After the winter tests in Jerez and Portimao and the presentation of the teams, bikes and materials have been rushed Down Under so that everything will be ready for the first race of the season that historically is run on the Phillip Island circuit in Australia.
For some years now the first round has featured a tasty appetiser in the two final test days that the teams face on Monday and Tuesday before the races. This makes it possible for everyone to fine-tune their configurations, taking advantage of the fact that in Australia the climate is particularly favourable as it is still summer.
Aruba.it Racing - Ducati is starting the season with a new line-up, Scott Redding having joined the team. The Englishman immediately established a good rapport with the official Panigale V4 R, demonstrating that he'll be able to compete at a high level. Some of the tracks will be new to him, but he's got the right stuff to make his mark in the upcoming races.
He'll be joined in the pit by Chaz Davies, now in his seventh year with the team headquartered in Borgo Panigale. At the end of the last season the Welshman showed that he has now completed his transition to a 4-cylinder, so his prospects are just as exciting.
As always the technicians have been working diligently to perfect the Panigale V4 R, which already last year proved to be one of the fastest bikes on track, if not the most competitive. The SBK regulations don't allow major changes, but in this case the team has taken stock of last year's data to make numerous improvements to the bike in its second year.
For the Barni Racing team the Australian race marks its fifth year in the world championship. This is no small achievement for Marco Barnabò's team, which can now boast the title of the best independent team won in 2018. This year the Panigale V4 R will be ridden by Leon Camier, an extremely experienced rider who will ride a Ducati for the first time after competing for years in the SBK world championship.
This will be the second year with the bikes from Borgo Panigale for the Piedmontese team Go Eleven, which this year will deploy Michael Ruben Rinaldi on the track. The 2019 season has seen some flashes of competitiveness delayed by a couple of injuries to the rider, but given the team's long experience and Rinaldi's talent they will surely be able to ride their Panigale V4 R to some prominent positions in the standings.
Two more Ducati teams will start their season at the first European round in Jerez: Brixx Performance and Motocorsa Racing.
Brixx Performance debuted in the world championship last year at Portimao, then also participated in the French round, the home race for rider Sylvain Barrier. The team will be back on the track this year with a stronger organisation and serious plans for reaping big-time results.
For the very Italian Motocorsa Racing this will not be an actual debut since last year the squad competed at both Imola and Misano as a wildcard, but participating in almost all the rounds is something new for the Lombard team led by Lorenzo Mauri. This year he decided to compete at the highest levels by signing 2014 Superstock World Champion Leandro Mercado, a rider with extensive experience in the world championship who returns to riding a Ducati after two years.
With four Panigale V4 R motorbikes on the track – which will then become six once the championship arrives in Europe – all that remains is to wait for Saturday, 29 February for the inaugural race of this new season, which once again looks like it will be hard fought with no clear frontrunner. Forza Ducati!