Is Ducati about to return to the WorldSSP ranks with the Panigale V2?

Ducati could be about to return to WorldSSP with its Panigale V2 if discussions over how to revamp the class work in its favour...

Barni Racing Ducati Panigale V2

Ducati is evaluating the possibility of returning to the WorldSSP Championship class for the first time in more than a decade with the Panigale V2 if planned regulation changes are passed.

The manufacturer has not been represented in the middleweight racing category since 2007 when the last of its remaining Ducati 748/749 entries raced before the 848 successor was launched to no longer conform to regulations.

Currently Ducati doesn’t offer a machine that can be raced under the current regulations, but this could be about to change if a petition to expand the limitations on engine size in the WorldSSP category is accepted.

WorldSSP regulations currently state machines must be four-stroke and then be... 
Between 400 and 600 cubic centimetres (24 and 37 cu in) – 4 cylinders
Between 500 and 675 cubic centimetres (30.5 and 41.2 cu in) – 3 cylinders
Between 600 and 750 cubic centimetres (37 and 46 cu in) – 2 cylinders

However, with MV Agusta pushing hard to have this expanded so it can revert to the F3 800 model (succeeding an F3 675 it says has reached the end of its development cycle), Ducati is seemingly looking to get involved to expand this further so as to allow the 955cc Panigale V2 to compete.

With discussions still taking place, Ducati in collaboration with Barni Racing has begun testing a race-prepared version of the Panigale V2 - with 2019 WorldSSP Champion Randy Krummenacher aboard - on the chance it will be homologated.

Is WorldSSP set for a major overhaul in 2021?

Discussions over how best to proceed with the WorldSSP have been raging for months and it’s threatened to create a rift among the manufacturers.

The current rules benefit models like the Yamaha R6 (which dominates the entry list) and the Kawasaki ZX-6R, though MV Agusta has gamely committed beyond the F3 675’s usable years and is arguably the best-funded outfit there. However, with the middleweight market now dwindling with the exit of Suzuki and Triumph (which remain homologated but now past their best) and Honda unlikely to be represented in 2021 following the split with long-time partners PTR, something needs to be done to make the class attractive.

After SSTK 1000 was scrapped and replaced with WorldSSP 300, a category bulging in entry numbers but offering relatively little mainstream interest and is almost painfully slow to watch, Dorna cannot afford to get it wrong with WorldSSP.

As Barni Racing team manager Marco Barnabo points out, the stagnation in WorldSSP means the leap to WorldSBK is now too big for young riders. This has been demonstrated by the struggles - at least initially - of the most recent graduates, namely Federico Caricasulo, who has gone from Yamaha wonder kid to needing a new job in just 12 months.

So if Dorna needed an incentive to think bigger with its WorldSSP ideas then the prospect of Ducati coming to play is surely going to be a big one...