigale to win, the non-renewal with Althea cannot hinder our goal. In our history we have changed structures, shape and motion several times always getting good results and the common denominator has always been the Ducati.
"I want to emphasise we are, and I in particular, very sorry for not being able to reach an agreement with the Althea team for 2013. My respect and gratitude along with that of Ducati goes to Genesio and his team for what they have done over the years in which we worked together.
"That will definitely remain unchanged, as will the friendship between us as well as to all the boys in his team, with whom I had a great time during three successful years. For Genesio and for all of them, the doors of Ducati will always remain open."
Having started out with Honda machinery in 2008, Althea Racing made the switch to a pair of privateer Ducatis from 2010 and quickly emerged as race winners. When Ducati promptly withdrew its official factory presence, Althea assumed de facto factory status from 2011, with Checa romping to the title.
Since 2010, Althea has notched up 22 race wins with Checa, while Giugliano was also victorious in the 2011 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup. As it stands, it remains to be seen whether Althea will continue to compete in World Superbikes.