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Loris Capirossi meets the QB Ducati MotoGP Replica

LORIS CARIROSSI FLATTERED BY REPLICA by MCN

Is this one for me ?

In a way Loris, yes it is. This MotoGP replica 96 is one fan's very special tribute to the race-winning Ducati rider.

Ducati MotoGP star Loris Capirossi is cruising through the paddock at Donington Park on his team scooter. He skids to a halt. He has just spotted what looks like his race bike - and it isn't where he left it.

"It's my bike !" laughs the amazed Italian, as he stops and realises he's actually looking at a £15,000 look-a-like of his MotoGP V4. "That's one of the most beautiful replicas I have ever seen. From a distance it looks just like my Desmosedici. It's very impressive".

Loris Capirossi with the QB Carbon Ducati MotoGP replica

Based on a 996 superbike, the machine was built by rabid Capirossi fan Nick Lord. It mimics Ducati's GP racer in both form and colour. And if it wasn't for the single-sided swingarm there would be little to suggest that Capirossi or team-mate Troy Bayliss hadn't just returned from a tyre-smoking track session on it.

The real Desmosedici is something special. Ducati and Capirossi have already won a race in the bike's debut season - an almost unheard of achievement in the cut-throat world of MotoGP. Combine this with Capirossi's sideways style and the Ducati being the sexiest bike on the grid and the grandstands are becoming a sea of red, much like they did in WSB. Ducati is taking over the racing world.

Even in the GP paddock, where exotic materials like carbon-fibre, titanium and magnesium are common currency, this homage to Capirossi draws a crowd. Ducati mechanics admire it and even engineers from rival teams descend on it, some fooled into thinking that Ducati has just unveiled a new version of its race bike.

At first glance even Capirossi had problems telling the bike from his works machine: "The bike looks very much like mine. The whole look of it is excellent, especially the fairing, which is very similar to my bike. It's very good," says the former 250cc world champion.

High praise for a bike that was built for about one percent of the cost of the real thing. 40-year-old Burton-on-Trent builder Lord and bodywork specialists QB Carbon's work hides a fairly standard production bike.

This is no £30,000 special. In fact you could turn your Ducati into a GP replica for less than the cost of an R1. It took £8,000 to get the bike to the state you see it now. "It all started last year," says Lord. "I'd seen the pictures of the GP racer and wanted one, but you can't buy them. So I had to make one myself". He already owned an original 916 but he didn't want to butcher his pride and joy. Instead he bought a 996 as a donor bike. "It was awful" he says. "It was yellow and covered in horrible red anodised parts. I'd have embarrassed to ride it".

QB supplied the panels, made from carbonfibre (naturally), as well as the seat unit, although is has seen a couple of different fairings on it while the shape was being finalised. It has also seen a few different paint jobs as the racer was first seen in Infostrada WSB colours - but Nick wanted to keep the bike's design current. The carbon-fibre/Kevlar tank looks special. Open up the filler cap and peer inside and you can see the weave of the carbon-fibre winking back at you in the half light. Well worth the £1,000 it cost.

But if the tank is good, the exhaust is a work of art. Built entirely out of titanium by a former F1 fabricator, it bends, curves and tapers to follow the lines of the machine and then exits in a silencer that mimics the original design of the Ducati MotoGP bike before the current open-pipe set-up was adopted. Welding a system out of standard steel tubing would have been easy but the tapered cones and separating pipes that make up this system show true metalwork mastery. And you get what you pay for - the silencer and pipes cost a cool £2,000.

"The system looks just like it did on the first Desmosedici" says Capirossi. He likes the sound, too. Every blip of the throttle is met with a raucous blast from the tail pipe and a grin all over Capirossi's face.

Despite having two-cylinders less than the race bike, the replica manages the same meaty drone and Pavarotti-like wail of the race bike. It's almost as loud, too. It makes a set of superbike-spec Termignonis seem the choice of shy and retiring types.

You can see the pleasure on Lord's face, too, as he comes face-to-face with his hero. "I've followed Loris for years, ever since he was in 250's. My missus has all his team clothing, even going back to his early Honda days. To us he is on the same level as Rossi. He's smart lad in the flesh".

Capirossi may be a MotoGP star, but as the pair chat away it is just one motorcyclist talking to another. " I am very flattered that someone built a bike like this as a tribute to me", says the pint-sized Italian.

Loris Capirossi takes a look at the QB Carbon Ducati MotoGP replica

It's only the single-sided swingarm that stops this being one of the best counterfeit racers ever and is the only real clue to the machine's 996 road bike heritage. But there is no doubt it helps the looks of the bike. Capirossi says: "I have many good memories of the single-sided swingarm. I raced one on the Honda 250 and it is good. I have a Ducati Monster S4R road bike which has one. The system is beautiful".

In fact the whole bike is stunning. While the lines are dictated by the wind tunnel testing, the Desmosedici's flowing design also has its fair share of Italian flair. The big fairing means the lines suit a road bike better then any other GP-replica. Even five years after its launch it is hard to improve on the stunning looks of the 996. But this replica has come closer than any bike before.

"The Ducati is one of the most beautiful bike I have ever raced", said Capirossi. "But I have seen the prototype for next year's machine and it is more beautiful still".

As Nick prepares to head for home on his replica there is one more surprise waiting for him. He is stopped by a couple of Ducati hardmen intent on detaining him. They've mistaken the bike for the official two-seater V4 Desmosedici.

SO WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL ?

  • QB Carbon Desmosedici replica fairing
  • QB Carbon Desmosedici replica tail piece
  • QB Carbon ram-air pipes
  • Spondon alloy rear sub-frame
  • Carbon-fibre undertray
  • QB Carbon 999-style titanium exhaust
  • Ohlins adjustable steering damper
  • Black anodised top yoke
  • Black anodised footrest hangers
  • Superbike-spec PFM six-piston brake calipers, complete with cast iron discs
  • Race-spec adjustable brake and clutch levers
  • Carbon-fibre shroud for swingarm
  • Carbon-fibre rear hugger
  • Vented front mudguard Ducati MotoGP replica paintscheme

IT LOOKS GOOD BUT HOW DOES IT MEASURE UP ON THE TRACK ?

When a bike looks as good as this Desmosedici replica, expectations of riding it are high. Luckily the bike doesn't disappoint - mainly due to the fact that it's based on the still awesome 996 superbike.

Start it up and it feels like no standard road bike - the exhaust note gives the bike a raw feel. The sound from the straight-through titanium pipe rocks parked cars enough to get their alarms blaring. Subtle it ain't.

With standard suspension and running gear, the riding experience is essentially the same as the 996. Rock solid over the real world bumps of the handling circuit at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicester, the sticky Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres inspire huge confidence. Combine this feeling of invincibility with MCN's resident club racer James Doherty and you end up with Capirossi-style lean angles.

Get on the gas, tuck behind the screen and for a split second you could fool yourself into being a works Ducati racer. As the wind speed increases you find yourself peering through the bubble screen like a racer and revving the Desmo (-dromic, not sedici !) hard. You can almost hear the chasing RCV.

One area where the bike is better than stock is the brakes. Travel of the race-spec lever is long, but stopping power is strong and progressive, thanks to six-pot PFM caliper. You only need two fingers to get the stock Showa shocks plummeting. Lord has an Ohlins front end planned, too.

Unbelievably, considering it is based on a race bike, wind protection is actually better than the standard 996. Seeing as the bike is meant to be a race-replica rather than a tourer this is a massive bonus.

If you want to spend your money improving the performance of the bike then you might question the value of a bodywork kit. However, if you value stunning looks and want the chance to fantasise about being a GP star - and even impress Loris Capirossi - it's worth every penny.