MasterBike 2010: Ducati 1198S Corse

Associate Editor Mark Cernicky makes sure the Ducati 1198S Corse is still just as fast under a beautiful new paint scheme and earth rattling exhaust note. Tough work, but somebody has to do it.

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Too bad rainy weather ended our practice day early and kept me from testing the Ducati, MV Agusta and Yamaha. Thankfully, because of all the laps I'd already run, I was very familiar with the track. Plus, I've got lots of seat time on those machines.

I had to start off my timed laps cold on the Ducati 1198S Corse. Why? I wanted to make sure the other MasterBikers had nailed the setup.

The 1198S Corse offers lower bars and a more aggressive riding position than the other Twin—the KTM. This meant I was leaning off and sighting down the side of the special-edition Duc's graphics at the Pirelli front tire, DTC set to level 3 and working seamlessly. What incredible engineering art elevates the riding experience! Such a beautiful thing... But there were a couple of problems: When I transitioned the 1198S side to side in the backward baby Corkscrew—Turn 8 and Turn 9—there wasn't enough rebound damping and the rear felt like it was hopping off the ground, adding precious tenths to its lap time. Also, trying to get out of the wind on the back straight required my face to be down on the special factory-racer-style aluminum tank and a white-eyeball inspection of the steering damper while I watched for the red haze of the shift light on the inner curve of my faceshield.

On the other end of the straight, though, solid braking, a stable chassis and that booming engine on overrun (with a nice slipper clutch) made for audio-enhanced racetrack enjoyment. Sadly, footpeg position interfered with the Ducati's massive attainable lean angle and I ruined my boots—but I still enjoyed every tick of the 2:04.819 best lap.