Lamborghini and Ducati – two brands, two synonyms for high performance and unique design. Their north Italian home plays host to a meeting of superlatives: the Lamborghini Aventador and the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Supercar meets superbike. The two brands’ chief test drivers quickly discover the similarities between their technical worlds: performance, lightweight construction – and a passion for the unusual.
A crowd of people and two high-performance machines at the market square in Rivabella, Emilia Romagna. Passers-by surround the Lamborghini Aventador1 and the Ducati Panigale. The two models are among the most extreme street-legal vehicles engineers have ever put on wheels.
Only a few meters away, two young Italians talk shop over an espresso. “How long do you need to change gears?” asks Giorgio Sanna. “50 milliseconds”, replies Alessandro Valia. “50 milliseconds? Same for us. Then it’s a tie”, says Giorgio with a grin. The two are deep in discussion and bat technical jargon back and forth across the table.
Both are chief test drivers: Giorgio Sanna for Lamborghini and Alessandro Valia for Ducati. Lamborghini’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese and Ducati’s base in the Panigale district of Bologna are only 20 minutes’ drive away from each other. The region is affectionately called “Terra dei Motori”, or “Motor Valley” by the Italians. If you ask Giorgio and Alessandro what is so special about their car and bike-crazy homeland, the answer comes like a shot: “Passione” – passion! Both brands live this passion under the Audi umbrella. A fitting match. No one has to explain Audi’s “Vorsprung durch Technik” philosophy to its Italian subsidiaries.
There is a long list of technical similarities between the supercar and the superbike. “Both vehicles have their weight concentrated as centrally as possible, with the engine as close to the ground as it can go”, explains the Lamborghini test driver. Another shared interest is lightweight construction. “Our engineers fight for every gram”, says Alessandro. “In the Panigale, for example, the airbox doubles as part of the chassis.” Giorgio tells him of the Aventador’s carbon-fiber monocoque, which Lamborghini experts developed together with aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
“Both vehicles have their weight concentrated as centrally as possible, with the engine as close to the ground as it can go.”
“Our engineers fight for
“This motorcycle works like a computer”, says Giorgio approvingly of the Ducati with its sophisticated electronic controls. Even the Panigale’s throttle is no longer mechanical – it is digital, just like in an airplane. The engines of the sports car and the motorcycle both unite formidable power and vanguard technology with an incomparable sound. The strapping twelve-cylinder mid-engine has been a part of Lamborghini’s DNA since the legendary Miura. The exceptionally efficient two-cylinder engine, with four valves per cylinder and no valve springs, is an integral part of the Ducati legend. Looking ahead, both brands face the challenge of making their drivetrains even more efficient and lowering emissions even further, without compromising their original character – a task the companies’ engineers are now cooperating on.
The time has come for Giorgio and Alessandro to get going. There are some more test miles on their schedules for today. Would they ever swap vehicles for a test drive? It’s clear that the two professional drivers are itching to do just that. “Next time for sure.” After all, cooperation in the “Motor Valley” is set to become even closer in the future.
PHOTOGRAPHER Peter Vann
1 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 515 kW, fuel consumption in l/100km: urban 24.7/ extra-urban 10.7/combined 16.0; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 370.