• Image of Ducati 750 Desmo • Paul Smart •  1972 Imola 200 Mile Race

The year was 1972. Fabio Taglioni had designed Ducati's first Desmodromic V twin engine and needed it to compete in racing. However Ducati was just a small Italian company without many credentials. They had a hard time convincing riders to ride for them.

On the other side of the continent in America, Englishman Paul Smart was racing for Team Hansen Kawasaki and having trouble making ends meet. When his wife received a call from Ducati, she happily accepted the offer in her husband’s absence to race at Imola.

Smart had no idea where Imola was and knew very little of Ducati except for the fact that they made outdated single cylinder engines. But the £500 win or lose package was too good to miss.

He flew from Atlanta to London to Milan and straight on to Modena circuit. By the time he arrived, all he wanted was food and bed. His first impression of the bike was not good at all. It was too long, too big and too slow. Turning was slow too, but at least it was stable at high speed. Smart also insisted they remove the TT100 road tyres.

When he finally finished testing, he was exhausted. He rode into the pit and was surprised to see the Ducati mechanics jumping up and down with joy. Smart had broken Agostini’s 500cc Grand Prix bike lap record.

The Imola race was a huge event, judging by the crowd. During the race, Agostini's bike blew up and left Smart and his team mate Bruno dicing at each other. Smart eventually came in first with his team mate in second. In most race events, Smart could only hear his bike engine. At Imola, he could hear the roar of the 70,000 strong crowd over his engine. The Italians went totally crazy over Ducati’s victory.

After the race the Ducati was paraded around Bologna in a glass-sided truck. The whole city celebrated till late and Smart was still in his racing leathers. Smart took home about £5000 of prize money and got to keep the bike. What a way to celebrate his 29th birthday!

As for Ducati, it was a ‘birthday’ of a different sort. It marked the beginning of the World Superbike championships and established Ducati as a proper big-bike manufacturer.


Engine: Air-cooled 90° V Twin
Displacement: 748cc
Weight: 403Ib (183kg)
Power: 82hp @ 9000rpm
Top Speed: 169mph (272km/h)


Print Size: A2 (420mm x 594mm)
Approx 16.53" x 23.38"
Print Type: OffSet Lithographic 4C Printing
Paper: Maple White - Acid Free - 220gsm

Take Note: Paper stock base colour do differ slightly from batches to batches due to its 50% recycle properties.


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