Biaggi accuses Ducati of manipulation in 2008, an ex-manager replies

Max Biagi caused a stir with a controversial post on his Facebook page. In a long text, he questioned the actions of those responsible at Ducati, whom he accuses of having circumvented the regulations during the 2008 Superbike World Championship season by only allowing them to do so Troy Bayliss drive at full power.

At that time, the Roman Emperor played his second season in the WSBK. He rode a Ducati 1098R for the Sterilgarda GoEleven team with Ruben Xaus. This was the first season ever where twins could be a maximum of 1200cc while fours stayed at 1000cc.

“The bike I tried for the first time in 2008 was a bike that was absolutely made to win. Compared to last year it had taken 200cc displacement while some of its components had become standard.”he explained.

After a strong start to the season, where he picked up plenty of points by finishing second and third to qualify as a title contender, Biaggi fractured the radius of his left arm at Phillip Island. When he returned to Valencia 21 days later, he felt the situation had changed.

“Even in the first free practice session I noticed that something was wrong with the bike”he continued. “At the beginning of the second practice I noticed the same problem and went straight back to the pits and told my chief mechanic that I was going to stop my tests there. I was coming back from a serious injury and I had to do infiltrations. So there was no point in going with one motorcycle that had an obvious drop in performance.”

“I was passed by drivers I had never seen! It was absurd. After much hesitation, my chief mechanic finally admitted that Filippo Preziosi, then General Manager of Ducati, had ordered the insertion of a specific mapping that removed between 15 and 18 hp over the entire period of use. All because only one driver had to win.”

Troy Bayliss, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Max Biaggi on the podium at the 2008 British GP

Why would Ducati intentionally slow down its own riders? According to Biaggi, the manufacturer implemented this strategy in order not to have to adjust the power balance of its bikes. “Otherwise the regulations would have placed the two-cylinder at a disadvantage. Conversely, if a single driver had won, the win would have been attributed to his talent and not to a technical advantage of the twin over the four.”he added.

“The bike I tested in Australia was absolutely made to win, although to be honest I had too much displacement advantage. In order to be able to win the title, it was therefore necessary to punish the customer bikes. If the podium had been monopolized by the twins, enforcement of the regulations would have diminished the performance advantage of the Ducati 1098.”

Biaggi finished this season seventh in the championship as Troy Bayliss won his third world title with the factory Ducati team before retiring.

“The material was absolutely identical”

What does Ducati think after these allegations? Motorsport.com spoke exclusively to Carly Putz, then Superbike and MotoGP engine manager in Ducati’s racing department. If he has since left the Italian brand, he completely refutes Biaggi’s theory.

“That’s absolute nonsense! He had exactly the same engine as Bayliss. There was no difference.”he commented. “Max came to see me in the engine department ten times and asked me what the difference was between Bayliss’s engine and his. I told him the engines were identical but he didn’t believe me. I had every one of the engines in my hands.” the time and I was able to assure him that they were indeed identical.”

“There are different types of pilots. Some are realistic and some act like divas. And so is Max.”adds plaster. “It was always someone else’s fault for him. He’s a rider who never admitted it was his fault. The hardware was absolutely identical. It really annoyed me to read that the speed was absolutely identical.”

According to Putz, Biaggi’s statements do not correspond at all to Borgo Panigale’s brand philosophy: “Ducati is one of the few manufacturers that also offers private riders very good equipment with which they can be really successful. We are currently seeing it with Bastianini in MotoGP. Ducati certainly doesn’t appreciate that Bastianini has beaten Bagnaia three times, but Ducati wants to grow more and have a great run as the data is compared.” And finally: “It’s just not true that there was a power limit back then.”

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