We’ve all been watching with interest as the Mercedes-AMG One undergoes testing at the Nurburgring. The hypercar is the closest thing we’ll ever get to an F1 car for the road, given its use of a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine taken from the sport and slightly watered down for production considerations.
It’ll be a very different driving experience to Lewis Hamilton’s W12, though, and it doesn’t exactly bring F1 tech to the masses - only 275 will be made. They cost £2 million+ a pop, and they’re all spoken for. Most of us must settle for having a go on the recently-announced Forza Horizon 5. Or, if - like us - you’re into bikes as well as cars, the world of two wheels allows you to access top-flight racing pace for very little.
A few months back, Ducati Corse slapped a set of slick tyres on the new Panigale V4S, allowing it to lap Jerez just two seconds off the pace of the team’s MotoGP bikes. Back in the noughties, the Italian company went one step further and put its Desmosedici GP06 MotoGP machine on sale to the public, complete with lights and a number plate. Well, sort of.
The clue’s in the Desmosedici RR name - that last bit stands for ‘racing replica’. But it’s an incredibly faithful copy. No road bike had come as close to a Grand Prix machine before this bike, and none have since.
Ducati designed the 989cc ‘D16RR’ engine especially for the bike with wet-sump lubrication replacing the race bike’s dry system. But it has the same bore and stroke as the GP bike, the same firing order, and very similar titanium con-rods and valves. Its V4 arrangement was unusual in Ducati’s road bike stable at the time - this was long before the company ditched V-twins in its sports and superbikes in favour of V4s.
The D16RR produced 200bhp (developed at 13,800rpm) back when such a figure still seemed other-worldly for a litre superbike. Just like on the race bike, this engine forms a stressed member of the chassis, attached to a tubular trellis frame lightly altered from the competition part.
Aside from the addition of lights and mirrors, the bodywork changed little. Ducati even included a full set of sponsor decals for the full replica experience. For an extra £5000, buyers could pick up a kit including a louder exhaust, a paddock stand and more track-oriented electronics. Without that, you were looking at £40,000 for this bike, which seems like a bit of a steal when you think about it.
The Panigale V4 Superleggera, effectively the bike’s modern equivalent, is an eye-watering £90,000. Not that a used Desmo is a bargain alternative - you’ll need at least £50,000 to buy one, meaning it’s barely cheaper than it was new once inflation is taken into account. The wallet punishment doesn’t end there, either. According to Bennetts, you’ll need to shell out £1500 to get the valve clearances done every 7500 miles, and a further £3000 to get the heads taken off and the valves de-coked every 22,000. Ouch.
But again, think about that £2 million price tag for the AMG One. In comparison, the £54,995 for the 2009 example we found on Bike Trader doesn’t seem so bad, particularly considering it’s covered just 4,649 miles.
Are you be tempted, or would a faster, far less needy Panigale V4 do it for you?