A Ducati Factory 900 F1 ‘NCR’ rich in racing history
Ducati Factory 900 F1 ‘NCR’
With Phil Aynsley
Here is a bike that I have been photographing since 1978! Before I begin, I would like to thank Neil Cummins for accessing his history with the bike.
Neil worked for Malcolm Bailey (Moreparts) and was involved in the Ducati production races of Jim Scaysbrook and Mike Hailwood in Australia in ’77 and ’78, as well as being Jim’s mechanic for his IoM ’78 campaign.
Although commonly known as “Ducati NCR”, the first batch of these motorcycles were all built in the Ducati factory (with some NCR entry) and are therefore correctly referred to as 900 F1s. NCR (Nepoti, Caracchi, Rizzzi – after Rizzi left R for Racing) continued to build endurance racers post ’78 (among many other projects).
In the lead up to Mike’s historic return to IoM in 1978, he asked Steve Wynn, under the sponsorship of Sports Motorcycles he drove, if Steve could help Jim get to IoM. The answer was yes, if he could provide his own bicycle.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Bailey had approached Norm Fraser about sourcing a Ducati 900 F1 for Jim, only to be told that only three F1s were being built – two for Sports Motorcycles and one to race in Italy. However, the factory later informed Frasers that more were to be built (a total of eight are believed to have been built that year) and that one could be delivered to Sports Motorcycles in May if Malcolm’s bought through Frasers.
The bikes duly arrived in Manchester several days after Jim, his wife Sue and Neil landed in early May. Work has started on preparing the bikes for the rigors of IOM. The RH gearshift / LH rear brake were also swapped out to accommodate the two pilots. Jim was able to do tests at Donington Park where Mike was testing his Yamaha 500s (see Neil’s footprints).
As is now history, Mike won the famous F1 race as Jim was doing fine until a welded spool holder broke causing the throttle to jam causing him to crash into Governors Bridge. He finished 26th in the Classic TT later in the week. Jim then rode the bike at the Post TT meeting at Mallory Park (again won by Mike in the 900 F1), still with the gearbox and IOM tires.
Jim’s last bike ride was at the Macarthur Park Race Meeting near Canberra in October 78.
The bike has been used at various events over the years, including the 1980 Coca Cola 800 at Oran Park, where Wayne Gardner led the race before the rain got into the electricity. Dave Robbins raced it at Bathurst in ’80 (with an alloy tank) and ’81. By this time, the sand cast housings had cracked (a common problem with factory racing engines at the time) and Darmah housings had been used in their place for many years.
Ian Gowanloch eventually got and fixed the crankcases and they have since been reunited with the bike, which has undergone a thorough restoration by the current owner – the results of which you can see here.
It was quite a privilege to be able to record Neil and Jim reunited with the bike at the Phillip Island Classic in 2018.