La Carrera Panamericana Ducati Day 1 Report

October 23, 2011
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
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Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

2011 La Carrera Panamericana Day 1
Competitors in the 2011 La Carrera Panamericana left for Day 1 from the starting arch in Huatulco, Mexico.

The 24th Mexican Road Race, La Carrera Panamericana, kicked off with opening ceremonies in Huatulco, Mexico to start the seven-day rally. Ducati has entered a pair of its versatile Multistrada 1200 street bikes to accompany the 113 cars registered for the historic event. Day 1 saw the competitors heading north from Huatulco to Oaxaca, leaving the coastal terrain and heading into mountainous regions. The route was broken into transfer sections and 10 timed speed sections. Total mileage for Day 1 was 249 miles.

Neither of the Ducati riders, Carlin Dunne and British motojournalist, Roland Brown, have previous La Carrera Panamericana experience. As they laid tracks on their first day, the pair of MTS1200 pilots came across many obstacles but managed to reach the finish without major mishap. Dunne struck a vulture with his hand guard, but otherwise it was an uneventful day that saw both riders get into the spirit of the race and find their groove.

Motorcycle USA recently spent 10 days with a similar Ducati during our 2011 Adventure Touring Shootout. Learn more about the 2011 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring and see how it performs. It would be an excellent choice for a race like the La Carrera Panamericana.

Here’s the update from Ducati:

2011 La Carrera Panamericana Day 1
2011 La Carrera Panamericana Day 1
Ducati has entered a pair of riders on the Multistrada 1200, which are well suited to this type of road race event.

Any veteran of La Carrera Panamericana will tell you that the seven day road race can’t be won in the first day… only lost. This is a sentiment that rang through the paddock in the days leading up to the race and one that we have taken to heart. In fact, as far as we’re concerned, it cannot be won on the first, the second or even the last day. Our focus this week is not to win the race, but to ensure we finish it and make sure that there is a two wheeled class integrated next year and for many years to come. That said, when you take two fast pilots on two extremely capable bikes and place them at the front of the pack with the fastest cars of the day breathing down their necks, they aren’t going to waste any time getting to the finish line.

After months of anticipation and a few days of preparation, the race is here! Beginning in the heart of Huatulco, our two pilots sat perched in front of a crowd of spectators under the iconic La Carrera Panamericana arch. After a few words, race director Eduardo de León sends our boys on their way and they wheelie off of the start line to the delight of the crowd.

The race is organized into several speed stages, sections of the road closed off to the public for short periods of time, connected by “transit” stages throughout the day. With one hundred and twenty cars and two motorcycles to manage, it takes careful planning, precision and some help from the Mexican authorities to execute this properly.

Quickly into the first couple stages, the essence of the race is revealed. We had done our homework and heard lots of stories about La Carrera, but words cannot describe the epic nature of this race. It is sensory overload right from the beginning. The roads are some of the most phenomenal any of us have seen the world around and the natural beauty of the countryside competes for your attention with every turn. Estamos muy contentos!

Stay tuned for more as our journey continues.

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