Team Alstare has announced that it has ended its partnership with Ducati after the loss of a key partner forced the former championship-winning outfit to scale down its plans for the future.
The Belgian-based operation, which won the 2005 title during a long and successful partnership with Suzuki, returned to WSBK competition in 2013 following a sabbatical to head up Ducati's factory-assisted efforts in the World Superbike Championship.
However, the much anticipated arrival of the new 1199 Panigale bike, which would succeed the ultra-successful 1098R, would result in a trying year for both Alstare and Ducati as they struggled to get the twin-cylinder machine up to competitive speed.
Coupled to a series of injuries for riders Ayrton Badovini and Carlos Checa
– the latter of which has now retired from the sport altogether -, there had been speculation that Francia Batta's team was looking to exit its agreement with Ducati for 2014.
However, a statement from the team has revealed that Alstare may well be forced into another year out altogether, citing the global economic downturn for the decision to change its plans.
“I am very sad because this challenge, which began last November, was very important for me as a fresh start after missing one year,” said Batta. “Working with Ducati was incredibly thrilling, although unfortunately, we failed to achieve the results we had set ourselves.
“The 2013 racing season has been incredibly hard for us, and being unable to start from a solid position in 2014, I would rather not take risks that might compromise our ability to complete the season. I would like to thank Ducati for trusting me and I wish them all the success that they deserve."
Ducati will still be represented in the World Superbike Championship next season, with the manufacturer revealing it is just days away from confirming its plans. Rumours suggest it is set to join forces with Feel Racing once again, the team that headed up Ducati's hugely successful manufacturer operation prior to its full factory withdrawal in 2010.