Although 2006 was the last year the Ducati 999 model was produced, and the 1098, 1098S and 1098 Tri-Colore were launched for 2007, Ducati raced the 999 in World Superbike competition because rules dictated that V-Twin engines be equal in displacement (1000cc) to inline four-cylinder bikes. World Superbike rules were changed for the 2008 racing season allowing V-Twins a displacement increase of 200cc for a total of 1200cc.
In 2008, to take advantage of the Superbike rule changes, the Ducati 1098R, displacing 1198cc, joined the standard Ducati 1098 and 1098S which only displaced 1099cc. Ducati won the 2008 World Superbike championship with Troy Bayliss, and in 2009 Ducati offered the last version of the 1099cc model, the Ducati 1098RTB Bayliss Limited Edition alongside new models, the Ducati 1198 and Ducati 1198S. Visually similar and sharing much of the same components, the Ducati 1198S featured lighter wheels, Öhlins suspension, a slipper clutch, a weight advantage (373 lbs. vs. 377 lbs.) and a steeper MSRP, $19,995 vs. $15,995.
In 2010 there were four Ducati 1198 models: Ducati 1198, Ducati 1198S, Ducati 1198S Corse Special Edition and Ducati 1198R Corse Special Edition. Both the Ducati 1198S and Ducati 1198R Corse Special Edition models featured aluminum fuel tanks, traction control and a Ducati Corse paint scheme. The “R” model was a single-seat, street-legal bike with racing credentials. At a claimed 364-pound dry weight, the Ducati 1198R weighs 13 lbs. less than the standard model and 9 lbs. lighter than the “S” model. More importantly, the Ducati 1198R is equipped with a higher performance engine producing a claimed 180 horsepower compared to the “S” model’s 170 hp.
For 2011 Ducati reduced 1198 line to two models: the standard Ducati 1198 and Ducati 1198SP. The SP (Sport Production) insignia stands for production bikes that are race-kitted and ready for competition. The SP label first appeared on the 1989 Ducati 851 model. The SP features lightened chassis components, Öhlins suspension, a slipper clutch, a quick-shift transmission and a claimed dry weight of 370 lbs. There’s a significant price difference between the two models, $21,995 vs. $16,495 for the standard Ducati 1198.
Ducati was unable to regain the World Superbike crown with the Ducati 1198 in 2009 due to an amazing performance by Ben Spies on the Yamaha R1. The 2010 season was another disappointing year for the Ducati 1198, as longtime title contender Noriyuki Haga failed to deliver consistent results. For 2011 Ducati reduced its World Superbike involvement choosing to provide more support to satellite teams.