Italy is known for many things, be it the history of the place or the food. But one thing that sounds melodic to our ears is the world Automobiles and Italy is the famous for housing some of the most good looking brands of the world. Although some of the most exotic cars come from this place on Earth, we will not talk about them here. Motorcycles are what we love and Italy gave us brands like Ducati, Benelli, MV Augusta and MotoGuzzi. Italy also gave us some of the best Motorsports riders and teams and it also gave us Giancarlo Morbidelli.
Somewhere in the middle of last century, obsession for the motorcycles grew exponentially, so much so, that in 1950s, 60s and 70s, many riders decided to build their own bike for racing purposes. One such man was Giancarlo Morbidelli. He was among the few hobbyist who not only build his bike, but also won racing on it. Initially started as a hobby, the Grand Prix wins gave him credibility and the small shop behind Morbidelli’s woodworking machine factory in Pesaro, Italy, launched top-level racing machines that earned four GP world championships.
Morbidelli was doing well at the racing circuits, producing 50cc and 125cc machines, throughout the 1960s. But, if things go all fine throughout, its not called life! 1972, Morbidelli’s top rider, Giberto Parlotti, crashed and died at the Isle of Man TT while leading the points chase. Morbidelli was in dilemma to continue building bikes for racing, but was urged by friends to carry on. The perseverance paid off and Paolo Pileri won the 125cc title, giving Morbidelli his first world championship in 1975. He didn't stop there and went on to win two more successive titles in the 125cc class, with Pier Paolo Bianchi.
Pier Paolo Bianchi riding 125cc at Misano
The craze for the race was so much so that, Pileri crashed in a 125 race in 1973 at Czechoslovakia, and broke his shoulder. While he was in the hospital, he waited for the moment to escape and finally escaped through a window to ride in the 250 event. This was the same event which he was leading up to a quarter-mile from the flag when his engine broke and later pushed the bike across to finish second.
Around 1975s, Japanese manufacturer took over the racing scene of Italy, with Kawasaki and Honda doing well in the results. To change the scenario, Morbidelli teamed up with Benelli in 1976 to battle the Japanese invasion. He was so good with the bikes that the Kawasaki actually bought one of his bikes to learn some tricks Morbidelli employed in its engine. Meanwhile, many riders were eager to buy Morbidelli’s 125 and 250cc machines.
Eugenio Lazzarini won three world championships including the 125cc title in 1978 on a Morbidelli Benelli
Moving ahead in time, Graziano Rossi (needless to say, whose father he is) came on board the team and earned third place in the 1979 250 title. Rossi went on to ride the 500 Square-Four prototype, which Morbidelli had developed with suspension help from Enzo Ferrari. But, this also marked the end of the Morbidellia era, as his son got interested in the Formula 1 car racing. Nonetheless, he had established an impressive record as an independent builder, a man Rossi called “one of the best technicians in the world.”
This was one of the most engaging chapters in the international racing scene, the period when Italian brands like Moto Guzzi, Benelli, Moto Morini, Gilera, Ducati and Piaggio rose to prominence.
Graziano Rossi (father of, you know who) won three GrandPrix on Morbidelli