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Ducati, the Italian bike with a sporting soul that beat the Japanese
There was no better way to celebrate 80 years of history. Even though success actually arrived one year after the anniversary, the 2007 season has been a memorable one for Ducati , the sporting motorbike Italian company founded in 1926. Its GP7 model, driven by Casey Stoner, triumphed in the MotoGP World Championship in all three categories (riders, constructors and teams), interrupting 33 years of an unbeaten run of victories by Japanese giants. Its triumph was even more impressive considering that Ducati has started to compete at the highest level of motorbike racing only five seasons ago, in 2003. But the relationship between the Italian team and sporting competitions is long established: its has been a contender in the Superbike category for many years and has won 14 times in the last 17 editions of this world championship.
Sporting inspiration has always been a strong feature of Ducati bikes, as Claudio Domenicali – managing director of Ducati Corse and general director for products in Ducati Motor Holding. “Our added value – he explains – can be resumed in two concepts: sportsmanship and instinctiveness. A direct relationship has been established for many years now between our racing activities and our products’ development, which retain a sporting edge”. Ducati offers a wide range of models in various segments of the market, differentiated by technical specifications, design and target consumer: Superbike, Desmosedici RR, Monster, Multistrada, SportClassic e Hypermotard. Sold in over 60 nations, Ducati bikes are particularly popular in Europe, North America and Japan. They offer a high performances and technological content, and are set apart from the competition thanks to some unique design features such as the “desmodromic” valve timing system, their lattice frame and their distinguishing ‘sound’.
Desmotromic valve timing refers to the exclusive system, developed by the Ducati engineer Fabio Taglioni, that operates both movements (opening and closing) of the valves that inject and extract fuel used in some four-stroke combustion engines. Taglioni had the merit to put into practise and develop for production a system of valve control that had been introduced in motorbike racing in the 50s. The word "desmodromic" is derived from two Greek roots, desmos (controlled, linked) and dromos (course, track). The system is not very common (only Ducati uses it for mass production) because most manufacturers prefer to use a spring system to close the valves. The advantage of the desmodromic system is that it allows to reach higher engine revs without having to use a pneumatic valve system, a complex and extremely expensive technology derived from Formula 1.
As far as the lattice frame is concerned, it is a common feature of all Ducati bikes: built with high resistance tubular steel, it guarantees the maximum rigidity and great directional control. The ‘sound’ of the two-cylinder engine, coupled with those of the exhaust pipes is another trademark of these Italian motorbikes: the roar of a Ducati is unmistakable for enthusiasts. Design is also a distinguishing feature: every Ducati combines motoring technology with the Italian taste for all things beautiful. “We pay extremely high attention to design feature: our customers, paradoxically, are looking first and foremost for an exclusive and eye-catching object, and secondly for a high performance bike”, admits Mr Domenicali. “Our products reward and captivate our overseas clients, especially those from Japan and the US: they choose us because for them buying a Ducati is like having a little piece of Italy”.
These are premises on which the company must build its future development, says Mr Domenicali. “In the next few years we will confirm our strategic vision, i.e. continuing to build sporting motorbikes. Our product range will evolve to match developments in market trends and our models will be thoroughly refreshed”, he assures.