So, we've finally got to see the Ducati Desmosedici RR - and it doesn't disappoint. But while it's the first MotoGP-based road bike to be shown in public it still might not be the first to actually go on sale.
There's a good reason Ducati didn't take the RR for a demo lap around the Mugello circuit last week; it doesn't actually run yet. And it's got another 12 months of intensive development ahead of it before the eager buyers who've put their names down will actually take delivery of their bikes.
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That's a long time, and you can be certain Ducati isn't the only company to have entertained the idea of capitalising on the publicity of MotoGP with a road going replica. Honda, for instance, has developed a road version of the V5 RCV. It hasn't been shown yet, and maybe it never will be, but it's been hammering around Honda's test tracks in Japan for more than two years already.
That puts the Japanese firm well ahead of Ducati in the development stakes. Now we just have to pray Honda's top brass takes the plunge and signs the cheque to turn it from a prototype into a production machine.
Ducati's proof of intent could help make that happen. Honda considers its road bikes to be synonymous with its race effort, and pride alone might be enough to prompt it to turn its road-going RCV into a production reality. The fact Ducati has already taken 300 orders and plans to make 400 Desmosedici RRs every year will help, too - if there's a market for that many £37,000 Ducatis, how many road-going GP bikes could Honda sell?
As I understand it, there are two factions within the Honda camp. One is campaigning for the road going GP bike to go into production to prove just what they're capable of. The other wants to concentrate on winning WSB and boosting FireBlade sales, and sees a V5 as merely a distraction, with the potential to be a money-loser like the lovely but ill-fated NR750. If the Desmosedici RR looks set to be a success, it's got to boost the chances of the pro-RCV faction winning the battle.
But Honda could even be thinking further ahead. After all, by the time you can take delivery of the Ducati, real MotoGP bikes will be 800cc rather than 990cc. And Honda has been a key factor in that regulation change. The firm is said to have been testing an 800cc race bike for many months, so how about a road version developed in parallel? I certainly wouldn't bet against it...