As you might have guessed, we’re pretty excited about riding the Ducati Desmosedici RR motorcycle at Misano next Tuesday, but just how close to a MotoGP motorcycle will it actually be?
We know it looks identical to last year’s Ducati Desmosedici GP6 race motorcycle, has exactly the same chassis layout and bodywork and the 190bhp Ducati V4 engine even has the same bore and stroke as the 989cc factory Ducati motorcycle.
MCN Senior Road Tester Michael Neeves rode the real Ducati MotoGP motorcycle after the final MotoGP race at Valencia last year, this is what he thinks:
"The thing that sticks most in my mind about riding Troy Corser’s Ducati GP6 was that it actually felt slow!
"I’d just come off Shinya Nakano’s ZX-RR Kawasaki and that was exactly as you’d imagine a Grand Prix motorcycle to be: cramped, light, quick-steering, stiff and terrifyingly fast. It was how I envisaged an old two-stroke 500 motorcycle must have been like. It had so much power it felt like it wanted to wheelie half way through a corner and was just as keen to mono-wheel on the change from fifth to sixth gear; I never felt like I had a hold of the reins.
"But the Ducati was completely different. The riding position was flatter and roomier; less like the bum-up-nose-down Kawasaki and more like a Ducati 999. It displayed the same trademark Ducati straight line and cornering stability at the expense of a tiny bit of agility and the heat coming off the engine and onto my hands was almost unbearable.
"Ducati engineers can change the power characteristics of the engine by dialling in different maps to the on-board computer. I’m sure they must have deleted the Bayliss map for some kind of wet-weather-extreme-pussy version for me. In the confines of the vast Valencia circuit, when accelerating in the lower gears it felt as docile as a road-going FireBlade and not scary like the Kawasaki at all. In the higher gears the electronics released their grip on the power delivery and I had small taste of what releasing 260bhp to the rear wheel was like at the end of the start/finish straight.
But here’s the thing, I was faster on the Ducati around Valencia than on any other of the GP bikes by a big margin. I can’t use 260bhp so they didn’t give me 260bhp. Ducati gave me what they thought I could handle and the bike did the rest – they’re clever like that, just ask Stoner.
The road going Ducati Desmosedici RR isn’t going to come with the sophisticated electronics package the Ducati MotoGP bike has. There’s no traction control, variable tickover control (depending on whether you’re entering a fast or slow corner) or anti-wheelie software. So with 200-plus bhp (with the race exhaust) the D16RR is probably likely to feel more powerful than the real thing in the lower gears when we ride it around Misano next Tuesday. Now that’s a mouth-watering prospect.
It’s unlikely to be an animal to ride, though, as the engine has a ‘long bang’ firing order, which should make it less frantic out of the corners than a traditional ‘screamer’ four-cylinder superbike like an R1. Add to that the immense grip offered by the specially developed Bridgestone BT-01R road tyres and an unflappable, confidence-inspiring chassis and the Ducati Desmosedici RR promises to be one hell of a bike.
Roll on next Tuesday…