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If Danilo Petrucci is thinking about returning to the MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship for a second season and Josh Herrin has an option on his two-year contract with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC to move up to Medallia Superbike next year, then maybe the 2023 Ducati Panigale V4 R will convince both of them to team up for 2023.
The Ducati Panigale V4 R was obviously already a race-winning, championship-contending motorcycle in the MotoAmerica series, but the 2023 Ducati Superbike absolutely pushes the performance envelope even further forward, enough so that it should send a clear message to two-time and back-to-back defending champ Jake Gagne, his teammate Cam Petersen, and especially to Richard Stanboli and his Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing team: Ducati is coming for you, bLU cRU.
Desmosedici Stradale R: The Beating Heart Of The Blood-Red Beast
The new 998 cc Desmosedici Stradale R is the heart of the Panigale V4 R, and it’s a powerplant capable of reaching a maximum engine speed of 16,500 rpm in sixth gear while delivering 237 hp when equipped with a racing exhaust. And that’s not all.
The new Panigale V4 R’s engine development also involved the creation of a special oil developed by Shell in collaboration with Ducati Corse. The new racing oil guarantees a 10% reduction in mechanical friction, resulting in a 3.5 hp increase in maximum power, which rises to +4.5 hp at the rev limiter.
This special Shell oil uses racing-type additives that were developed specifically for high-rpm engines equipped with a dry clutch, such as the Desmosedici Stradale R engine in the 2023 Panigale V4 R. A dry clutch allows the use of additives that would cause transmission problems in a traditional oil-bath clutch. These chemical elements are added to the base oil in dedicated quantities and percentages to ensure the right balance between performance and engine protection.
So, with a complete racing exhaust and the special Shell oil in the crankcase, the 2023 Panigale V4 R is capable of producing an extraordinary 240.5 hp.
Inside the Panigale V4 R, and for the the first time on a production sportbike, “gun drilled” titanium connecting rods are used, which are drilled longitudinally through each rod. This solution allows an oil passage from the head to the small end, improving lubrication and reliability in extreme conditions.
Also, for the first time on a production sportbike engine. the four pistons pumping away inside the Panigale V4 R use a DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) surface treatment, which reduces friction between the pistons and the cylinder liners. The pistons also have a new geometry that makes them .04 ounces lighter, which reduces the forces of inertia, thereby improving reliability.
Other changes to the Panigale V4 R’s Desmosedici Stradale R engine include a more aggressive profile on the intake cams that produces an increased lift of 0.03 inches and are matched to new variable-length intake tracts, which are reduced by 0.2 inches. This modification improves breathing at high revs and increases maximum power, again when optimized with a racing exhaust.
To improve on-track performance, the 2023 Panigale V4 R adopts the same gear ratios as those used on the World Superbike Panigale V4 R race bikes. The gear ratios are lengthened in first (+ 11.6%), second (+ 5.6%), and sixth gear (+ 1.8%) compared with the 2022 Panigale V4 R. The taller first gear becomes more usable on the track, offering the benefits of improved engine management when braking and better acceleration when exiting corners. In addition, the smaller jump between first and second gear allows the Ducati Quick Shift—the subject of an important evolution of improving fluidity at every degree of throttle opening—to work more effectively.
The 2023 Desmosedici Stradale R is also equipped with a new dry clutch derived from the development of the version used in World Superbike by the official Ducati team. The diameter and axial length have been reduced by .9 inches and the weight by 1.8 pounds.
Chassis And Aerodynamics: Tweaked And Updated
The 2023 Panigale V4 R continues to incorporate what is known as a “Front Frame” design and a single-sided aluminum swingarm, which are integral to the Ducati Panigale family of sportbikes. For 2023, the Panigale V4 R’s swingarm pivot height can be adjusted through four positions in .08-inch (2mm) increments for a total adjustment range of .31 inches (8mm). To increase nimbleness, rider feeling and grip, the chassis of the Panigale V4 R also follows the evolutionary direction traced by the 2022 Panigale V4/V4 S, while maintaining fully mechanical suspension adjustment. At the front, the Öhlins NPX25/30 pressurized fork’s travel has been increased by .2 inches when compared with the 2022 Panigale V4 R. A new Öhlins TTX36 rear shock whose center distance goes from 12.3 inches to 12.4 inches, combined with an adjustment of the swingarm pivot to the +1 position, increases the rear height by .8 inches and delivers a higher center of gravity. The end-result is greater nimbleness in corner entry and changes of direction, which are definitely two things that Petrucci seemed to struggle with throughout the 2022 Medallia Superbike season.
The bodywork of the 2023 Panigale V4 R has also been updated. First, the brushed-aluminum fuel tank’s capacity has been increased to 4.5 gallons, and the new profile offers better support for the rider’s arms and legs when braking and cornering. The aerodynamic package has been revised to improve efficiency. New, two-element wings (main + flap) guarantee the same aerodynamic effect but are more compact by 40% and thinner by 50%. To improve the cooling of the engine and stabilize its performance in extreme use on the racetrack, the lower part of the fairing features improved air extractors and, on the left side, there is a new air intake that is designed to cool the sensor on the Ducati Quick Shift.
Want to buy your very own 2023 Ducati Panigale V4 R? Find $44,995 in the cushions of your couch and head to your friendly neighborhood Ducati dealership next spring, which is when the bikes are supposed to arrive on showroom floors.