Then there’s that moment. The moment where the only person who can hear and feel your excitement is you…


Taking to a track that you’ve never been on before, on a motorcycle that’s foreign to you is much like the kid’s game Connect the Dots.

Prematurely, you try to make out the figure that will shortly appear on the page. You might even spend more energy on it than you need too.

At first, it seems disjointed and abstract. But as you use the ballpoint of the pen, take your time, and obediently draw lines from one number to the next, those lines will commence shape.

Aaaaah, so that’s what it is… It turns from angular to organic.

You stop trying to predict the silhouette on the page because you just go with the flow. You trust the numbers. You make a shape. That shape manifests as your first lap of the Adria International Raceway, a circuit northeast of Bologna in Italy.

Your ‘writing’ tool?

The Ducati 899 Panigale.

While you’re trying to get your footing around the sinuous curves of the track, you have to remember to breathe, relax and focus. In no particular order. After all, when the light turns green and it’s your turn to head out and master your skills and your bike, those three things will come in very handy.

Ducati’s Riding Experience (DRE) is open to all those who are looking to hone their motorcycling abilities from some incredible riders and teachers. A mixture of theory and practical application helps participants understand why you need to do the things you do, and then do them!

To get your feet wet, they don’t just hand you keys to the bike, show you to the raceway and say, “Have fun.” Though, that would be fun, in a stressful kind of way! – Slow speed skills are assessed and coaches are on hand to give you some pointers.

The next day of the 2-day Racing Level 1 program is a long day; a day that’s filled with ups and downs. Ups because the nemesis corner has now become your greatest strength. Downs because you just want to get better and better but you’re feeling so tired. And want just one more lap around the track to prove to yourself you can do it better.

With the sun beating down on you, it’s a blessing and a curse. It makes for amazing track conditions, but it does get mighty warm inside a one-piece leather racing suit. But hey, it’s worth every drop of sweat.

Then there’s that moment. The moment where the only person who can hear and feel your excitement is you. For riders, the first time you drag your knee in a corner is a memorable experience. It’s your first and will forever be. I had my first at this track and it was glorious.

That wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the encouragement of both my instructor and the Panigale. With its smooth revving Superquadro L-Twin, liquid cooled, 898 cc engine has both the grunt and purr to help you get quicker and quicker.

The 6-speed transmission with DQS (Ducati Quick Shift) allows you to upshift with an open throttle, helping you get up to speed on the straight stretch. And twin discs up front and one in the rear, get you slowed down in a flash for the left-hand turn after the straight.

As the adrenaline pumps through your veins did you remember to breath, relax and focus?

Maybe next lap!

The certificate that’s handed to you with your name on at the end of the day is evidence of a job well done.  It represents the effort you put into developing your confidence on two wheels and the strength it took, both physically and mentally, to get through it all in one piece.

And after a fulfilling, educational and uplifting experience, you know can breathe, relax and focus on the next adventure. Wherever that may be.

For more information on the Ducati Riding Experience program, click here.

Visit for more information on the 899 Panigale.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Recently retired late night show host, Jaguar collector and classic car enthusiast, Jay Leno, and Jaguar Design Director, co-driver Ian Callum, are legends of the automotive industry…

KM Callum&leno

The famous Mille Miglia rally in Italy was packed full of famous cars and equally famous drivers this past week.

But when it comes to prodigious competition histories paired with A-list names, the combination of Jaguar Heritage Racing’s 1951 Ecurie Ecosse XK 120 roadster with Jay Leno and Ian Callum was hard to beat.

Well, maybe. Regular Driveway readers will recall that yours truly and my friend George Holt did the recent Hagerty Spring Thaw rally around BC in a 1954 XK 120 roadster.

But I digress.

Recently retired late night show host, Jaguar collector and classic car enthusiast, Leno, and Jaguar Design Director, co-driver Callum, are legends of the automotive industry – and at the famous road endurance rally, the rare roadster complemented their presence.

Prior to the event, Callum said: “As a Scotsman, Ecurie Ecosse is incredibly close to my heart – so the chance to drive this incredible XK 120 through Italy is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Factor in a co-driver who’s almost as much of a Jaguar man as me – and there’s no doubt I’m going to love every minute!”

Leno commented: “I’m fortunate to have an XK 120 in my garage – not to mention a few other incredible cars from Coventry – but this Ecurie Ecosse XK 120 is one of the most beautiful Jaguars ever built. I absolutely adore it. It’s a real honour to be asked to drive it on the Mille Miglia and to be able to revel in its history with someone like Ian is a true privilege.”

One of the most valuable and important XK 120s in the world, ‘LXO 126’ is the only surviving example of three original cars built to launch the Scottish racing team in 1952. A race winner in its period, it is most famously associated with raffish Anglo-Scottish aristocrat Sir James Scott-Douglas.

Scott-Douglas competed in a number of endurance races across Europe with Ecurie Ecosse and even went on to keep ‘LXO 126’ as a road car in 1953. In the same year, the car returned to the race track at the infamous Nurburgring; Ecurie Ecosse mechanics hastily converting it back into a competition car when one of the team’s C-type’s met with an accident.

Since then the car has been the subject of a meticulous restoration. Resplendent in the classic Flag Metallic Blue of the Ecurie Ecosse racing team, it was recently sold by Bonhams Auctions for more than $1-million at the end of 2013 and has been loaned to Jaguar Heritage Racing for the event.

It wasn’t the only Ecurie Ecosse car in Italy for the event – the Ecurie Ecosse C-type and D-type the original Ecurie Ecosse racing transporter were also present at the start in Brescia.

At press time, Jaguar Heritage Racing planned to tackle the legendary endurance event with a line-up of top-name drivers. The route includes more than 1,000 gruelling miles (1,600 kilometres), hence the name, from Brescia-Rome-Brescia in ten of the most revered and sought-after historic Jaguar cars ever produced.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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