Piovaticci Grand Prix Racers

During the weekend we were lucky enough to be invited by 3 time Grand Prix world champ Eugenio Lazzarini to grab a few photos of a couple of his small capacity (50cc, 125cc) ‘Piovaticci’ Grand Prix machines which are currently being restored in Pesaro, Italy. Lazzarini had a colourful 15 year career riding for amongst others; Derbi, Morbidelli, Maico, Kreidler and Garelli, winning in the late 1970s a 125cc title (Morbidelli) and two 50cc titles (IPREM/Kreidler). However, in the early 70s he rode for a little known marque called Piovaticci.

Piovaticci was started by Egidio Piovaticci and Eugenio Lazzarini himself and produced 125cc and 250cc GP machines which competed with frankly, mediocre results against the more established teams of Morbidelli and Maico. 1974, Jan Thiel and Martin Mijwaart of the successful Dutch GP motorcycle manufacturer Jamathi, were recruited to help develop a 50cc monocoque-framed racer. The development of this bike produced an innovative and highly competitive machine which resulted in a 2nd place in the 1975 season. Unfortunately, at the end of the ’75 season, due to funding issues, Piovaticci was disbanded and the racing division sold to Bultaco- the 50cc design going on to win championships in the hands of riders like Angel Nieto (in fact the Bultaco engines were cast from moulds taken off the Piovaticci engine!).

The smaller 50cc machine is constructed around a stainless steel monocoque chassis with the 50cc engine slung underneath. The engine was machined from aluminium and its horizontal cylinder (like the lower cylinder of a Ducati twin) allowed for the bikes extremely low vertical profile. The cast magnesium Ringhini wheels were the first ever seen on a 50cc GP motorcycle, Ceriani forks/single disc brake up front and a single Koni shock at the rear kept handling under control. It produced 15-20hp @ 16,000rpm and weighed around 50kg; check in luggage-able between tracks!

The more conventional 125cc Piovaticci is based around a tubular steel frame. The motor was a modified Maico conventional two-stroke unit. Ceriani forks and spoked wheels with Fontana brake organised the handling. The fiberglass bodywork was moulded with recesses to accommodate the knees and elbows of the rider; allowing a more streamlined profile. The 125 didn’t achieve the success of the 50cc, reaching 5th place in the 1973 and ’75 championships.

Eugenio and his two brothers Enzo and Giancarlo (both successful racers in their own rights) now run a successful motorcycle dealership in Pesaro. Their website has some interesting bits and pieces; a small online ‘museum’ of their racing exploits and info on the brothers themselves. Enzo Lazzarini has also written a book called Lazzarini: Storie di uomini, pensieri, vittorie, emozioni chronicling their racing careers. Big thanks to the Lazzarini brothers and Mattia for leaving us alone with the bikes!

Katherine E. Ackerman

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