DIAL 999 FOR CON­TRO­VERSY

Classic Racer - - CLASSIC RACER DUCATI SUPERBIKE HISTORY -

Over nearly 10 years the 916 had been king of cool both on the race­track and on the street. Now well into a new cen­tury, Du­cati’s big challenge was to re­de­fine a model that was a cor­ner­stone of mo­tor­cy­cling’s cul­ture. The 999 was a brave at­tempt that failed to ig­nite the show­rooms but blew the world cham­pi­onship to pieces straight out of the box. Neil Hodg­son led a Du­cati slaugh­ter of the 2003 cham­pi­onship af­ter the ma­jor Ja­panese fac­to­ries had di­verted their ef­forts to the new Mo­togp class. Du­cati rid­ers filled nine of the top 10 points ta­ble, most of them on cus­tomer bikes.the fac­tory won the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle by nearly 300 points. James tose­land led a sim­i­lar tidal wave in 2004 but the Ja­panese fac­to­ries came back with a vengeance in 2005 and Du­cati lost its crown. Troy Bayliss re­turned in 2006 and wrote a Du­cati fairy­tale by win­ning the ti­tle back. Bayliss had now won ti­tles on two dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of Du­cati’s Su­per­bike. Un­for­tu­nately, the salesrooms told a dif­fer­ent story. De­spite pro­duc­ing the most er­gonomic, user-friendly Du­cati Su­per­bike, de­signer Pierre Terblanche was pil­lo­ried by diehard fans. They sim­ply hated the slabby, al­most Ferrari-car-like styling, the loss of the sin­gle-sided swingarm and the stacked head­lights. Yet many se­cretly ad­mit­ted that this was a much bet­ter bike than the 916.

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