Redding hints at Ducati concept weakness versus Kawasaki
Scott Redding believes Ducati’s inability to perform consistently at all World Superbike tracks could be down to the Panigale V4 R having a conceptual weakness compared to the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.
Kawasaki has enjoyed an unbeaten title run in the WSBK since 2015, with Jonathan Rea helping the Japanese manufacturer claim a sixth consecutive championship double last season.
Ducati has significantly closed the gap to Kawasaki since the introduction of the Panigale V4 R two years ago, coming within one point of the manufacturers' title in 2020, but neither Redding nor his predecessor Alvaro Bautista have been able to seriously threaten to dethrone six-time champion Rea.
This was also evident in the opening two rounds of the new season, as Redding struggled to finish on the podium in the Aragon curtain-raiser but appeared much closer to Rea’s pace at Estoril even as the Kawasaki rider extended his points lead with a double win.
Asked to explain why Ducati’s performance tends to fluctuate from race-to-race, Redding said its problems are compounded by a lack of rear grip at certain tracks.
“Mainly the rear grip seems to play a big part with our bike,” Redding explained. “If we don’t have rear grip, we seem to struggle a lot with braking, entry, exit, everywhere.
“I think with other manufacturers, [a lack of rear grip] maybe only hinders [them] on the exit. They can still stop the bike and make the line [through the corner].
“The big thing is we can’t stop the bike to make the line, and then we mess up the exit. From one problem we have the trail is three more issues and that’s why we have a problem.
“When it’s working quite well, it’s working quite well. When it’s not, it’s more difficult and this is probably our weak point. I know that’s where we struggle a bit more to always be consistent.”
The Ducati Panigale V4 R, closely related to the marque's MotoGP machinery, is the only bike on the WSBK grid with a V4 engine rather than the more conventional inline four configuration.
The Italian manufacturer also continues to use a single-sided swingarm, which adds to the weight of the bike and can create stiffness problems in comparison to the double-sided version used by Kawasaki.
“Maybe that’s just the weak point of our bike,” Redding said. “We have a single swinging arm, we have a V4 [engine]. It could be that that is the character [of the bike]
"So you could chase that for f***ing 20 years and never find the actual solution, whereas Kawasaki has got a package that is working and that’s why they don’t change. That's why they keep it very similar.
"They know they can win, they know their pace is going to be half a second a lap or more the next season. They have gold and they are not going to empty their gold pot to see if they can get bigger gold. So they stay on that line, and that’s why it is consistent.”
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