Ducati replaced the highly successful 916 racer with the new 996 model for the 1997 World Superbike season, but it was not to be Ducati’s best year as the Borgo Panigale manufacturer lost both the riders’ and constructors’ titles to John Kocinski and Honda. This prompted Ducati to increase its efforts and develop its 996 Racing machines to a new level for 1998. In January that year it was announced that Ducati Motor would fully support a new team, Team Ducati Performance, with Carl Fogarty as its sole WSB contender. The plan paid off, with Foggy taking the ’98 WSB title. Supported by Virginio Ferrari’s ADVF Ducati team, its riders Troy Corser and Pier Francesco Chili finished the ’98 season in third and fourth place respectively, thus helping Ducati beat Honda into second place for that year’s Constructors’ title.
The entire Ducati racing program was revamped for 1999, and central to this was the formation of the wholly-owned Ducati Corse which would control all of Ducati’s official racing activities. Managed by Davide Tardozzi, Team Ducati Performance became the only official Ducati WSB team with Fogarty and Corser as its riders, while on the machinery front a higher specification 996 Racing Special replaced the previous 996 Racing. Much of the development of these 996RS machines was centered around further improvement to the chassis, but there were also revisions to the cylinder heads, intake tracts, airbox, camshafts, fuel injection mapping and gearbox. 168bhp at 11,500rpm was claimed, and, coupled with a friendlier spread of power, this represented a 7-8bhp improvement over the 996R. As a further bonus there was also a significant increase in reliability as the 996RS didn’t suffer any DNFs from engine failure during the ’99 WSB season.
While Ducati produced twenty 996Rs for 1997, and 24 for 1998, there were just eleven 996RSs built for 1999, (0.16% of all 996 models built that year). The ex Team Ducati Performance 996RS offered for sale here was ridden by 1996 World Superbike Champion Troy Corser in the 1999 WSB Championship. During the season the Australian rider scored three victories (both races at Phillip Island in April and race 2 at the Nürburgring in June) along with five pole positions, six fastest laps and 13 podiums, all culminating in an impressive third place overall. Corser’s performance also made a significant contribution to Ducati’s retention the WSB Constructors’ title.
This 996RS is of course offered with appropriate authenticating paperwork and it is a very rare and highly desirable example of one of the most successful and most iconic of all racing superbikes.