A Gathering of the Faithful at
the World's Best Ever Sportbike Event    Page 1

Story and Photos by Jim Gianatsis
with a little help from the Ducati Press Office

Misano, Italy, May 17-24th 2004 - It was a trip fo a lifetime. I was off to Italy on a 10 day paid dream vacation for any sportbike enthusiast, hidden behind the guise of "work". It was my first ever trip to Italy, and flying from LAX into Milan on British Airways after a brief stopover at London's nightmare Heathrow airport, we had a spectactular crossing over the beautiful Alps before touching down in Milan. We started our weekend off at the nearby Monza World Superbike round on May 16th at the legendary and beautiful 101 year old circuit, then drove our rent-a-racer some 150 miles down the Autostrada to the Adriatic seaside town of Rimini for the Ducati produced World Ducati Week 2004 which proved to be one of the world's biggest manufacturer produced enthusiast events ever (only topped by Harley-Davidson with their anniversary gatherings in Milwaukee), and certainly THE BIGGEST for sportbike enhusiasts!

It isn't a requirement to be a Ducati owner or enthusiat to attended Ducati week which is now a semmi annual tradition held every two years. It's open to any motorcycle enthusiast owning another brands of bike, and just being in attendance made you welcome member of the close brother and sisterhood of Ducati sportbikers. But the fact Ii am a hard core Ducati enthusiast and owner made my attending WDW2004 with all the associated activities like my trip to Monza WSB and the Ducat factory a real sportbike enthusiast's pilgramege to the world's Vatican of sportbike worship.

Ducati is the only sportbike motorcycle manufacturer in the world which thinks of itself, its customers and fans as one family. It tries to bring everyone togther on a regular basis to share in "...the passion that is Ducati." And at no other company can customers meet and talk directly to the president, the designers and engineers, and the World Championship rider that race the bikes. Ducati also agressively targets and markets to women riders, and over a thousand women on Ducati bikes participated in all aspects of the week from racetrack activities to attending seminars on engineering and racing. In this day of high liability lawsuits, Ducati is the only manufacturer willing to trust sportbikeowners to ride their bikes at racing speed on a race track.

I spent WDW2004 week based with a few other international motorcycle journalists at the seaside town of Rimini next to the Misano Grand Prix track where we were housed by Ducati in The Grand Hotel, the vacation home of royality and celebrities, and i was kindly loaned a Multistrada (my favorite do everything streetbike!) for riding around on during my stay. We did everything and more that WDW2004 offered enthusiasts beginning on Monday the 17th with Ducati DRE Advanced Racing School on e 999 Superbikes at the Misano GP track with instructor and former World Champion Marco Luchinelli, to tackling the twisting Appennine mountains roads, spending a day at the Ducati factiry, partying until the week hours of the morning with thousands of other Ducati enthusiasts, and being there for the announcement of Ducati's new 4-cylinder Desmodecici 240hp Superbike! Join me as the complete story unfolds....

WDW2004 GETS STARTED! Monday Day One
The fourth edition of World Ducati Week is officially underway in the small town of Misano, Italy, at the beautiful Santa Monica Autodroma race track, normally refered to as just Misano. The exhibition activities, displays and venders are located in the huge paved paddock area in front of the huge paddock building, inside the building and pit garages are the Ducati Performance Accessories and Apparel shops and garagse housing the Ducati factory Corse Superbike and motoGPrace and support teams which you can visit, plus the DRE riding schools and Ducati repair servises for spectator bikes. There is also a full restaurant at the track and a beautiful hotel quality swimming pool. The thrilling event has been eagerly awaited by enthusiasts for two years. And today, under warm and sunny Mediterranean skies fans from all over the world flocked to one of the world’s biggest and most exciting motorcycle rallies.

The first to arrive on Monday were participants for the Ducati Riding Experience course, scheduled exclusively for the initial days of WDW. As always ducati had the best instructors around will show their students how to safely ride their Ducatis to their potential. The classes seem somewhat expensiveat first ranging from $600 to $800 for the day but they essentially provide you a new bike, a mechanic, and instuctor, 6 hours of track time on a world class grand prix track, lunch, a gift package, and a charitichure drawing from famed ducati cartoonestGiorgeio Serda "Matitaccia" (the cravy pen). It was more than

Depending on riding skill you could choose a DRE class for just Women, Intermediates, and Advanced riders featuring the Multistrada streetbike, the naked Monster sportbike, or the hardcore 999 Superbike. I took the 999 Racing School with about 60 other, and was part of a 6 rider Advanced group that included Cycle World editor Brian "Cat Man" Catterson. Our group instrurctor was former 1981 World GP Champion and Superbike star Marco Luchinelli. He showed us the hot line and technique for getting around Misano quickly before turning us loose on our own. It was awsome!

And this year, WDW is witnessing a greater influx of foreign riders and fans than ever before – thanks in large part to the irresistible pull of a whole week of Desmo Energy on the beautiful Italian Riviera. Many have already been touring the Italian countryside with expert touring company Curve & Tornanti. And what better way to experience the joy of motorcycling than on the open road, under a cloudless Italian sky?
WDW has just begun, but the place is already heating up, and thousands of fans from all over the world are about to once again experience the magic that is WDW!

WDW2004 OPENS TO FANS, Tuesday Day Two
The sun was shining as morning broke on the second day of Europe’s most spectacular motorcycling event, World Ducati Week. Lines of enthusiasts and fans waited their turn to race on the renowned Santamonica racetrack in Misano, Italy. Ducati fans at the event are also learning a lot about foreign customs as Ducati specials from all over the world are entered in the Ducati Garage Challenge, while would-be Ducati mechanics will face-off in the “Bike assembly” phase of the contest. Fila and Ventaglio will provide entertainment in the paddock – music, video on the big screen, gift giveaways and more.

One of the most appreciated offerings from this year’s edition of the event is undoubtedly the Relaxation area. In the transparent fishbowl of the relaxation tent, weary riders are getting ready for another turn on the track with massages and cool dips in the pool. Ducati fans are also revved up by another new offering for 2004, the Ducati Service tent. For just 10 Euro plus the cost of parts, WDW participants are getting their bikes overhauled by our top-notch factory mechanics. And of course, no beautiful Italian summer day at WDW would be complete without beautiful Italian girls on hand to wash bikes.

WDW2004: FASHION SHOWS, Wednesday Day Three
Thousands of fans have already arrived and thousands more continue to arrive at the Santamonica racetrack in Misano, Italy, to be a part of World Ducati Week, one of the world’s greatest motorcycling events.
Fantastic events and activities offer participants hour after hour of entertainment and thrills. Today on the Ducati stage, super-cool dancers put on an unforgettable show, dressed in the latest Ducati collection.

Also not to be missed will be Ducati’s WDW Starting -Line Barbeque on Saturday night, where participants will dig into delicious grilled meat, served by Ducati’s top executives, who will graciously act as waiters for the night. Ten tons of fish and thousands of liters of wine will be served on a red carpet layed down the front starting line stright at Misano in a huge Italian feast to remember.

The brotherhood of motorcycling enthusiasts grows hour by hour at the circuit in Misano Adritatico, where World Ducati Week 2004 is now in full swing. The paddock is beginning to fill with VIP: from snowboarding world champions to the most well known personalities at Ducati, like President and CEO Federico Minoli, who arrives this afternoon with the official Ducati Corse riders.

This evening 100 lucky WDW participants, randomly chosen from amongst all week-pass holders, will have dinner with the Ducati official riders. An amazing opportunity for the raffle winners to spend an entire evening getting inside the head some of the world’s most famous racers. Some dreams only come true at WDW! The Beach area of WDW has proved to be one of the most popular offerings at this year’s event: participants can drink cocktails at one of Ducati’s beach bars, or, if they’re in the mood to sweat, compete in beach soccer or volleyball tournaments.

Right: Click for a Larger View of the region around Misano, Italy, and the location of the Santamonica Circuit where WDW2004 was held. The track is about 10 miles south of the beach resort town of Riminion the Adriatic coast where we stayed the week, and about 60 miles south of the Ducati Factory in Bologna via the A14 Autostrada. This map also details the Day Long 400km / 10 hour ride we took organized by Ducati and Curve & Tornanti, taking us through winding mountain roads for lunch at the famed Ristorante de Giovanni atop the Muraglione Pass.

This year, in conjunction with Curve & Tornanti, Ducati organized a variety of tours open to motorcycles of every brand. So come see Italy as it was always mean to be seen: on two wheels and under an open sky!
You can choose the DAY LONG TOUR, ten hours of touring that will take you through the most stunning Appennine routes: The Viamaggio Pass, The Muraglione Pass, The Futa and many more. Shorter hald-day tours were also available closer to the event which ended at small town's cafe for lunch and wine. The touring groups, accompanied by Curve & Tornanti staff, were be composed of a maximum of 80 motorcycles. Participants received receive a road-book, roadside assistance, and lunch in a classic regional restaurant.

I choose the DAY LONG TOUR as my chance to see the small towns and countryside of Italy. Making the ride all the more enjoyable was the fact I had borrowed a Multistrada from Ducati for my week's visit, as I also owned a Multistrada of my own back home in Los Angeles and knew it was the perfect bike for in-town commuting, B road touring and mountain back road bashing. Our 2 Tour leaders were also Multistrada mounted, while everyone else in the group were on Superbikes and ST Sport Tourers. Once we got away from the coast and into the mountain roads the Multistrada were invincible.

The roads alternated between fast flowing sweepers similar to the West Coast's Pacific Coast and Angeles Crest Highways, or the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway back East, to the tighter famed switchback twisties of Los Angeles' Stunt Road and Latigo Canyon. At times I would break ahead of the group for a clear run on the tighter mountain the roads which were trafficless. Acouple times the Tour Leaders tried to stick with me, but with my motoross experience I was able to brake/ square-off / and accelerate hard to disappear easily and wbe waiting for them at the next road juncture.

We stopped for the typical Italian lunch of pasta and thinly sliced ham which Ducati had waiting for us at the famed Ristorante da Giovanni atop the Muraglione Pass in a beautiful Italian National Park similar to the Blue Ridge Mountains in America. Yhe Giaovznni is Italy's equivalent to America's bike riding destinations The Rock Store / Alice's / Marcus Dairy / Newcomb's Ranch where hundreds of bikers ride to on the weekend.

There were five couples in our group riding double and they need the lunch break, badly. Their wives or girlfreinds on back were road sick and some had to stop a couple of times. While the guys found their arms and shoulders in extreame pain from the heavy breaking into the tight turns which supporting their girlfriends leaning on them from behind. after our late lunch the couples would turn off on a straighter highway to the city of Fori and then back to the track, while the our main group stayed with the tour route to tackle another section of tight downhill roads before we came out on the A14 Autostrada and made a 200kph/120mph dash back to finish the ride at the track.

All the WDW2004 guided road Tours, both my DAY LONG TOUR and the shorter HALF DAY TOURS which included lunch or dinner, were all inclusive as part of your WDW2004 admission pass.cost.This also included up to four 1/2 hour sessions on the Misano GP Track with yhour personal bike, and test rides of all the new ducati production bikes on a smaller track.

The weekend has arrived at WDW2004, and the event is reaching a crescendo of excitement. Thousands of Ducatiste, but also owners of other brands, continue to arrive in a rainbow of color and passion.
The Santamonica track is still attracting hordes of fans eager to pin the throttle on the track. A number of international champions raced on the track, amongst them champion skier Kristian Ghedina. The Italian usually gets his thrills on a supermotard but today he had the time of his life riding a 999 for the first time.
It was a full day for Ducati Corse's official riders, who, last night, had dinner with the 100 lucky winners of the WDW Week-Pass Raffle. Today Troy Bayliss and Regis Laconi gave a briefing to hundreds of fans, explaining the secrets and mysteries of the Santamonica track, followed by autograph sessions with Loris Capirossi, Lorenzo Lanzi and James Toseland, who signed not only hats and shirts, but fairings, tanks and tail pieces as well.

Hundreds of would be mechanics mobbed the enormous Ducati Garage Challenge tent, organized by Ducati.com with Desmodromiclub of Rome, either to admire the splendid Specials or compete in mechanical timed trials. The Desmodromiclub arrived at the gates of WDW in a massive convoy of Ducatis from all over Italy, called "The Big Red Snake."

The afternoon also saw the factory contest, in which Ducati employees and managers tested their own skills in motorcycle assembly, the mind-boggling stunts of world famous stuntman Christian Pfeiffer and a suprising Ducati drag bike. The evening will close out with the musical stylings of the Ducati band followed by Kelly Joyce live in concert, in an homage to the music of the Seventies.

Claudio and Ruben get down to the real nitty gritty
Where else but at World Ducati Week can you attend Ducati University and have Team Ducati Corse Director Claudio Domenicali (above left) explain the intimate design details of the Desmosedici MotoGP bike, or have World Championship rider Ruben Xaus (above right) explain the intricaticies of the Misano race track before you go out and ride it.

So Claudio, why isn't the Ducati MotoGP bike a front runner this year, like last, we asked.? "We designed an all new chassis and engine this season which is much better then last year's bike. But we really didn't have much time to test the new bike's setup before the racing season began, and what threw everything off was the changes to smaller 16.5 inch tires and wheels. Last week we tested all day with Loris and Troy at LeMans and really got the bike dialed in where it should be. Troy matched the track lap record easily and said 'I wish I had this bike setup for the start of the season'. We expect to see much better results beginning at the next race."

Go To More...
WDW page 1  •  WDW page 2  •  WDW page 3  

Ducati Factory VisitDucati Museum •  Ducati Corse Race ShopDRE Riding School

The Events of WDW2004

The Italian Air Force
did a fly over of Misano in an F104 fighter jet painted Ducati red with "999" Superbike painted on the side. Now that's national support!

World Ducati Week, the international meeting of the Ducati community, established another record with the recently concluded fourth edition. The event was a fantastic success in every way and attracted, entertained and thrilled tens of thousands of motorcyclists who flocked to the beautiful seaside Misano Adriatico GP Trackin Italy from the four corners of the Earth between Monday 17th and Sunday 23rd of May to prove their passion for the Ducati Legend, its motorcycles, people and lifestyle..

More than just a consuming passion, the Ducati passion is one that pulls in numbers too. Attendance was estimated at over 45,000. 19,000 tickets were sold, and nearly half of these were weekly passes, purchased by those (countless) individuals who could not think of missing even one of the events that Ducati organised for its fans to animate this great international event that inspires the entire motorcycling community.
The seven super-intense days reached their peak on Saturday 22nd May, when the largest number of Ducati enthusiasts, estimated at around 13,000, was recorded. This colourful invasion of Misano Adriatico’s Santa Monica race-track provided an unmistakable sound track of Ducatis to complete an exceptional motorcycling event.

Ducati.com also made a major contribution to the success of the event by managing the website dedicated to WDW2004 and providing an incredible amount of information before, during and after the meeting, exponentially increasing the event’s exposure to the many members of the Ducati public who for one reason or another were unable to take part directly. Thanks to Ducati.com these fans were at least able to take part virtually. The figures speak for themselves: during the week from 17th to 23rd of May more than 350.000 visits were made to the WDW2004 website!

Of the many activities organised for participants at WDW 2004, those promoted by the Ducati website proved a particular success. The top scorer was the “I WAS THERE. WERE YOU?” event that attracted hundreds of enthusiasts during the WDW weekend (21st-23rd May). Ducati.com staff took snaps of the people or situations they considered interesting. The resulting photos were published (starting from the 26th May) on the www.wdw2004.com web site. All those immortalised in this way and all others who simply want to keep a memento of this unforgettable experience, can download the shots they want, vote for their favourites, send e-cards with their own photo or even, thanks to sterling cooperation by E-shirt, order a print of their chosen photo on their selected T-shirt design. More than 1,300 images are available. In the first 30 minutes of going online were recorded approximately 35,000 visits.

And let’s not forget the Ducati Garage Challenge, the competition to find the best special that began before WDW with the selection of the 30 best bikes from those entered on the Challenge site. It continued at Misano, leading up to the announcement of the three category winners and their prizes, including awards from the official Ducati team riders.

But what firmly placed this fourth edition of WDW in the annals of history was the announcement made by the CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, Federico Minoli. On Saturday evening Minoli personally announced the official birth of the Desmosedici Racing Replica engine to the Ducati world. The announcement was the official beginning of the road-going Desmosedici development process. This limited edition machine is destined for a lucky few Ducati enthusiasts who will enjoy the maximum expression of Ducati Racing technology as well as the unique professional competence of Borgo Panigale’s R&D department. Another two years will have to pass before the first machine becomes available, so all you can do for the moment is book one and wait for WDW2006 when the very first bikes will be handed over on the very same stage from which the announcement was made this time around.

“This has been the best, most entertaining and most successful WDW in our history,” commented Minoli at the end of the spectacular parade of thousands of motorcycles from Misano to Rimini. “The level of involvement has been tremendous, and the participants have been the event’s real protagonists. The Ducati tribe has again shown its passion for motorcycling and for the legendary Ducati name. We are a great family, united and strengthened by our passion for riding. It’s a pity we’ll have to wait two years before the next WDW, but we’ll start organising it tomorrow! Let’s hope we can put together another week just as great, just as entertaining and just as passionate as this one. I’ll see you all at WDW2006!”


The People of WDW2004