Bike India was invited to witness the highly popular Ducati Week in Malaysia recently and that too in the august company of Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss. Here is a brief account of that memorable experience
Story: Aspi Bhathena
The Ducati Week has become extremely popular among the Ducati owners across the globe. More then 500 of them attended the Asia Week in Malaysia recently. There were owners from Australia, Hong Kong and the Asian region. This event was organised by Naaza, the importers of Ducati motorcycles in Malaysia. Bike India was invited to take part in this biking festival.
Quite a few events had been organised over the MotoGP weekend and, for the kick-off of the Asia Week, we had the honour of having dinner with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. The following day we had the pleasure of meeting Loris Capirossi over dinner. On Saturday night there was a street party where there were a couple of hundred of Ducati motorcycles lined up along with a few exotic cars like the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ford Mustang. On the race day all the owners rode to the Sepang track in a convoy with police escort. The icing on the cake was an opportunity to ride with Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss on the Panigale on the Sapang MotoGP circuit.
On Sepang Race Track Astride The Ducati Panigale
I was lucky to do one lap behind Loris Capirossi on the 848 Ducati Street Fighter before he waved me through. That one lap was good enough to learn the lines. The 848 was a good bike to learn the circuit as it was neither as quick nor as demanding as the 1199 Panigale that I rode later. At the conclusion of the session it was nice to hear that Loris was impressed by my riding capability: a remark like that from a double world champion is something special indeed!
After exiting the last corner in the second gear you start shifting up without rolling the throttle back or pulling the clutch thanks to the built-in power shifter. At the end of the start-finish straight you are flat out in the sixth gear and also flat on the fuel tank under the tiny screen, trying to avoid the wind buffeting you as the digital speedometer is well north of the 250-km/h mark. As you approach the first corner, you start squeezing the front brake lever with two fingers and increase the pressure once the weight has been transferred to the front wheel and simultaneously shift down from the sixth to the second and you don’t need to blip the throttle thanks to the slipper clutch that prevents the rear wheel from locking up and prevents the engine from over-revving.
Half way through the corner you release the brake and start feeding the power, but have to keep it tight so that you remain on the correct line to get a good drive out of the second left-hand corner. From here it is flat out through the fast right-hander that leads on to a short straight where you get full RPM in the fourth gear before you brake hard for the 90-degree second gear right-hander. As soon as you hit the apex of the corner, release the brakes and start powering out of the corner, you can feel the traction control kicking in. From here onwards it is flat out in the third gear through the left and you ease off a little before you enter the next right and it is up to the fourth gear before you come down to the third for the double apex right where you carry a lot of speed and where you are actually braking in the first part of the corner and powering out as the second part opens up.
Then it is up to the fifth gear and back down to the second for the left hairpin. This is another corner where you trail-brake right to the apex of the corner before you start to wind the throttle as the next right is quite tricky and you have stay as wide as possible and disregard the first part of the corner or you will not make it through the second part of this long right-hander. This corner is done in the third gear, then it is up to the fourth and back down to the third for the left-hander and back to the fourth before you brake deep into the tightening right-hander and keep to the extreme left before you tip it in and start powering down the back straight, using all the track and a little bit of the kerb before moving back to the right side of track and shifting through to the sixth gear and back on to the brakes and down to the second for the final left-hand hairpin and powering back to the start-finish line.
The Panigale is a sweet handling motorcycle, but is extremely demanding physically when you are pushing hard and trying to keep up with someone like Troy Bayliss.
At the conclusion of the session it was nice to hear that Loris was impressed by my riding capability: a remark like that from a double world champion is something special indeed!