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Ducati team on track in the 2019 WorldSBK Championship with Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista | Sport | WSBK

The Racing - Ducati team finalised its riders' lineup for the 2019 WorldSBK Championship, extending its collaboration with Chaz Davies and enlisting Alvaro Bautista.

There are two major changes for the Italian team – regarding both the bike and the riders – as it lines up for the 32nd season of World Superbike racing. On a technical level, the 2019 season marks a historic turning-point for the Borgo Panigale manufacturer. Present since the very first edition of the world championship back in 1988 and winner of 17 Manufacturers’ and 14 Riders’ titles, Ducati will be racing a four-cylinder Superbike for the very first time – the Panigale V4 R – derived from the road bike presented at EICMA in November last year and acclaimed by the visiting public as a masterpiece of ‘Made in Italy’ style, technology and performance. The Panigale V4 R – developed on the basis of experience accumulated in MotoGP – features a number of evolutions from the previous model, not only from an engine point of view, but also in terms of chassis, electronics and aerodynamics. As testament to this historic moment for Ducati and Aruba, the unveiling of the Panigale V4 R on the stage was carried out personally by the two CEOs of their respective companies.

With regard to the riders, the arrival of Álvaro Bautista is equally significant, the Spaniard highly motivated and ready to face a new professional challenge in Superbike after nine years spent racing in MotoGP. The 34-year-old from Talavera de la Reina is a rider with considerable experience, having also raced in 250cc and in 125cc, the category in which he won the title in 2006, and he has rapidly adapted to the new technical scenario. He will line up alongside the 31-year-old Welshman from Knighton, Chaz Davies, three-time championship runner-up in the last four seasons, who has put the past year’s bad injuries behind him and who will tackle his sixth successive season in Superbike aboard a factory Ducati.

Davies, 31, is currently in his fifth season with the factory team, the last onboard the Panigale R ahead of the much-anticipated debut of the Panigale V4 on the world stage. The Welshman has so far collected 68 podiums with Ducati, taking 25 victories and finishing the season as runner-up twice.  “I’m very excited and motivated about the season that’s about to start. After five years and many great memories with the twin-cylinder bike, the time has come to begin a new challenge and I can’t wait to get back on track with the Panigale V4 R. My last tests were hampered a bit by the twinge I felt in my back, but my overall physical condition is much better than last year and in any case we managed to complete our test schedule. We’ve still got two more days of testing left and they will be fundamental to define the last details, and then finally we’ll be racing again. The start of the year is going to be even more exciting than ever, and having a new bike – as well as a new team-mate – is going to be extra motivation for me.”

Bautista, 33, will debut in the WorldSBK Championship after completing his 16th full-time season in the MotoGP Championship. A new and exciting challenge for the Spaniard, currently competing in the top class onboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Angel Nieto Team. Bautista has seized 49 podiums to date in MotoGP, including 16 wins, and conquered the 125-cc class world title in 2006.  “I can’t wait to start this new adventure. The balance of the winter tests is really positive. The project is a new one and there’s still a lot of work to be done but lap after lap we found a good base to work on. I still have to adapt to this new technical situation, particularly the tyres, but the performance shown in just six days of testing is undoubtedly encouraging. Phillip Island is a spectacular track and I’ve always liked it, there couldn’t be a better place to begin this exciting new adventure and we’ll do our best to be ready.”