Ducati-Kawasaki 11-0. This is the scoreboard after the initial part of the season, the red bike having dominated the first four rounds. The superiority of Alvaro Bautista and the Panigale V4 is clearly evident and the competition is well aware of that fact, Kawasaki first and foremost.
While Johnny Rea and the ZX-10RR had no rivals in recent years, the Cannibal now faces what appears to be an insurmountable obstacle. Johnny knows this and his team do too. It's difficult, nigh on impossible to race on a level playing field, finding a solution that can re-open this championship and hinder Bautista from now until the end of season.
The goal then must be to work in preparation for 2020 and return to the battlefield hungry for a comeback. This is the task of Ichiro Yoda, engineer and designer of the Japanese bike, who has spoken to Speedweek: “It's very difficult to be able to beat this Ducati right now. We are racing against a bike that derives from the MotoGP. The Panigale V4 us a MotoGP to all effects, the only difference being that it has Pirelli tyres rather than Michelins. Even if we have chance to use concession parts in the future, we wouldn't be able to close the current gap”.
At this point, there appears to be only one way forward: “The only solution we have for next year is to build a MotoGP-style Kawasaki as Ducati has done - he reveals – so we need to consider an extreme bike to be produced as a limited series, I think 500 is a realistic number for us”. There is one area in which Yoda seeks clarification: “The championship organiser must clarify what path we must take. The Superbike philosophy has always been based around the production bike and according to a polity of contained costs. Everything has changed with the arrival of the V4, in that we are talking about a bike with a market value of 40,000 Euro”.
Essentially, Yoda has no intention of watching from the sidelines: “If we need to build a MotoGP-style Kawasaki this is the time to act, we need to do it now – he warns – our manufacturer already has MotoGP experience and four-cylinder experience, so it's not that complicated. If Ducati continues at this level, the only solution is to build a new bike for 2020”.