As promised, Ducati has unveiled its new homologation special superbike, the Panigale V4 R, and it’s a step up from the manufacturer’s previous road-legal racebike.
The original Panigale V4 was launched at EICMA last year, bringing Ducati into a bold new V4-powered future—but a future with no World Superbike participation, unless Ducati made some changes to the machine. So, we now have the Panigale V4 R.
What sets it apart from the standard model? Quite a bit, starting with the V4 engine, downsized to 998 cc; the standard Panigale V4 packs an 1103 cc engine. That’s an obvious tactic to meet WSB regulations.
Thanks to lighter internals and more efficient airflow, the revised engine makes 221 hp at 15,250 rpm, and 82 lb-ft of torque at 11,500 rpm (the standard Panigale V4 makes 214 hp and 91.5 lb-ft of torque). Compression ratio is 14:1, and the rev limit is 16,000 rpm, except in sixth gear, which is set at 16,500 rpm. Ducati claims fitting a race exhaust from Akrapovic can raise peak output to 234 hp.
Much of the engine is the same as the standard Panigale; it’s a 90-degree V4 with 42-degree cylinder angle, a counter-rotating crank (a new forged steel unit). There are titanium con rods, lighter than the standard Panigale’s units, and the camshafts are specific to the R as well, with more lift and redesigned intake ducts and valves. Even bits like the oil pump and alternator were revised to make the engine lighter.
Like the standard bike’s engine, the V4 R has a twin pulse firing order, and it’s also a stressed member of the chassis.
Aside from the engine, the most noticeable upgrade to the new bike is Ducati’s Aero pack, which was “designed directly by Ducati Corse in close collaboration with the Ducati Style Centre to improve on-track aerodynamic efficiency.” Yep, we’re talking carbon-fibre winglets, along with specially-designed screen, nose fairing and side fairings, all intended to improve aerodynamics and handling, with the winglets in particular intended to add downforce. Ducati says those winglets are “GP16-derived,” although they won’t turn you into a MotoGP rider, sadly. Of course, that bodywork is also sprayed with a sporty paint job, and there are a few carbon-fibre bits that reduce weight and add to the racing lines.
Suspension comes from Ohlins, with new NPX 25/30 front forks similar to World Superbike-spec units, and a TTX36 shock in back, all fully-adjustable. The forks have split roles, with the left handling compression damping with a 25 mm piston and the right handling rebound, with a 30mm piston. The forks are pressurized, to resist oil cavitation. The front and rear suspension is mechanically-adjustable, unlike the standard Panigale, as it’s intended for serious racetrack use. There’s also an Ohlins steering damper.
The frame is slightly modified from the standard superbike, with lighter, machined sides and a movable rear swingarm pivot that allows for four different positions to modify chassis set-up.
Wheels are forged units from Marchesini, with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires, and the brakes use Brembo’s Stylema monobloc calipers.
Leaning ABS is standard, as is traction control, slide control, launch control, wheelie control, engine brake control and an up/down quickshifter. There’s also a pit lane speed limiter, a lap timer, and a GPS-enabled data analyzer system, which helps you parse your racing metrics. And, if you just want to listen to your favourite jam, the 5-inch TFT screen allows for Bluetooth integration via a multimedia system. You probably don’t want to use that on-track, but maybe on the street.
The bike comes with three riding modes—Race, Sport and Street. And, all the electronic safety features come with settings that allow you to tweak your tune, depending how much control you want over the machine.
Three things we don’t know about the machine: We don’t know the Panigale V4 R’s weight, we don’t know its Canadian MSRP and we don’t know its Canadian availability. However, we’re sure that information isn’t far away.
Check out all the pics that go with this story!