Ex-racing machines are rarely found in public hands, especially from the top tier of motorsport. Factory-backed race efforts retire machines year after year, and the machinery seemingly disappears into the ether, only occasionally to be found in the wild. And if one is found, it’s often a shell of what once was, merely a handful of parts from the original machine.
This Ducati GP3 listed on eBay seems to buck that trend. The GP3 is a product of a rule change, like most race machinery. The top tier of motorcycle GP racing opened the rulebook to four-stroke 990cc machines to run alongside the two-stroke 500cc bikes that had been the only design on the starting grid in 2002. This was enough to draw Ducati to join the newly renamed MotoGP class that was mainly comprised of Japanese manufacturers. The two-rider team of Troy Bayliss and Louis Capirossi was the first to roll the Ducati out of the pits and onto the track in 2003.
Despite jumping in with a bike that lacked some of the technology its competitors possessed, the GP3 was on the podium of its first race in April 2003 at The Japanese circuit of Suzuka. The GP3 is a basic bike, lacking traction control and wheelie control, and it is not even full ride-by-wire. There is no laptop required to start the GP3, but one does have to manually lock up the slipper clutch to allow an external starter spinning the rear wheel to get the crankshaft going. Based on an article on 44Teeth.com, at least one previous owner was not a fan of letting this desmo duck sit and collect dust. The engine and chassis are the same pieces it last raced MotoGP with, but the other bits were likely removed and replaced by the factory after its final race and before pre-season testing for the next season. The bike was then shuffled off into private hands. The previous owner, who did a track day on the machine, claims the heat coming off the bike while at speed is nearly unbearable, which is absolutely believable from the packaging of the engine and radiators.
The parts replacement makes for an interesting situation when it comes to valuation. The value of many race vehicles comes down to who’s sweat is still on the seat, and this one has the right stuff. Troy Bayliss might have finished behind his teammate in the overall championship for 2003—sixth to Capirossi’s fourth—but his name and the fact this bike is from the first year that Ducati joined modern GP racing make for an interesting valuation proposition. The eBay ad lists a line of nines for the asking price, but then states in the description that is not a real price and to reach out to the seller to discuss cost.
Curious as to what the seller might be after in terms of dollar signs, I talked to Hagerty information analyst James Hewitt, who says a bike of this stature coming up for public sale is so rare that it’s very tough to properly estimate its value. The closest comparable example is from a sale in Monaco in 2012, where a Ducati GP10 and GP11 sold through for roughly $320,000. Hewitt thinks that $300,000 is not out of the question for this GP3.
It’s a piece of history, and a fast one at that. Is it cool enough for you to drain your bank account as fast as this bike likely drains its gas tank? I think it will take a particular buyer to pull the trigger here, but this would be a wonderful museum piece or cornerstone to the right Ducati collection.