Benelli’s Superbike blitz
898cc, 3-cylinders, 140bhp, 280km/h
Peter Goddard’s Benelli Tornado (with twin-pipes)
Australians are really starting to heat up the world’s premier race tracks, with characters like Gary McCoy on his Yamaha GP bike and Troy Bayliss on the Italian Duke.
Another name is starting to crop up more and more in the World Superbikes and his ride is the rather conceptual Benelli Tornado.
A few years back, Peter Goddard raced in the Superbikes for Aprilia, essentially testing the then new Aprilia RSV1000 in 1999. Take a look at the bike now, ridden by another talented local rider – Troy Bayliss – and only last year the works Aprilia RSV1000 took third place in the 2000 World Superbike Championship.
What does this mean? Goddard is a great new bike tester. And that’s a good thing, because the 3-cylinder, 900cc Benelli Tornado is a quite a piece of machinery.
The Italian-built motorcycle has had a few teething problems earlier in the year, but now that Goddard has signed a two-year contract with Benelli, the testing/racing is actually going to count for something.
In the USA, Goddard managed to secure the final championship point in race two of the ninth round of the series. He placed 15th on the new three-cylinder Benelli, which saw its debut in the previous round at Misano in Italy, but did not complete either of the two races.
Goddard had this to say after the American race: It’s good to get our first championship point, and finishing both races here shows the reliability of the Benelli has improved since Misano. Now we need more engine performance, and that will come with development.
Well, we look forward to seeing the 37-year-old Wollongong lad in his next Superbike appearances as he and the bike are both improving at an alarming rate.
But what of the bike? Yeah, we think it looks pretty weird, but who cares – it goes plenty fast!
The bike, which looks very much like a concept or prototype jobbie, takes advantage of a number of dynamic contruction philosophies.
Firstly, Benelli wasn’t content with the generic position of the radiator – that is, at the front of the fairing, just behind the front wheel.
Putting up a number of arguments, such as the negative effect the ‘vaccum zone’ behind the front wheel has on cooling and the position of the radiator compared with the intake manifolds (which get very hot) all reduce the potential to cool the bike.
Therefore, the Benelli wizards decided to chuck the radiator under the seat. This way it receives fresh air from two vents, fed by narrow openings just below the turn lights. It may sound unorthodox, but it looks pretty groovy.
The straight 3-cylinder engine has a displacement of 898cc and favours electronic injection over carburetion. With four valves per cylinder, peak power is 140bhp (104kW) @ 11,500rpm and considering the bike weighs only 185kg, you’ll be doing some major burnouts on this one.
The six-speed Tornado is limited to 280km/h and stopping power is provided by four-piston calipers mated to twin 320mm dics up front and a single 180mm disc with a twin-piston caliper for the rear.
At present, the bike has no price tag, though Benelli is definitely releasing the bike to public this year. You can be sure it won’t come cheap, probably around the same price as the other top-flight Italian steeds (around $30,000), but the fact that something as totally innovative and different as the Tornado is actually coming is exciting in itself. Here is a link to the Benelli site so you can hear the very distinct music the triple makes when revving.
If Benelli and home-grown hero Peter Goddard can keep up their promising work on the race-track, we have no doubt that this bike will prove to be a hit off the track, too. Mister Benelli – we’ll take one!
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