Motor Valley – Emilia Romagna MotorValley Official Site
Ducati, the queen of two-wheeled vehicles
It was 1926 when the three Kn. Ducati brothers – Adriano, Bruno and Marcello – first founded the Scientific Company Radio Brevetti Ducati for the production of electric and mechanical materials.
In harsh times like the post-war period, the company managed to turn itself around thanks to a motorbike – or, more precisely, a 48cc engine mounted on a bicycle and marketed as Cucciolo.
In the Fifties, the era of the first long-distance races, Ducati entered a number of competitions with its Gran Sport 100 and 125 – also called Marianna – designed by engineer Fabio Taglioni.
In 1990 the motorcycle manufacturing company from Bologna won the first International Superbike Championship, and became a leading name in the field of motor racing for the following 10 years. Among its most famous motorcycles were the 916, the 996 and the 999. At present, Ducati is enjoying new successes in the MotoGP Championship.
The TPG group, headed by Federico Minoli, owned the company from 1996 to 2002 and achieved outstanding results in terms of sales, going from 12,117 units in 1996 to 39,607 units in 2002. However, on March 1, 2006 Ducati returned to Italian ownership with the sale of Texas Pacific’s stake (30% minus one share) to Investindustrial Holdings, the investment fund of Andrea Bonomi (son of Carlo Bonomi and nephew of Anna Bonomi Biolchini, the legendary Stock Exchange Lady).
And Bonomi has an ace in the hole: Porsche. The leading sports car manufacturer from Germany has in fact signed an industrial plan which is expected to revitalize the Ducati brand.
The Ducati headquarters also host a very interesting Ducati Museum.
The Ducati Museum
The Ducati Museum first opened in 1998. The exhibition is divided into two main areas: the first one – shaped like an arc and reminiscent of the bends of a racetrack – is more theatrical than the other, as it hosts the legendary Ducati motorcycles which have won circuit and road races from 1946 to the present day. The other main area of the museum – which is divided into smaller sections – provides visitors with more detailed information about the history of the company while focusing on specific topics.
In particular, the first section of the second area is centered on Cucciolo and Ducati’s debut as a motorcycle manufacturing company, while the following section focuses on Marianna’s successes in long-distance competitions. Twin-cylinder bikes and parallel triple trees – inevitably tied to the name of Mike Hailwood and to the brilliant mind of engineer Taglioni – are the main topic of room n. 3. Room 4, on the other hand, is dedicated to Ducati’s return to official races with its ground-breaking L-shaped twin-cylinder bikes – the ones which would help Paul Smart win Imola’s 200 Miglia in 1972, and grant first place to Mike Hailwood at the Tourist Trophy in 1978.
Room number 5 focuses on the Pantah engine, the key to success for TT2 and 750F1 bikes in major competitions throughout the Eighties. Finally, the sixth section of the area describes the birth of the revolutionary four valve engine, created by Bondi and Mengoli in 1986 and a key to the company’s success in the Superbike championship.
At the end of the exhibition is a presentation of the latest Racing models.
Visitors can also enjoy a short tour of the company’s headquarters and get familiar with the different phases of their production process.
Source: Emilia-Romagna Terra di Motori (Giunti, 2004)
A 27-time record Cucciolo
Soon after the end of WWII, Ugo Tamarozzi had the honor of bringing the first Ducati motorcycle into the limelight. His motorcycle was in fact a micro-cycle named Cucciolo and equipped with a small 4-stroke single-cylinder engine. The Ducati brothers had just started producing it.
Tamarozzi was a motorcyclist from the Brianza area who had achieved outstanding results in regularity races. However, he became famous for breaking the Class 1 world record for 27 times on his Ducati Cucciolo. Class 1, which applied to motorcycles with engines up to 50cc, had been created soon after the end of WWII as a result of the incredible success of this kind of vehicles.
However, nobody had yet tried to use these motorcycles to compete.
Tamarozzi would therefore start from scratch, with no reference points to compare his results with. He rode for 6 hours at an average of 55 km per liter and filled up only once. He would in fact break a series of records – duration, distance and halfway time.
On May 16, 1950 he tried to break a new record – the 12-hour duration, specifically. This time he would race with Glauco Zitelli, another expert driver of small-engine motorcycles. Despite the bad weather, the two managed to smash all previous records which, incidentally, had been set by Tamarozzi himself.
They also managed to break 8 new records – all related to 7- to 12-hour-long races.
Later that year, on November 13, Tamarozzi and Zitelli tackled 48-hour-long races in an attempt to set new records. They took turns with other riders to complete their task.
The race started at noon. The riders ran 486 laps, during which Principato, the event timekeeper, never took turns with any other official, thus breaking a record himself.
The race was a huge success, and new records had been set by the end of it, such as 24-hour duration and highest speed – recorded at peaks of 76 km/h, a remarkable result considering that the motorcycles were nothing more than a motorized bicycle.
Pirelli tires, Magneti Marelli spark plugs, Dell’Orto carburetors and Regina chains contributed to Cucciolo’s series of successes – a sure sign of Ducanti’s and other sponsors’ growing interest in motor races.
Cucciolo was the result of brilliant idea, occurred to SIATA (Italian Company for Auto and Aerial Technical Applications) employee Luigi Farinelli, a lawyer from Turin. The company started producing the motorbike in 1945. However, Cucciolo was so successful that SIATA could not keep up with the demand, and therefore an agreement with Ducati was reached in 1946.
In all the different models it came in, Cucciolo was in production for thirteen years, from 1946 to 1958. In fact, at first only the motor unit was produced, and the first real, complete motorcycle would not be built until later, in 1952. The engine weighed about 8 kilos and it could reach a speed of 35 km/h – 65 km/h for Sports models.
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