MV Agusta doubles WSBK commitment to "develop and win"

Cluzel’s World Supersport victory at Phillip Island gives factory first victory since 1976

After rejoining the world stage in 2013 by fielding two F3 675 bikes in World Supersport, MV Agusta doubled its commitment this year by venturing into World Superbike with its F4 1000RR machine. The effort has already bore some early fruit: in the season opener in Phillip Island, Jules Cluzel won the WSS race to give the Italian factory its first victory since 1976 (when Giacomo Agostini triumphed at the Nürburgring). After savoring the top step of the podium again, the company (which now runs a team in collaboration with the Russian Yakhnich Motorsport) is hungry for more.

"When you start winning, you never want to stop," said CEO Giovanni Castiglioni at the official presentation in Varese, Italy last week. "The Australian race brought me back the '80s and '90s, when my father ran Cagiva. We are not here simply to compete, we raised the stakes and we want to win."

MV Agusta RC-Yakhnich Motorsports' Jules Cluzel took the World Supersport victory at the opening round of the WSBK championship at Phillip Island, marking MV's first world championship race victory since 1976.

To this end, the choice to race in full SBK configuration, despite the fact that EVO bikes will homogenize the grid next year, was somewhat met with skepticism. "We want to be able to develop our WSBK bike during race weekends, and the EVO class wouldn't have allowed us to do that," Castiglioni explained. "The data we gather will help us to improve our F4 bike and lay the basis for its heir, which I think you'll see in a couple of years. Anyhow, I wanted to give it a shot. It's better to face the risk of failure than the remorse of not having tried something."

Meanwhile, the company set some clear goals. "In WSS, we want to end the championship in the top three. The first victory was a matter of hard work and some luck, which always helps. We have several evolutionary steps lined up for both the F3 and F4. The latter needs more development, but I'm confident about its potential," said Castiglioni.

Despite his passion for racing (he rides on track regularly), the Italian entrepreneur keeps a close eye on the bottom line. "We plan on selling our bikes to privateer teams," he said. "Some people in WSS have already shown interest, and we'll also develop race kits for amateur riders. I think WSBK is an optimal platform because it runs production-based bikes, which is why I'm not interested in MotoGP."

Still, Castiglioni followed closely the prototype-based championship, from which he recruited his sole rider in WSBK, Claudio Corti. The former CRT racer eagerly accepted the challenge of being part of a factory team. "On the one hand, it is easier because you ask for a modification and the race department takes care of it right away, without the delays usually associated with external suppliers," Corti said. "However, it also comes with great responsibilities and you feel more pressure."

The 26-year-old from Como took his maiden points for the manufacturer with a 13th place in Race 1 in Australia. It will take more time, however, to reduce the gap with the front. "We need to work on weight distribution and in Aragon we'll have a new swingarm, which should help," Corti added. "We also need more horsepower, while the front-end feeling and electronics are already top-notch. With a few modifications we can cut our gap in half, the rest is a matter of details."