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LOT 447

Ex-works, Troy Bayliss 2003 Ducati 990cc GP3 Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Frame no. D16 GP3 TB1

Estimate: £270,000 - £300,000
Lot 447
Ex-works, Troy Bayliss, 2003 Ducati 990cc GP3 Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle

Ex-works, Troy Bayliss
2003 Ducati 990cc GP3 Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. D16 GP3 TB1

• The very first Ducati MotoGP model
• Comprehensive engine and gearbox overhaul
• Fitted with cast-iron brake discs (original carbon discs available)
• Ready to parade

"With shapely bodywork painted in the coveted Marlboro colours, just like Ferrari, and sounding like a close relative, Ducati returned to GP racing after spending some three decades away from it." - Motocourse.

Ducati had been absent from Grand Prix racing's premier 500cc class since the category went exclusively two-stroke in the 1970s. (True, Honda had tried to beat the strokers in 1979 with the oval-piston four-stroke NS500, but that turned out to be a disastrous failure.) Ducati lacked the resources to develop a Grand Prix 500, and in any case they had not built two-strokes for many years and then only lightweights.

The saying "Win on Sunday sell on Monday" had been around since the dawn of powered transport, and so Ducati had been favouring a class of racing that had a direct link with its production models: superbikes, for which its water-cooled 8-valve v-twin-engined sports roadsters - the 851, 888 and 916 family - were ideally suited. When the FIM announced that the new MotoGP premier class would be four-strokes only from 2002, Ducati already had all the experience it needed to build a competitive four-stroke racer.

Clearly a twin would be unable to achieve an adequate power output, so Ducati opted for a V4, retaining the 90-degree angle between the cylinders and desmodromic (positive closure) valve gear of the successful twins to create the 'Desmosedici' (desmo, 16 valve). Ducati's new prototype missed almost the entire 2002 season and it was not until the final round at Valencia that it was seen and heard in action. Works riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi tested the Desmosedici over the winter, and both lined up on the grid for the first race of 2003 at Suzuka.

Winner of the 1999 British Superbike Championship aboard a Ducati, Bayliss had been drafted into the Italian manufacturer's WSB works team in 2000, replacing the injured Carl Fogarty. He went on to win the championship in 2001 and narrowly missed out to Honda-mounted Colin Edwards in 2002. Despite his lack of Grand Prix experience, Bayliss seemed a natural choice to ride the new Desmosedici. Loris Capirossi, on the other hand, was a seasoned GP campaigner, having first raced in the 500 class back in 1995. He was already a three-time World Champion, with victories in the 125 category (1990, 1991) and the 250 class (1998).

The first Desmosedici bucked the accepted trend in racing motorcycle chassis design, using a tubular steel trellis - just like Ducati's superbikes - rather than the ubiquitous aluminium beam frame; its V4 engine, though, was recognised as being the most powerful out there.

Troy Bayliss had usually raced with the number '21' but found that number spoken for in MotoGP, so chose to race in 2003 with number '12' ('21' reversed). Ducati would have cause to look back on their first MotoGP season with some satisfaction, winning one race (Capirossi, Catalunya) and finishing 2nd in the manufacturers' championship. Capirossi finished 4th in the riders' World Championship with team-mate Bayliss 6th, a highly creditable performance by the Australian, who had had to contend with many circuits new to him.

The Desmosedici we offer is 'GP3TB1' (GP3 referring to the 2003 model), its number being recorded on the tamper-proof metal sticker on the frame, a feature missing from Ducati's show bikes. Only applied when bikes were built up and ready to race, this sticker, together with others applied pre-race, testifies to this Desmosedici's competition history.

As is common practice, each rider had two bikes available at each race, this one being Troy Bayliss' main bike. It can be dated to the early half of 2003, as the frame design changed partway through the season when the rectangular engine mounts changed to a round design. This Desmosedici has undergone a comprehensive engine and gearbox overhaul and is ready to parade. Only motorcycles from the first few years of MotoGP, like the GP3, can be run easily by privateers; anything more recent would require the resources of a top-flight race team. And to make it even more practical, this GP3 is fitted with cast-iron brake discs but does come with its original carbon discs.

As far as is known, only 12 GP3 GP bikes survive today, which makes this immaculate GP3 a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of Ducati and MotoGP history. Please note, VAT is applicable to the Hammer Price of this lot.


All lots are sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.

Saleroom notices

The engine number is GP306 / 5

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  • 14 October 2023, 09:00 - 17:00 BST
  • 15 October 2023, 09:00 - 17:00 BST

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VAT at the prevailing rate on Hammer Price and Buyer's Premium.

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