MOTORCYCLE thieves who snatched a one-of-a-kind £35,000 Italian "wonderbike" have left its owner broken-hearted.

Company director Felix Hirzel said the burglars who made off with his custom-built Ducati racing bike "don't know what they've got".

The distinctive 170mph machine, which was once ridden by international Superbike professional Anthony Gobert in 1998, was taken from a locked garage at his home in Rawcliffe.

He said: "The bike is not road registered, nor can it be legally registered for road use. I'm broken-hearted. It was my pride and joy. There are no words to express what has happened."

Intruders forced open a window to his garage and made off with the bike and accessories worth more than a thousand pounds. The haul included front and rear paddock stands, racing leathers, boots, gloves, helmets and spare parts. A number of power tools were also taken.

Mr Hirzel, 43, who works for Berkeley Process Control, at the York Science Park, Heslington, said very few of the parts on the bike could be used on a regular road machine.

He said: "Whoever has this bike probably has no idea what they have got. I bought it in 2001 and it was built specifically for the US Superbike championships by Ducati.

"I bought it through a personal contact at the firm. It's hard to say how much it is worth, because it depends what someone would be willing to pay, but somewhere between £25,000 and £35,000."

A York Police spokesman said officers were investigating the burglary, which took place between 10.30pm last Thursday and 7am the next day.

He said: "This motorbike was clearly something special and we would ask anyone who recognises the description, or has been offered bike parts in suspicious circumstances, to contact us on 0845 60 60 24 7."

The bike has two sets of fairings, both of which were taken. The one on the bike at the time was red, silver and black, with the number 195 on the front and rear and 3UP racing logos.

The bike's specification includes a 996cc engine, Ohlins front and rear suspension, Marchesini magnesium racing wheels, Termignoni titanium exhaust and Brembo brakes.

Two sets of wheels were taken. They were a black-painted set with Michelin Race 2 tyres and a gold-painted set with Michelin wet tyres.

The front tyre size is 120/70-17 and rear 180/55-17. They will not fit any other bike.

Updated: 10:19 Wednesday, July 06, 2005