Where do I start! I guess I will start with I couldn’t have done this without help from the following. Everyone at Ducati Indianapolis, Greg McDaniel, and Jared Burcham, without the help from all of you I could not have made this possible.
Bike: 2014 Ducati Panigale 1199 with 19K miles!
Tires: Dunlop Moto2 Slicks
Gear: Sedici Carbon Fiber Helmet, Ducati Gauntlet Gloves, Dainese leather jacket, Dainese leather pants, Alpinestars race boots, Front pitbull stand, Rear Ducati stand, and Tire warmers.
It started early in the morning at about 6:45am chilly and very foggy with set up of the pits. After gear check and the morning meeting, the novice group got together to go over some finer details of what you can and cannot do. Basically, no passing unless your bike is straight up and down on the straights, for the most part that left the only chance to pass mainly being on the straight coming out of turn 10.
First time also using slicks, which were very different feeling right from the start. As I lined up for my first session, my heartbeat was kicking into high gear as the rush of excitement and nervousness took over me. We took off and headed down the straight at a slow easy pace for that first lap. Coming into turn 1 wasn’t too bad as we were not going hot into that turn from the start, but as we got into turn 3 and I could notice the difference from street tires to slicks. The feeling of it move a little underneath me was expected, so I was cautious but didn’t think too hard. After all, it was the first lap of the first session and the ground was still damp and chilly.
Faster and Faster
After the temps seemed to rise later in the day, I began to run faster and faster as I got more and more used to the track and the tires. I continually fought with head shake coming out of turn 10 when I hit full throttle and used that quick shifter to its maximum potential and started to reach speeds of 100 plus. I got back to the pits and the techs helped me with my Ohlins damper being adjusted, and advice of needing to carry more speed through the turn so that when I hit full throttle I wasn’t doing wheelies as bad as earlier in the day! The minute changes in the damper made my bike seem like it was a new bike. I instantly had way easier turn in and better control under power. I took the advice from the guys and started carrying more speed out of turn 10 and no more head shake! It was a rush heading down the straight at speeds of up to 156 before I eased on the brembo front brakes and took the line heading into turn 1!
Every lap of every session I seemed to dial in a little better and become one with the Pani. It seemed every lap I was able to get more and more comfortable with one turn at a time. Eventually I would feel like I would have an almost perfect lap through every turn for my own pace. I was mindful of it being my first track day and did not want to push the bike or myself too hard, I learned a lot that day about both the capabilities of the bike and myself.
More Track Days Coming
All I can say is I am hooked! I can surely see a future of me doing many more track days and maybe one day having a dedicated track bike! For all the new riders or experienced riders who have not yet done a track day, all I can say is this, I have ridden street for 17 years, I have ridden all over, Hawaii, Ohio, Canada, Pennyslvania, Virginia, Tennesee, and so on. I went into this day as if I have never really had much experience. I was there to learn, and learn is what I did. It is truly a blessing to only have to worry about myself, my bike, and the line of which I am on, rather than adding to it the distractions of blind corners, and driveways along with oncoming traffic and intersections. I was able to learn about myself, and my bike so much sooner than I had done in the previous 17 years of riding on the streets.
I hope to see you all out there whether it be novice, intermediate, or advanced. It truly is an eye opening experience and you will learn so much about your bike, gear, and yourself!
On The Track
Article written by Bill Allred – iDesmo Vice-President