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Ducati breaks 17 year Harley Davidson winning streak with US Grand National Flat Track victory

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May 7, 2010

Former Grand National Champion Joe Kopp leads the field on his Ducati

Former Grand National Champion Joe Kopp leads the field on his Ducati

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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.

Joe Kopp on the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati
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5 Comments

oh dear, the Harley owners won't like being beaten by an Italian machine

robinyatesuk2003
7th May, 2010 @ 06:45 am PDT

You techies are so LAME! Do you want to know WHY H-D has dominated flat track? When ANY competitor comes in to the series and KICKS THEIR ASS, H-D whines and complains about "unfair competition" and lobbies the AMA to change the rules so that no one else can compete. Yamaha and HONDA both won races and HONDA took several championships with the great Bubba Shoebert on board! H-D has NEVER won a championship where they did not "Fix" the rules! If H-D is so great, why did they get stomped when they tried to go WSB racing some years ago? News flash, it does not take much to feed a Harley its butt and all the trimmings! Ducati -vs- Harley would be like taking a broom stick to fight a guy with a Vulcan Mini-gun!

mlynch002
7th May, 2010 @ 07:42 am PDT

What types of motorcycle racing do Harley Davidson motorcycles compete in and why are none of those races ever on television?

The V-Rod engine is based on a water cooled racing engine, but all I ever see on SPEED are bikes running air cooled 250cc and 500cc engines.

What I'd like to see is cruiser bike races. Completely stock off the showroom floor, complete with saddlebags. Real comfortable street bikes going head to head instead of those back and knee breaking crotch rockets that the riders lay on instead of sitting on.

Facebook User
7th May, 2010 @ 05:29 pm PDT

Not only is it the first non-Harley win in 17 years, it was with a production street bike engine vs. HD's big $ race only engines. That hasn't been done in nearly 3 decades.

What the story doesn't mention is that shortly after being presented with their trophy, AMA officials also presented Lloyd Bros. Motorsports with restricter plates they'll have to run from now on.

History repeats itself. Every time someone builds a superior, or even competitive, machine (think Honda RS750), Harley cries uncle, and the rules get changed to ensure that HD will win the next race. And I'm not a HD basher either. I love their street bikes and respect their history. But if they really want to go racing, they need to play by the same rules as everyone else build competitive machines rather than relying on 1940's technology and buying off the officials.

It's a real shame too, because dirt track racing is awesome. It has potential to be BIG too, appealing to knee dragging road race fans and non-riding Nascar type fans alike. But as long as HD, or any other manufacturer, has a strangle hold on competition, it's draw is going to be severely handicapped.

Shaun Lewis
8th May, 2010 @ 09:45 am PDT

Harley engines make great water pumps...

"Doooof, Doooof, Doooof, Doooof, Doooof, Doooof, Doooof............"

Mr Stiffy
24th May, 2010 @ 07:27 pm PDT
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