New metal – Ducati 959 Panigale Special Edition


Ducati has added a ‘special’ to its ranks with the release of the 959 Panigale Special Edition.

Essentially a 959 tricked up with the best Ducati performance parts, this limited-edition bike comes with the Akrapovic titanium racing silencer exhaust system, as well as components made from carbon fibre and billet aluminium.

Created solely for the UK market, just 25 bikes will be available, with each bike being individually numbered by laser etching the steering head and accessorised to truly unleash the full potential of the 959 Panigale.

This limited-edition bike is available in two forms, the Ducati Performance option and with the addition of the carbon pack.

The Ducati Performance option comes with the titanium Akrapovic under-engine racing silencer exhaust system and lower fairings, a billet race tank filler cap, racing articulated levers, brake lever protection, a plastic seat cowl and Ducati Corse oversized screen.

The carbon pack adds a carbon ignition switch cover, carbon shock cover, carbon heel guards, carbon and alloy tail tidy, carbon front sprocket cover, billet aluminium handlebar weights, carbon fuel tank protector, carbon shark-fin chain guard and carbon rear mudguard.

The Ducati Performance option is £15,995, while the addition of the carbon pack sets the retail price at £16,995.


Bellissimo – Ducati mark 90 years with stunning limited edition Panigale

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Ducati celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and the Italian manufacturer used World Ducati Week to debut a limited edition machine – the Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario.

This stunning bike is more than just a cosmetic exercise; there are only 500 motorcycles being produced and each will receive the special paint, gold-colored metal and technical upgrades.

The stand out features are the bike’s enhanced rider aids – this S Anniversario is equipped with an EVO version of the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) – the first Ducati to receive these systems. The enhanced traction control system bolsters the current Bosch IMU-powered lean-angle sensitive system by allowing the rider to slide the rear wheel through a corner – the system allows the wheel to slip beyond the normal level of traction intervention, while still actively working to prevent a loss grip. The fact that Ducati used Casey Stoner to unveil the bike makes a lot of sense now…

Other trinkets include gold-colored forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, a neatly finished gold-colored titanium Akrapovic exhaust, limited edition laser-etched engraving, a lithium ion battery and lashings of carbon fibre – heel guards, rear hugger and the shock absorber cover all receive the weight saving treatment.

The attention to detail and the craftsmanship is superb – the top triple clamp and steering head inserts are machined-from-solid aluminium alloy, and these allow riders to shift the front wheel forward by 5mm, effectively giving the Panigale S Anniversario the same geometry as the Panigale R.

Bellissimo Ducati, you’ve just taken desire to a whole new level…



WSBK – Rampant red dragon destroys the field in Imola


Imola is the home race for the red bikes from Borgo Panigale and another crushing performance from Chaz Davies gave the Ducatisti something to cheer about.

After dominating Race One, the Welshman was once again on the top step of the podium in Race Two, scoring an impressive double win for Ducati and closing the gap to series leader Jonathan Rea.

Thanks to another ‘holeshot’ at the start, Davies managed to impose his rhythm and quickly pulled away from the rest of the field, posting the race’s fastest lap with a 1:42.240 in Lap Six and then increasing his lead to five seconds, a margin he administered until the finish line, preceding Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.

He said: “It’s just been an incredible weekend, from start to finish. The latest upgrades Ducati brought for the Panigale R in Aragon allowed us to compete for the win in each race. To seize a victory here in Imola, Ducati’s backyard, is special. To do a double, is unbelievable.

“Today the conditions were different, but we were able to create a gap since the first few laps. I made a couple of mistakes in Lap Nine that made me lose a second, but also helped me stay focused until the checkered flag. We head to Sepang with confidence, as we have a more competitive package than last year, when we still left Malaysia with a second place and a win. Our goal is to keep the momentum and further cut the gap in the championship.”

The Ducati pilot now lies second in the overall standings with 186 points, 35 behind Rea who, thanks to his two excellent second place finishes in the Imola races, remains firmly at the top of the rankings with 221 points. The other Kawasaki Racing Team rider, Tom Sykes, is in third place with 154 championship points.

With Davies’ double, Ducati also closes the gap behind Kawasaki in the Manufacturer Standings: the manufacturer from Akashi leads with 230 points, but Ducati is close behind with 196.

In Race Two the two Ducatis ridden by Davies and Giugliano got off the line well, but already in the third lap the situation had changed. The Welshman stayed in the lead all the way to the chequered flag, whereas the Italian was forced to give way to the two Kawasaki riders, Rea and Sykes who, like yesterday, would finish in the exact same order behind Davies and ahead of Davide Giugliano.

Race 2 standings:

1) Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

2) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)

3) Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

4) Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

5) Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)

6) Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team)

7) Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)

8) Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team)

9) Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team)

10) Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team)

Tested – Ducati 848 Evo Corse SE

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The bike you see here is far more than just a standard 848 with a fancy paint job, it’s the 848 Evo Corse SE, and stunning colour scheme aside, it comes with an Öhlins rear shock, a quickshifter, larger front discs and traction control.

The Evo looks beautiful in the flesh, and the Corse paintjob suits the 848’s purposeful lines.

Throw a leg over the bike and everything’s where it should be, though the riding position won’t suit everyone – the seat is canted forward and there’s a long reach to the bars. And shorter riders might find their knees getting caught on the end of the fairing scoops.

Turn the key and the clear and uncluttered dash springs into life. Thumb the starter and you’re greeted by the bassy sound of the 848’s V-twin rumbling into life. Twist the throttle and listen to it cackle on the overrun. It stirs something deep inside you.

Pull away and the throttle is smooth, with little of the traditional V-twin snatchiness. Snick a gear using the quickshifter, increase speed and tuck in behind the doublebubble screen. Chest flat against the tank, snick another gear and the engine effortlessly makes progress. The fuelling is spot on – it delivers loads of torque but also loves to be revved to its 11,000rpm redline. The delivery is smooth and progressive and gloriously elastic.

Drop a gear and tip into a corner and the front gives loads of feedback and masses of confidence. it feels planted, though it’s hesitant and reluctant to turn in on the tighter bends.

But as the road deteriorates the Ducati’s suspension makes itself known. To say it’s on the hard side is an understatement. As the bike bounces over a bump I get a severe punch in the kidney, leaving me in pain and turning the air blue inside my helmet. That harshness is only an issue on the really bumpy stuff, but it can catch you off guard when it happens.

If things do ever threaten to get out of hand, a squeeze on the Brembos quickly gets things under control. They’ve got great feel and power but they need treating with respect – they’re ferocious and it’s very easy to lock up the front.

So what’s it like to live with? Well, in the three weeks we spent together the Corse SE feels planted on open, flowing bends. It’s a machine that turns every ride into an occasion and it gets a lot of attention. It never misbehaved or did something to sap my confidence. And even though the weather was miserable during the majority of my custodianship, the traction control meant things never got hairy. It’s also deceptively quick. Crack the throttle, snick a gear and the bike launches itself forward, front wheel pawing the air, speed building in unison with the feral roar booming from the cans. It feels aggressive and relentless, more like an inline four than a twin.

Those same underseat cans do, however, get very, very hot and I managed to melt my rucksack during an ad hoc roadside stop to change into waterproofs.

So are the trinkets worth £1000 more than standard 848 Evo? That depends on the riding you do. it takes a while to dial into just how the 848 needs to be ridden, and if you’re going to get the most from it you need to be riding it hard, which for many of us has to mean riding it on the track. And if that’s the kind of riding you do, then it’s worth every penny as you’ll never be able to upgrade the standard bike for the same amount of money.

However, if your riding is primarily limited to the occasional Sunday blast, then you might be better off with the standard version, which is still a magnificent sportsbike that’s far less intimidating – and expensive – than the Panigale.


MotoGP – Banzai Crazy Joe costs Ducati podiums


Ducati’s Andrea Iannone suffered a miserable Second race of the season in Argentina, scuttling Dani Pedrosa’s hopes on the first lap with a desperate lunge at Turn One, before wiping out himself and his team-mate at the penultimate corner of the last lap.

The banzai move left Iannone unable to remount, while Dovizioso pushed his bike over the line to claim 13th place.

After the race the last lap incident between the warring Ducati Factory riders was investigated by Race Direction, and Iannone was handed a three place grid penalty for the next race at Austin. The Italian was also handed a penalty point for an ‘overly optimistic overtake’.

Iannone was distraught at his error. He said: “I’m okay. I’m just disappointed. It is very difficult because, yes, I went down and touched Andrea. Both me and Dovizioso would have been on the podium, so to finish the race in this way is unbelievable.

“I didn’t brake too late. I braked in the same point, but I stayed a little bit more inside because I had Andrea on the outside. I’ve been in Race Direction. But for sure I will say sorry to Andrea. Fortunately, I have a good relationship with him.”

Dovizioso was angry at missing out on a second place finish. He said: “I am very disappointed because we did a great race despite it being a complicated weekend for everyone. In qualifying we went well, in the race I was running up front and in my opinion the strategy was a good one. I even changed bikes at the right moment, staying out a lap extra and making up a few seconds.

“In the last few laps we were in a bit of difficulty, but we managed to catch Valentino, and I tried to close all the doors during the final lap. In the penultimate corner however what everyone could see happened and I missed out on a certain second place. Looking at things positively, we were also quick here in Argentina and, if I had managed to finish the race, now we would be second in the championship just one point behind Marquez.”

Iannone is well thought of at Ducati, with the bosses impressed by his work ethic and his performance since stepping up to the Factory squad. However, this is the second race in a row he has failed to score points and the incident intensifies the pressure on the pair, with the paddock convinced that Jorge Lorenzo has already signed to ride for the Factory for the next two seasons, and former world champion Casey Stone waiting in the wings.

MotoGP – Stoner returns to the track as Ducati Team test rider


Casey Stoner has completed his first laps for Ducati after his sensational return to the Italian manufacturer last year.

The Australian, a two-time MotoGP champion, completed 54 laps of at Sepang on the 2015 Ducati Desmosedici GP for the Italian factory team ahead of next week’s official MotoGP test – the first time Stoner has ridden a Ducati since the Valencia round in 2010, when he left the team to ride for the HRC Repsol squad.

Stoner was pleased with his pace, and how quickly he had got up to speed with the new spec Michelin tyres. He said: “It’s been a really good experience today with the Ducati Team. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but everybody has been fantastic, welcoming me and working with me to try and get the best out of myself and this bike.

“I need some time to get back to speed and get the feeling back, because I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike for one year and any bike at all for six months. It was a very productive first day, we got comfortable with the bike and the tyres a lot more quickly than I thought I would. We’ve got a lot of things to test and get myself a little bit more acquainted with the bike but generally I’m very happy.

“The Desmosedici GP has a lot of potential, hopefully we can give the right input and help the two Andreas to try and achieve something great this year.”