Greetings from the hills of Tuscany, where your foreign correspondent has just finished a glorious day riding a Ducati Panigale 959 on the historic track Mugello, as part of the Ducati Riding Experience. I’d like to share with IDesmo my report of the day, along with some helpful tips that might be useful to you if you decide to attend in the future.
The Ducati Riding Experience currently offers three distinct course offerings that would appeal to three different types of riders – Safety, Racetrack, and Enduro. Within the Racetrack offerings, you can sign up for certain levels that correspond to your experience. The locations of these courses differ depending on the dates and type that you choose. The Racetrack offerings take place either at Misano, which I reported on last year on this site, and Mugello. Now that I’ve ridden both tracks, I can easily proclaim Mugello to be my favorite, however, both locations are incredibly fun and certainly worth the trip.
Helpful Tip: The great side benefit of both locations is that they are both about 90 minutes from Bologna, which affords a convenient opportunity for a factory and museum visit during your time in the country – These are must-see locations if you’re traveling to Italy!
This is a Ducati produced event, supported by Ducati management and their employees for the purpose of promoting Ducati passion, riding skill, and brand loyalty. Ducati does a fantastic job making sure the whole process is smooth and the logistics of the day are well managed. They’ve even dedicated a website for it, which offers you the opportunity to sign up for updates regarding the schedule, which is generally released around March. You can access it here
Once the schedule is published, this is also the website where enrollment takes place. This is where you pick the course you want, for the dates you prefer, and any gear selections you have if you choose to rent their equipment. The enrollment page will ask you about your riding experience and your language preference so that you are placed into the right group for the course.
Helpful Tip: If you’re interested in attending any DRE course, I highly recommend that you sign up for the newsletter notification. When the new schedule is published, the courses tend to sell-out quickly – in other words, if you’re serious about crossing this off your bucket list, you need to have your mind made up by late February that you’re going on an adventure. Also: Make sure you contact Greg McDaniel BEFORE signing up for a course so that he can send you the discount code. Idesmo members receive a 20% discount (over $200 off).
This review covers the Racetrack experience at Mugello. I’ve not attended the Enduro course or the Safety course, but I would imagine that all DRE events are managed in much the same fashion.
At Mugello this year, the schedule for the day was identical to the schedule we had last year at Misano, beginning with a morning credential check-in and coffee. This is staffed by bilingual Ducati folks who are very friendly and helpful. If you rent gear, this is the time for picking that up. All of your equipment is pre-bagged and ready to hand over to you once you check in. If your size isn’t exactly right, they’ve got plenty of everything to get you what you need. Of course, you can also bring your own gear and save some money. This option has only one downside that I can think of, and that is having to check in extra luggage.
A video company, Photohouse, is also nearby if you choose to purchase photos and drone video footage of your day. I’ve attached examples of their work below.
Once the check-in process is complete, everyone moves to the morning briefing in the press room where the MotoGp press conferences are held. This begins with an introduction of the instructors, all of whom are either current or former professional racers with championship pedigree. The lead instructor then goes over the rules for the day and reviews basic track riding tips including body position, brake points, riding lines and track layout.
Once the briefing is over, everyone is split up into groups of five and assigned an instructor. Track sessions begin around 10:00am and last about 20 minutes each. In total, there are 5 sessions, all of which include debrief discussions where onboard GoPro footage is used to breakdown the finer points of your riding.
Helpful Tip: I learned the hard way from my experience at Misano that a lack of familiarity with a track can cost you a lot of time, speed, and confidence. While it’s virtually impossible to have any real familiarity with a track you’ve never ridden, it IS possible to have VIRTUAL familiarity with a track you’ve never ridden. (see what I did there?)
Here’s how: If you’ve got a game console like an Xbox or Sony Playstation, get yourself the MotoGP 15 or 17 game. These games have very accurate representations of all the GP tracks, including Misano and Mugello. You can even select an option within the game that displays the ideal track line in front of your bike while you race. I did this prior to my trip to Mugello and I cannot overstate how much it helped me in my preparation. Obviously, you don’t experience the physics of the braking and acceleration, but you will learn enough about the track to be able to predict the path forward after each corner. Having one less thing to think about is especially important at a track like Mugello, where the physical demands of the track are noticeably higher than in Misano.
For those without a gaming console, I would recommend searching YouTube for any onboard footage for those tracks prior to attending.
One of the great barriers to pulling the trigger on this adventure is figuring out how you’re going to get there and where you’ll be staying once you arrive. The traveling part is the most expensive, logistically challenging, and least enjoyable aspect for a trip like this. I can’t offer much to alleviate any of that, but I CAN recommend a great place to stay in Florence that’s 20 minutes from the track.
Villa Campestri is an olive oil farm in the hills of Tuscany that I found totally by accident. Quite by surprise, this place exceeded every expectation and almost overshadowed my track day. Almost.
My only regret is that I only booked 2 nights there, and spent my other evenings closer to Florence. When I go back someday, you’ll know where to find me. I might not come back.
My experience in Mugello was even more fulfilling than my time at Misano a year ago. In both cases, I came away with lessons that will surely improve my riding performance, while enjoying the beauty and wonder of Italy. Ducati takes pride in producing a world class experience for those willing to make the trip – and it shows. Those of you who may need to convince your significant other about the merits of traveling to Italy for a track day should consider bringing them along. Once they sample the food and the scenery, your companion will be in your debt – trust me. And, If you still have questions about this course that are unanswered, please feel free to reach out to me – I’m more than happy to provide more feedback.
Article written by Vincent Cascella – iDesmo Member