Shane Byrne says he had anticipated the new Ducati V4 Superbike would arrive for 2018 but remains confident racing an aging Panigale won’t be such a disadvantage in the MCE British Superbike championship.
The Be Wiser Ducati rider signed a two-year deal last November to take him to the end of the 2018 campaign and while the five-time BSB champion isn’t focusing on his future beyond that date, getting to grips with Ducati’s new Superbike could prove a pivotal factor.
At Ducati’s MotoGP team launch in January, CEO Claudio Domenicali confirmed the Italian manufacturer’s next Superbike with be a V4-engine machine, which will be publicly announced this Autumn, but reports suggest it won’t be unleashed on the racing scene until 2019 to provide a year of development – the same tactic Yamaha used before introducing its latest YZF-R1 in World Superbikes a year after it arrived in BSB when Josh Brookes guided it to the 2015 title.
Early rumours indicated the V4 might be debuted in 2018 but with Ducati bosses confirming the Panigale will be raced next season the likes of Byrne have been forced to wait.
Despite hoping for the V4’s arrival in the second year of his current Be Wiser Ducati contract, Byrne isn’t concerned racing the aging Panigale will hit his outright performance due to the BSB technical rules.
“I was very hopeful the V4 would be a year earlier,” Byrne said. “I know what is left to come for the Panigale as it stands at the moment and none of the teams in BSB are going to stand still over the winter. There is a lot of talk of manufacturers bringing out new models or with updated models but the beauty of BSB is that it doesn’t matter what a manufacturer brings out you have still got to make it a BSB bike.
“You’ve still got to take off all of the stuff that makes them great road bikes to ride and the most technically advanced bikes you can ride to turn them into BSB bikes. That sounds backwards I know. If you go ride up on an 1199 R that may be technically more advanced than what I race on. I don’t see how fans can aspire to have a BSB bike as what they ride is technically more advanced.
“But at the same time nobody can argue that our technical regulations are wrong because on any given day there could be five or ten race winners on many different manufacturers. Stuart Higgs and Jonathan Palmer have done a great job at getting the series competitive but have they done a great job at making a Superbike super? I don’t know.”
Defending BSB champion Byrne leads the current riders’ championship by 19 points from Leon Haslam, despite a frustrating out at Thruxton last weekend, as he hunts an unprecedented sixth title.