Superbike SWOT: Ducati
A SWOT analysis has long been recognised as one of the best ways to analyse your business interests. What are the reasons for the likelihood of succeeding – or failing – to meet your targets? What are the good and bad points of your business model? In racing what are the factors that go into winning and losing on track?
For WorldSBK in 2020, the coming season looks set to be one of the most competitive in memory. Kawasaki has won five titles in a row, but having been put in their place by Ducati’s early season dominance in 2019 they’ll know how quickly things can change. New bikes from Honda and Yamaha show that you can’t stand still in racing because everyone is trying to get back to the front.
BMW made their return to WorldSBK twelve months ago, and by hiring Eugene Laverty to pair with Tom Sykes, it’s clear just how seriously they will be taking the 2020 season.
WorldSBK is set for a thrilling campaign but what are the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats facing each manufacturer over the course of a 13 round campaign?
Strength: Having the best bike on the grid
The biggest strength for Ducati is that they still have the best bike on the grid. The Panigale V4R was a game changing bike last year that moved the goal posts for WorldSBK. With experience of how to make the bike work, Ducati should be stronger in 2020. Having taken half a season to understand the V4R, Chaz Davies now looks ready to challenge from the front throughout the season. Reigning BSB champ Scott Redding gives Ducati a new rider, but one that has lots of confidence now that he finally has his opportunity to win races at world championship level once again. Redding showed last year that he has the maturity to deal with a new challenge. He has the speed and he has brought his BSB title winning crewchief, Giovanni Cruppi, with him to the world stage.
It’s hard to find a reason for this but from round to round the Ducati was a difficilt bike to understand fully. For Alvaro Bautista we saw that it was fast at almost every circuit but it took until Laguna Seca for Chaz Davies to feel the same confidence and to find a decent base setting. The potential of the Ducati is tremendous but according to Leon Camier, following his first test on the bike, the Ducati is a difficult beast to understand. “This bike is very different. It needs to use the electronics to be able to get the best from it.” The MotoGP inspired bike offers huge potential to dominate in WorldSBK but is it on too much of a knife edge?
Opportunity: Finding a better base
12 months ago Ducati shocked WorldSBK with the early season dominance of Alvaro Bautista. This will be almost impossible to repeat but both Redding and Davies will have confidence they will be able to iron out the mistakes that blighted Bautista’s campaign. A more rounded and consistent season will give Ducati the chance to finally win a title again. With Leon Camier at Barni Ducati, the Bologna manufacturer can also count on his feedback to help develop the bike and increase their knowledge of what is still a tricky bike to understand fully.
Threat: Getting in their own way
In 2019 Ducati couldn’t get out of their own way. Bautista’s mistake cost him the title. The length of time it took for Davies to understand the bike cost them in the early rounds. Ducati hasn’t won the title since 2011 and after what seemed an inevitable title last year, was turned by their own mistakes and the momentum of their recent history. Until Ducati win another crown, they are stuck in no man’s land of having a great bike but not the titles to back up their recent successes.