It's one of the most eagerly awaited bikes. We're talking about the Ducati V4 that, at Phillip Island, will start the race towards the title with Alvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies. During the last test of the winter season, the Spaniard surprised everyone, achieving the best time in both sessions. Now that the Australian weekend is ready to delve in, Aruba team's mouth is watering.
Marco Zembenedetti, track engineer and technical coordinator for the team, took stock of the situation regarding the development of the new bike.
"The expectations for Alvaro here at Phillip Island were high, since he already proved to be competitive during the October race," he stated. "But there is one thing that struck me. That is, how quickly he learns about certain aspects, such as the Pirelli tires, which represent an absolute novelty for him."
Can we, therefore, say that he's one of those who forged ahead?
"He was quickly able to reach a very high level, among other things, giving valuable indications on the distribution. With both riders, we're continuing to grow and improve on the chassis, electronics, and other innovations. Having said that, we're confident of the work carried out."
Many people wonder why Bautista is so fast, while Davies lags behind?
"Certainly, this track is better suited to Alvaro's style, especially for its smoothness. His style is the opposite of Davies's, who prefers second starts. In these tests, Davies preferred not to take risks, especially considering his health, trying to keep his energy for the race."
In Superbike, the benchmark motorcycle is the Kawasaki. What's the Panigale lacking?
"I think it's still early for an analysis of this kind, also because there is no direct comparison in the race that will allow us to shed light on this. So, I prefer to wait for the first five races of the season even if, at the moment, I can say that we've grown without seeing an area where we are particularly lacking. Perhaps, having started later with our project, as compared to the others, it won't be easy to find the right set-up with one run less of practices with respect to last season."
With the Panigale V4, you've turned over a new leaf as compared to the past. But there's something that recalls the V2 in this bike?
"This is a bike that was created according to the MotoGP DNA, but, at the same time, different aspects of the electronics were transferred. In the last few years, our task has been to be able to rely on a motorcycle that can combine the power of the engine with a smooth ride."
With all the innovations introduced in MotoGP, you’ve set a path to follow. Will it be the same in SBK, too?
"That's what we aim to do. In Qatar, we'll see if we've reached our objective or not."
Let's go back to the tests. For a rider like Davies, how complicated is it to adapt to a type of motorcycle that was created with a MotoGP influence?
"It's not Chaz that has to adapt to the V4. We must understand how to take advantage of the bike's strong points, in order to meet Davies's needs. It's a long endeavor, and we had very little time during these tests."
Did you hear from Dall'Igna after the tests? Is he satisfied?
"We spoke, and we're definitely confident that we can achieve a good result, but we mustn't lower our guard."
One last thing. There's a lot of talk of this increase in rpms, as applied by the regulation. What influence can this have?
"I think the main aspect was dictated by the fact that Ducati wanted to invest in an important manner as compared to other manufacturers, in order to make a series product that was above the current average. What helps us most is the fact that we can rely on a wide range of engine use when our riders are racing."