Remember the classic hit ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck,’ popularized by Rod Stewart in the ’80s? Every time I see the photos of superbike racer TJ Alberto charging through the fast corners of Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto on board the new Ducati Panigale V4 R, I end up humming this tune wistfully.
Alberto was among the 12 lucky souls who were invited to this exclusive test-ride event in Spain. It’s every motorcycle journalist’s dream not only to be part of such an occasion, but also to be able to ride such a powerful machine on a MotoGP track. I guess, considering my not-so-impressive riding skills, I just have to keep on dreaming.
So instead, Moto Sapiens asked Alberto to give his two cents on Ducati’s newest and most potent track weapon.
“It was a day to remember because on the same day, we shared the track with the Ducati WorldSBK and British Superbikes riders, who were doing preliminary testing of their new racehorses for the 2019,” says Alberto, the first Filipino to race in the 2017 European Superstock 1000 on a Ducati Panigale. “It was a great experience to be on track with Chaz Davies, Alvaro Bautista, Scott Redding, and Josh Brookes on their WorldSBK-specification V4 Rs.”
During the event, each rider was allowed to take the V4 R on a 15-minute run for four sessions. Alberto remembers pushing the needle to 229kph on the main straight, although he adds it could’ve been faster. Here are his thoughts on Ducati’s MotoGP-derived racing machine:
1) It’s a ‘street-legal’ track bike.
“Each lap, I found more and more confidence to push on this ‘street bike,’ and in the end, I was putting down some quite respectable laps with respect to a machine that’s got (head-, tail-, and turning) lights and a functioning horn!”
2) The V4 S and the V4 R are different animals.
“This bike is really a step up from the Panigale V4 S. The wings keep you planted around the long and fast fourth-gear corners of the Jerez circuit. That the new chassis gives more feel to the rider under hard braking is definitely an improvement over the current V4 S.”
3) It’s got unparalleled stopping power.
“The new SBK EVO DRY clutch by STM brings more confidence in race-level track riding. No longer do you have the rear tire skipping along the track during late-braking maneuvers with this slipper clutch, which can also be adjusted for more or less engine brake. Also, it’s actually the same clutch that Chaz and Alvaro will be running for the 2019 season.”
4) It rides on high-performance suspension.
“The new Öhlins NPX fork is a first in the OEM market and brings pressurized forks to the street-bike game. It was a big upgrade from the current generation of superbike forks from Öhlins, and has a similar feel to the race-level pressurized fork we use in the World Superstock.”
5) The electronic package is awesome.
“The new proportional strategy electronics produce WorldSBK-level rider aids and are very similar to the Magneti Marelli Superbike electronics I used with the Panigale in this year’s Superstock championship. I had the confidence to keep the throttle wide open even over the damp patches in the morning sessions, and the bike would adapt, giving less spin and less danger each lap. It’s like I had the electronics guys from Ducati on the rear seat, adjusting the setup for me as I go!”
There’s no doubt Alberto is mesmerized by the killer traits of the V4 R, which he says he will be riding in the maiden season of the Asia Superbike 1000 category of the 2019 Asian Road Racing Championship. Despite his international racing schedule, he also hopes to race the V4 R even as a wild-card entry in the 2019 Philippine Superbike Championship.
Given the Ducati Panigale V4 R’s fury and Alberto’s sharpened racing skills, could we expect him to be waving the Philippine flag proudly on the Asia Superbike 1000 podium next year? Let’s cross our fingers.