Bautista-Panigale V4 R combination described as the “perfect match”
In the latest documentary release ‘The Return’ which follows Alvaro Bautista’s path to glory in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, one key aspect that is uncovered is the combination between Bautista, the Aruba.it – Racing Ducati team, and the Ducati Panigale V4 R.
In ‘The Return’, key staff from Ducati talk about the combination of Bautista and the Panigale V4 R, with one word coming up repeatedly: perfect. Team Principal Stefano Cecconi says, “Alvaro and the Panigale are the perfect match” while Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti opts for “perfect combination”, Bautista’s long-time crew chief, Giulio Nava describes the Bautista-Panigale V4 R combination as the “perfect match” and Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, said Bautista was “the best rider for our bike.”
Bautista made his debut on the V4 R in 2019, making an instant impact on the WorldSBK Championship after winning the first 11 races, which saw him in a position to fight for the title that year. However, dreams of securing the World Championship in 2019 followed with great despair after a sequence of crashes, leaving Bautista out of championship contention.
The 2020 and 2021 season saw Bautista move to Team HRC, but these years proved difficult. Over his two-year season with the Honda manufacturer, Bautista scored only three, third place podiums seeing him finish the 2020 season ninth in the overall standings, and 2021 a 10th overall finish.
Bautista’s move back to Ducati in 2022 with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati proved to be an instant positive connection, where he took 31 podiums out of a possible 36, to further be crowned World Champion.
Bautista’s former teammate and now rider coach at the factory Ducati team, Chaz Davies, chimed in to the Bautista-Panigale combination, saying: “It’s his perfect bike. It’s actually difficult to say where Alvaro makes a difference. He’s very strong in every area. He can brake late and deep, he can carry loads of corner speed, he can pick the bike up well, he knows how to save tyres, he’s an extreme professional away from the track. All these details add up to somebody that’s actually pretty hard to beat.”
Despite winning the Teams’, Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Championship titles in WorldSBK last season, Ducati have introduced the new Panigale V4 R for 2023 as they look to retain all three titles once again.
Both Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team riders Bautista and Michael Ruben Rinaldi had their first taste of the new bike during the Jerez test in late January, with the priority for both riders was to get used to the new bike. The 2023 Panigale V4 R features an upgraded engine which Bautista explained as more “linear and smooth”.
During the Jerez test, they also had new winglets; the new two-element wings (main + flap) guarantee the same aerodynamic load but are more compact and thinner (respectively by 40% and 50%). A new exhaust also brought the total potential horsepower of the V4 R to 240.5.
Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team Principal Stefano Cecconi detailed some of the changes on the new Ducati Panigale V4 R, claiming it’s all about small changes, not a radical overhaul: “There are a few new evolutions on the bike. It’s not a revolution, it’s not a completely new model. Still, Ducati worked a lot on the engine, on the torque of the engine. The exhaust is the most visible one, but there are a few underneath the covers. We worked a lot to improve the acceleration, the first phase of the acceleration, to get more traction and more torque in that area. A little bit more turning, the areas where we had to improve the most even if we are starting from a very good level. In the end, we are now the reference.
Discussing how Bautista gets the most from the Panigale V4 R, Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Director for Ducati Corse WorldSBK, said: “[Bautista] uses the torque of the engine, how he’s able to slide and spin to help the bike to turn, and to recover that spin just to accelerate out of the corner, definitely makes the difference.”
There had been a lot of speculation on whether Bautista would run the #1 plate for the 2023 season, with the Spanish rider looking to defend his crown. Rumours were then officially confirmed in Madonna di Campiglio, that the reigning World Champion’s 2023 Panigale V4 R would be fronted with the #1 plate, instead of his usual #19.
It will be the first time since James Toseland in 2005 that Ducati has featured the #1 plate on its fairing, with Ducati Motor Holding CEO Caludio Domenicali reacting to as ‘very emotional,’ after the stunning launch event in the Italian Alps.
Claudio Domenicali said when they lifted the cover off the bike, it’s a piece of history: “I’ve been working in the company for more than 30 years so I’ve grown up in the era of WorldSBK with Carl Fogarty, the #1 on the bike. The bike is in the museum! I think that when we lifted the cover off the bike, it’s a piece of history. The bike will be in the museum when it finishes racing. We wrote another page. We did not push the rider [Bautista] because it’s a very personal thing, but I’m so happy that both of them decided to do that. I think they showed character as well. They showed that they want to really put honour on what they achieved in 2022. The potential to do it again is there even if, as I said earlier, it’ll be very, very tough.”
Talking about his decision behind the #1, Alvaro Bautista wasn’t 100% convinced at first: “I chose the #1 for 2023 because it’s like a personal challenge. When you have the #1 on the bike, the only result is to win. It’s a good motivation, I’m so proud to have this number on my bike. When you win, you need more motivation to keep fighting, to keep working. I think this is an extra motivation to have more pressure and try to defend the Championship with the #1.”
Don’t miss a second of the action from the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round – 24 – 26th February 2023. Get your tickets HERE