Ciabatti speaks ahead of V4 R debut: "Superbike is still very important for Ducati"

Wednesday, 14 November 2018 09:07 GMT

Italian Sporting Director explains foundations of the V4 R to WorldSBK Commentator Steve English

The Ducati V4 R hits the track for the first time today in MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship guise. The machine has been hotly anticipated, and with the Bologna based squad having spent four years chasing Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK, they feel this is the weapon that can finally reclaim them WorldSBK title.

“Superbike is still very important for Ducati,” said Paulo Ciabatti the Ducati Sporting Director. “This is where we’re come from. We’ve won a lot of races and titles in WorldSBK but unfortunately the Panigale R never won the title. We won a lot of races in recent years and Chaz Davies has finished second in the championship for the last two, we were the only serious contender to the dominance of the Rea and Kawasaki. The new V4 R has been developed quite extensively with Michele Pirro testing it, we are satisfied and I think that we have a very competitive weapon to try to bring a title back to Bologna, which we last had in 2011 with Carlos Checa. Obviously it’s not going to be easy because Kawasaki will do as much as they can to improve the bike and stay at the front, but we are confident to have both the bike and the riders capable of fighting for the title next year.”

Those riders will be Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi racing his first full campaign in WorldSBK for the BARNI Racing Team squad. Bautista won’t get his first taste of WorldSBK machinery until later this month at Jerez, but Ducati has high hopes for the Spaniard who battled at the front of the recent Australian MotoGP™. With Davies recovering to full fitness following an injury marred second half of 2018, the team are confident that they will challenge for the title from the outset with their MotoGP™ inspired machine.

“Ducati always looks to find the best solution to offer to the customer the best possible sports bike. There are a few things we wanted to keep, mainly the Desmodromic system on the engine. Changing to a four-cylinder engine was natural because to compete on the street you need a four-cylinder like our main competitors. We had the engine designed for the GP15 as a base and that proved to be a compact, powerful base also for a production engine.

“That GP15 engine was the first engine designed under the guidance of Gigi Dall’Igna in MotoGP™ and it’s good base from which to develop a very good V4 engine for a production bike. I think it came natural to switch from the two-cylinder engine to this. The twin is a very good solution for lots of our other models, but to be able to offer to the customers the best hyper performance bike, the V4 was the way to go. It’s a V4 but it’s a Desmodromic V4.”

The bike features a raft of changes, with aerodynamics having been a key area of bike development for the Italians in recent years of MotoGP. Those developments have been felt with the new WorldSBK machine spouting winglets and a host of other MotoGP derived technology. Only time will tell if it’s enough to challenge Rea and Kawasaki, but with the bike on track for the first time it’s now time for the talking to stop and for the stop watch to reveal the truth about the Ducati Panigale V4 R.

Watch highlights from the V4 R’s first time out on track at MotorLand Aragon, as well as all other reactions with the WorldSBK VideoPass.