But, nothing prepares you for what follows after the bike is fired up. Of course, the noise is typically Ducati; it’s loud, unrefined and it fails to settle into a rhythm. Surprisingly, when seated the Panigale feels quite manageable, almost comfortable even. Now don’t get me wrong, the seating ergonomics is properly racy; it has a hard seat, low-set handlebars and footpegs that are properly rearset and high. But, the handlebar is wide and the footpegs positioning isn't ridiculously intense that has your knees touching your ears.
Most of all though, the Panigale feels light and nimble when on the move. One can amble around on it without struggle or pain and there’s decent grunt in the mid range even below 6000rpm to keep riding interesting. Also, the throttle is light and smooth and even though it’s very alert in its response, it’s not jerky. But, get the rev counter to push past 7000rpm and the Panigale begins to show its true colours.
Exiting onto the back straight at Sepang, I opened the throttle a tad early, and a whole lot more than I should have, laying complete trust in the bike’s electronics. And, as expected the computer ensured there wasn’t any dramatic slide under power, just a twitch. Mind it, I was riding in the Sport mode. In Race mode, with much less electronic interference, I would have certainly highsided bad enough to break a few things... including the bike. There's also a Wet mode by the way, which cuts the power down quite dramatically and is absolutely no fun.
Getting back to the corner exit, as the bike straightened up it shot ahead with such inexplicable force that all I could do was to hang on to the bars. And, it wasn’t easy, not with the front end rising. Soon enough though, without much of my help, the Ducati had sorted itself and was back on two wheels, but charging ahead relentlessly. The last time I dared looked down before hunting for a braking marker; I was fl ying past 230kmph. Not sure exactly where I should be braking, I misjudged, and left it a little too late.
It was time again to lay faith in the bike as I squeezed the brake lever as hard as I dared only to realise later, I had come on the brakes way sooner than I could have. And that’s the thing with the Panigale; it's blindingly fast but it doesn’t bite you. There’s no abruptness to it and it is so capable that you always fi nd something in reserve to bail you out from a situation you thought was completely lost.