Davies and Melandri aim to give winning send-off to Panigale R, last in a long line of successful Ducati machines
As riders and teams bid farewell to the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, the Losail International Circuit will be a witness to many an emotional moment. Many changes are on the horizon for the championship in 2019, with one of the most important being the arrival of Ducati’s new motorcycle: the Panigale V4.
The long-awaited four-cylinder machine will retire the current Panigale R, which faces its final two races in World Superbike in Qatar and is the last in a long line of incredibly successful V-twins from the Bologna factory. From the Ducati 851 that Marco Lucchinelli rode to first position in the series’ opening round in 1988, to the 15 wins claimed by Carlos Checa on his 1098 en route to claiming the 2011 world title, without forgetting Carl Fogarty’s four titles or the 13 Manufacturers Championships obtained in 14 seasons from 1991 to 2004… Ducati V-twins have always left a mark on the championship and their respective riders.
The current Panigale R is no exception to that rule. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) joined the factory squad on its return to WorldSBK in 2014, with the bike making its debut on the grid one season earlier through private teams. In these five years onboard the red machine, the Welshman has claimed an amazing 25 race wins and 69 podiums, placing him amongst the most successful riders of all time – even if the world title proved to be one step too far.
The 31-year-old plans to give the V-twin the sending off it deserves: “It will be a round of mixed emotions as we'll have our last dance with the V-twin. We had a lot of good memories with this bike, and we'll try to give the best possible performance to say goodbye to it, but it's also exciting as we're starting a new era with the V4”.
Losail could be an ideal track for the Panigale R to go out with a bang: “Qatar has been good to us in recent years, we had a double win there in 2016 and a double second-place last year. There's still second position in the championship up for grabs, and to this end we have a healthy cushion going into the last round, so the plan is to just do our best and clinch it”.
Watch the best moments from the Ducati Panigale R in World Superbike, as well as several hours of classic races featuring other iconic Ducati bikes, thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.