Ducati has pulled the covers off its contender for the 2013 World Superbike Championship season, its first with the all-new and much anticipated Ducati 1199 Panigale R.
The iconic Italian manufacturer switches from the ultra-successful 1098R – winner of 51 WSBK races and two riders' titles - to the new 1199 Panigale twin this season following a year of intensive development behind-the-scenes.
The bikes will be prepared by Team Alstare, itself returning to the World Superbike Championship this season following a sabbatical brought on by the conclusion of its long-term relationship with Suzuki at the end of the 2011 season.
As expected, the Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale will reflect its heritage with a predominantly red livery in-keeping with its predecessors, though the introduction of backing from Energy TI, FIAMM and TIM ensures this particular machine bears a striking resemblance to the former Xerox-backed Ducatis that competed between 2005 and 2010.
Beyond the new bike and the re-introduction of Alstare, which takes over from Althea Racing, 2011 champion Carlos Checa remains a familiar figure for 2013, the Spaniard being joined by experienced racer Ayrton Badovini in the team.
Speaking ahead of the bike's debut in Australia in just over two weeks' time, team owner Francis Batta is excited about the challenges ahead.
“I can only be pleased and optimistic with a team like this, and a bike of this level, with our two riders and a team of friends and sponsors that will support us throughout this demanding season,” he said.
“The challenge that awaits us is not an easy one but thanks to our partners and the trust Ducati puts in us we will find the strength and the incentive to tackle the new season. I thank everyone who believes in us; we will do all we can to repay such passion and respect.”