END OF THE LINE FOR THE DUCATI 999
The final round of the 2007 World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours also marked the end of the line for one of the most successful racing machines ever built by the Borgo Panigale manufacturer.
Since it made its triumphant debut in the opening round of the 2003 championship at Valencia with a 1-2 finish for Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus, the 999 has won three of the last five Riders' titles, with Neil Hodgson (2003), James Toseland (2004) and Troy Bayliss (2006).
In that period Ducati also won three WSBK Manufacturers' titles in the same years, although in 2003 and 2004 points for this particular title were also earned by the venerable 998, with wins on five occasions for Toseland, Shane Byrne and Pierfrancesco Chili.
The 999 won a total of 63 WSBK races in its history, in the hands of eight different riders - Troy Bayliss (19), Neil Hodgson (13), Regis Laconi (10), Ruben Xaus (8), Noriyuki Haga (6), James Toseland (4), Lorenzo Lanzi (2) and Garry McCoy (1).
Factory Ducati 999 machines have appeared in the colours of two different sponsors - Fila in 2003 and 2004 and Xerox from 2005 to 2007.
Ducati Corse Superbike Technical Director Ernesto Marinelli has been responsible for the development and evolution of the 999 since it was introduced.
"It brings a tear to my eye!" commented Ernesto. "For sure the 999 is a bike that has given us a lot of satisfaction since 2003, when it came to us, until this year. Even in its last year, it is still proving to be competitive. On the engine level, there has been only one intermediate horsepower 'step' between the 2004 and 2005 seasons, when power output went up from 189 HP to 194HP, after which the engine did not undergo any more development. The other fundamental change came with the electronics, again between 2004 and 2005, with the switch from the Marelli MF5 to the Marvel4 with all the electronic updates."
With the change in regulations for 2008, next year the Ducati Xerox Team will take part in the World Superbike Championship with the new 1098 F08.