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Article posted: Friday, November 18, 2016

Review of a 959 Track bike at Barber Motorsports Park


The rider/writer of this article is a weekend warrior, winning 6-10

track day events a year and has done so for the past 4-5 years.

This is only his(my) second time at Barber and still has much to

learn about the track and riding in general. He has not raced as

of this writing and is not sponsored by any other entity beyond

the goodwill of a very understanding wife. He (I) am also an

avid street rider enjoying over 10,000 miles this past year on a

Multi-Strada and StreetFighter and has more to learn about

touring too. Having said all that, put me on two wheels and I

am in my element - experiencing total peace and clarity. Prior

to the 959 I have had an 848 and a SF1098 as my track

weapon of choice.

The Track - Barber

Barber is one of those special gifts in America that showcase all

that is good and right in the world. I liken the facility to being

the Pinehurst or Augusta National of Motorsports. Everything is

so well cared for and the people are amongst the most

welcoming you will find. Also sidebar - the friendships you

develop over the years at track days and within the

motorcycling community are some of the tightest bonds you will

have outside of family - enjoy them and take the time to have

them.

Barber’s 15-turn, 2.38 mile track does not disappoint. You enter

the track and after the blend line immediately go into a long

sweeping right hand turn 2 that initially climbs a hill and

descends toward the apex (turn 3) where it bottoms out and

immediately starts a hill climb toward a kink labeled turn 4. This

elevation shift at lean does to your stomach what mortals

experience on a roller coaster. As you follow riders up the hill

toward turn 4 kink - they begin to disappear in the distance

before you too - crest the hill in a right hand lean to make the

kink and head down the next straight before grabbing a whole

lot of brake for the slowest corner. Turn 5a,b and c is known as

Charlotte’s Web and can be seen as the turn that is watched

over by a giant steel spider sculpture. Roll on the gas and stay

middle track through turn 6 kink heading to turns 7-8 known as

the Museum Turn. (The first time I was told it was named

Museum turn I asked why. The coach stared at me and said,

“didn’t you see the big, giant museum on your left going through

that section housing a collection of over 1,500 motorcycles and

Lotus race cars?” Admittedly I did not…) Anyway, go through

it, give it the beans, upshift, upshift go through the Chicane that

is turns 9 and 10 - gas the back straight, more rollercoaster

experience ahead for turns 11, 12, 13, 14 while flicking it hard

left through 15 opening up the gas for the 1595’ front straight.

Don’t brake too early into 1, it’s faster than you think and do it

all over again!!

The Bike - 959 Panigale

First off - hello quick shifter!! Where have you been my whole

life? More about that later but dang. The 959 is an incredible

balance of flickable steering and Ducati twin power! The first

thing I had to retrain my brain for was how easy and quick it

dove into a turn. I did not need to muscle this bike at all which

meant I could brake later than ever before and the bike would

hold the line I put it on without a fight. This came in handy as I

screamed down the front straight almost running over a liter

bike who broke early and hard. In this instance, I had to take

turn 1 from the middle of the track. (something I had not done

before) and the Panigale dove in and held the line faster and

with more stability than I ever experienced before. In fact it did

not push me to the exit rumble strips which means I can give it

more gas next year - it was awesome!!

The turn in and the power worked in tandem with me which

translated to a power delivery system where we hit the power

band coming out of 15 and was able to motor past guys on the

front straight and still out braking them into turn 1.

The GP Shift Quick Shifter also allowed me some freedom I

have not experienced before. The electronics that keep the

bike stable, allowing me to pop up gears with extreme

smoothness meant I could go up through the gears right before

I crested the hill at kink 4 and I did not run out of acceleration

from Museum turn going from 2nd to 3rd to fourth gear heading

into the chicane of 9 and 10 keeping the throttle open heading

down the 1251’ back straight.

Also, speaking of electronics, the traction control set at level 4

did it’s job and prevented what could have been a high side for

me at the bottom of turn 2 and 3 as I got on the gas a little too

aggressively. The TC is not overbearing and other than that

instance where the back wheel broke very loose, I did not notice

it watching over me.

All in all - I am very happy with how this bike turned out and I

can’t wait for the 2017 track season to begin!! Thanks to Bill,

Matt, Tracy and the team at Indy Ducati for helping me put

together the weapon for the track I always wanted. 

Spending extra time and effort on mounting the armor bodies

paid off. Very solid body work and the bored out front scoops

look a lot meaner than standard!!!

Greg McDaniel

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