A 4.30am alarm call signalled the start of my journey to the International press launch of the new Ducati SuperSport. It was half term so the fairly light holiday traffic on the M4 was soon followed by the chaos of the airport terminal. Breakfast was skipped to avoid queues for the morning fry-up, only to sit on the tarmac for an hour as planes waited their turn to fly to one of the four corners. Oh the glamour of travel.
Soon the journey was forgotten as we touched down in Seville, the host City for the press launch. A short journey in to the centre of Seville and we found ourselves located down a small side street lined by orange trees which would become our base for the next 2 days.
There was time for a quick 40 winks to catch up on the lack of sleep before we gathered in the hotel foyer for a short walk to the venue for the press conference and dinner. The venue was the eye-catching Metropol Parasol, known locally as Las Setas (The Mushrooms) due to the structure’s appearance.
Some scrumptious tapas and a stunning vista of Seville at sunset was a welcome prelude to the press conference. A slick presentation from the Paolo Quattrino (SuperSport Project manager) and Giuseppe Caprara (Project engineer) furnished the journalists with all the information they required. A sumptuous dinner followed with anticipation heightened for the ride tomorrow.
The next morning we boarded a coach for Monteblanco, a 4.4km circuit which would be our base for the day. Unfortunately as we moved further from Seville the skies darkened and rain fell persistently – it didn’t look good.
The journalists were split into two groups, with the mainly Italian group out on the road first and the Brits out on track. Some of the Italian riders didn’t fancy the wet ride as many had not come prepared with waterproofs. Some of the hardy Brits took advantage of the spare bikes and the chance to ride on road first. For the rest of the Brits they had to sit and wait for the weather to clear up a bit.
After about an hour Beppe Gualini, the man in charge of the road and track test, gave the ok and the riders were out on track with the added confidence of full wets. For many riding on wets was a first and soon they were revelling in the handling and performance of the new SuperSport. Slowly the track dried and the sun came out to enable the riders to enjoy the bike to its full potential.
After lunch it was time to swap over. The rain was now coming down heavier than ever and it seemed that the Brits had got the best of the deal as the rain would not delay their road ride while the Italians had to sit around and kick their tyres.
Typically as the day drew to a close the skies turned blue and the sun came out to give enough time for some final flying laps. On the journey back we tried not to torture ourselves with our weather apps that forecast sunshine and 21 degrees for the rest week.
As usual we had a de-brief over dinner and a few beers. The bike was unanimously praised for its versatility, comfort, performance and handling. Ducati had achieved what it intended to do which was to produce a bike that was as happy on the road as it was on the track and would be a versatile as they had claimed. Ducati had even provided some ‘real-world’ UK riding conditions!
To read what the press thought click on the side links.