There’s little question that Ducati’s Panigale V4 has proven itself as the stand-out bike of 2018 and its success means we’re left wondering: if the basic Panigale V4 is that good, how amazing will 2019’s homologation special Panigale V4R be?

At the weekend the firm gave us a hint of an answer, wheeling out a race-spec prototype of the V4R at the British Superbike season finale at a soggy Brands Hatch for a couple of demo laps with test rider Michele Pirro at the helm.

This is the machine that Ducati hopes will bring it back to the top in WSB, with the existing V-twin Panigale ending its racing career at the close of 2018 as the only top-line Ducati superbike in the last 30 years not to bring home the championship trophy at least once. It’s a huge leap for Ducati, which is casting aside the twin-cylinder layout and the capacity advantage that superbike rules grant it in favour of a four-cylinder, sub-1000cc bike.

Of course, that sub-1000cc element is the part that most clearly sets the Panigale V4R aside from the mass-produced Panigale V4 and V4S models. While they buck traditional, race-mandated capacity classes by using an 1103cc motor, the V4R will need to bring that down to 1000cc or less to compete, with the change reflected in the 500 or more road-going models made to gain homologation.

Michele Pirro takes the 2019 BSB and WSBK Ducati Superbike for a run at Brands Hatch 2018