At Ducati since 2002, Alessandro Valia is an Official Ducati Test Rider for models in production
in Borgo Panigale. Having had a career in Superbike, he knows the racing world well. While the need to always push the envelope is part of his DNA, his profession requires a certain level of sensitivity and understanding of more technical languages. His testing activity of the 1299 Superleggera provided an unexpected experience that enabled him to appreciate the full power of the limited edition that, with its cutting-edge technology, perfectly expresses the Quintessence of Ducati.
What were your impressions of the 1299 Superleggera during your first test run?
My first time with the beast (that's what I call it when we are together) was at Mugello. Just out of the pit I understood that it was something out of the ordinary, clearly built for performance, with a very proud attitude, almost brazen, in every aspect of the ride - it accelerates, brakes deep into corners, bends, and reverses direction like no other motorcycle in production.
What did you focus on when developing the 1299 Superleggera?
We primarily concentrated on a challenge: instil very advanced technology and outstanding performance in a bike that was approved for road use. The result has been undoubtedly positive.
Did you ever think that a bike approved for road use could achieve such a level of performance?
If they had told me a few years ago I wouldn't have believed it. The first real racing bike that I rode was the 999SBK F03, on which I debuted as a test rider, and I can say with certainty that the 1299 Superleggera is second to none.
What is the most impressive feature of this bike?
If the 215 hp desmodromic EURO 4 engine on the 1299 Superleggera is the most powerful standard twin-cylinder ever produced and represents Ducati's maximum technology,
the chassis, thanks to the use of carbon fibre - the most exclusive materials ever used in a standard production motorcycle - turns out to be even more extraordinary, making the 1299 Superleggera even more agile than Chaz's SBK.
How does such extensive use of carbon fibre affect handling?
The use of so much carbon has helped to further reduce the weight, but the lower inertia of the wheels had an even greater influence on handling: changes of direction are lightning fast and the braking amazingly powerful.
What kind of performance can the 1285 cc Superquadro engine of the 1299 offer?
It is the ultimate expression of the Ducati twin-cylinder. Normally when you are searching for horsepower you lose something in terms of torque, but the 1299 Superleggera is the exception that proves the rule.
What role does electronics play in improving the riding experience of this bike?
The electronics is what has made it possible for us to make a bike having this level of performance, ensuring a unique riding experience. This also thanks to the controls derived from motorcycles competing in MotoGP and WSBK championships, like Dynamic Stability Control or Ducati Slide Control (DSC), which, thanks to the 6-axis inertial platform (IMU), allows the rider to go beyond mechanics limits. Furthermore, ABS Cornering helps modulate the incredible braking power also in the turns.
How can the 1299 Superleggera be compared to a racing bike?
The only feasible comparison is with the Panigale R that competes in the World Superbike Championship. The DNA is the same, as is the dynamic behaviour. If you remove the number plate, the turn indicators and the lights, it would certainly not be out of place in a world competition.
What does it feel like to push the envelope on a bike made of carbon fibre and with a 215 hp engine?
Riding on the track, pushing the limits is my job. As a professional it is hard to impress me, but the 1299 Superleggera has managed to do so: the engine, brakes, chassis and electronics together represent the state of the art when it comes to technology.
Does the Racing exhaust change the performance of the bike and the riding experience?
With the exhaust open, the 1299 Superleggera is transformed into a true racing bike. The power in the mid-range grows enormously: we're talking about 15 hp more at 7000 rpm! The power delivery becomes even more substantial and the sound gives you goosebumps, from the moment you turn it on to when you run it at 12,000 rpm. For those who have the opportunity to see it on the track I suggest procuring a good set of ear plugs...