Ducati Racing: Heritage & History

A Ducati Story

With the unveiling of some new superbike machinery, most notably the 1199 Panigale, and the signing of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi to the MotoGP team, the Italian manufacturer Ducati began yet another legendary trek in its long history.

And what a lengthy history Ducati has; founded by brothers Adriano, Bruno and Marcello Cavalieri Ducati in July of 1926, Ducati first made its name producing radio transmitters.

By the start of World War II, the company employed 7000 employees and had expanded its range of products to include electric razors, intercoms, calculating machines, cameras and movie cameras.

In 1946, as Italy tried to get back on the road after the war, Ducati was commencing the manufacture of its first engine – the Cucciolo (Italian for ‘puppy’) four-stroke moped motor, used to power bicycles.

Following is a time line of the major highlights in Ducati history from 1950 to present.

1950 – 50cc Cucciolo establishes 12 speed records.

1951 – 100cc Cucciolo establishes 24-hour speed and endurance records.

1954 – Ducati’s most renowned engineer, Fabio Taglioni, starts work with the factory.

1956 – Taglioni-designed desmodromic 125 single wins non-championship Swedish GP with Gianni Degli Antoni. With the same bike, Alessandro Artusi scores Ducati’s first World Championship points with fifth place at the Nations GP at Monza, putting him 16th in the World Championship.

1958 – Ducati’s first GP victory (125cc). Alberto Gandossi wins the 125 Belgium GP at Spa-Francorhamps on July 6th 1958. Gandossi and Bruno Spaggiari win two further GPs to take second place in the 125 riders’ and manufacturers’ World Championships.

1960 – Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood scores Ducati’s first 250 World Championship points, riding an inline 250 desmo twin.

1965 – Taglioni designs inline non-desmo four-cylinder 125, but the bike is never raced.

1971 – Ducati’s first premier-class GP racer and first V-twin takes to the tracks. Briton Phil Read scores the 500 GP’s first World Championship points at Monza.

1972 – Ducati scores its most famous early success when Paul Smart rides a GT750 desmo V-twin to victory in the Imola 200.

1973 – Ducati 860 desmo V-twin wins the Barcelona 24 Hours with riders Benjamin Grau and Salvador Canellas.

1978 – Former World Champion Mike Hailwood wins fairytale Isle Man TT comeback aboard a 900SS F1 special, securing Ducati’s first World Championship crown. In the States, future World Champion Freddie Spencer rides a 900SS to third in the Daytona 200.

1981 – Ducati scores the first of four successive Formula 2 World Championships, with Tony Rutter riding a 600cc Pantah TT2.

1987 – Former 500 World Champion Marco Lucchinelli scores the first success of Ducati’s new era, riding the all-new eight-valve V-twin 851 to victory in the Daytona Battle of the Twins. This bike, with Massimo Bordi-designed engine, is the forerunner of the legendary 916.

1988 – Lucchinelli and the 851 win the first round of the inaugural World Superbike Championship at Donington Park, finishing the season fifth overall.

1990 – Raymond Roche takes Ducati’s first World Superbike crown aboard the 134 horsepower Ducati 888. American Doug Polen continues the factory’s domination of the series with victory in the ’91 and ’92 championships. The following year Polen scores Ducati’s first US Superbike title success.

1994 – Ducati unleashes the 916 that wins the Superbike title at its first attempt, with Carl Fogarty. The Briton repeats the feat the following year, with Troy Corser securing a title hat-trick for Ducati in 1996.

1998 – Fogarty takes his third Superbike title aboard the 996 and backs it up with a fourth crown in 1999, the year in which all factory racing activities were incorporated in Ducati Corse under one roof.

2001 – Australian Troy Bayliss secures the marque’s ninth World Superbike riders’ crown with the 996 Testastretta. In May Ducati announces its decision to participate in the new MotoGP World Championship.

2002 – Bayliss leads the World Superbike Championship, finishing the year a close second, before starting testing of the Desmosedici MotoGP bike, alongside new team-mate Loris Capirossi. The V4 makes its public debut at November’s season-ending Valencia MotoGP event, and breaks its first lap record the following month at Jerez, Spain.

2003 – Capirossi and Bayliss have a sensational debut season with the Desmosedici, the Italian finishing on the podium in the bike’s first race and taking its debut victory at the Catalan GP. Ducati takes second in the constructors’, Loris and Troy finish fourth and sixth in the riders’ series. Hodgson dominates World Superbike with the all-new 999 to take the riders’ title and, together with Xaus, clinch Ducati’s 12th manufacturers’ crown.

2004 – 24 year-old James Toseland becomes the youngest ever World Superbike champion as he powers the 999 to its second successive title success. Team-mate Régis Laconi finishes runner-up to ensure Ducati’s 13th manufacturers’ title.

Youngster Lorenzo Lanzi campaigns a 749 in Ducati’s return to World Supersport, finishing a creditable fifth overall. Capirossi and Bayliss complete a difficult MotoGP season on a high note by taking podium finishes, thus demonstrating the worth of the Desmosedici MotoGP project.

2005 – Capirossi campaigns the Desmosedici for a third successive year, scoring spectacular back-to-back wins in the latter half of the season. Team-mate Carlos Checa scores two podiums towards the end of the year.

Toseland and Laconi win races in the World Superbike Championship but are unable to challenge for the title, while a new star is born in Italian Lorenzo Lanzi, who takes a third factory 999 to two wins in the final races of the season.

Ducati Corse is also officially involved on a third front, the Italian manufacturer a strong contender in the American AMA Superbike series, taking several race wins during the season with Neil Hodgson and Eric Bostrom.

2006 – Capirossi again spearheads Ducati’s attack in one of the most exciting MotoGP championships in history. The Italian wins three races and takes eight podiums to finish his best season with the Italian factory in third overall.

It is a difficult year for team-mate Sete Gibernau who triggers a spectacular crash at the start of the Catalan GP which spoils his season. Bayliss returns to World Superbike with Ducati Corse and caps a superb year by winning his second world title, five years on from his 2001 victory.

The 37-year-old Australian goes on to write another remarkable chapter in Ducati’s history by winning the final round of the MotoGP championship at Valencia after being called in to replace injured Gibernau.

2007 – Ducati’s first MotoGP World Titles. Capirossi is joined by new team-mate Casey Stoner who dominates the inaugural 800cc MotoGP campaign, winning first time out on the new Desmosedici GP7.

After that the young Australian took other nine wins, four further podium finished and scored five pole positions. On September 23rd, in Japan, Capirossi won his first race of the season and Stoner secured Ducati’s first MotoGP World Championship becoming the second youngest premier-class World Champion, after American legend Freddie Spencer.

Two weeks later the stunning one-two scored by Stoner and Capirossi at Phillip Island, secured the constructors’ World Championship for the Borgo-Panigale-based squad, the first non-Japanese manufacturer to win the premier-class constructors’ title since 1973, when MV Agusta were champions.

After the end of the 2007 Championship 25 year old Italian Melandri has joined the Australian in the Ducati Marlboro Team. Team Ducati Xerox riders Troy Bayliss and Lorenzo Lanzi competed in the World Superbike championship to finish the season fourth and seventh respectively, with a string of podium places for Bayliss. There was also victory for Ducati Xerox Junior Team rider Niccolò Canepa who with six podium finishes took the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup title.

2008 – The second best ever season for Ducati in the MotoGP class, a year in which Casey Stoner finished second in the Riders classification and Ducati second in the Constructors classification, despite the difficulties experienced all season by the Australian rider’s team-mate Marco Melandri.

Stoner opened the championship with a great victory at the first GP to be held at night in Qatar but then due to a series of problems he lost ground until the Ducati technicians found a new solution while working on the GP8 during the test that followed the Barcelona GP.

Three consecutive wins followed, in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, before two falls at Brno and Misano, as well as the reappearance of an old fracture to his left wrist, put an end to Casey’s chances of defending his title.

The end of Stoner’s season picked up with two podiums and two convincing victories, in Australia and at Valencia, which meant that he finished the 2008 season as vice-champion, with the highest point score in GP history, and Ducati as the manufacturer with the most wins in the 800cc class, with 17 victories over 36 races.

The day after the Valencia GP, and immediately before undergoing surgery on his fractured scaphoid, Casey was on track for the first winter test session with his new team-mate, 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden.

In his final year before retiring from the World Superbike scene, Troy Bayliss dominated the championship, powering his to victory eleven times throughout the scene, to claim his third world title, his second with the, and the fifteenth Superbike manufacturers title for Ducati.

Taking the title this year aboard the Ducati 1098 F08, Bayliss has now won three world championships on three different evolutions of Ducati Superbike. Bayliss’ team-mate Michel Fabrizio finished the championship in eighth position, with a collection of seven podium finishes to his name.

In the Superstock 1000 Cup, the Ducati Xerox Junior Team rider Brendan Roberts took a win in the final round at Portimao, his third win of the season, to take the title, the second consecutive title for the Ducati Xerox Junior Team in that category.

2009 – In 2009 Ducati is again involved in the fight for the MotoGP title, in a season that is characterized by both successes and difficult moments. Nicky Hayden is Casey Stoner’s new team-mate, sharing with him a common language, a similar childhood on the dirt tracks and the glory of a MotoGP World Championship title, won by the American in 2006.

The first race, at nighttime in Qatar, is postponed for 24-hours due to torrential rain and then dominated for the third consecutive year by Stoner. Hayden, who fell in qualifying, finishes 12th.

It is the start of a year of improvement for Hayden who, with determination and hard graft, continues to pick up pace before reaching the podium at Indianapolis and closing the season positively.

In the final test session of the year at Valencia he is consistently one of the fastest five riders on track and will be back on board with Casey Stoner to face the 2010 championship with renewed enthusiasm and confidence.

The Australian rider, after the success of the opening race and his first podium at Jerez with Ducati, also awards the Italian manufacturer with its first ever win at Mugello. Stoner seems ready to battle it out until the end against Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who together are the four riders that demonstrate a superiority over the rest of the pack throughout the 2009 season.

Unfortunately for Casey, he is hindered by a physical problem that forces him to sit out three races mid-season, missing the Brno, Indianapolis and Misano GP rounds. It is a very difficult decision for the Australian, which eliminates his chances of winning the title but he is able to return for the Portuguese GP in October, back in shape and ready to demonstrate once more his full potential on board the GP9.

Stoner steps onto the podium at Estoril and then wins the next two races in Australian and Malaysia. In Valencia he is extremely fast but then falls in the warm-up lap prior to the race, thus losing third position in the overall standings. Casey concludes 2009 in fourth position but knows he has regained his speed and physical strength.

In the post-race testing at Valencia he appears to be very much at ease with the innovations introduced by Filippo Preziosi and Ducati’s technicians for the GP10 bike. In 2009, Noriyuki Haga, riding with the Ducati Xerox Team for the first time, is successful right from the offset, with an immediate win on board his Ducati 1198 in the opening race of the season at Phillip Island.

This victory is followed by seven further race wins, including double wins at Valencia and Kyalami, and a total of nineteen podiums scored throughout the season. Haga’s win at the penultimate round of Magny-Cours awards the Ducati factory squad its sixteenth manufacturers title in this championship.

The fight for the riders title however went down to the wire, with Noriyuki heading to the final track of the season, Portimao, just ten points ahead of second placed man Ben Spies on the Yamaha. The spectators are treated to two spectacular races in Portugal, the first of which is won by Spies and the second by Fabrizio, with Noriyuki crashing out of race 1 and finishing second in race 2, thus losing out on the 2009 World Superbike riders title by just six points to Yamaha’s Spies.

At the end of his second season with the Ducati Xerox Team, Michel Fabrizio closes the championship in third position overall, with 382 points, having achieved three race wins at Monza, Imola and Portimao and a total of 15 podiums during the year.

In the Superstock 1000 class, the Ducati Xerox Junior Team celebrates winning both the constructors and riders titles for the third consecutive year, this time with the young Belgian rider Xavier Simeon on board the Ducati 1198. Of the ten races, Simeon wins five and finishes second in five, the best set of results ever recorded in the Superstock 1000 category and a fitting end to the Ducati Xerox Junior Team’s four-year history.

2010 – Armed with a new big-bang motor in the Desmosedici GP10, Stoner qualifies on pole for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, only to crash out of the lead during the race.

The Aussie struggles through the early rounds before making a breakthrough and collecting five consecutive podium finishes, at Assen, Catalunya, the Sachsenring, Laguna Seca, and the Czech Republic.

Another crash-this one at Indianapolis-only temporarily halts Casey’s momentum, and he finally lands his first victory of the season two races later, at the inaugural Motorland Aragon race.

The event serves as a breakthrough for Stoner, his crew, and the entire Ducati team, and another victory follows at the Motegi round, site of Casey’s 2007 world title. Although a crash puts him out of the Sepang event, this only temporarily halts Stoner’s progress, as he scores a popular win at his home Grand Prix for the fourth time in a row.

Estoril is marred by another crash, but Casey finishes out on a positive note by leading for much of Valencia’s season finale before eventually settling for a runner-up result. Stoner closes out the year-and a successful tenure with Ducati-with fourth place in the final points standings.

Meanwhile, Hayden makes a big step forward in his second year with Ducati, immediately and consistently challenging for the podium. The hardworking American finishes fourth at each of the first three rounds, crashes out at Mugello, and once again takes fourth in Grand Prix racing’s return to Great Britain’s Silverstone Circuit.

A challenging stretch follows, but Nicky finally notches his first podium finish of the year at Aragon, thanks to an inspired last-lap pass on points-leader Jorge Lorenzo. Although that will prove to be the high point of his season in terms of race results, Hayden shows several more signs of progress in the final rounds, running near the front at the season finale in Valencia before crashing out in the early going.

His position in the final points standings is seventh-a significant improvement over his debut year with Ducati.

The 2010 season proves to be a difficult one for Ducati Xerox in World Superbike, with Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio ending the year sixth and eighth, respectively, in the points standings.

The year isn’t without its highlights, however, as Haga scores victories at Valencia and the Nurburgring, while Fabrizio does likewise at Kyalami. Between the two men, the squad collects a total of twelve podium finishes.

Partway through the season, Ducati announces that starting in 2011, it will limit its participation in Superbike to the supply of machines and support to private teams, in order to increase technological content in future production models.

2011 – The dream of millions of MotoGP motorcycle racing fans worldwide became reality in early January when Rossi made the offical move to Ducati.

The nine-time (including 125cc GP, 250cc GP, 500cc GP and MotoGP) World Champion Valentino Rossi made his first official appearance as a Ducati Team motorcyle rider on Jan. 11, 2011 at the annual WROOM preseason media event in the Italian Alps.

The italian superstar Rossi moved to the iconic Italian motorcycle racing team after the 2010 MotoGP season and will pair with American MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden. Rossi spent the last seven seasons racing with Yamaha, winning four world motorcycle titles.

Carlos Checa also takes his first World Superbike Championship aboard the Ducati 1198.

2012 – Ducati releases the 1199 Panigale, which is used in the World Superbike Superstock Championship. A few riders also use the 1199 in the Isle of Man TT.