The Legend and the Genius of Ducati Racing

It all began with the 1955 Ducati  Gran Sport, the magnificent design effort from Fabio Taglioni.

Taglioni and Ducati made the decision to take a shot at the 125 Grand Prix World Championship, and for their entry, they settled on a double overhead cam version of their bevel single design.

Marianna, the nickname for the Gran Sport, was a limited production machine built specifically for racing and it ultimately won the 100cc class  at the Motogiro d’Italia – on the first try.

Featuring a single overhead cam driven by straight cut bevel gears, the 100cc powerplant generated a startling  9,000 rpm.

But it was GP glory Taglioni wanted and his solution was to design a double overhead camshaft head for a 125cc version of the Gran Sport. That version  cranked up 11,500 rpm and generated a modest 16 bhp, but it didn’t stand a chance against the MV Augustas, Gileras and Mondiales of the day.

It may not have set the world on fire with its performance, but the 1955 prototype was a real looker.
This one, restored under the supervision of Hugo Gallina , has a  hand made alloy copy of the original dustbin fairing as seen in this photograph by Phil Aynsley.

The racing failure of the Gran Sport led Taglioni to solve problems with valve float and a shaky transmission by getting rid of  standard valve springs completely by creating his Desmodromic valve system.

By 1959, the  DOHC 125 Desmo Racer won a Grand Prix race in Ulster with a 19-year-old Mike Hailwood on board, and the legend had begun.

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