Ducati is synonymous with the very finest high-performance motorcycles in existence. Founded in the mid-1920s, it would be another 25 years before they made their first ‘motorcycle’, very much a motorised bicycle. Splitting the company into two in 1953 separated the bikes from the electronics and enabled a much more efficient build process. The company’s factory was modernised and production increased to 120 bikes per day.
In the 1960s, the Ducati name earned its place in history with the launch of the Mach 1, the fastest 250cc road bike available at the time. It withdrew from factory-backed motorsport when the company became state-owned in 1950, however, it continued to develop performance road and specifically developed race bikes to be fiercely campaigned by privateer entrants.
Best known for their high-performance four-stroke 90* V-twin engines with a desmodromic valve design, allowing for more radical profiling and significantly reducing the loss of power through valve-float, providing a more uniform performance curve and a greater level of reliability.
Unfortunately, rule exclusions and a lack of budget to develop a competitive two-stroke engine meant for a 30-year stay of absence for Ducati from top-flyte MotoGP; instead, they focused on the World Superbike Championship in which their competitive exploits were highly revered. Rule changes in MotoGP in the early 2000s provided the ideal opportunity for Ducati to race competitively once more with their v-twin, with the series giving a huge advantage to the larger capacity bikes. Knowing their existing v-twin would need hugely aggressive bore/stroke and rev limits to produce the power needed to be competitive, they instead developed a v4, in essence, a pair of v-twin engines.
Evolving their patented desmodromic valve setup, the V4 and it’s sixteen valves lead to the ‘Desmosedici’ nomenclature, which is still in use today.
Troy Bayliss started riding and racing for Ducati in 1998 after a successful wildcard entry the previous year at the Australian Superbike GP where he placed 6th on a significantly underpowered bike. He won his first race in 1998 and took the title the following year. Bayliss would compete in the AMA Superbike Championship for Ducati in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
With the rule changes in MotoGP coming in to play for the 2003 season, Bayliss and teammate Loris Capirossi made the transition to the all-new V4 P3 bike. Bayliss having traditionally raced with the number #21 found the number taken after his move to MotoGP and instead chose to reverse #21 and race with #12. The pair had a sensational debut season with the Desmosedici given a very different bike from previous years. Loris and Troy finish 4th and 6th in the riders’ series with Ducati placing 2nd in the manufacturer's championship.
The very start of MotoGP history, this bike is GP3TB1, the GP3 referring to the season, 2003- this is the very first GP model. This prefix is still in play today too, this season running the GP21. Only the bikes from the first few years of Ducati in MotoGP can be easily run by a privateer without expensive start-up and running procedures.
Chassis number GP3TB1 can be found on the bike itself in the form of a tamper-proof metal sticker on the frame; show bikes built by Ducati did not feature this sticker. The sticker was only applied when the bikes were built up and ready to race. This along with the stickers applied before the race, certifies the bike has competition history.
There were 2 bikes for each rider at each race, with this being Troy Bayliss’ primary bike. This bike can be dated to the early half of 2003, as the frame design changed slightly halfway through the season with the square engine mount on the side of the frame changing to a round design later in the season. Today there are no more than 12 GP3 series bikes in existence.
Fully functional, this bike has received a comprehensive engine and gearbox overhaul and today is ready to parade. The bike today is fitted with iron brake discs but is of course accompanied by its original carbon brake discs.
Very much the motorbike equivalent of purchased a Ferrari Formula 1 car, this top-level ex-works Ducati prototype race bike from the first year of Ducati’s competition in MotoGP presents a fantastic opportunity to acquire a unique piece of motorsport history. It is currently on-site with us at our showrooms outside London, available to view immediately.
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