In the very first World Superbikes race of the season – at the Losail circuit in Qatar – the 2008 Ducati 1098 F08 WSBK racebike has sent a clear warning signal to the Japanese factories. The 1098 F08 took the first two places (Troy Bayliss, Max Biaggi) in the first race, and second and third places (Ruben Xaus, Max Biaggi) in the second race. What a way to start the season for Ducati!
Based on the US$47,000 homologation-special Ducati 1098R, the 1098 F08 racer is fitted with an 8-stage traction control system, and suspension, brakes, wheels, and slipper clutch from Ducati’s GP7 MotoGP machine. Controlled by sophisticated electronics, the 180-horsepower L-Twin Testastretta Evoluzione engine is mated to Ducati’s trellis frame, and as is apparent from the results, the 165kg package works very well indeed.
Ducati claim that the 1098R is the ‘most advanced, most powerful twin-cylinder motorcycle ever built, with the highest torque-to-weight ratio in the sportsbike category,’ and that is probably true. In 2009, we’ll perhaps be ready to see what the KTM RC8 can do, but till then (and maybe even after that…), the 1098R is certainly the king of twin-cylinder sportsbikes.
Like its even more expensive cousin – the US$100,000 Desmosedici RR – the 1098R also gets a healthy dose of MotoGP-tech. Apart from the advanced, race-spec traction control system, there’s the MotoGP-inspired digital instrumentation, the Ducati Data Analyser (DDA) system, the Brembo Monobloc brakes, and the best, most tunable suspension that Ohlins can make.
With the Ducati-supplied race kit (carbonfibre Termignoni exhaust, different ECU) fitted, the 1098R makes 186bhp – which should be just about enough for running down to the shops for a six-pack of beer. And on weekends, for winning a WSBK championship or two. Yeah, well, this is one Ducati you’ve got to love…
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