XtraPix: Ducati 1098R - First Look

Notes from the fast track.

XtraPix: Ducati 1098R - First Look

If your common sense tells you that an "R" version—with race-spec traction control—of the already-remarkable Ducati 1098 would be an extraordinary racetrack ride, congratulations: Your senses need no calibration. And when that track is an incredibly good one like the Circuit Jerez in Southern Spain—home of the second round of MotoGP—you have the makings of an epic new-model introduction.Ducati's $39,995 1098R uses the same Ducati Traction Control (DTC) electronic trickery as Casey Stoner's MotoGP ride to subdue the slides. Compared to the stock 1098, it also gets an extra 100cc and lightened engine internals. The result? An extra helping of broad big-Twin power and torque, as you might expect. With race kit fitted, you can strum the throttle cable and hear the Termignonis sing a 186-hp (and 102 ft.-lbs. of torque) tune. Adding to this concert of control and power is the STM slipper clutch and the communicativeness of the Öhlins TTX shock and fork, synced together in perfect harmony. The programmable race ECU provides a base beat, firing the cylinders perfectly.

With the forgiving amount of grip provided by Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa race rubber, I ended up turning faster lap times then I did during the 2006 MasterBike finals, heck even better then the 1:52.8 of last years’ winner, the MV Augusta R312.Over the course of that single day in Spain, I learned to let the electronics work for me. Even accounting for the stickiness of the new Bridgestones, the ability of the 1098R's eight-level DTC to relax me and improve my lap times was surprising, especially to an electro-neophyte like me. Am I ready for World Superbike?

The 1098R isn?t about top speed, but with 180+ horsepower it should be plenty fast.

If you?re ever going to slide a race-spec superbike, Turn 8 at Jerez is the best place to do it.

Move over Michel! Cernicky battles for control of a corner with Team Xerox Superbike rider Michel Fabrizio.

The 1098R soaks up some rays in front of Jerez?s media center.

Bombing down Jerez?s straightaway.

Author Cernicky wondering if Xerox can copy an entire motorcycle for him.

UFO-like media center is definitely unique to this Spanish circuit.