Tito Rabat to get ‘99%’ factory Ducati machinery for maiden WorldSBK season

Ex-MotoGP rider Tito Rabat will ride a Ducati that is '99%' identical to that of Scott Redding for his maiden season of WorldSBK racing

Tito Rabat - Barni Ducati

Former MotoGP rider Tito Rabat will get the use of ‘top material’ regarded as ‘99% factory standard’ from Ducati for its maiden WorldSBK Championship campaign.

The Spaniard, the Moto2 World Champion in 2014, switches to WorldSBK after five indifferent seasons competing at the highest level on a combination of Honda (Marc VDS) and Ducati (Avintia) machinery, during which he achieved a best finish of seventh.

Eased out of an Avintia deal that was originally announced as ending at the close of the 2021 season, Rabatb  instead arrives in WorldSBK eager to prove he can still compete at the highest levels.

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With all factory WorldSBK seats filled before the 2020 MotoGP season had even finished, Rabat will nonetheless get a ‘de facto’ factory Ducati Panigale V4 R prepared by the Barni Racing team.

Indeed, though Barni is a satellite team at WorldSBK level, it is closely aligned with Ducati as its leading representative in the domestic CIV Superbike series, allowing it to secure a machine that it says is  99% identical to that of Aruba’s Scott Redding and Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s bikes.

“I am happy and motivated and looking forward to what will happen,” he told the official WorldSBK website. “In the beginning it was quite hard to realise what is happening but now everything has happened, I think it is a good opportunity to stay at the front and do big things. I feel comfortable with the team and I see it is a team that has a passion to race

“If I show I can win races and be at the front, then I will have everything, the material to stay out front. This makes me motivated because I will put in everything. For the moment I want to go step by step. I am looking to make steps to arrive well at the first race. To achieve my goal is to keep this line, stay competitive and get good results. I am still a rider.”

Can Tito Rabat succeed in WorldSBK?

Rabat’s five-year stint in MotoGP is as surprisingly bad as it ended up being surprisingly long, the Spaniard spending almost the entire time mired in the mid-field at best or rooted to the back.

Indeed, with so many riders catching some of the spotlight by reaching the podium in 2020, it was very easy to forget Rabat was even there at times, especially after the arrival of pole and rostrum winning team-mate Johann Zarco.

It is easy to forget Rabat won the 2014 Moto2 World Championship, while he might have been in with a shout of the double had injuries not scuppered the end of his season.

With this in mind, it’s tricky to see whether Rabat will side with Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri and Alvaro Bautista as converts that made it work, or join the reject pile occupied by the likes of Randy de Puniet, Hiroshi Aoyama and Makoto Tamada. Will we see MotoGP Rabat or Moto2 Rabat on the Ducati?

One thing is for sure though, Rabat will be kicking himself that he decided to sign another contract with Avintia, in so doing turning down an offer from World Champions Kawasaki to replace Leon Haslam...

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