WSB Championship: Is Kawasaki Planning a Radical Superbike to Counter the Ducati Panigale V4 R?

Kawasaki is racing in WSB with a modified Ninja ZX-10RR that has a U.S. MSRP of $24,899, while Ducati campaigns a modified version of their homologation special, the $40,000 Panigale V4 R. Based on their stock redlines, WSB rules (at the start of the series this year) allowed the Ducati to rev to 16,350 rpm , while the Kawasaki was limited to 14,600 rpm. The results so far? Ducati has 11 wins (from rider Alvaro Bautista), while Kawasaki has none (despite the best efforts of defending champ Jonathan Rea).

Rea has been quoted as saying that, as things stand, he does not believe he can beat Bautista at any track on the WSB calendar this year. Kawasaki Race Director Ichiro Yoda has this to say:

“Catching Ducati this season is difficult. Their engine comes from the MotoGP World Championship, their whole package is from MotoGP. This is a MotoGP bike with Pirelli tires. Even if we were allowed to use concession parts, we would be limited. With the homologated concession parts we cannot reach the performance of the Ducati. We would not be able to reach their speed.”

Kawasaki does not have a MotoGP team or effort. It has placed all of its eggs in the WSB basket where it expects to win, and even dominate (Jonathan Rea has 4 straight championships for the Green brand).

Apparently, Kawasaki will not stand still and watch the technologically superior Ducati run away from it. Yoda is quoted in a SPEEDWEEK article stating that Kawasaki is prepared to homologate its own MotoGP-like superbike prior to next year’s championship. The only question for Yoda (and Kawasaki, apparently) is whether Dorna will allow this “arms race” to escallate, or change the rules to bring the bikes back to the production bike (available at reasonable cost) philosophy that traditionally underpins the superbike championship. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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