Launched in 1987, the 90° v-twin Ducati 851 represented a significant technical leap forward for the Bolognese maker. With liquid cooling, 4-valve desmo heads and fuel injection, the new Ducati was competitive on the world stage, but it didn’t really hit the big time until 1990 when Raymond Roche secured the first of Ducati’s 14 victories so far in the prestigious production-based World Superbike Championship.
Although the 1990 851 SP2 model had grown to 888cc, it wasn’t until 1992 that the bike was badged ‘888’. With over 130hp in ‘Corsa’ spec, American Doug Polen notched a record 17 race victories on his 888 racer in 1991 to secure that year’s WSBK Championship – a title he and Ducati retained in 1992. For racing homologation, Ducati produced (and still does) limited-edition higher-spec Sport Production versions. For 1992 Ducati offered three 888 variants: the ‘standard’ Strada with dual seat and Showa suspension, plus two SP models – the 888 SP4 and SPS.
The model offered here is the 55th of just 500 SP4s built – see the SP4 055 plaque on the top yoke. With a 160mph potential, its specification includes a curved lightweight radiator, a dry clutch with carbon cover, a pivoting fuel tank, high-level Termignoni race exhausts with carbon cans, Brembo wheels and Gold Series brakes, a carbon front mudguard and rear hugger, plus fully adjustable Ohlins suspension front and rear.
First registered on 9th March 1992, this 888 has formed part of the same Italian collection for the past eight years. The odometer shows a recorded 27,368kms (17,005 miles) and it is presented in very tidy, original condition. As a high spec, low volume variant of an iconic Ducati model, the SP4 can only become increasingly collectible.