DUCATI ENDURANCE RACERS
Ducati’s beautiful racers-with-lights were thrashed for 24 hours to prove V-twin technology could survive and to improve bikes for road riders
The story of Bologna V-twin development in three Montjuic 24-hour race winners
Ducati has always based its sports bike sales on racing success – and often in classes that road riders could most relate to. From the 1950s until World Superbikes came along in the late 1980s, endurance racing was the big driver of road bike sales. These long-distance marathons became weekend parties for fans and a huge marketing opportunity for the factories. One of the most glamorous and exciting was Spain’s 24 Hours of Montjuic, held on a road circuit created in a wooded park overlooking Barcelona’s harbour.
In the 1950s and ’60s Ducati had relied on its range of single-cylinder models to win races. When the 1970s rolled around, the factory tweaked this technology into a range of bevel-drive V-twin machines. Following that, in the 1980s, smaller but more powerful and nimble models continued Ducati’s winning ways. The common link was that the lessons learnt from competing in long-distance events were used to develop the production models. Racing was all about research and development.
Here we look at three milestone motorcycles that won the challenging Montjuic classic in 1975, 1980 and ’84. Many features on these racers were copied by road riders in both decades. No wonder there’s something about an endurance racer that stirs the blood.