Coming hot on the heels of news that Ducati will reenter the World Superbike Championship in 2013 with an all-new, factory-supported racing effort run by Belgium’s Team Alstare, this is our first look at the bike that Alstare racers Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini will ride. The 1199 Panigale R, developed by the Ducati Corse racing department specifically for World Superbike homologation, will replace the lame-duck 1198R that Checa rode to fourth place in last year’s WSBK championship.
Race-ready upgrades for the R-bike all revolve around improving on-track performance. The Panigale’s super-short-stroke L-twin engine gets new titanium connecting rods that are 1.38 pounds lighter, along with a lighter flywheel that cuts an additional 1.54 pounds. Reduced reciprocating weight, coupled with a rev limit that has been raised 500 rpm to now redline at 12,000, will make the already quick-revving Superquadro spin up even faster. New, DLC-coated rocker arms further reduce friction losses, while revised engine mapping and improved ride-by-wire throttle calibration improves throttle response. A track-only Termignoni titanium full exhaust system completes the performance package. Horsepower is said to increase by three percent at upper revs and 15 percent in the midrange, while lower, 15-41 final drive gearing will make the R even quicker off the line.
The Panigale R’s “frameless” chassis is improved with a four-point-adjustable swingarm pivot that assists with chassis setup, allowing the pivot position to be raised 2mm or lowered either 2mm or 4mm to optimize traction and acceleration off corners. A special carbon-fiber shock guard, heel guards, swingarm guard, and engine covers enhance crash protection, while a carbon-fiber rear hugger, a special saddle cover, and brushed panels on the aluminum fuel tank set the R apart at a glance. Just like on the S model, Ducati Electronic Suspension (by Ohlins) and Race ABS are standard equipment here; the R further adds the GPS-enabled Ducati Data Acquisition system (DDA+) for automatic lap timing and map-linked circuit data.
Retail price for the 1199 Panigale R ABS will be $29,995, a premium of $6000 over the 1199 Panigale S ABS that sells for $23,995. That bike is mostly unchanged for 2013 except for a new Arctic White paint option along with revised engine mapping and ride-by-wire throttle calibration. The base 1199 gets the same paint and tuning changes and will sell for $17,995, or $18,995 with ABS.