2011 Middleweight Sportbike Shootout - Track [Video]

Can the GSX-R750 hold off the 675R and 848 EVO at the track?

Last week we brought you the street portion of our Oddball Sportbike shootout featuring three machines that are outliers within the confines of the fairly rigid sportbike category but are competitively priced.

For street riders this discrepancy in engine displacement between the Ducati 848 EVO, Suzuki GSX-R750 and Triumph Daytona 675R means nothing. But at the racetrack, where you’re typically defined by one of two choices — 600cc or 1000cc — these three machines aim to carve a niche of their own. Welcome, then, to the track portion of Motorcycle.com’s Oddball Sportbike shootout.

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On the street, the Suzuki GSX-R750 narrowly edged out the Ducati and Triumph for top honors. Despite being the least exotic machine of the bunch, its comfortable ergonomics, confident chassis and user-friendly (and plenty powerful) powerplant proved a favorite amongst our testers, and we judged its performance-per-dollar ratio to be the best in this group. Given the GSX-R’s racetrack heritage, we had our doubts about its street manners. But at the end of the day, it did exactly what a streetbike is supposed to do: put a smile on each of our faces every time we threw a leg over it.

2011 Middleweight Sportbike Shootout - Track

To their credit, the Ducati and Triumph both proved to be fantastic machines in their own right. All of our testers were enamored by the Ducati’s absolutely planted front end, while the Triumph nearly won us over with its astute chassis and charismatic engine.

But the racetrack will prove to be a different environment. To be honest, all three of these machines were bred for the track, with street provisions just mere afterthoughts.

2011 Middleweight Sportbike Shootout - Track

Leveling the playing field as best we could, we fitted all three bikes with Bridgestone’s latest D.O.T. racing rubber, the Battlax Racing R10 (see sidebar for more information). Also, because there’s a significant discrepancy between the power output of our little trio, track selection was taken into careful consideration. A long, open track would skew the results in favor of the more powerful Ducati and Suzuki as they would be able to pull away from the Triumph, whereas a tighter, technical track should (in theory) negate that advantage and give the Trumpet a fighting chance.

We chose to ride with our friends at Fastrack Riders for their first event of the year at the infield road course at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This 1.7-mile track configuration makes do without the long, banked oval section of the former AMA track and is quite tight and technical, a perfect venue to pit these three machines against each other in a battle royale for national pride.

So which will it be? The throaty V-Twin of the sinister-looking Ducati, the screaming four-banger of the reliable Suzuki, or the raspy inline-Triple of the lean, mean Triumph that takes top honors? Read on to find out.

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