During a test at Jerez on the first WorldSBK spec 1000cc Ducati Panigale V4 to break cover, Lorenzo Zanetti provided important data to Ducati about the all-new bike. And shared some of his opinions with bikesportnews.com.
The ‘first-step’ new WorldSBK base model V4 is still a year away from WorldSBK competition, but demonstrated real capabilities exiting corners in particular, and impressed some big name rivals - even though the bike is still only maybe 50 per cent of a full WorldSBK spec beast.
“The first impression is quite good,” said long-time WorldSSP rider Zanetti, who set mid-table WorldSBK lap times at Jerez. “I also tested the standard bike, the roadbike 1100 in Valencia, before the launch. The stock bike, the standard bike, is really fast and I think that bike is a new level - also for the other bikes.”
In relation, the WorldSBK bike is 100cc smaller than the just-launched roadbike that was being simultaneously tested by many of the world’s media outlets - including us - in Valencia, while the Jerez WorldSBK tests were taking place.
Zanetti said there are several differences between bigger roadbike and smaller-engined racer. “This bike is completely different because this engine is 1000cc, the spec for next year, and the parts are Superbike,” said Lorenzo. “It is fast and quite OK. Even after the first day we were not so much distance to the factory team. Also Kawasaki and Yamaha. Their riders are faster and the bikes have almost two years of development. I think we were not too bad.”
He said of the impressions of the V4 and the existing bike, “The throttle response is clean, and compared to the vee twin, it is a big difference. But this engine comes from MotoGP spec, and I think it has much potential. At this first test we have not used so much. The curve is more linear already. I have never tried a MotoGP engine to compare it with, but I think the potential of this Superbike is quite good. I think the base is already good and I need to adjust the every point,” said Zanetti.
“I do not have a big problems but after one day a lot of small problems, like you do at the start. If you have a big problem it is difficult to adjust. But with a small problem and some time – I have the time, one year ahead of me in testing - I think it shall arrive ready for next year.”
Next up for the Panigale V4 racer – which will be suffixed ‘R’ for racing in its final homologated base bike form – is more adjustment… and more tests.
“This is the first test but we will discuss with Ducati the plan, how many parts need to be developed and how many problems there are. So I think we will do five, to ten, tests this year. It depends. Of course Mugello and Misano are easier for Ducati, as they are one hour or so from the factory, but also in Spain - Jerez and Valencia. It depends also because sometimes we go with the MotoGP test team to share the tracks.”
Ducati is keen on their test riders continuing in real race series too, as well as testing and development, to keep their competitive spirits high and their pure speed up. As Zanetti said, “I also race in the CIV Italian championship, with Ducati for the Moto Corsa team, but I cannot use the V4. Not homologated yet. So I use the twin in the Italian championship and test new models for Ducati, because they want to understand and compare the bikes. To switch bikes all the time, at this moment, is not a problem for me!”
Lorenzo and the attention-grabbing Panigale V4 WorldSBK bike did not join the bulk of the WorldSBK paddock in travelling from the Jerez tests to the Portimao sessions in Portugal.