Harley Davidson has been dominating flat track racing in America basically since it began. On the faster one mile tracks it is 17 years since any other manufacturer has won a race. So it was an enormous surprise to see the Ducati Hypermotard 1100EVO powered flat-tracker take the marque's first ever Grand National victory in the Yavapai Downs Mile in Arizona last Saturday. Apart from ending an unbroken 17 year winning streak by Harley on one mile tracks, the win marks the first time a readily available production engine has won a Grand National Twins race in 29 years.
The Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati Flat Track Project began just one year ago, when Ducati Superbike rider Larry Pegram approached friend and flat track team co-owner, David Lloyd, regarding the flat track potential of Ducati's air-cooled engine.
Pegram Racing and Lloyd Brothers Motorsports then joined forces to build a stock-framed dirt track bike from a Ducati Sport 1000 and, after a quick shakedown by Pegram, entered the 2009 Springfield Mile where it immediately proved a formidable opponent to the dominant Harley-Davidsons. After a summer of modifications, including the addition of the 2010 Desmodue engine from the Ducati Hypermotard 1100EVO and a custom racing chassis, Pegram entered the Indy Mile and missed the main event by just one position in the semi-qualifier.
Fast-forward to 2010's opening round and Joe Kopp proves that Ducatis don't need asphalt to beat the competition. Putting the Ducati into the lead from the start of Saturday's event, Kopp ran a fantastic race and faced little competition before finally drafting past Sammy Halbert's Harley-Davidson on the final lap to take the checkered flag by 0.025 seconds.
The next race for the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati entry will be the famed Springfield Mile on May 30, where Ducati AMA Superbike star, Larry Pegram will pilot a second bike alongside Saturday's winner and former Grand National Champion, Joe Kopp.
Prior to the season beginning, Kopp had suggested the potential of the Ducati would be a major factor in this years title chase when he said, “I am more excited for the season to start than I have been in years.” “Equipment wise, I have the best of both worlds. I will be riding Ducatis on all the mile tracks and will be able to choose between the Ducati and my XR750 on the half-mile tracks depending on how testing goes. I really think that we are going to surprise a lot of people this year with the Ducati. This is exactly the type of challenge that I feel I needed and I am really looking forward to proving that we can win on this bike right out of the box. I think with my feedback and experience and my crew’s knowledge that we can further development of this bike very quickly and have fun doing it.”
“We are thrilled about the team that we have been able to assemble to work together to issue in a new chapter for the historic AMA Grand National Championship. It is truly a team effort. Bringing new brands to dirt track will lead to a broader audience appeal for the series“ said team co-owner Michael Lloyd.