Welcome, and I fear you've come to the wrong place if you need to ask that questionSecondly, what modifications are the most sensible, practical or essential that I could or should look at making?
I have a feeling this could very easily become a money pit if I am not careful
Two-valve air cooled Ducatis can become an obsession with some (me included).
You mention hi-comp pistons already, which is a good start. I guess I'd be going for "non engine" related things first.
- An open air box with aftermarket filter. Simply cut the top off your existing airbox, but leave enough around the sides to still attach with the original clips.
- High level end cans. There's loads about, and eBay is probably once again your friend.
- SIL motor Spaghetti exhaust header system. Spareshack is probably the best place to source them in the UK, although the business has changed hands in the last 12 months or so.
That'll probably cover the initial power/torque mods. Next you could look at an Ohlins rear shock and lighter wheels perhaps. After that you're into cracking the engine cases and going down the big bore, port, flow, balance, bigger valves, hotters cams route.
Suddenly you've spent a whole lot of money
Ducatisti is mentioned above, there's also the Ducati Sporting Club and Italian Sporting Club in the UK, both forums worth checking out.
The Ducati Sporting Club runs a race series for 600 carbed and 620 injected engine bikes.
I'm racing a 1000SS in the UK's National Endurance series - http://www.kapitalmoto.com I see you're in Norwich, why not come and say hello when we're racing at Snetterton on August 15th. Or we're at Cadwell on July 4th if you fancy the journey.
Check out the bikes on the German Kaemna website - http://www.kaemna.de/cms_en/tu_example.htm