Imagine a lightly detuned F1 car pulling up next to you at the traffic lights, or bimbling past you on the high street. The two-wheeled equivalent of that mind-boggling scenario will actually happen, after Ducati’s latest road-legal track bike chased its MotoGP cousin down to a gap of just over two seconds per lap.
Equipped with slick tyres to match the race bike, plus factory options available to all buyers, like raised footpegs and a race-spec exhaust (something a lot of road bikers ride with anyway), the Panigale V4S lapped a partially damp Jerez circuit in 1m43.3s, just 2.2s behind the MotoGP bike’s 1m41.1s on the day.
The V4S may be road legal but it’s astonishingly close in DNA to the machine being raced by Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller in the MotoGP series; the fastest brand of motorbike circuit racing. According to Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali the V4S takes learnings and developments from the sport’s 2015 rules changes and distils them into a bike fit for road use.
Bagnaia was quoted by bike media as saying the V4S was surprisingly similar to his race bike.
“[The test] was very nice. We had a bit of bad luck and we only managed to lap one afternoon instead of two days, but I still managed to do 80 laps. I lapped a lot and I’m very happy. I was missing certain sensations and the ones you experience on the Panigale V4S are very similar to those of a MotoGP bike.”
Ducati actually pulled six MotoGP riders together for the test, putting some on the race bike and others on the road machine with orders to try to catch up. The results are pretty amazing; like seeing a new hypercar keep a Hamilton-driven Mercedes W11 honest around Silverstone and then peel off into the pits, put some road tyres and number plates back on and bimble off home.
Among the race-born technologies the V4S uses are a counter-rotating crankshaft, the now-ubiquitous quick-shifter and super-lightweight construction. The 1103cc madman develops 211bhp at 13,000rpm and 91.5lb ft at 10,000rpm, with 41mpg a dubious claimed average fuel consumption.
There’s wheelie control, drift control, launch control, engine brake control to avoid wheel lock-ups, full LED lighting, an Ohlins steering damper, Ohlins suspension, Brembo brakes and three riding modes for street, sport and track setups.