Press launches take a lot of planning by the manufacturer and as you can imagine there are more than a few variables involved in the process. Bikes, personnel, journalists, tires, pit garage set ups, etc. These are all pieces of the puzzle that need to be transported to the event. The couple of pieces that don’t require any transport are the circuit, and the weather.
Without the ability to bring the weather of your choice, the best you can do is pick a circuit located in a friendly climate. Most of the time this leads to Spain or Portugal in Europe, and Qatar or Bahrain in the Middle East. If you’re a gambler, maybe you would fancy organizing a press launch in England. Ducati chose Bahrain for the launch of the 2020 Panigale V4S because it’s an amazing place with a world class circuit, and it only rains 10 days of the year.
If you like numbers, that’s 2.7 percent of the year, so basically don’t bother looking at the forecast – it’ll be nice. Apparently not this time in our case, because someone upset the weather man, and we got pummelled with a full day of rain. Some riders love the rain, and some are afraid of it. I’m not in the love column, but I do enjoy the challenge of it, and have had good success in the rain throughout my career. Fun fact, the last time I was on track in the rain was on a Ducati in Portugal, where I finished 5th in that World Superbike race – but that’s a while ago. Testing this bike in the rain posed a new challenge for me, but surprisingly it made for an awesome day of putting the Ducati through the paces.
If we hopped into a time machine to the days before traction control, the hosting manufacturer might not have been too quick to unload the bikes and send a bunch of eager journalists out on a wet track – for good reason. With how far electronics have come on the new bikes, it makes rain riding so much safer and lowers the risk of bikes being brought back on the crash truck substantially. Ducati’s confidence in their motorcycle to send us out all day pushing limits in the rain says a lot about how good this bike is.
The new Panigale V4S didn’t disappoint in the rain. This bike is well balanced, hauls ass, and has an impressive electronics package. The updates Ducati made for 2020 weren’t major, but they were necessary. Ducati updated some chassis specs, a lot of electronic specs, and made some noticeable changes to the aero package on the new bike. The previous version of the V4S was an animal, and some riders found it hard to tame. For 2020 Ducati focused on making the bike more rideable, which surprisingly the rain is a solid platform to test these changes out. I was really impressed with the new bike, and look forward to sharing all of my thoughts on it with you.
Keep your eye out for the detailed review of the 2020 Panigale V4S in an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles.