Slowing from warp speed for the first-gear San Donato right-hander was an ideal test of the brakes, and the RR's 1098-style Brembo Monoblocs did the job with power, finesse and fade-free reliability. Equally outstanding was the feel as I tipped the bike into the turn: This is a motorcycle that works better the harder it's ridden, thanks largely to the frame's rigidity (torsional stiffness of the steel trellis, which uses four different sizes of tubing, is almost double that of the 1098) and the quality of the suspension, set up to the latest MotoGP standards.
Ironically, I found the D16RR handled even better than the factory racebike, largely due to the streetbike being set up for a typical customer rather than a lightweight MotoGP jockey. Its steering was notable more for its wonderfully neutral feel than for being ultra-quick, thanks to relatively conventional rake and trail figures of 23.5 degrees (in the steeper of its two options) and 3.9 inches, and a 56.3-inch wheelbase that is identical to that of the 1098. The RR needed a definite flick of the handlebars to get it through Mugello's four chicanes, but it was so taut and responsive, backed up by massive grip from the special, super-sticky Bridgestone BT-01 tires, that I can't imagine any streetbike being faster.
The only drawback, if you could call it that, was that the Desmosedici RR doesn't suffer fools. If I made a slightly imprecise move into a chicane, the bike was off-line in an instant-though equally quick to recover. When I shut off and braked too early for the blind Scarperia chicane on my second lap, the Ducati almost stopped in its tracks, its engine spluttering a rude reprimand on the over-run before I hastily accelerated through the right-hander.
It makes you raise your game to do it justice, this most rapid, radical and demanding of race replicas-and the reward when you get it right is a unique and memorable riding experience. The RR's speed, sound and feel are all remarkably close to those of the genuine works racer, so much so that no other production bike can match it, either for excitement or performance. Yet an owner can ride it to work, to the shops or even on holiday, preferably accompanied by a very strong lock. Ducati set out to put its MotoGP missile on the street, and it's done just that.