The arrival of the V4 at Ducati’s is an epoch-making turn. How did you accept the challenge at the Style Centre?
Andrea Ferraresi: This has been a double challenge. First of all, we had to make a bike stylistically worthy of the Panigale name. Then we knew that passing from 2 to 4 cylinders would inevitably bring with it a larger size of the engine. The Ducati bikes, and in particular sport bikes, have the advantage of being very small in a front sight, for the very reason that they exploit the cross compactness of the V two-cylinder. So we said: let’s see how smart we are at designing a bike as compact and beautiful as a Panigale even if, inevitably, the engine has a larger size. The result? Our 4-cylinder is still the most compact of this segment!
How was the initial mood at the project?
Focussed and tense. We put five designers to work at this project, who have carried on a kind of internal competition. From the initial group, that started from the first drafts, we passed to two designers, then to the winner … and lastly we came to the bike! Designing the new Panigale is a great responsibility, but a great prestige also comes from it and Julien has taken this great work upon himself with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Did you ever assign five designers to a single project?
No, this is the first time. With the previous Panigale we stopped at four. It was a long and demanding process, also because each designer was proposing not only a different design, but also different engineering package solutions, to be carefully examined with the engineering department.
With this passage to the 4-cylinder, did you somehow feel the need to reassure your fans about the continuity of the Ducati character?
Sure! We wanted to reassure Ducatisti by showing them that the bike to be born to light was a Panigale all the same: nimble, beautiful, red, elegant, essential, devoted to the track, as all the previous illustrious Superbikes, from the 916 to the 1098 etc. The choice prevailed to give continuity to our design, a strategy we transversally apply to all motorcycles.
The Panigale V4 has a more muscular clothing, even though maintaining the previous models’ appeal. How did you manage the new volumes?
By following the handbook of the good Ducati designer. The first thing we made was giving a shape to the character the bike would take. And here we have created proportions that would immediately convey that this was a racing animal: an exciting bike, materializing the idea of power. A bike that at first sight would make you think: “now I ride it and go on the track”. Anybody looking at this motorcycle, even if he does not know its technical characteristics, knows that it is going to be amazing on the track – and amusing, very agile on road.
We have then applied the curves of the Panigale to these proportions and lastly we bothered about the finishing and details needed to communicate refinement and elegance.
No superbike has ever had so many contents deriving directly from the MotoGp. How have all these novelties been integrated into the project?
Aerodynamics was the technological transfer that mostly affected our work. The integration already began on the first drafts, in order to understand, together with the collegues working at the aerodynamics department in Ducati Corse, which one might be the most effective. Of course, this went on during all the cleanup of the model in clay, to be concluded with the results of the wind tunnel and track results, followed by modifications, also significant ones, to style and fairing.
Why is it difficult to get aerodynamics and design to agree?
Usually aerodynamically effective bikes have rather large fairings, that “cover” the rider. However, we like small, compact bikes. This aspect was carefully examined with the racing department. The result we achieved with the new Panigale V4 is very satisfying also in the Wind Tunnel.
The new Panigale V4 distinguishes itself quite clearly from competitors’ bikes also from a structural point of view. How important was the new “front frame” in the overall design?
Being an exclusive feature of Ducati, we decided to enhance it by showing it also on the “cladded” bike. This choice helped making the fairing more compact as a whole. We were successful in our intent to have, in front sight, a bike that though housing a 4-cylinder engine, has the same dimensions as a 2-cylinder Panigale. Lightness and compactness are concepts that always accompany us, maniacally, even in the smallest details, like our pride in showing the engineering that lies beneath the clothes. If we could realize our superbikes without fairings, or with transparent fairings, we would do it.
Could you tell us of the livery of the Panigale V4 Special, the bike you are going to manufacture in a numbered and limited edition?
This special livery draws its inspiration from the 1199 Panigale Tricolore’s, a sort of homage. We have proposed the same colour partitions, the same clear cuts, the side number plate with black rim and green tapered edges: they appear to be perfect also for the Panigale V4. Said within brackets: for good luck, special liveries of every new Ducati Superbike are always made by the same designer.