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My new Panigale V4, part 7 – another trackday!

Posted on August 25, 2018 by acruhl

(Knee down but crap lean angle… Read on for my inevitable excuse… Photo by Dan Katz.)
First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 (trackday!) and Part 6.

I got another chance to go out to Inde Motorsports Ranch for a trackday on the new V4. I feel like I had a lot of unfinished business from the last trackday, but I didn’t finish it due to tires. Or lack thereof. Read on for more info.

The On Any Moto crew invited me to another trackday which I’m grateful for. These trackdays they have been doing have pretty much been OAM staff only, and me, your humble club president. Hopefully soon it will open up to more riders.

So I had all these ideas about changing electronics and testing out all the different settings, but the rear tire put a damper on that. I hadn’t changed tires since the last track day (really 1/2 to 2/3rds of a day) and my dealer didn’t have a set of Supercorsa SP V3 in stock at the time anyway.

It was evident from the first session that the right side of the rear tire had taken a serious beating on the last track day, and there was very little drive grip available this time out. DCT (traction control) settings from 4 (more intervention) to 1 (less intevention) felt about the same to me. The electronics would let the tire spin wildly as lean angle decreased from maximum depending on how much throttle I gave it, but they never let the tire go very sideways (which prevents catastrophe). I could lay down lines from turn 7 all the way to the chicane at turn 8 which felt like 50 or 60 yards. Left turns were nice because the tire was in relatively better shape so I could drive through them pretty hard.

Like I said in my last trackday post, I’m not sure the SC2 compound on the side of the rear tire is ideal for the conditions. It’s a hot and abrasive track, probably better suited to SC1. And I wasn’t using tire warmers because these are street tires right? I just gave them a few laps to warm up, and made sure they were in the sun between sessions. Maybe I will try warmers next time. But next time I’m hoping to have slicks (SC2/SC1) or maybe a different type of tire.

The front tire seemed like it hung in there pretty good. But I was still treating it like a street tire and not a race tire since it gave me a few warnings last time out. I’m sure I was getting 5-10 degrees more lean angle on my old 998 with race tires the last time I had it out here. I just wasn’t confident to ride this V3 front tire hard, but this may have been unfounded.

EDIT: It sounds like I’m really down on these tires and I want to clarify something. These work great on the road. No issues at all. They worked really great for my first 2 or 3 sessions out on the track as well. But I think they are not the ideal tire for the conditions I’m riding in. I’m also a former expert racer so I’m probably pushing them harder than 95% of other people riding this bike. Next time I will try slicks to compare. I also want to try other brands.

I left DWC (wheelie control) on 1 and for the most part the bike didn’t wheelie much. It would lift the front over “wheelie hill” (between 11 and 12) but not too bad. I was expecting more wheelies coming onto the straight but I think the combination of traction control and wheelie control mostly kept the front down (unlike my old 1199 which would wheelie violently there!). I really wanted to try turning wheelie control off but I just couldn’t. My friend’s old ZX-10R race bike would wheelie in 4th gear on straights, which is not entirely pleasant. This bike probably has 20-30 more horsepower.

Something occurred to me the other day. The base model V4 doesn’t have an electronically adjustable steering damper like the V4S does. I saw the magazine photos of guys holding the front wheel about a foot off the ground on corner exits. I wasn’t able to do that. It would wheelie very briefly and then come back down. Is this Ducati doing more to control the wheelie on the base model because they can’t tighten up the steering damper for the “touchdown”? I think this is possible.

So I’m not really sure these electronics laden superbikes are for me. I’m sure I’m going around the track pretty quickly, but is it me or R2-D2 behind me (“lock it down R2!”) doing the riding? I’m not going to say I’m some kind of track riding genius but I can hold my own, and I don’t feel like I’m using all of my skills to ride this bike. I’ve got literally thousands of track miles at many different tracks, so I feel like I know what I want by now. It feels like I’d rather ride a friendly 130-140 horsepower bike than a raging 190+ horsepower bike that needs electronics to reign it in. To underline this, I rode a KTM 390 cup bike for about 5 or 6 laps and had a whole lot of fun. Not fast at all but you’re solving a whole lot less problems and stressing less on it. There’s something to be said for that!

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