Updated with soundfile at 2pm, November 9, 2001: MCN’s Marc Potter has been riding the Benelli Tornado WSB bike to bring us this world’s first report on what it’s like. He’s also gathered news of the team’s plans and ambitions for 2002 and details of when the road bikes are coming.
April 2002 will see the introduction of a limited-edition road version of the Tornado, in much the same way as MV Agusta brought out an Oro version before coming up with the full production bike. The standard biposto version of the Tornado will follow in September.
And for 2003 there will be a naked bike, much in the style of MV Agusta’s Brutale.
Potter is in Misano, Italy with the Benelli’s WSB team. He’s been using a shortened circuit after weekend car racing left oil on parts of the track. And Potter said at around noon, Italian time, the track was still slightly greasy from sea mists, despite the day being sunny and temperatures now up to around 17 degrees Centigrade.
Here are his first impressions, having now completed more than a dozen laps on the WSB bike, and with two more sessions still to come.
" I think it’s great! The chassis is awesome and if you were to get on to this after riding a road bike you’d be blown away. "
It weighs around 172kg and makes 160bhp. No wonder he’s enjoying himself.
But, this is a no-compromise race bike, so user-friendliness hasn’t been the team’s highest priority.
" The throttle response is nasty! It’s way too snatchy compared to other WSB superbikes I’ve had the opportunity to ride.
" The geometry looks quite steady, but it turns a lot quicker than I want to… on a track I haven’t ridden since 1996, " he said.
" It’s got a really high-screaming drone, if that makes sense. It sounds fantastic. "
Check the soundfile, right.
" It’s definitely down on power compared to, say, Hodgson’s Ducati. But compared to a road bike it revs really, really quickly and has got a lot more power than, say, a GSX-R1000. "
But Potter wasn’t finding regular rider Peter Goddard’s suspension settings to his taste.
" It feels like it wants to spit me off. "
Benelli owner Andrea Merloni said the team is planning more engine work over the winter to raise both power and torque and is also expecting to cut a full 10kg from the weight of the racer (bringing it down to the legal 162kg limit).
The result, he hopes, will be a bike capable of competing with last year’s best factory superbikes. And since Neil Hodgson will be on a 2001 Ducati, he is the benchmark they are reaching for.
We’ll have more on Potter’s experience of riding this bike later in the week and in MCN published November 14, 2001.
And it was revealed that among the new crew at Benelli is Pier-Luigi Marconi. He is the man who designed the Bimota Tesi and went on to work on a series of Aprilias, the latest of which is the Futura. He is now the man in charge of road bike design at Benelli.