The long-awaited Ducati Panigale V4 is finally here – so MCN grabbed project leader Stefano Strappazzon to better understand the new bike.
MCN: How important is the new Panigale V4 to Ducati?
We ran a V4 engine in our Desmosedici RR, but that was a special edition (and the Goldwing-style Apollo, which never made it into production – ed), but this our first full production V4, so it’s very important.
MCN: Was the Desmosedici RR the starting point?
No, we started this project in 2014 using our current MotoGP engine as a base.
MCN: Did you want to produce a V4 with the soul of a V-twin?
We’ve kept the same firing order as the MotoGP engine, which fires like a V-twin, so it has a similar behaviour and sound.
I'm sure that when customers ride the Panigale V4 they will find a real Ducati with similar twin-cylinder character. If you jump on it with your eyes closed you can say this is a Ducati.
MCN: What was the driving force behind development: road or race?
We created the Panigale V4 for both applications. It’s a real Ducati, in terms of its behaviour on track, but it’s also a bike that can be enjoyed on the road with a very usable engine.
That’s why we decided to have a big displacement, so we have more torque, but it can rev very high, too, so for us it’s a real Ducati. For superbike we will have the R version next year, which will be less than 1000cc.
Our goal was to give our customers the chance to ride a bike that is the closest to the MotoGP. That’s why all the development has been done with the GP guys, like Michele Pirro and Casey Stoner.
MCN: How do you turn a MotoGP motor into road engine?
We started with the 2015 MotoGP engine and wanted to keep its key features, like its bore diameter and counter rotating crank. The road engine needs to have much longer service intervals (15,000-miles) and has to be homologated for Euro4. That was a big challenge.
MCN: Why didn’t you use the MotoGP chassis as well?
The MotoGP bike uses a full deltabox frame, which would have weighed more than the current solution. The Panigale V4’s ‘front frame’ is completely new and can be built with different areas of thicknesses for better handling and stability. It’s not a monocoque, like the V-twin Panigale.
Does having electronics change the way you think about bike design?
For sure electronics makes the engine more manageable and you know that you can increase the power without having too many side effects. You can also reach the limits of cornering and braking easier with the help of cornering ABS, traction and slide control, even if you’re not a racer.
The slide and wheelie control are the next generation systems derived from the Superleggera and things like the new ABS system is completely new.
Tell us about the overall look of the Panigale V4?
We wanted to keep the Panigale family feeling and maintain a similar style. We didn’t want to completely break the bridge with tradition.
MCN: What new technology are you the most proud of?
For sure we have the counter-rotating crank from MotoGP, but we also have the new dashboard and interface for the electronic suspension on the S model, which is more intuitive for the rider.
Pirelli developed a completely new Diablo Super Corsa SP. The rear is a new compound 200/60 x 17 and there’s a new front profile, so the performance is very high.
The tyre is more or less like an SC2 on with a harder compound in the middle. In terms of performance on track you can use the same street legal tyres to go really fast and they’re only a tenth of second off a full race tyre.
We also have a new-design Brembo caliper, which is 70 grams lighter than the M50, but keeps the same performance and the twin spark heads have special, small-sized NGK spark plugs which are used for the first time in this bike.
MCN: Are you happy with the way it’s all has turned out?
We have reached the target we fixed at the beginning, in terms of engine performance and also overall performance of the bike on track and road. We are very happy.
It’s a very good balance of everything: a bike that has incredible performance, but at the same time is easy to ride by everybody.
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Read more about the new 2018 Ducati Panigale V4
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