Almost everyone expected Ducati to get clearance to race their 1098 model in 2008. The regulations have been announced and the big twin, indeed, is in. Ducati -- and any other manufacturer who wishes to race a twin -- gets the 1200cc displacement limit for '08 and beyond.
But the real question: What was the cost?
Gone are the special rules for twins that allowed "old style" engine mods that added power and cost to the 1000cc twins, for starters. Everyone is on a level playing field in regards to state of tune. The twins will also be required to use stock connecting rods.
In their lobbying for the 1200cc package, Ducati officials said had no problem giving up these tuning allowances.
The twins will pack on six extra kilos (13.2 pounds) in '08. They will also have a 50mm air restrictor fitted. Here's the kicker -- the organizers can modify the weights and air restrictors for the twins as needed during the season.
Weight and restrictor size can be added or taken away based on "a system analysing the race points obtained." The release doesn't say it, but there has been talk of a system using the top four finishers of each manufacturer to calculate changes.
The Japanese manufacturers received a carrot in the deal as well. A bone of contention for the "Big Four" in World Superbike has always been the regulations that allow the smaller manufacturers to produce true "homologation specials" -- low production, go faster versions with higher performance mods especially for racing.
In the past, some low volume manufacturers were allowed to build as few as 150 examples of a bike to meet the homologation requirement. Even then, certain manufacturers only had to produce 75 at the time of homologation, with a promise to build 75 more in the next six months.
(An even stickier subject were certain bikes -- cough, Petronas, cough -- that never even made the showroom floors.)
Now every manu is under a 1000 example edict for '08 and '09, then the number rises to 3000 for 2010 onwards. What the fans will see is true production bike racing.
Currently, World Superbike has achieved parity based on two types of motorcycles tuned in different states but relatively equal on the track. The trick now is to continue the parity while changing the ground rules.
The problem is the history of weight restrictons. When different weights have been used in the past -- by car racing and even Superbike racing in the early '90s -- ill will and complaining often follows. Perhaps the FIM's "system" will keep the grumbling to a minimum.
The FIM will announce more details next week.