The first Ducati in my life wasn’t exactly mine – it belonged to my brother Jim who surprised us all by bringing one of these lil beauties home in 1959.
A 200cc Ducati – this one is the Elite but the one Jim had was more akin to the Scrambler.
To be honest my mates and I weren’t exactly impressed. Being steeped as we were in heavyweight British ‘exotica’ such as BSA Rocket Goldstars – Velocettes and Triumph Bonnevilles the tiny Ducati just didn’t cut the mustard in our gang back then.
I had to wait until the late eighties before I had my own Duke – the GT860 bevel drive camshaft model. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it either due to a noisy top-end and soon sold it on. Just in time because I understand it rattled itself to near death in the new owner’s hands pretty soon after he got it home to Arbroath.
Here she is on the roadside by Loch Lubnaig – part of a collection of roads I considered to be my own private race track.
After that ‘near miss’ I managed to steer clear of Ducatis until 1995 when I rashly bought one of these.
Mine was the last of the Corse 888 family and was the full Monty race version! Bored out to the maximum at 926cc – she came with about six sets of bodywork – two race motors and a shed full of lightweight wheels. In fact it was the full package as raced by the late David Jeffries in MCN British Superbikes in 1994.
Things didn’t entirely go to plan after I bought her but such is racing. No worries – I did get one race out of her and that was the Daytona 200 with a young up-and-coming Neil Hodgson aboard. Neil managed a 5th in the Twins race and a creditable 12th in the Daytona 200 itself which was won by Carl Fogarty’s arch-enemy – Scott Russel who managed to kick Neil into the kitty-litter. Youtube is still showing the ’95 Daytona 200 and of course Neil can be seen struggling to get my Duke back on track at the first corner after coming down off the scary 50 degree concrete banking .
I managed to come out of that little flirtation with a beautiful Ducati unscathed too as IRTA – the MotoGP organisers of the day paid all my expenses and I was doubly fortunate that Scania Trucks paid me top dollar when they bought my 888 for one of their sponsored riders. Didn’t do Neil any harm either as he went on to earn a full Works ride with Ducati and actually won the World Superbike Championship a few years later.
As they say in all the best storybooks – ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’.
A-ahhh – almost forgot – there was another Ducati in my life – the white 848\
Here I am trying it for size at the old Grobnik GP circuit near Rijeka – Croatia around 2008 – but that’s another story all of it’s own.