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You wouldn't know it from the average chromed-out Road King that rides by you on your way to your favorite off-highway destination, but Harley-Davidson actually has an extremely impressive racing heritage. That's especially true when talk turns to flat track racing, where the Bar-and-Shield brand's XR750 has taken top honors for nearly two decades straight.

In other words, last Saturday's Grand National Flat Track victory at Arizona's Yavapai Downs Mile by Joe Kopp aboard a custom-framed, air-cooled Ducati flat track racer is nothing if not historic. The feat is even more impressive considering that Ducati's flat track effort only began last year and this was the Italian marque's third race in competition. The powerplant used in the Ducati racer was borrowed from the company's Hypermotard 1100 EVO.

The racing was close throughout, with Kopp drafting past Sammy Halbert's Harley-Davidson XR750 on the race's final lap. The margin of victory was just .024 of one second. Nicely done! Check out the official press release from Ducati after the break.

[Source: Ducati]
Show full PR text

Joe Kopp takes the Ducati Hypermotard- powered dirt tracker to victory in Arizona.

Cupertino, Calif (3 May 2010) – Ducati is excited to have taken its first ever Grand National Flat Track victory in Saturday's Yavapai Downs Mile. Saturday's Ducati victory marks the first time that a readily available production engine has won a Grand National Twins race in 29 years. Limited production, flat track race-only Honda RS750 and Harley-Davidson XR750s have won every Twins National since 1981.

In the season opening round- and Ducati's third ever attempt at winning a modern era Grand National- Joe Kopp proved that Ducati's don't always need asphalt to beat the competition. The Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati Flat Track Project began only a year ago, when Ducati Superbike rider Larry Pegram approached friend and flat track team co-owner David Lloyd about the potential of Ducati's air-cooled 992cc engine as an ideal flat track platform.

Pegram Racing and Lloyd Brothers Motorsports joined forces to build a stock-framed dirt track bike from a Ducati Sport 1000. After a quick shakedown by Pegram the bike entered the 2009 Springfield Mile, where it immediately proved a formidable opponent to the dominant Harley-Davidsons by qualifying for the 18 rider main event directly from the heat race

After a summer of modifications- including the addition of the 1078cc engine from borrowed from the Ducati Hypermotard and a custom racing chassis- Pegram entered the Indy Mile and missed the main event by one position in the semi qualifier.

Incorporating everything learned over the 2009 season, the bike now races in its third generation of development. In Saturday's season opener 2010 rider Joe Kopp put the Ducati engine in the position its knows best at circuits across the globe- the top of the podium. Taking the lead at the start Kopp ran a fantastic race, only facing competition from Halbert, whom he drafted past on the final lap to take the checkered flag by .025 seconds.

Saturday's race was also a significant event as the Ducati upset the might of Harley Davidson on the Mile, something no other manufacturer has been able to do for 17 years. The next race for the ENI USA R&M (formerly American Agip) / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati entry will be the famed Springfield Mile on May 30; featuring a cameo by Larry Pegram on a second bike alongside Joe Kopp.

For more information about the Ducati L-Twin engine that powered Kopp to victory, and the Hypermotard 1100EVO it comes from, please visit www.ducatiusa.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I-TA-LI-A!... I-TA-LI-A! ...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Blasphemy, HD will need to get the rules changed to get that Duc outa there.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Whatsa matter? Afraid of a little competition?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hopefully when HD gets their house in order they'll address their 2nd place finish. :-)
      • 5 Years Ago
      For starters, Joe Kopp could win on anything at a flat track. The man is one of the worlds great 2 wheeled talents. Unfortunately for flat trackers, they don't get the publicity and credit they deserve for one of the most demanding and dangerous motorsports in existence.

      I am personally glad to see someone like Ducati getting their feet wet on the flat tracks. Their knowledge of air cooled engines and torquey Vtwins makes them the perfect manufacturer to try and get some publicity on this motorsports scene. I was at a race 2 years ago and saw what looked like a full factory supported Aprilla team. It looks as though their full support has gone to the wayside though.

      Let's hope that by some of these big manufacturers getting into the sport, they can save it from obscurity, and also help a very exciting form of motorcycle racing grow to levels of popularity that it hasn't seen in decades. You only have to speak with world famous 2 wheeled racers such as Nicky Hayden or Kenny Roberts (or the rest of their respective clans) to know how important flat track racing was to them and their careers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I admit I'm ignorant on this type of racing.

      What's up with the motor size difference? 1100 for Ducati vs 750 for Harley?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It used to be 500cc British Bikes against 750cc side valve Harleys. Then Harley developed a new 750 motor and the Brits were allowed to have 750 twins. Ducati,Suzuki,Laverda and Aprillia have made challenges in the past. At one time Yamaha raced a 700cc water cooled 4 cylinder 2-stroke on the dirt. Problem was, it would shred the tires off the thing. The dirt mile is one of the most thrilling bike races in the world.