Ducati North America announces participation in the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally


Damn, they really mean it! That was our first thought at the Ducati unveil, last night, in Riverside. To put things in context, Ducati launched last winter the Desert X Rally in Morrocco. We tried it and were impressed by the quality of the suspension, especially the front. But we never envisioned anybody going full race mode with this bike and thought that all these top-of-the-line components were more of a marketing trick than anything. But one should never underestimate the Italians when it comes to racing. They made their point crystal clear last night, in front of a few selected media including Upshift: Phil Read, the Marketing Director of Ducati, unveiled a racing version of the Desert X Rally, that will compete this Sunday in the Norra Mexican 1000 rally. Phil Read explains how the project came to life: “ We’re in America, right? So if we need to do something, it has to be big, and it has to be consistent with the American off-road culture. So there’s not much of a choice, it has to be related to desert racing! We had a chat about the Desert X capabilities with Alexander Smith, and I later explained the project to Claudio Domenicali, the CEO of Ducati. It took a few months but ultimately, we decided to do it. We are going in full race mode, we will have fun doing it, and we will demonstrate the quality of our bike the hard way”. To make things even more interesting, Ducati will be racing with minimum preparation on their Desert X Rally: “All the components you see on this bikes can be purchased via our partners. The rally tower, the carbon fiber tank, the navigation tools, everything is available on Aurora’s website. As for the engine and the suspensions, we run stock components.” You read it right, Ducati goes to war with a stock engine and stock suspensions, whereas most brands would use at least A-specs factory suspensions, retuned engines, and modified frames… That says a lot about Ducati’s confidence in its bike, and it’s a smart marketing move.

Steve Kamrad
Alexander Smith

Two American riders, Steve Kamrad, and Alexander Smith, are in charge of giving the factory a podium and why not win the Pro Rally class. Alexander doesn’t need to be introduced. He is a well-known and super-fast professional racer, with years of experience in rallies, including the famous Dakar. On top of being the general manager of Smith Motorsports in Riverside, CA, Alexander is also a dad, and himself the son of a legend. He’s the perfect fit for a brand that has racing in its DNA and needs legit champions to make its logo shine. At first glance, Steve Kamrad is harder to fit into the equation. The fact that Ducati takes a chance on the freelance journalist and part-time desert racer, who can also be seen as an influencer and a party animal, proves that they also mean it when it comes to embracing the American way of life. Steve is a spirited character, a racer at heart, who is perfectly emblematic of the desert motorcycle culture. This is another smart choice from Ducati, who knows that this improbable couple will be hard to beat and that anybody will be able to relate to this team.

The Norra Mexican 1000 starts from Ensenada on Sunday May 28th and will end at San José del Cabo the next Saturday. May the force be with Ducati, as the success of this challenge might bring more brands to consider putting more resources into developing our beloved adventure bikes.

Author: Olivier de Vaulx