Ducati 1198: 88.8 pts
As mentioned in the street capsule, the Ducati's increased power has transformed its character, making it a much more fun bike to ride. The 1198's drives off the corners are stronger, and with the increased speed of the racetrack, wheelies are not the problem that they are on the street (well, if you consider wheelies a problem). Spring rates seem to be softer, as the suspension was much more compliant over Buttonwillow's many nasty bumps, allowing more control during those stronger drives off the corners. And the Ducati's trademark stability is there in spades, keeping things from getting unruly as long as you stay on top of the 1198's many demands when ridden aggressively.
Unfortunately, those demands can become increasingly difficult to meet as the pace heats up. One problem is that due to the flat and wide clip-on bar angle required to maintain switch control clearance with the fuel tank, it can be difficult to avoid unnecessary inputs into the bars accelerating at lean over bumps; in order to keep your weight forward during acceleration, you have to use your arms a lot-which can cause unwanted inputs into the bars because of the leverage.
We also found that the 1198 seemed to run out of breath a bit after the initial jump off the corner, and the G2X data backs up this impression. The 1198 actually seems to rev slower than the 1098, and it especially lacked the top-end ferocity of the 1098R, which has the same bore and stroke as the 1198. This could be due to a number of factors, including crankshaft/reciprocating weight (the 1098R uses lighter titanium rods), fueling/ignition timing, etc. Nonetheless, even though the Ducati brought up the rear in lap times, it was only 0.7 seconds behind the group in front of it, so it's more than capable-it's just a lot more work.
Yamaha YZF-R1: 89.7 pts
If spotting the competition up to 15 horsepower (and up to 39 pounds!) was bad on the street, it was an insurmountable disadvantage on the track. The new R1 has most of the elements for a superb sportbike, but that imbalance of those two key ingredients combine to drop it down the rankings.
Make no mistake, the Yamaha is still a stellar performer, and can more than hold its own in the sections of the track that don't rely on outright horsepower. Again, it's in the partial-throttle acceleration, slow-to-midrange-speed cornering situations where the Yamaha engine excels, with Siahaan explaining, "The way the R1 delivers power is so predictable, it inspires you to get on the gas sooner and harder...it's so easy to modulate the amount of power you're feeding in." But once the straight opens up, the Yamaha's lack of top-end is readily apparent; "The R1 comes off the corners great," related Kunitsugu, "but things definitely peter out up top. You actually have to shift quite a bit early to get the most out of it."
Suspension action from the separately-adjustable (right for rebound, left for compression damping) Soqi fork and single rear shock was surprisingly good, although some wished for a little less high-speed compression damping up front. The Yamaha's chassis exhibited precise steering manners with decent front-end feedback, but took more effort to flick into a corner than the Honda or the Kawasaki. Brakes also became an issue with the R1 at Buttonwillow, with nearly all testers citing decent power, but a distinct lack of feel and modulation that hampered corner entry; "Note to Yamaha," wrote Olsen, "Please change your brake pad compound."