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May 20, 2019

​MotoAmerica Superbike: Kyle Wyman Testing New Advanced Electronics On Ducati V4 At PittRace

Kyle Wyman (33) on his Ducati Panigale V4 R Superbike at VIRginia International Raceway. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

MotoAmerica Superbike racer/team owner Kyle Wyman is testing a new Magneti Marelli advanced electronic system on his Lucas Oil/KWR Ducati Panigale V4 R today and tomorrow at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, in Wampum, Pennsylvania, and so far things are going about as well as Wyman could have imagined.

“We spent all day on track with zero hiccups, no down time,” Wyman told Roadracingworld.com in a telephone interview Monday. “Everything has gone off exactly how we wanted it to.”

It did, however, take a significant amount of time, preparation, networking, and assistance for Wyman and his team to enjoy a trouble-free first day on track with the new electronics.

Immediately after Wyman chose to race at Ducati Panigalve V4 R in 2019 he established contact with Ducati Corse and began communicating with Paulo Ciabatti, the Sporting Director of Ducati Corse.

“I’ve been feeling the love from all around,” said Wyman. “We got the electronics on the Tuesday after COTA [April 16]. I had ordered them a while back and was trying to find time to install them and get them up and running. Unfortunately, it was three events before we could do that.

“I found out shortly after [meeting with Ciabatti and Gigi Dall’Inga, Ducati Corse’s General Manager] at COTA that Ducati was going to try to send an engineer to help me. I was like, ‘Oh, sweet! I wonder what that’s going to cost.’ But Ducati North America helped get him over here.”

This past weekend, Wyman, his crew chief Gary Dean, and his electronics technician Darrin Marshall met up at the Wyman family workshop in western New York, and Ducati electronics engineer Fausto Ghafar flew in to meet them.

“Fausto works full-time for the Barni Racing team in World Superbike. So he’s a Ducati Corse employee and he’s contracted to work with Michael Rinaldi,” said Wyman. “Gary and Darin spent all day Saturday getting it about 95% there. Then Fausto came in and all day Sunday we finished up stuff. They had to program everything and set up all the strategies and all that.”

And after spending $16,754 on the electronics kit, Wyman said he found the installation to be relatively pain-free.

“The thing that’s really cool is it shows up and for the most part, 90-95% of it is like this goes here, that goes there, boom, boom, boom. You just bolt it on,” said Wyman. “I hate the term ‘plug-and-play,’ but it’s a kit system. It’s not like we have to get a wiring harness made. There’s part numbers for everything on the bike. They’ve done such a good job developing the package, so it makes sense.”

On Monday, Wyman shared PittRace’s North Course with the Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS), with whom he normally serves as an instructor, but this time it was an educational experience for the man who normally does the teaching.

“For me it’s a huge learning curve understanding what I can ask for versus what I can’t and how to approach things and think about the bike as a whole unit. Because I’ve never ridden on anything like this. It’s always been kit stuff, kit ECUs,” said Wyman. “Working with Darrin, he’s got so much experience in this realm. He just brings a different approach.

“It’s amazing to me what electronics can do for you compared to what I thought it can do. As a whole the ceiling becomes so high. The outright lap time maybe doesn’t get that much better, but your ability to be consistent does because the bike becomes easier to ride. That’s really what we’re going to gain.

“I think also today was so good for me to just go out and do laps and be by myself because there’s no timing and scoring, no people, no nothing. I can just go out and get to know the bike, and that’s something I haven’t got to do until today. So that’s been one of the most valuable things.

“It’s been a weird day for me because I feel like I’ve been a rider today [as opposed to being a rider/team owner/team manager]. I go over and I want to tell [Marshall] it’s doing this here and that there, but he already knows what it’s doing from looking at the data. So I just wait until they have something new for me to try. It’s been kind of nice.

“I sat there a little bit and watched what they were doing [within the system], making changes and stuff. The sophistication plus the intuitiveness of the Ducati software is pretty impressive with what you can do in a short amount of time.

“And they can simulate a change before they do it! And then they can look at the data of what you’re about to do before you send the bike out on the track. It’s pretty crazy, but apparently that’s something they have at Yoshimura Suzuki and Yamaha, as well. Pretty unreal.”

Because Wyman only rode on half of the PittRace course normally used by MotoAmerica, his lap times today were irrelevant, but he did record one interesting number while doing practice starts.

“They run data for practice starts,” said Wyman. “So I guess I went 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 2.7 seconds, and the record of all the V4 Rs around the world is 2.6 seconds. So I’ve got the starts pretty good. And that’s with a stock motor, so I’ll get the 0.1-second when I put in the Superbike motor, but at this point the motor’s not our weakest link.”

Wyman said he will get the opportunity to ride on the full MotoAmerica course for half a day on Tuesday, when he and his team continue to test.

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