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MACAU GP - PANIGALE V4 DEBUT WITH REACTIVE PARTS AND STEVE HENEGHAN

After two days of practice and a 12 lap race on the infamous Guia Circuit, we caught up with Reactive Parts' boss Steve Heneghan who took part in his seventh Macau Grand Prix, this time onboard the Ducati Panigale V4, the first ever at an International Road Race.
Steve started from 20th position on the grid but unfortunately he was forced to retire at lap 7.

Steve, what happened with the Panigale V4 during the race?
"Unfortunately we encounted a problem on the sighting lap! - The gearbox sensor failed! This disabled engine braking, anti wheelie, launch control, quick shifter, blipper and traction control! -   I decided to start and carried on for 7 laps but eventually it became too dangerous - I was crashing almost on every lap! ".

 
 

Apart from the race, did you enjoy riding the V4 in Macau?
"We haven't had much time on the V4 really, only 3 sessions on short circuits in the UK. We reached a nice position with the bike for short circuit racing, however Macau is very very different. The bike is good on the smooth parts but a lot of the circuit is quite bumpy and the Ducati doesn't respond very well to the bumps.
It's very powerful with a firm chassis so we worked to fix this for the first two sessions. We made good progress, we were 3 seconds faster on Friday but you only have 3 sessions and that's all. It's difficult to make big changes because you don't have the time and you loose your track time if you spend all your time in pit lane. So, yeah, we've made a big step, we tried a little step forward but it was in the wrong direction so we went back to the setting that was good for us. Not so good as in 2016 with the Yamaha but we had the Yamaha for two years to develop. The V4 is not there yet but every time we ride it, it improves".

 
 

Are there many differences between a V4 you purchase from a dealer and the one prepared for racing?
"Yes, sure, mechanically the engine is standard, it's never been out of the frame, we bought the Ducati official Akrapovic exhaust; it's very very fast. We commenced with dynamic suspensions but we didn't feel like the range was big enough for racing, so we changed this to an Ohlins race kit for the forks and a TTX rear shock; so not dynamic.  Other than that, for short circuit racing we changed just the bodywork to fiberglass but for Macau we made a big effort and we changed the subframe which is carbon monocoque, one piece; the fuel tank is carbon, the bodywork is carbon, so we saved about 8 kilos from the weight of the bike. Other than that, we use a different position for the handlebars and Lightech rearsets and then we changed sprockets. That's all".

 
 

Do you think the Ducati V4 could work well at the TT?
"Not yet, I think it needs more development. Surely the bike is fast enough".

 
 

It could be ok for the North West, though.
"Yes, 100%, it's very very quick. But this bike is not homologated, the V4 is 1103cc, which makes it too big for Superbike and Superstock racing, so the only class it could work in is maybe the Senior at the TT, prototype classes or open classes. The V4R, which was released last week, would be the homologated bike and it's very different again".

 
 

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