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technology & future
Ducati’s new Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine
Ducati’s new Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine
Beginning of a new era
Ducati presents its new V4 Desmo engine. With the purest MotoGP technology, but a full 1103 cm³ displacement, it should drive the competition into the ground. At the same time, the first pictures of the Panigale V4 appear online.
Posed shortly before the Misano Grand Prix, on Thursday 7 September 2017 Ducati his new V4 engine. At 12 noon, everyone in the company met in the Ducati Hospitality to usher in a new era: the V4 engine known as the “Desmosedici stradale”, which is more powerful than the usual V2 and it is a sporty top -Will replace the brand’s aggregate. In November 2017 he will celebrate his debut in the “Panigale V4” in a motorbike for sale.
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Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati test driver Michele Pirro and race director Gigi dall’Igna sat in the front row, while Loris Capirossi joined the spectators further back, who had once celebrated his first MotoGP successes with the Ducati Desmosedici. There was a reason why so many racing celebrities were eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the new engine: there has probably never been a production engine that has been so consistently adopted from racing and has so many of the technical features that the MotoGP engine has recognized for years make the most powerful and best engine in its class.
And of course Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali was in great shape in his enthusiasm when he explained the new project. “We are specialists in the manufacture of V2 engines, and there is a lot of discussion about why we are now going for a V4. There are pros and cons, as with anything. But we will take you on a little journey that will show you what we had in mind when we made this decision, ”the Italian began. “I can say without hesitation that we have the best V2 series engine for racing, with a very long development history that led to the Superleggera, a unique product. We were able to get very high performance out of this engine. To do this, however, the engine had to be equipped with a large bore of 116 mm. We tried to keep the stroke moderate, but it too is considerable. In other words, despite all efforts to keep it compact, the engine has gotten long and tall. If you try to increase the performance further, the engine will get even bigger. But when you design an engine that is supposed to make driving a pleasure, you are not designing the engine alone, but the whole package, with the chassis. And that’s exactly what became a problem with the V2. “
“On the other hand,” continues Domenicali, “we had this incredible, unique experience in the MotoGP class, where Loris Capirossi took pole position in Barcelona in the first year of 2003. We had created this new platform, the V4 engine. On the one hand, we were faced with the difficulty of further improving the V2 engine, lifting it to an even higher level and making it still suitable for the chassis with its larger dimensions and maintaining good handling. But we had this unique experience in the MotoGP class, which is why we finally decided to use the V4 as the basis for a production engine. “
This approach is typically Ducati unconventional, and is just as unconventional and radically new in the sports motorcycle sector as the high performance of the unit is produced. “The performance of the bike comes from the bore, which is 81mm, which is exactly the limit of the MotoGP class. According to the regulations, 81 mm is the maximum for the bore in order to limit the performance in a certain way. If you limit the bore, you limit the maximum speed and thus the limit in engine development. We decided to use the same bore, so in the end thermodynamic solutions such as intake, valve train and exhaust ports were very, very similar to those of Gigi dall’Igna’s MotoGP engine, ”lectured Domenicali. “But there are differences. We wanted an engine that not only had the characteristics of a racing engine, but was also suitable for use on public roads. That is why we increased the stroke and with it the displacement, which for the first time grew from 1000 to 1100 cm³. As a result, we got an engine with a very linear torque curve that is not only very sporty, but also very easy to drive on normal roads. “
But according to Domenicali, this does not stop there. One year later, in 2019, an “R” version of the new 1000 cc bike will be available, which will form the basis for the Superbike World Championship. “This means we will have two engine versions in the future. One is the basic version for all sports production motorcycles, and then we have the one-liter engine that follows a year later and forms the basis for the Superbike World Championship. It will be a much more extreme engine, much more geared towards racing, ”said Domenicali.
The “basic engine” already has two thoroughbred racing features: “For the first time in this class, the engine will have a crankshaft rotating backwards. It’s very common in MotoGP technology, but it’s by no means common in production engines. Of course, when you have an extra gear you have to sacrifice some horsepower. But you have a big advantage with the flywheels because the crankshaft rotates in the opposite direction to the wheels. When accelerating, the tendency to wheelies is partially offset by the backward rotating crankshaft. “
The second important feature of the engine is the firing order, which is exactly the same as that of the MotoGP racing version. “The crank pins of the crankshaft are offset by 70 degrees, and that creates an ignition sequence that we call ‘Twin Pulse’. The advantage of this somewhat less symmetrical firing order: The engine becomes a mix between four and two-cylinder, in terms of the way in which the peak torque is transmitted to the rear wheel. When we started in the 800 cc era in 2007, we decided to abandon this firing order and drove the ‘Screamer’ in 2007, 2008 and 2009. We had a little more power, but the bike was much more difficult to ride. We have been using this ‘Twin Pulse’ firing order since 2010 because we knew we would have advantages in terms of traction. Now our customers get exactly the same benefit. “
In order to achieve the flat torque curve, the engine has a variable intake control that adapts the length of the intake tract to the respective speed. Domenicali saved the highlight for last. “Because it’s a Ducati engine, the engine naturally has a desmodromic valve train,” he beamed. “The Desmodromic makes it possible to control the timing very precisely, whereby the advantages become more apparent the higher the engine turns. The engine’s peak output is 13,000 rpm, the speed limiter kicks in at 14,500 rpm. And that’s where our desmodromic is a really big advantage. “
Of course, the biggest advantage lies in the MotoGP engine, where the revs are even higher. “But we are the only manufacturer who races with exactly the same system that we sell to our customers. Many others rely on pneumatic valve trains in racing, but they are not suitable for series production. So they have to make compromises. We are not. We pass on the advantages of the desmodromic system, which enables speeds of well over 17,000 rpm in racing, to our customers. “
Like everything else, the backward rotating crankshaft, the firing order, the V-angle of the engine, would be based on the vehicle concept as a whole. “If we had only wanted to build a high-performance engine, we would have made different choices here and there. But the idea from the beginning was to design a balanced product that would be called the Panigale V4. “
The technology comes from a MotoGP racing engine, but is designed for a long service life. “The service intervals for the valve train will be 24,000 kilometers, for example. We and our engineers saw it as our responsibility to ensure a very long service life. This gives us an engine that is inspired by the racing engine, but whose individual components are designed to be extremely durable. “
Nonetheless, the new engine exudes that air of the racetrack, in every respect. For the inevitable tests of the longevity of the new unit, Ducati test pilot Michele Pirro, for example, set as fast a lap as possible in Mugello, which was later simulated using the data recorded and repeated a thousand times on the test bench, day and night.
“It was a special moment for all of us when this engine was started for the first time, as if a newborn baby had seen the light of day. At some point we will be producing electric motors. But now we have this exciting engine to enjoy life. ”The day before, he and his people from the development team had been in Vallelunga and had been riding the new bike all day. “And I promise: It will be a unique experience. It’s like driving a twin that revs over 14,000 rpm. With this torque curve, this motor is unlike any other on the market. We worked very hard to create a very flat torque curve, with more than 120 Nm between 8700 and 12,200 rpm. That’s what our drivers want, they don’t ask about top performance, but how flat the torque curve is and how smoothly the power starts. Much of this engine is geared towards this smooth driving behavior in order to be driver-friendly. ”This will also be thanks to highly developed electronics. “We have already incorporated a lot of the electronics development from the MotoGP class into the current Panigale. It makes sense that this development will be continued with the new Panigale V4, ”explains Gigi dall’Igna.
But Ducati is not just about a strong and user-friendly customer machine, but above all about racing. “A compact V4 gives you more freedom with the chassis than a large V2,” explains Gigi dall’Igna. The engine can be moved back and forth more easily in the chassis, if necessary, for example, more weight can be put on the front wheel. This makes the V4 ideal for future superbike use.
Of course, its origin is even more decisive. It has already happened in the past that roadworthy superbikes were built for homologation so that they could later compete in the Superbike World Championship at a high level. Modified superbikes have also been featured in MotoGP. But the reverse process of selling a thoroughbred MotoGP engine as a street version and then letting go of the Superbike World Championship has never existed before.
And as Domenicali emphasized: All other manufacturers have to upgrade from pneumatic valve control to conventional valve springs for street versions. Ducati, on the other hand, uses the desmodromic and wants to come up with superior speeds and superior performance in the Superbike World Cup from 2019.
The competition, that much is certain, can already dress warmly.
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