Du­cati Panigale V4 S

Performance Bikes (UK) - - RACE LEGEND -

YOU AL­WAYS HEAR this and that about dyno power and torque fig­ures, es­pe­cially in my game. Everyone wants to daz­zle, to claim they have the big­gest num­bers, but un­til you ac­tu­ally ride a bike, it’s largely bull­shit. That bike,” says Rutter, point­ing to the V4 S. “That has some se­ri­ous power. Like power I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. Ever”. From some­one who has ridden just about every mean­ing­ful sportsbike in the pur­suit of race wins in the last 25 years, up to and in­clud­ing full fac­tory HRC Fire­blades and BMW S1000RRs with 220bhp fac­tory race de­part­ment en­gines, it is a huge state­ment.

Rutter has got in from his first run on the Panigale, and in five years of lis­ten­ing to him spout his feed­back, I’ve never heard such a pro­found state­ment from him. No sooner has he de­liv­ered his bomb­shell, he fol­lows it up with an­other big­gie – es­pe­cially for some­one who, in or­der to be cred­i­ble in his pro­fes­sion, sim­ply must never show any sign of weak­ness.

“That’s a young man’s bike. If any­one can truly mas­ter that thing on track, they’re a bet­ter per­son than me. It’s got so much power, I just don’t know what to do with it all. There’s parts of the lap where I’m just hold­ing it on the rev lim­iter be­cause I‘m a bit scared to change up a gear, the ac­cel­er­a­tion is so strong”.

I go through his data for the seven-lap run that he has done on stan­dard set­tings, and Rutter has al­ready logged a 1.37.0s lap, which straight away makes it faster than the GSX-R1000R, Fire­blade SP and BMW S1000RR, af­ter just seven laps with no set-up. For his


sec­ond run, we dial in the ad­just­ments to the semi­ac­tive mode we used at the TT, and send him back out to find some clear track. Watch­ing Rutter tucked in and on full throt­tle down the start/fin­ish straight, he is just riding past every­thing in a straight line, in­clud­ing the many race bikes of­ten found in the fast group of a No Lim­its track­day. They’re all be­ing made to look dis­tinctly av­er­age.

“The track just isn’t big enough for the bike,” he con­tin­ues. “I think I’m only feel­ing the end of the throt­tle stop in two or maybe three places. You’ve re­ally got to se­ri­ously trust the elec­tron­ics, more than any other bike we’ve tested, be­cause the power comes in so strong. That said, it is re­ally flex­i­ble, I’m us­ing sec­ond gear at the hair­pins, and third gear at Redgate, which is a gear higher than I would nor­mally use. It feels quite ner­vous at full lean, and on the brakes, but it’s got so much power, it doesn’t mat­ter. I can make up for it on the straights”. He’s done an­other seven laps, and is down to a 1:36.73 sec, which is getting to the busi­ness end of the leader­board.

Rutter sug­gests that the rear tyre is al­ready on its way out. Af­ter just 14 laps it’s spun 180 de­grees on the rim, which is a cause for con­cern as we want to try it in Fixed mode, and let K-Tech’s James find a good con­ven­tional set-up. I check its pres­sure while it is still hot. It is a whop­ping 40psi, way higher than any hot pres­sure we’ve mea­sured. I drop it to 25psi while it is still hot (which later mea­sures 20psi when cold), James from K-Tech does his thing with the sus­pen­sion, and Rutter does his thing with the throt­tle. “That’s so much bet­ter in Fixed mode. I re­ally like that,” says Michael. “It stays on its nose when I re­lease the brakes, it doesn’t push the front back up, and most of the ner­vous­ness has dis­ap­peared. The whole thing is still dom­i­nated by the power. I thought I’d get used to it, but it is still bet­ter than I am here. I love it, though; it’s re­ally en­joy­able and also ter­ri­fy­ing, in a good way”. By now the rear Met­zeler has given its best, and even at my pace a few sec­onds a lap slower, it’s a bit loose... At this pace, it re­ally needs slicks to cope with the power with any longevity. That string of 1.36 laps has toasted the treaded fast road/track­day com­pound Racetec K3s, which, un­til now, have been just the ticket for stan­dard road bikes. His fastest lap in the third run – a 1:36.35 – means it doesn’t quite get to claim the ac­co­lade of be­ing our first bike to break into the 1:35s, but still goes to the top of the table. Where it be­longs.

Rutter does his best to bury the front Met­zeler into Don­ing­ton’s hot tar­mac

V4 mo­tor is as flex­i­ble as a Wham bar

TFT, nat­u­rally. With plenty to ab­sorb

Semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion means you only need a tool for preload ad­just­ment

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