Although the Ducati Panigale wont be seen in World superbike trim till 2013, it'll be raced in the British superbike series
The Ducati Panigale has been a massive media success and, even in these recessionary times, early sales are said to be strong. The fact that defending World superbike champion Carlos Checa will still be running the old 1199 in this year's WSB championship has left some people wondering what it will be like on track in superbike trim.
Abdulaziz Binladen, the Ducati Moto Rapido rider who is, we believe, well connected in Saudi
Well, the wait is over. Or almost. There will be four Ducati Panigales in the British superbike championship – three in the Supebike class and one in Supestock 1000. And Ducati is taking things seriously, with Ducati superbike racing guru, former Troy Bayliss crew chief and team manager Ernesto 'Ernie' Marinelli helping with the Moto Rapido bikes (seen with British Ducati tuning legend John Hackett of JHP fame).
Suggestions that Ernie was just doing some shopping in Oxford street and just popped into Brands were discounted. "We had 23 requests for race kit bikes and parts from various teams around the world," explained Marinelli, "and all of that data and feeback will come back to us to help us develop a better bike, so it's been a good start in those terms."
And it's been a lot of work for all concerned. The Panigale seen in the picture only turned up in the UK last week and had to go to MoTec UK to have the loom and stock EVO-spec ECU fitted to make sure it was running. At which point the bike was transferred to John Hackett to be prepped and 'transformed' into a race bike. Sadly, the bike wouldn't start in the morning sessions – cue much bodywork stripping, phone calls to Italy and scratching of heads. 'An electrical issue' was blamed and the bike did make it out on track with the rest of the Superbike entrants. Alas, no lap times were revealed. But, in any case, not much can be expected of a brand new bike in its first outings.
Ernie, race engineer Luca Ferraccioli and Ducati UK staff discuss espresso standards in the UK.