Meanwhile, Louis or Luigino: Luigino is my first name.
You started in regularity where you won several six days per team, a European Championship and several Italian titles, then you decided to go to the world of rallying, why this choice?
On the occasion of "six days of San Pellegrino of 86" I was contacted by Daniele Papi, the then manager of Yamaha Belgarda which asked me if I was going to do some rallying.
I said immediately to you, the attraction for Africa I had as a child and being able to see riding a motorcycle which was my great passion was the crowning of a beautiful dream.
I started the adventure committing myself for Tunisia rally, Morocco, Pharaohs and the Dakar, the same races that I faced in 87.
In the ' 90 brought to debut the Gilera getting in two years good positions 8th and 7th overall, running in class silhouette. What was acting not compete in this class?
There were 3 categories, the series, where you couldn't change anything to the bike, the silhouette, where they were to remain the standard chassis and engine, While the rest could be replaced, for example the drains and tanks but not the wheels, Finally the class prototypes where the bike was built in pilot measure and the type of race and in the event you have a maximum of 3 spare engines and could change anything, with the exception of the frame.
I went to Gilera because Yamaha was not the team for me, i.e., When I was called to run, the team already existed and had Franco Picco as reference driver.
He was from the cross and I the regularity, two different driving styles, motorcycles in Japan were tested by him and when they came here to run were not suited to my riding style. So I suffered so much, I was hurt and in the end I decided to leave the Yamaha.
I wanted to prove myself to be able to do something good even in rallying and thus arose a bet. I met with Gianni Perini (Gilera) at the salone in Milan and I told him about my project and fired the spark.
Starting from the base of the bike which already ran in cross country, We started the development and we presented ourselves at the rally of Tunisia. The results were not egregious, but the project had already started and we drove by participating in the Pharaohs and further to Dakar.
The following year, always in Dakar, We obtained 3 stage wins with our bike from 600 CC against the most powerful prototype class. Great results but many personal satisfaction, How to arrive in this moto Gilera and there was practically nothing, start with the mechanics to build it for me, following my directives. Anything I asked, It was answered, even the tanks were shaped by the stylist on the print of my leg!
Then came the prototype, the RC 750 and everyone thought it was the year good to see an Italian bike with an Italian pilot in command of the Dakar. Instead what happened?
The prototype was built in record time and we debuted at the rally of Tunisia with a win.
Meanwhile reached the peak and also team, the Pharaohs I retired to a glitch on my bike. Peak instead, After the retirement of De Petri through injury he won the rally.
All presaged that the direction taken in the development of motorcycle, was the right one. We left for Dakar believe we can do great things, but unfortunately Spike got hurt after a few stages and I had to retire due to a technical problem the clutch, a defect never encountered previously in tests. The following year, all official teams, Cagiva, Gilera, Honda etc.. due to the economic crisis, the resulting drop in sales and interest for this type of motorcycles, decided to withdraw from competition.
Then I had 32 years and I didn't have the tenacity to start again with a new team. I decided to abandon the races. It was a mistake because then came KTM bringing new energy and interest in this type of competition and if I had stayed as did Mahmoud, most likely I might have had some other satisfaction.
Franco Picco's arrival on the team created rivalry? Are leave them both with the same chances or there was a top driver?
No there was no rivalry and both were leaving with the same chances.
My problem with him was just a technical question, already in Yamaha wanted a motorcycle other than that I could use I or grease that was on the team with us, He had a way to fine tune the bikes that were in my opinion too extreme, Motocross bike, with calibrations harsh and difficult to drive. He eventually, When we were about to leave for the race continued to work on settings. Try to sitemare the bike on the field for me was something impossible to play.
Only this was our discord, nothing personal.
Gilera in the deal were clear, the tests and adjustments on my bike I used them exclusively I.
We all know that in the regularity they used to hide behind some bushes in case of failure and replace the damaged parts, with the moto "Shadow".
The Dakar that ever happened something like? Tell an anecdote related to those years. It wasn't so easy in rallying do something, It was not easy to find in the desert bushes to hide. (ride)
During a marathon stage I broke the pipe that carried oil from the mono shock to the tank and the next day I would have had great difficulty to finish the stage and keep top spot. Let's say we made team play! Service parts and trucks were not allowed to download the bike was in Parc Ferme.
That night did I recover healthy cushion and entrusted to a friend journalist that the next morning would come down along the route to do its work.
We agreed and left me at a certain point in the route. The next day at the start of the stage with the other riders there we visit the place indicated and we replaced the mono even as the Organization's helicopter was landing for a control. Sotterrammo quickly the parts damaged in the sand and not finding it there left continue the race.
What has changed since the Paris Dakar then to new Dakar in South America?
I think now the Dakar is a competition a little more human, more feasible.
The first Dakar that I attended was 17.000 Km 18 days with one day of rest, practically 1.000 km per day. If then one day it did 800, does that mean that later were at least 1.200. Using bike very fast the risk was very high and accidents during those years there were so many. Another important aspect is that the first Dakar that I attended was the hand compass and it wasn't that simple to navigate and orient themselves. Although in the stages we left all together in the desert, After a few km there was lost to sight because everyone would choose its own course and after 20/30 km were alone.
Then as we got closer to the finish line we were beginning to see the horizon far splotches that slowly converge toward the same point.
It was just an adventure!
We know you've been in the field, What do you do?
Work for Scott bikes and Scott bike as an agent for the Triveneto.
Would you like to add something?
You have two things in my heart that I would like to say. The first is that the brothers Fernandez, When I got from them at 15 years welcomed me like a child. I slept in the room with one of their sons like one of the family.
This is an important reminder that I will have forever in the heart. The other is a special thanks to Gilera, to the team and to all those who were part of, especially Silvano Galbusera who was my trusted mechanic and crew chief of the team, and who is now with Valentino Rossi moto GP.
Text by: Peter Bartolomei
Photo: Archive Luigino Medardo