I’ve had to be patient but I finally got my leg over a Ducati Panigale at Donington Park this week. Focused Events handed me a zero miles bike to play on but with the rain hammering down, I opted to fit some wets for my first run out.
With no instruction manual I still found the dash easy to navigate so I was soon in wet riding mode and ready to roll. I circulated for a few sessions on a soaking track and although I had traction control lights constantly flashing, the power delivery was consistent and smooth. The dash also told me I had plenty of ABS to save me but I didn’t feel anything untoward up front.
When the track dried up I headed out on brand new Pirelli Supercorsas but this time in ‘race’ mode. As I was rolling round getting up to speed I started to realise how small and light the Panigale felt and although the footrest position felt further back than the Japanese competition, the riding position was still comfortable.
With tyres warmed up I started building up my pace and that was when I began to discover what all the excitement has been about. At just over 8000rpm there is an almost 2 stroke style rush of power which is fine in the taller gears but you need to be ready for it in 1st,2nd and 3rd.
Short shifting was the only answer out of the Melbourne Hairpin or onto the start finish straight as otherwise things wanted to go totally skyward. It probably has the least linear power band of any big sports bike I’ve ever ridden but it injects immense character into this stunning bike.
The general handling was good with excellent low speed agility although I did have a few high speed head shakes down the Dunlop Straight. I also had some slight chatter but I’m sure both of these problems could be fixed with minor suspension tweaks.
The braking feel and stability was superb everywhere over a lap with two fingers giving more than enough purchase at every corner. If I’m nit picking then the side stand was a pain to flick out but otherwise an awesome bike and well worth my long wait to try one out.
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