Cagiva 906 Elefant SP
This Cagiva 906 Elefant SP was imported for the Australian Safari and Allan Cunynghame but was never raced
It’s not often you have the opportunity to re-photograph a bike 20 years after you originally shot it! However I was able to do just this late last year with this Cagiva Paris-Dakar bike.
Officially known as the 906 Elefant SP (according to the invoice from Ducati to the Australian importers), this bike was imported around 1994 with the expectation it would be ridden in the Australasian Safari by Allan Cunynghame (who had won the event in 1986 on a Yamaha, and his class in the 1992 event on a modified production Elefant).
This did not eventuate due to Cunynghame being injured, so the bike sat in Fraser’s head office, under a cover, for many years. I was first able to photograph it in 1997.
While the bike was sold by Cagiva/Ducati, the 906 Elefant SPs were an extremely limited production racer produced by Roberto Azzalin’s CH Racing. Azzalin was a founding owner of the Cagiva motorcycle business together with the Castiglioni brothers, and was the Cagiva Rally Team manager from 1984-1995.
While the pre-1991 P-D regulations allowed for an almost “anything goes” Prototype Class, from 1991 the bikes had to be more closely related to production machinery.
Edi Orioli won the Paris-Dakar for Cagiva in both 1990 and 1994 (and twice on other bikes).
While the works bikes had their motors built in the Ducati Race Department, and featured such improvements as special pistons and con rods, reinforced clutch and magnesium covers, the SP’s motor was not so highly tuned. It did have a specially reinforced five-speed gearbox in place of the standard six-speed unit.
Total fuel capacity was 51L – split between the 23L main tank and 28L rear tank). The 1640mm wheelbase is 90mm longer than the production bike!
Dry weight is 189kg, with a wet weight of 229kg. Power was 75hp at 7500rpm and max torque 70Nm at 5500rpm. Price when new was approximately €20,000.
Around 10 years ago it was sold to its current owner, Ian Hopkins, and I was able to do a more detailed shoot of it a few months ago.
It is surely the definitive example of this rare and exotic model as it is completely original condition (in white), and has never been started!