No one had spoken about this phenomenon until Craig Grantham put up a public post which boasted exactly this point.. The instant I heard about this post I knew our goose was cooked. There were two rounds left in our season, and although we had such great momentum, suddenly I feared that unwritten rule of superstition had been broken. We went in to Round Seven very cautiously as a result.

Over the years there have consistently been some fast teams in the AFM's Open Twins class. In 04 it was Ken Hill and Brian Long. In 05 it was Ken again, Jack Pfeiffer, and even Mark Junge showed up at Thunderhill once. For 06 it was Craig McClean on a 749R, and then Brian Parriot. The points weren't so close anymore, so we were good there, but suddenly I could almost feel a looming presence of doom that was about to strike. From the instant that Open Twins flag dropped I held my breath and pinned that throttle just as as long as I could everywhere. We went into turns sideways and came out on one wheel. It felt like being chased by a herd of hairy monsters in an eight year old's nightmare.

By lap two we had a decent gap to the rest of the field. We were flying again...

But then suddenly my years of avoiding baseball's infamous jynx caught up to us, and superstition made it's mark. Our back tire stepped out while going into turn seven so I pulled in the clutch and straightened out for an instant. The motor immedietly died. When I bumped it back to life it did fire again, but it was only half there. We motored out of seven with lots of hope, and still in the lead, but I could hear the motor making unhealthy noises now. I knew we had too many laps left to nurse her home, so we pulled out and I put our 999R to sleep in the weeds, in defeat. Our no hitter had ended. And to make matters worse, McClean got passed by Parriot on the last lap, leaving the best finishing Ducati to finish in second place. Not where Ducati belongs at all.



Without time to get a new crank for our 999R, Jason and I turned to an old friend from 2005, Dennis Harmon, to bail us out for late October's last round. Now the points were tight, and now we didn't have a bike to race. Dennis offered us his 999R that we campaigned throughout all of 05. There was only one thing he asked in return - that we get it to run... After all, this is the bike that did NOT endure the cockeyed tinkering that went on during our 2005 season.

Hard as I've thought about it, I can't decide who was more of a "Nervous Nellie..?" My grandmother, or Jason in the weeks before our final Round Eight. I believe he and the crew at MotoItaliano took that motor apart three separate times in that two week span, just to make sure the voo-doo curse that had haunted that 999R for almost all of 2005 had finally been exorcised.

The first time Scotty fired that bike up for me to hear, I was both shocked and excited. I have simply never heard a 999R sound so strong. In the end they did set that bike straight again. It ran like it's never run before. Here's a short video to prove how strong a 999R can be.

We won the Formula One race, the Open Twins race, and took a fourth in 600 superbike on the 749R, again.

This weekend ended what is without question, the most successful Ducati superbike race effort that I have ever been fortunate enough to be a part of. Somehow the guys at MotoItaliano found the wit, the desire, and the resources to face everything that racing threw at them in 2006. In a span of nine race weekends, during the first season of their roadrace careers, they found a way to grow from novices who barely knew where the front gate was, to the AFM Champions they are today.

Not only did we win the 2006 AFM Open Twins championship, but we actually earned the AFM #8 plate for 2007.


Please, if you've read this far you deserve a break.
Go ahead and turn your sound up, sit back, and click play to watch our

2006 Season Highlight Video!


Click
HERE to download the latest Quicktime player (free)





One might expect after a year like 2006 that MotoItaliano is ready to retire from racing, just as suddenly as they came into it. One might expect.....

But apparently, that's not the case.

Instead of stepping away, we have submitted our entry into the 2006 "Silly Season," And while our 2006 Ducati report card does look pretty good, one never knows what that slide rule will reveal for us in 07.

So stay tuned my fellow Ducatisti. Even though we can't quite see a way just yet, I'd like to think we'll be out there battling the inlines again in 07. Only this time, I'd like to think we'll be just one part of a small army of new Ducatis fighting for the win.

Stay safe and Happy New Year!

GoGo




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Eric "GoGo" Gulbransen, Tracy Gulbransen, Matthew Pilla, Motorcycle racing, AFM, Ducati 749R, 999R, race story, MotoItaliano