Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali last week revealed that Ducati is working on a four-cylinder engine for a road legal motorcycle that we should be seeing in two to three years. Claudio Domenicali was speaking at the firm’s race team press conference, confirming that technology from the new generation of MotoGP machines will be trickling down to their road legal superbikes. There are also huge ramifications for the World Superbike team, which will also get the new four-cylinder motorcycle for 2019.
When Claudio Domenicali says ‘four-cylinder’, he means a V4, and it seems probable that the capacity will be different for road and track, as it is now within the Ducati Panigale range.
While he wouldn’t put a finite time-frame on the project, WSB racing boss Paolo Ciabatti confirmed that the V-twin Ducati Panigale would continue to be developed for the next two years before being replaced. ‘We will race with the Ducati Panigale for 2017 and 2018, so obviously we will keep developing the engine to be competitive,’ Paolo Ciabatti said.
The birth of a mainstream V4 road-going Ducati superbike has been on the cards ever since the firm stunned the world with the Desmosedici D16RR in 2007, but while the market (and Ducati) wasn’t right for the project a decade ago – beyond being a super-high-end curiosity – the timing feels right for 2019. With the Ducati Panigale’s Superquadro already pushing the boundaries of what a V-twin can achieve within Superbike regulations, it’s also the right time from an engineering perspective.
‘The company is a solid company now, a growing, profitable, cash-positive company that can sustain the investment,’ said Domenicali. ‘Everything we develop in racing can have a fallout in production motorcycles.’ Engine and electronics technology are perhaps the zenith that, but Domenicali also credits the development of ‘wings’ in MotoGP as a serious benefit: ‘It was super-useful. The motorcycles were much more stable ith more load on the front, much safer. This is banned now in MotoGP, but we have very innovative and creative people here, and there is a lot of development of technologies here, and that will be very interesting for the development of future Ducatis.
‘The engine development that we have made in MotoGP is exceptional – we have an engine that is very light, very reliable, and with a lot of very interesting technology. We are seriously thinking about making that available to regular customers because it is really a masterpiece of engineering – of course translated into something that can be sold at a reasonable, but premium, price – so it will not be exotic like the Desmosedici, but a more regular high-end sportsbike. I cannot say when this will happen, but it is much closer. We would absolutely race this in WSB.
We understands this will result in a 1000cc V4 for superbike racing, while the road-going family will almost certainly be split into the homologation R version, and bigger capacity standard and S models – possibly resulting in a 1200cc V4. We expect to see the new road-going motorcycle unveiled during 2018, to arrive as a 2019 model, coinciding with the firm racing the V4 in the World Superbike Championship.