Carlos Checa says he has reason to be pleased with the Ducati 1199 Panigale's performance during testing at Motorland Aragon as the all-new machine went head-to-head with its prospective rivals for the first time.
Replacing the ultra-successful 1098R, which won WSBK titles in the hands of Troy Bayliss and Checa in 2008 and 2011, the 1199 Panigale has been under development for more than a year, but this was its debut outing in the presence of its rivals.
Going up against Aprilia, Kawasaki and Suzuki, the Panigale ran competitively on 17-inch Pirelli tyres and without the 6kg weight penalty applied to its predecessor during the 2012 season.
Though Checa suffered a set-back when bike locked up on the home straight and deposited oil on the circuit, the Spaniard was happy to set a best lap time of 1min 58.5secs, less than a second slower than pace setter Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki.
“My impression is positive. We're still a little way off in terms of times but we are here to work on the bike and try things out to better understand what is missing and what we need to go faster. This is all a normal part of development work. The 1199 Panigale is an extreme bike and the riding style needed is different too.
“We are at the start of the journey; we're still in the first phase and still have a lot of work ahead of us. The 17” tyres are working well once the track is up to temperature and conditions have allowed us to get a lot of laps in during yesterday and today – the data collected will be useful as we move forward.”
At almost a second slower than Checa, Davide Giugliano admits he didn't adapt to the Panigale quite so effectively, though he is certain progress will be made.
“We have tried many things over these last days and I am working hard to find my way with the new bike. The Aragon track is very different to Misano where we carried out the last tests and I've had a bit of trouble going from one to the other because of those differences. I would say that we can be satisfied with what we've got done here and we have a good base from which to progress.”
Neither Checa nor Giugliano have been formally confirmed as riding the Ducati 1199 Panigale in 2013, though an announcement detailing Ducati's WSBK plan is expected soon.