Chaz Davies had his first ride on the latest version Ducati Corse Panigale 1199R at Jerez, with the Welshman making his first steps in understanding the feel of the bike he will ride for the next two seasons.
“It was definitely different, so there was a lot of learning and adjustment,” said Davies, a three-time race winner for BMW in 2013. “We are leaving Jerez with a clearer idea of what we need to work on and the bike’s strong points. It is completely different to anything I have ridden before.
"Even just looking at it you can see how different it is. The rear shock works pretty much like a conventional shock but just the position of it makes you look twice. There were some 2014 parts on the bike but it is not like a completely different bike compared to the old one.”
The lack of power of the Panigale is well known, partly as it has to run many stock internals that by design limit top revs, but for Davies there are also some plus points.
“You can run pretty big corner speed. It does not have out and out power yet but the delivery is pretty manageable. I rode the old Aprilia v-twin in America but it is nothing like this. I also rode the MotoGP four-cylinder Ducati, which was also pretty different.”
Davies is tall compared to most riders but feels the seemingly tiny Ducati still lets him tuck out of the way better than some. “One thing I noticed is that you can tuck out of the wind quite well,” explained Davies. “It has more space in a straight line than the Beemer did. That was a pleasant surprise.”
Davies is realistic that he may have to wait for a while for truly measurable success but is confident it will come – confident enough to have signed a two-year Ducati contract. ”The bike is not ready just yet but there is a long winter of hard work ahead and it is getting better already,” said Davies, who will test at Aragon again in the middle of the month.
“The parts we used in this test were a step in the right direction. It will be a continual process to keep testing and keep doing laps. It is too early see how things will be in 2014 but I am pretty confident they will put it in a good position by the time we get racing.”
Davies and his 2014 team-mate Davide Giugliano were supported in the Jerez pits by the bulk of Ducati’s test team. Each new Ducati rider set laps in the low 1’42s at this test, without aiming for single lap ego-boosters.
Giugliano’s Jerez test experience was lightly different from Davies’, as the Italian had ridden the Panigale twice in its early development life, at Misano and Aragon, when he was an official Althea Ducati SBK rider alongside Carlos Checa.
After riding it again at Jerez, Giugliano indicated that the 2014 bike felt much different compared to its original SBK spec.