Ducati 860 Corsa
By 1973, prospects for Ducati in
Formula 750 looked bleak thanks to the rise of the two-strokes. As a result,
Fabio Taglioni decided to focus on endurance racing, which did not have any
By fitting the 86-mm racing pistons
from the 450 single to the 750 V-twin, an 864-cc engine was created and made its
debut at the Barcelona 24 Hour Race in 1973. The race took place in the
2.25-mile street course at Montjuich Park in July, and riders Salvador Canellas
and Benjamin Grau won at an average speed of 71 mph, completing 720 laps and
beating the 2nd place Bultaco by 16 laps. Like the Imola racers, they used the
early 750 round case engines, with dry clutch and centre axle Marzocchi forks
and Lockheed pattern Scarab brakes.
The 750 Super Sport went into
production in 1974, but Grau and Canellas returned to the Barcelona 24 Hours
again, with the 860 bike now producing 90 horsepower. They led once again, but
this time the gearbox failed at hour 16. Their third attempt at Montjuich
occurred in 1975, when their 905-cc V-twin won at 71.74 mph, and they beat their
early record by 11 laps.
Meanwhile, the square-case 860-cc
engine had made its way into the 750 SS frame to create the 900 SS. One could
still get a 750 SS in 1975, but it had a sleeved-down version of the square-case
motor. At least the 900 SS owed little to the disappointing 860 GT and retained
the right-side gearshift, small CEV taillight, fibreglass fuel tank, open
bell-mouth carburettors and no provision for turn signals. These were still
basically production racers but with some serious reliability problems. Chief
among them were an abrupt ignition advance and heavier pistons, which placed an
unsupportable strain on big end bearings.
The problems would be addressed in
1978 with the 900 SS and 750 SS gaining a steel tank instead of the pretty Imola
fibreglass one, a left-side gear shift, smaller 32-mm carburettors, quiet
Lafranconi silencers and Aprilia switch gear. Luckily many bikes came with the
real Contis pipes and 40-mm Dell’Orto carburettors in the crate.