Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali Interview

Engineer-turned-corporate leader explains philosophy behind new V-4 Desmosedici Stradale engine

claudio domenicali poses with desmosedici stradale engine
Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali.Courtesy of Ducati

"It's not usual that we launch a production engine on a race weekend," admitted Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali. "But the MotoGP paddock is the best place to launch this new engine that, for the first time, will give our customers the feeling to ride a motorcycle very similar to the prototype Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, and Michele Pirro ride on circuits around the world. This is the idea behind the V-4."

The Desmosedici Stradale marks a new milestone, but for Ducati, continuity and innovation go hand in hand. “Style, sophistication, and performance are Ducati’s three guidelines that have remained untouched throughout the years and still remain the same,” Domenicali said at the engine’s unveiling this past Thursday at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

"The choice to invest in such an important project is to reaffirm the importance of the performance in the extreme high-performance supersport bikes that remain a niche in terms of sales but are iconic for the brand and the link between racing bikes and streetbikes like the Monster, Multistrada, or Scrambler that our customers can use every day.

“Ducati’s philosophy doesn’t change, but the presence and the commitment in MotoGP has also influenced the development. With the new V-4, our customers can follow the trend of the brand. We were born with two-cylinder engines. Joining MotoGP 13 years ago marked a discontinuity.

ducati desmosedici stradale and desmosedici gp engines
Ducati Desmosedici Stradale and Desmosedici GP.Courtesy of Ducati

“The work on the V-4 has been so intense and so hard that it becomes normal to bring the know-how developed in racing to a streetbike. In terms of racing, we were born with the Superbike and then came the commitment in MotoGP that is crucial. With the Desmosedici Stradale, the importance of MotoGP is reflected in a production bike available for our customers at a reasonable price but with the same technology.”

The project, which features a 90-degree vee, Desmodromic valve control, a reverse-rotating crankshaft, and “Twin Pulse” firing sequence, is the direct heir of the Desmosedici GP17 that is currently leading the world championship with Dovizioso.

“We are specialists in the production of two-cylinder motorcycles,” continued Domenicali. “The V-twin has always been in the DNA of our supersport models, but if you want to increase performance in the future, build the best engine concept, then you hit the limits of the V-twin.

“On the other hand, we had experience and success in MotoGP with the development focused on the Desmosedici V-4 engine. The result? Bring the MotoGP experience to our customers. The bore is 81mm, same as the Desmosedici GP. The stroke is 53.5mm, longer than the Desmosedici GP engine, so the displacement is 1103cc.”

desmosedici stradale v-4 engine
Desmosedici Stradale V-4 Engine.Courtesy of Ducati

When did you start thinking about designing a V-4 engine? “Probably four years ago,” Domenicali replied. “Once you launch a new model in the market, it’s time to think to the next challenge. This is what we did after the launch of the Panigale. When you want to do something different it takes time. The big advantage of the V-4 is a compact engine, so you can keep the bike short with more load on the front.”

In terms of weight, is the V-4 lighter than the V-twin? "Weight was a key factor when we started the project," Domenicali explained. "We have actually different types of V-twins. So if we compare to the Multistrada or the Monster, the V-4 of the Desmosedici Stradale is much lighter. If we compare with the engine of the Superleggera, the new V-4 is heavier."

And while the 1103 Panigale V-4 will be delivered to customers in March, 2018, the Superbike version with 1000cc as the R-model will reach the market in 2019. “The 1000 will be the basis for our Superbike world championship,’” Domenicali said. “The engine is already on the dyno.”

What about the chassis? “The chassis of the Desmosedici Stradale will be more similar to the current Panigale,” Domenicali replied. “MotoGP, in fact, is a place where you need to change things quickly and development is constant, so it cannot be a reference for a production machine.”

ducati team pose with desmosedici stradale engine
CEO Claudio Domenicali, Michele Pirro, Andrea Dovizioso, and Jorge Lorenzo.Courtesy of Ducati

Asked if the new V-4 can be the basis for other Ducati models, Domenicali said, “It is a pure sport engine.”

About the MotoGP championship, Domenicali said, “We really want the title.” The early season bet was all on Lorenzo but a flower has blossomed on the other side of the garage. “I admit that at the beginning this was a surprise,” he added. “But I have to say that from Motorland Aragon last year we started to see a transformation in Dovizioso. Andrea was in tune with the bike, had a different determination that, together with the constant development of the machine, brought these results.”

Can Dovizioso, who is winning and earns 10 times less than Lorenzo, change the balance in the team? “In the end, it’s the team that wins,” Domenicali said. “Jorge is doing a very good job giving indications that helped Gigi Dall’Igna understand better some weak points of our bikes. Jorge benefits from this development but also Dovizioso, so it’s teamwork.”

Learn more about the Desmosedici Stradale V-4 Engine: