Ducati replaced the highly successful 916 racer with the new 996 model for the 1997 WSB season, but 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 the factory would fully support a new team, Team Ducati Performance, with Carl Fogarty as its sole WSB contender. It paid off with Foggy taking the ’98 title. Supported by the 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, with Foggy and Corser as its riders on higher specification 996 ‘Racing Special’ replacing 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 with a claimed 168bhp at 11,500rpm and 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 996RS’s built for 1999.
This 996RS was sold by Team Ducati Performance at the end of the 1999 season to Ducati Prague where it continued to race in their dealer backed team. In 2001 it was resold to a another Ducati dealer in Belgium who again had a race team before passing in to a private collection. At the time of sale it was understood that the bike was ridden by Troy Corser in the 1999 season. Inspection has revealed that although the frame has been replaced and the engine rebuilt with later cases the bike retains many of the factory race components including the left hand thumb operated rear brake lever that was one of Corser’s trade mark modifications.
In good working order the bike has only been used in parade laps and well maintained by the current owner. It is supplied with the handbooks and data programs for the original Magneti Marelli electronic programable dashboard. A formidable and iconic race bike it can be continued to be used for track days / parade laps and may soon be eligible for historic racing.