Ducati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF-R1M in the track test

Ducati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF-R1M in the track test

Crossplane row fours vs. 90 degree V2

Ducati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF-R1M are not only the basis of the superbike factory racers. With their sophisticated technology, they also form the top of their series. Who is ahead in the track test on the Rijeka racetrack??

The sun burns mercilessly from the cloudless sky, the thermometer shows an oppressive 40 degrees. A track temperature of 60 degrees makes the air shimmer with the heat. Usually you look for cooling in the quarry pond or under trees in the beer garden. But not today. Not when with D.ucati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF-R1M, two of the sharpest superbike weapons, are ready to exchange blows and the Rijeka track is empty. There are two machines that their builders pulled out all the stops to arm them for one purpose: to win on the racetrack. 

Ducati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF-R1M in the track test

Crossplane row fours vs. 90 degree V2

Panigale R – a GPS-supported recording. With the victory in the prestigious eight hours of Suzuka, the R1M has already set its first fragrance brand. And next year she should take the Superbike World Championship crown.

Ducati Panigale R has to be satisfied with 1199 cm³ in conformity with the World Cup

Ducati is already trying to do this season with the current Panigale R. Without displacement designation. In contrast to the Panigale 1299 sisters, it has to be happy with the World Cup compliant displacement of 1199 cm³. And it does this with an extremely short-stroke motor with a huge 112 mm bore and a stroke of just 60.8 mm. A technical delicacy that basically comes from the noble distiller Superleggera. Although he has to be content with conventional housing screws and exhaust valves – on the Superleggera these parts are made of titanium – titanium intake valves and the crankshaft balanced with tungsten weights also adorn the Ducati Panigale R. A comparison with its predecessor from 12.5 to 13.2: 1 increased compression and sharper camshafts lift the power to a brutal 198 hp. Which means practically a tie with the Yamaha YZF-R1M.

However, the Twin Ducati Panigale R delivers this power with a rather four-cylinder power curve. Up to 7000 rpm, torque and power take a siesta. Then the power curve snaps steeply upwards, reaches its zenith at a breathtaking 11,900 rpm and at the same time delivers a nice performance plateau from 11,000 rpm and thus over-rev reserve, which is not absolutely necessary and saves one or the other gear change before bends. Quite certain: The coordination with the torque lull in the first half of the engine speed is due to the road approval. In the race trim with an open exhaust system and matching mapping, the torque valley should be flooded with massive Newton meters.

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Christian Kellner, our man for the really fast laps

But here and now the series machines are at the start. And with them ex-Supersport World Championship driver Christian Kellner, or “Kelle” for short, our man for the very fast laps that are driven at the end of the day on the Metzeler Racetech RR in the K2 racing mix. For the run-in, the two are soled with RR in the harder, street-legal K3 compound. Which means that racing grip is already available for rolling. The Yamaha YZF-R1M bends its pilot into a very racing-like stance. Knees more bent, the upper body must bend deeply towards the handlebars. The Ducati Panigale R carries its driver more relaxed. The handlebars are wider, the knees and upper body are slightly less strongly angled. 

On the bumpy, but unbelievably grippy and super-fast course, the V2 first and foremost sets itself in the limelight with smack. From the 7000 mark he greedily hangs on the gas, gets down to business like a jackhammer, whips through the rev range, and the storm only subsides a little from 11,000 rpm. The spread between third and fourth gear in connection with said torque valley proves to be somewhat unfortunate on this road. In the meandering section of the middle section of the route, the Ducati Panigale R turns too high in third gear, but in fourth it just sticks to the 7000 mark and takes a little while until it starts unleashed. The Duc is not a quiet stepper, not even mechanically. The high-compression twin hammers hard and aggressively.

Duc’s spring elements matched as hard as a bone

Despite this fiery performance there is still no enthusiasm. It is true that the Ducati Panigale R, inspired by its sensationally low weight of 188 kilograms, prances lightly through the combination of curves, sticks into corners with surgical precision and, with its stable chassis, encourages unbelievable cornering speed. But only as long as the asphalt is level. And it is by no means in Rijeka, but interspersed with veritable waves and patches. Powerful bumps lurk in the long, fast right to the start / finish. The front of the Duc chatters indistinctly over it. Full sails over it? Better not. With the shower fully open, firing the Duc through the left-right change onto the home straight is only something for die-hard people who consider a strong handlebar twitch for a joyful dance of the machine. The suspension elements of the Duc are tuned as hard as a bone and bring a lot of unrest to the chassis at racing speed on the patchwork quilt. So let’s go to the box and work on the setup.

And the Yamaha? Her sonorous, growling crossplane four-cylinder purrs comfortably when rolling in, while the R1M plunges into the tumult of corners. It doesn’t hit the hook as jaggedly as the Ducati, but works diligently and playfully towards the asphalt. How willing she is to implement steering commands in an inclined position is a show. The Yamaha YZF-R1M has a free choice of lines. In addition, it offers more feel for the front wheel than the Ducati Panigale R even in the deepest lean angles. But the hit is the semi-active chassis. In addition to three permanently adjustable setups, three automatically acting suspension settings are available, which can be refined individually. The sportiest one worked excellently on the undulating course after only minimal adjustments.

Four cylinder of the Yamaha YZF-R1M turns fiery high

The nasty bumps in the long right after start / finish? Like ironed away. Fire full power through the alternating curve at the lowest point of the route and over the subsequent crest onto the back straight? No problem. The chassis makes it easy for the driver to use the engine’s power freely. The four-cylinder revs up fiery, sets from 11,000 / min, when the variable intake funnels switch to short intake paths and the sound gets an angry undertone, another briquette and turns quickly up to 14,000 / min. The somewhat hard throttle response is also noticeable on the Yamaha YZF-R1M, but is not as important on the fast, fluid course as it is on tracks with narrow corners, such as the Lausitzring.

If the Ducati’s traction control is already working really well, even though it does allow one or the other slide on the rear wheel, the Yamaha electronic helpers, including the wheelie control, are even finer and more polished. And because the semi-active chassis does its job well, and the Yamaha YZF-R1M maltreats the tires significantly less than the Ducati, the setup search is quickly over. This leaves enough time to concentrate on the Ducati Panigale R. The damper screws are opened and closed, the rear is raised and lowered again, and the springs are released and tensioned again. It is not possible to bring complete calm into the chassis, but with the spring elements set to be quite soft, it is then ready for the racing skins and the time hunt.

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Braking the Duc simply a force

Kelle starts with the Yamaha YZF-R1M. Already after the first lap you can literally see that he feels comfortable on the Yamaha, so properly he throws it into the corners. The stopwatch reports a respectable 1.37.0 min when the ladle rolls onto the pits. He raves about the partially active chassis, the simple line selection and the ingenious electronics. “Only the brakes could grip more heartily the first time it was applied and could still take a bit of bite and crispness,” is his only criticism, in addition to the somewhat restless tail when braking. Then the Ducati Panigale R climbs into the ring: What can the red diva do against it? With a brute roar, he storms the home straight, shoots with great speed into the braking zone, which has a slight right bend and some bumps, and then dives into the following left bend. The Yamaha era is not yet falling.

But with the last lap he cracks the Yamaha YZF-R1M, the stopwatch reports 1.36.7 min. To the amazement of everyone. “With the Ducati, I can brake much later and harder,” explains Kelle in the pits. The brakes of the Ducati Panigale R are simply a force, the rear is calmer. In addition, the Panigale’s automatic gearshift, unlike that of the R1M, also enables downshifting without the clutch. “But the Duc is still not really calm when accelerating,” Kelle snorts. The recording underpins his statements. At the end of the back straight and start / finish his braking points are later, the speed at the corner entrance is higher. “I can take it at a higher speed in long, flat corners,” he explains. The Panigale R cannot really exploit this advantage here.

Almost identical lap times

With the Yamaha, on the other hand, Kelle accelerates violently at or even before the vertex, tearing the Yamaha YZF-R1M through the chicanes with full sails, making it up to ten km / h faster at the beginning of the back and home straight , which the Ducati Panigale R with its powerful tearing twin only catches up again at the braking point. The bottom line is that the lap times are almost identical.

"Goal", Kelle puts it on record at the end, "On the Ducati Panigale R it is more strenuous despite the great handling, on the Yamaha YZF-R1M, on the other hand, I can drive this speed for laps." The unsteady chassis still requires a lot of gripping. In the long run an exhausting affair. While this pace is comparatively relaxed and easier to walk on the Yamaha. So there is almost a stalemate on the stopwatch. Their characters are just as different as their engine concepts.

Technical specifications


In Rijeka, both the crossplane row quad of the Yamaha YZF-R1M and the 90 degree V2 of the Ducati Panigale R are allowed to make a lot of noise.



Performance chart.

Little bottle below, full bottle above. The V2 and in-line four-wheelers present themselves as engines with a racing set-up that consider the first half of the speed range to be negligible. Only from 7000 rpm – the area relevant to the race track – things really take off. Their full performance potential – even in the middle speed range – should both probably only develop with free airways and an open exhaust system. Whereby the large-volume V2 of the Ducati Panigale R with its clearly oversquare bore-stroke ratio suffers more than the four of the Yamaha YZF-R1M from the clogged road configuration.

Driver and route


The two long straights that you drive very quickly into are easy to see. The top speed of both was almost 270 km / h.


Christian waiter.

Former World Championship pilot Christian Kellner is our man for fast laps. In Rijeka he was particularly impressed by the qualities of the Ducati Panigale R on the brakes and the simplicity of speeding on the Yamaha YZF-R1M. Rijeka is as fast as it is demanding. For drivers and chassis alike. The grip of the Automotodrom Grobnik, www.grobnik.hr, is enormous. But also some of the bumps. Grand Prix were held on the 4.2 kilometer long slope with its 22 meter difference in altitude until 1990.  



Ducati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF-R1M

Ducati Panigale R

Your engine is a beast, with a broad plateau of peak performance. Handling and braking are brilliant. There is enormous potential in it for fast lap times. Uncovering it, however, requires a knowledgeable hand. The Ducati Panigale R is an uncompromising racing machine for experienced racers.

Yamaha YZF-R1M

The strengths of the Yamaha YZF-R1M are its chassis including semi-active suspension and its electronic helpers. A powerful, sophisticated package with which even hobby racers can get fast. And it’s around 10,000 euros cheaper than the Ducati Panigale R..

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