Ducati Panigale V4 S
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
BEST L AP TIME 1.36:35S NE W RUT T ER T E S T L AP R E C ORD
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