Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista started third at the Superbike World Championship race in Most, Czech Republic, last weekend, “made a decisive move on the two rivals ahead of him halfway through the race,” and never looked back, taking his seventh WSBK win of the season.
The win was much more important than that, though. In addition to keeping Bautista in the lead for the championship by 29 points, it was the 1000th Superbike World Championship podium for Ducati, on whose Panigale V4 the Spaniard rode.
“The one thousand podiums obtained by Ducati in WorldSBK represent a unique result never achieved by any manufacturer in any motorcycle discipline,” Ducati said in a statement after the race. “The Borgo Panigale manufacturer has written the history of the World Championship reserved for production-based machinery, constantly playing the leading role with six generations of super sports bikes that have taken a total of 383 victories.”
Ducati also says it's unprecedented, "...never acheived by any manufacturer in any motorcycle discipline."
Well, over in MotoGP, way back in 2018 Honda celebrated 750 GP wins across all classes, so one could be fairly confident they would have well over 1000 podiums. And Yamaha, with 245 wins in MotoGP, might be close, too, followed by MV Agusta, Suzuki, and Ducati, the latter with 64 victories.
For comparison’s sake, Ferrari has 787 podium finishes in F1 from 1950 to 2022, McLaren has 494, Williams 313, Mercedes 266, and Red Bull 211. In NASCAR, Chevy got its 800th win last year when Chase Elliott won in Austin, but tracking down who has the most podiums (podia?) is a little harder. Having more than 800 wins suggests Chevy has maybe three times that many podiums, which would beat Ducati, but WSBK has only been in existence 34 years, compared to twice that for NASCAR. Likewise, NHRA podium stats aren’t easily found, but Chevrolet has 26 championship wins in seasons that usually had over 20 races a year, multiplied by three since there’s three on a podium and… aw who knows? Ducati’s 1000 podiums is still a significant achievement.
World Superbike is perhaps slightly more significant than MotoGP, too, in that the bikes competing are at least sort of based on production bikes, whereas MotoGP is like Formula 1, with almost nothing from that series found on a production anything. So for Ducati to podium so often in WSBK maybe reflects better on the company’s street machines. Argue about that in the comments.
Ducati has competed in WorldSBK since the series started in 1988, when Duc rider Marco Lucchinelli won the very first round of the series at Donnington Park on an 851. From there it was only two years before Ducati won its first World Superbike championship, when Raymond Roche won the title in 1990 on an 851. Doug Pollen then won two more championships.
“Ducati quickly became the most popular bike on the starting grids of the World Championship, winning the manufacturers’ titles in 1991, 1992, and 1993,” the company said in a statement commeorating the podia. “The 1994 season marked the beginning of the era of Carl Fogarty and the Ducati 916, which won for two consecutive seasons. In 1996, Troy Corser gave a sixth rider's title to Ducati. In 1998 and 1999, “Foggy”—Carl Fogarty—won two more titles, becoming the most victorious rider in history riding the Borgo Panigale Superbikes.”
That was followed by the equally legendary Troy Bayliss, who won on three generations of Ducati superbike: the 998, 999 and 1098. Neil Hodgson and James Toseland won two more titles and Carlos Checa won in 2011 on an 1198, the marque’s most recent World Superbike championship.
Ducati did not miss an opportunity for promotion from Bautista’s last win in the Czech Republic, since promotion is what motorsports is all about: “The latest triumphs bear the hallmark of the Panigale V4. This motorcycle represents the most modern and most apparent incarnation of those principles of style, sophistication, and performance that guide the collective and daily commitment of Ducati in a path that through the 851, 916, 999, 1098 families, and then the Panigale, has led the manufacturer to write another significant page in its racing history.”
But since the 2011 championship, Ducati hasn’t won a title in WSBK, watching instead as Kawasaki, which won seven of the last ten years, and Yamaha, Suzuki, and Aprilia took top honors. But this season looks good for Borgo Panigale and a return to the top of the podium—a position Ducati knows well.