At the official launch of the Ducati Fila team, Ducati Corse Managing director Claudio Domenicali gave the following opening statement, describing 2003 as one of the most demanding year's faced by the team.

Domenicali also reassured fans that Ducati won't change from their traditional V-Twin configuration, in their SBK machines, despite new rule changes that allow four-cylinders the same engine capacity.

The news will be welcomed by Ducati purists, who were disspointed to learn that the MotoGP team were 'forced' to chose a V-4 engine to match the power output of their multi-cylinder rivals.

"2003 is surely one of the most demanding years ever for Ducati in racing," began Domenicali. "Our desire to stay at the top in Superbike has not been changed in the least by the new challenge that awaits us in MotoGP, and neither has our conviction that this championship remains an irreplaceable vehicle for the promotion and technical development of our production bikes.

"With this in mind, it gives me great pleasure to give a warm welcome to Fila, the new title sponsor of the team: a company that is a worldwide symbol for 'made in Italy' sportswear and which has decided to support our commitment to Superbike for the next two years.

"In order to face up to this double challenge that lies ahead of us, we have prepared a dedicated, self-sufficient Superbike structure, which can count on the managerial capacity of Paolo Ciabatti, the track experience of Davide Tardozzi, the engineering abilities of Ernesto Marinelli for technical direction and a completely new project with great potential: the Ducati 999.

"A new structure and a new bike therefore, even though both make use of the experience accumulated in all the previous Superbike championships, which have always seen Ducati as one of the main protagonists.

"11 Manufacturers' and 9 Riders' titles are Ducati's enviable record in the world's top category for production-based racing bikes, and this means that the new Ducati Fila team will surely be a chief candidate for honours in the 2003 championship.

"Being able to count on the undisputed talent of riders such as Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus will help to speed up the development of the new bike, which has already shown during winter testing that it will become a worthy heir to the 998, a bike that has reached technical maturity on nearly all circuits.

"2003 will again see us accompanied in our challenge by Shell Advance and Michelin, and both companies are sure to make a vital contribution to the final result.

"But 2003 will also be the year in which the Superbike technical regulations undergo a considerable change for the first time since the start of the championship. It will in fact be possible for twin and four-cylinder machines to compete with the same engine capacity (1000cc). Some manufacturers have already taken advantage of these changes and will take part in the 2003 championship with new models, while others are preparing for entry in 2004.

"In Ducati we continue to believe in the potential of the twin-cylinder engine, which we consider to be the best possible solution for an equilibrium between power and 'driveability' for road use, and therefore we will strive to maintain the new 999 Testastretta competitive even after the arrival of the new 1000 cc four-cylinder bikes.

"We are certain that this ever-changing challenge will give all our 'tifosi' and fans some great days of sport and intense emotions, just like the ones that we experienced last year."