Piero and Giovanni Laverda gave Cathcart some insight into kick starting Marco Lucchinelli's career on the Laverda 3C 1000. Also setting the record straight on where the Spaceframes are now...
Future 500GP World Champion Marco Lucchinelli began racing internationally on the Laverda 3C 1000 at just 20 years old in 1975 – an arrangement that happened almost by accident… Laverda also gave insight into where the Spaceframes ended up!
Check out our Throwback Thursday of the Laverda 3C 1000 here…
Piero Laverda: “In preparation for the 1975 season we went to Mugello to conduct a 24-hour simulation test, completely in private, with no press present. We started in the morning, and then our factory test rider Fernando Cappelotto crashed and one of the bikes caught fire, but not big damage. So I asked Roberto Gallina who had been racing for us for several years if he knew any rider who could come and join us, and maybe could be a reserve rider for the 24-hour race in Barcelona later that year.
“Roberto told me, “Piero, I have a young boy from my home town of La Spezia named Marco Lucchinelli, who has been racing 250 and 350 two-strokes – he’s not very experienced, but he’s really promising – he’s working driving a refuse truck.” Mugello is not so far from La Spezia, about two hours, so I told him, “OK, please call this boy, we have the opportunity to test him today if he wants to ride for us.” My dealer in La Spezia gave him a 3C 1000 to ride to Mugello, and in a few hours, Lucchinelli was with us, ready for the test that afternoon.”
“I remember he was very young, just 20 years old, so I let him sit on the bike and I said to him, “Listen, Mr Lucchinelli, you are here just because we need an extra reserve rider for Spain, so you have nothing to prove to us, just ride easily and quietly to learn this machine, because in any case you’ll come to Spain with us. Anyway we already had one machine catch fire, so not another, please!” He said, “OK, OK, no problem!” – and then he goes out to ride. Within four laps, he has gone faster than everybody else – four laps! And no crash, unbelievable! So he went out on the track as a reserve rider, and came back in as an official starting rider!”
“But I must tell you that in the beginning when he raced with us, Marco had a very good, positive, strong character. Only later, when he became World champion, that’s when things started to go wrong for him with the drugs and suchlike, so he spent some time in jail before eventually getting cured. I remember during the Montjuic 24 Horas he got a flat tyre on this street circuit, so he was riding slowly back to the pits on our bike when he was hit from behind by one of the crazy local riders on a Bultaco or Montesa single, trying to pass him – but he hit Lucchinelli hard on the knee.”
“Marco managed to get back to the pits but he was in tears because of the pain – he was really crying hard. So I said, “What happened?” and he explained it to me. So I asked the other driver Fougeray to go and ride as long as possible, called the ambulance, and sent Marco to the hospital in Barcelona with one of our staff, where they checked him with X-rays and found everything was OK, just a big bruising. So then Marco came back to the track, and after Fougeray did two back to back sessions, he went out again, and in the end they came sixth – a fantastic result after being hit, and going to the hospital in the middle of the race! But the guy on the Bultaco never came to say sorry……”
Where are the Spaceframe Laverda 3C 1000’s Now?
So what happened to the Laverda factory Endurance racers after their retirement from racing – at least in the hands of the works team’s riders?
“Since no written records are available today, it’s difficult to say with certainty how many 3C Spaceframes were built,” says Giovanni Laverda. “It seems probable that all the frames and engines had no identification numbers stamped. After the racing season, with two works bikes entered in each race, they all came back to the factory, and were disassembled and reconditioned, so the parts were all mixed up, and nobody can say ‘This is Gallina’s bike from Spa, or that’s Lucchinelli’s bike from Mugello’. It seems likely there were four complete bikes built, including the early ‘75 prototype – certainly no more than five machines, anyway.”
“Of these, one bike was fitted with FLAM cast aluminium wheels from our foundry near Gallarate, and put on display on the Moto Laverda stand at the November 1975 Milan Show, then later on kept on display in the factory entrance. Today we keep it in the Laverda family’s collection, and occasionally bring it to Historic race meetings – it’s completely original, obviously.”
“Then later in 1976 two bikes and several spare-parts were sent to the UK, to Laverda importer Slater Bros. The aim was to race them in UK races and in the FIM Endurance series with Pete Davies and Martin Russell as riders, but this never happened, probably because of budget. The bikes stayed on display in Slater’s dealership, until in the late 1970s they were sold to private customers Alan Bell, and Phil Todd. These two bikes later changed ownership several times – one was even used as a road bike complete with licence plate! – before finally ending up in Holland in the hands of the late Cor Dees. One now belongs to Gijs van Dijk in Holland, and the other to Werner Ricciolini here in Italy, who bought the complete Laverda bike collection from Dees before he sadly passed away.”
“The final bike went to France, and was entered in the 1977 and 1978 Bol d’Or by a private team. Later the engine stayed in France and is owned today by a collector there, but the frame came back to the factory. This was later sold to Cor Dees, and today is owned by an American collector, who is trying to build up a complete bike. So today there are three original bikes known in the laverdisti community, plus one frame in the USA, and one engine in France. The three complete bikes are owned by the Laverda family, Gijs van Dijk and Werner Ricciolini, and besides that, there are about 15 replicas built in recent years by several collectors all around the world!”
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