Panigale V4 production began on November 15, 2017, and with it a new era for Ducati. While a small batch of MotoGP-replica Desmosedici RRs were available upon request more than a decade ago, the Panigale V4 is the first V-4-powered Ducati to reach full-scale production, replacing the V-twin Panigale 1299.

Although the Panigale V4 is the result of a superb engineering project born from the current MotoGP racebike, many at Borgo Panigale kept their fingers crossed that day and for many to follow, knowing perfectly well that motorcyclists are a conservative bunch and the mighty V-twins had generated a strong following.

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Make mine a V4: Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo poses with one of the first production examples of Ducati's new superbike.Courtesy of Ducati

Besides the fact that the Panigale V4 was replacing Ducati’s hottest-performing and most desirable twin, the latest superbike was heading for an even bigger bump in the road: shrinking sportbike sales. But the Panigale V4 is off to a fantastic start, with more than 500 units already delivered in Europe. Now distribution has begun in other major markets.

Ducati is capitalizing on the image of “Italian exclusivity” that it nurtured with such determination via a sequence of top-class models. Add astonishing performance and you have an instant two-wheel Ferrari. For some, that alone is enough to establish the brand’s supremacy within the most exclusive segment of the superbike market.

To celebrate this successful start, five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo visited the Panigale V4 assembly line, posing while turning wrenches on a partially completed machine. A week later, he turned a different wrench, the throttle of his new GP17, smashing the lap record at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit during preseason testing.