arlin Dunne is no stranger to competition up Pikes Peak. The 35-year-old bike salesman turned hill climb ace has notched four race wins over the last eight years—three aboard Ducati’s utility knife of motorcycles, the Multistrada 1200. To thank him for narrowly acing his European competition, the folks at Ducati generously invited him out for the 10th annual World Ducati Week celebration off Italy’s Adriatic coast near Rimini. We caught up him last week while he was spinning some laps aboard his DTX flat-track bike at Milestone Motocross Park in Southern California.

How was Pike’s Peak? Pretty good for you, right?

Yeah. For what we had to deal with, it couldn’t have gone any better.

What’d you have to deal with?

So, during race week, first day of practice on Tuesday we started with a pretty green course. During the week we got some rubber down on the racing line, cleaned up the course and stuff. It’s a national park, so you got tourists driving up and down that mountain every single day. You’re going up to 14,000 feet and a massive grade. There is anything under the sun left on that racecourse. Toward the end of the week we started to get some rubber laid down. We were putting down good sector times. When you practice, you practice one-third of the mountain at a time. The bikes are at the bottom, the cars are in the middle and the top, and then we switch.

So we had pretty high hopes. The day before the race a big storm came in the afternoon. Hail, snow, rain. One hundred mile an hour winds. Just the worst conditions. Blew dirt and pollen all over the racecourse. Washed off all the rubber we had laid down. So basically on race day, the race day weather was good, but the conditions of the course were really poor—more like what they were the first day, maybe even worse. So the first couple corners you kind of realize what the course is going to be like. You come into the first corner, the front end wobbles. Then you get a little tuck, then you get a little slide. You’re like, okay, this is it. Then it’s just managing the entire rest of the way.

Carlin Dunne waving the Pikes Peak checkered flag
Carlin Dunne records his fourth Pikes Peak victory this summer aboard the Ducati Multistrada 1200.Ducati North America

What’s it like racing that Ducati Pikes Peak Multistrada? That wouldn’t seem like the ultimate bike for a hill climb.

Yeah. There might be more formidable bikes out there, but we started racing the Multistrada when it was still half dirt and half street. The reason why the bike works so good is because you sit central on the bike. The bike is very balanced front to back. Power control is really cool. It's like a giant supermoto bike with massive horsepower. So once it got fully paved in 2012, we kept on riding it and kept on riding it, of course with the Ducati program. To be honest with you, when you don't know what the next day is going to hold for you as far as conditions, the bike's pretty darn consistent. That's something that's a little bit more of a sharper tool for the job, and maybe more of a hindrance if the conditions are less ideal. It's one of those things; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Maybe in the future we'll develop something a little more suited, but right now it's still the bike to beat.

That race was pretty close. You won by seven-tenths of a second. Is there any place where you were like, “I gave up some time here or there”?

In hindsight you dismantle it the whole way. I gave it up here, I could have rolled on a little harder. But ultimately that’s part of the essence of the race. You roll out of bed, no warm-up, no nothing, and you try to put down the fastest run in history on one of the world’s most dangerous courses, and you got one shot. You don’t get a second lap. You don’t get anything. It’s just one shot. So it is what it is. Watching onboard videos and stuff, it looks like I did give it up a little bit in the bottom section, but I think maybe a testament to the Multistrada, I was able to make it up the more technical top section where the traction started to fall off a little more.

Ducati rewarded your service, sending you to World Ducati Week…

What a great experience. They were kind enough to front me a plane ticket to go out there. What an experience. You know that people are passionate about Ducati and you see the pictures and everything. Living in the United States, I guess you may forget the passion of the Europeans, how passionate they are about motorsports. It takes going to an event like that and you're like, this is what motorcycling passion is all about. It's as excited as you've ever been for motorcycles, and these guys are like that every single day. At WDW there were 70,000 of them packed into Misano. Just a sea of red. Ducati desmo drive systems pinging off the rev limiters in 95-degree heat. It was just absolutely insane.

WDW is unlike any other thing you’ve ever been to, right?

Oh yeah. There’s nothing else like that in the United States. You imagine soccer fanatics and stuff and a whole arena of soccer people. It’s the same passion. It’s like if someone scores a goal for the wrong team, they’re going to burn you at the stake. It’s pretty amazing. The energy is palpable. You can cut it with a knife. You go in there and just people chanting, chanting. These people listen. These people pay attention to them over there. Incredible.

World Ducati Week party
Dunne was rewarded for his effort with a trip to World Ducati Week in Rimini, Italy.Ducati North America

What’s Italy’s take on Pikes Peak? Do Italians follow that race?

Yeah, seeing such a high concentration of Ducatis in one place, you definitely see how many Pikes Peak replicas there are. For sure those guys, of course they know what the Pikes Peak is all about. Ducati does a good job marketing it. It might not be the most prominent race over in Europe, but it carries a mystique. It’s kind of like the last frontier. It’s like racing cowboys. They really like it. They’re kind of enamored by it. A lot of questions and a lot of showing pictures and asking. They’re super interested, genuinely interested. You just sit there with a stranger and have a three-minute conversation. They’re just sitting there looking at you, deep through your eyes going, “Wow, tell me more, tell me more!” It’s cool. It was really cool. They had a pretty neat videos up there. Stoner and Lorenzo and Dovi and guys that could out-ride me, but it was pretty cool. It was good company.

So you’re going to be back next year racing?

It’s a little too early to tell. But definitely if we can do it, we’ve got to make the decision soon. It takes 364 days to get ready for that race. If we’re going to do it, we’re already kind of late. We’ll see. Talk to the guys. I think there’s still a record to be beat there, so hopefully we can get it together and take another shot at it.