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Manfred Van-naked | Gassit Garage | Long Term

When the weather gods frowned the Ducato provided divine inter-van-tion

I am a motorcyclist who has never owned a car. This is not a pathetic and stubborn way to prove my militant two-wheeled totality to a world that couldn’t give a shit anyway. It’s simply because I can’t see the point in owning a tin box in which I couldn’t live reasonably comfortably should I ever become homeless and destitute (again), or in which I can’t carry a stricken or unregistered motorcycle. I’m a van man.

Proving the worth of mobile boxes yet again, our trusty Fiat Ducati Maxi came to the rescue prior to our recent nakedbike group test. With a last-minute loss of people power from our test team, plus freak weather taking out large swathes of our intended test route, we were forced to whip up an emergency plan to save the whole test from being washed away with the Great Ocean Road. Swiftly, four of the bikes and a mountain of bags were loaded into the Fiat, and we set sail across the flooded plains of south western Victoria towards Mount Gambier, where we based ourselves for three days of intense testing on road and track.

It’s never the best solution to transport a perfectly good, fuelled, and road legal motorcycle in a van, but when the alternative is to abandon the opportunity to fang the seven best supernakeds on the planet around a magical place like Mount Gambier MCC’s Mac Park race circuit, well, thank the good lord Gassit for Fiat!

Of course no private track session can be wasted by not indulging in a bit of pre-session van racing, just to make sure the Mac Park newbies know where they are going before being trusted with a $150K worth of motorcycles. I must say that Fiat must be taking full advantage of their long connection with the Factory Yamaha MotoGP team, as the Ducato’s electronic stability control and roll-over mitigation strategies seemed very well calibrated for track use.

Although it was Sport Editor Paul McCann who drew the short straw to drive the van back to Melbourne while the rest of us galloped home via the Otway Ranges on our favourite pony, he seemed more than content nestled in the captain’s seat, three days of naked thrashing still fresh in his mind and his weary bones.