The latest bikes are on show, but the riders are also present and correct. The first to arrive at the Ducati stand was Michele Pirro, having recently stood in for Jorge Lorenzo at Sepang.
2018 has been a non-stop year for the Borgo Panigale test rider. On the one side, testing with the Panigale V4, which will make its debut in less than ten days' time with Chaz Davies at Aragon, on the other side development of the GP19, fresh from a test at Valencia before being handed over to Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.
The V4-R is one of the most interesting new models at EICMA. But what's it like to go from two to four cylinders?
“I might be biased, but this is one of the best bikes ever created. The interesting thing about Ducati is that it outdoes itself every year. Going from a two to a four cylinder is something historic, the closing of one chapter and the opening of another, with the aim of competing with the Japanese bikes. The V4-R is at the beginning of its journey of course, it's story is still to be written, but the continual exchange of information between SBK and MotoGP could speed the process up”.
Everyone awaits Davies' debut at Aragon on 14 November. What's the current situation?
“The last test with the V4 was at Aragon, in late August, and the bike has now taken more steps forwards. I'm not saying we'll be straight up there at the level of the Kawasaki, but I'm sure we'll be competitive. I really mean it when I say I'm even more interested than the fans to see the level of this bike”.
The first test bench will be Phillip Island, a unique track.
“I think it can be successful in Australia. If we can put a little pressure on Rea it would already be significant. I think this is the bike wich which to make Rea's life difficult, it was born for that”.
What most impresses you about the Panigale?
“Aside from its power, its agility is clearly a strength. We shouldn't underestimate this aspect”.
Turning to MotoGP, and the Sepang race, you've just tested the GP19 at Valencia. Dovi said that it's all going well, is that correct?
“The GP19 has been created around the GP18, or rather the best Ducati ever created, seeing as all riders are able to ride it. The new one has greater room for development, a lot can still be done though initial feedback seems positive. We have to remember that the GP19 is born with the single electronic platform, so a step backwards. We shouldn't underestimate this”.
How worried about the platform are you?
“With the GP19, we've only ridden with that package until now and the riders will test it at Valencia. Our bike is born with this package and for now the work has proved positive”.
How would you define the GP19?
“I'd say easy as well as fun to ride, but it's difficult to really analyse it, because of the electronics”.
One of Ducati's main problems seems to be a lack of fluidity, do you think this can be resolved with the GP19?
“That's the main area we are focusing on, as we need to improve there. At the same time we can't afford to lose anything in braking, acceleration and power, which are our strong points. It's not easy, in the past mistakes have been made so we need to confirm our strengths first and foremost”.
Valencia testing is just around the corner. What Ducati will we see?
“The base version of the GP19 with IMU electronics, then we'll continue to work and collect further information at Jerez”.
And in terms of aerodynamics?
“At Valencia things will be as they are now, the right compromise, in order to minimise wheelieing. A step was made from the GP17 to the GP18, it's more complete now while before it was perhaps more open to interpretation”.
One final question, how do you explain the Sepang race?
“On Friday evening, speaking with Dovi, he seemed confident, even Marquez thought he would be the favourite. I think the lack of grip caused the problems, but we need to analyse things more carefully”.