Got to take the 790 to the track!
About a year ago I was bitten by the track day bug. I remember rolling through tech and telling the guy inspecting my bike that it was my first track day. His response “welcome to the addiction.”
Since then I’ve been going every 3-4 weeks. Luckily I live in southern California, so the weather is pretty decent year round. I have a 959 Panigale that is primarily used for the track. I can’t remember the last time I rode it on the street. It is an absolute weapon on the racetrack, and I LOVE that bike.
I took my 959 to Big Willow last weekend at Willow Springs International Raceway. Unfortunately the rain started to pick up, it was very windy, and barely 40 degrees. So many people were lowsiding at turns 1,3, and 5. I decided to call it quits after only two sessions.
I hate leaving the track on a bad note. I like to always finish my day with a solid lap, usually the last or second to last session of the day. I didn’t get that satisfaction last week, so I started looking for something over this past weekend. Lucky for me an organization was running at Buttonwillow in the clockwise configuration for Sunday and Monday. There was forecasted rain for Sunday, but not for Monday. I’m not a super fast rider (middle to quicker end of B group), and B group was sold out. I called to be placed on the wait group and to my surprise they ended up having room for me due to all the cancellations from anticipated rain. LUCKY ME!
I wanted to wait to take the 790 to the track until I wore the stock rubber out. I’m very particular about tires, especially on a cold potentially wet racetrack. My new Arrow pro race slip on had just arrived the day before, so I took it as a sign to just take it anyway. I figured the stock rubber would manage water better than the Q4’s on my 959.
Best. Decision. Ever. I had an absolute BLAST on the Duke! I had people coming up to me after nearly every session trying to either figure out what the **** they were just passed by, or to tell me how much they loved the bike. The first two sessions it was actually raining and the track was drenched. It was low 40 degree temps. I was running warmers with the stock tires at 32psi front / 30psi rear. I left it in race mode with anti wheelie off. I was still lifting the front under heavy throttle, and drifting out of turns under throttle. The crazy thing is it just felt so controlled. I felt extremely confident. Later in the day the sun came out and the track dried up. I was laying down some not too terrible lap times! The bike transitions with such ease and has more then adequate torque to power out of turns.
I cannot wait to get some stickier rubber (probably Q3+) and get this thing back on the track! If you haven’t tracked yours yet, you’re really missing out!
Hopefully my pics don’t end up posting upside down: