Franco Picco Gilera RC 750

One of the most beautiful Gilera, the RC 750!
Special thanks to Clement Canino for the photos provided.

Anita-gilera 1989

Lalay and Gilera together in 1990?

There was a time when Gilles Lalay, winner of Dakar 1989, and the House of Arcore were very close. In these pictures the French paid a visit to the factory and the Gilera Racing Division, accompanied by d. S. Snow Panda, staunch supporter of African rallies. Come to Italy to provide advice right on the Dakar, Anita during those months was still under contract with HRC.

History unfortunately told a different denouement, as Gilles agreed with Suzuki and ran the Dakar 1990 with DR BIG Thumper.

Medardo_ROSSO -8

Dakariani. O.: interview with Luigino Medardo

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

Medardo 1991

Medardo and challenge to prototypes to Dakar 1991

The robust racing jacket protectors are comfortable especially after arrival. The back of Luigino Medardo is sorely tested by a storm of friendly Pats, a whirlwind of congratulations that overwhelms him leaving him breathless. Thanks to him the Gilera won again in category silhouette, won a stage win to Tumu and one in marathon Agadez-Gao. But mostly he struggled for almost the entire race with prototypes, custom built motorcycles for Dakar and weight well over 558 cc of his RC 600, change, except in some special.

More than a victory, a triumph. It's not a question of parochialism: the all-Italian match doesn't miss a beat, much success in silhouette isn't even an argument. But this time Liam and his teammate Mandelli have outdone themselves. The seventh place overall in punta, for an hour and a half behind the winner, is more than you could hope for. But he disagrees.

"To tell you the truth we wanted to get into the top five — protest smiling — and I think we could do it, It was within our grasp. However we should March always regularly, without problems. Instead I broke the shock in the final part of the stage Ghadames-hydro, and since it was a marathon I could not change it that next day, on the runway, losing an hour.

In Dirkou, Instead, discharged battery: a stupid inconvenience which cost me half an hour, because the bike would not hear of rekindling after refueling. Are trivialities, that occurred because we didn't have much time to work on the bike. But overall it was better than good».

Of this you can be sure. Very few times the blood type Gianni Perini, team manager, had reason to fret about the delays of his men. A fortune, given the intensity with which it lives the events of his bike, despair and exulting as if he were in the saddle. When Ghat, After just a couple of days, He saw that none of his three men came, he risked heart attacks. Instead they had stopped Assembly to replace the shock broken by Medardo with that left along the bike by a car out of the race.

A cunning out regulation not ready the service truck, Since it had not been possible to remedy the trouble the night being a marathon stage, those in which it is prohibited to assistance at the bivouac. Despite the fear passed, the best memory of Medardo is related just to the marathon.

"They are very difficult, just a nothing to blow this. But for me the best memory of this Dakar is precisely the marathon Agadez-Gao, where I won the overall rankings of the two days. Were two tough stages, very difficult. I have done everything perfectly, and I won. An enormous satisfaction».

One of the many stages now, Since Medardo and Gilera continue to monopolize the category. If they dominate, though, It's not for lack of opponents.

«The Cagiva tried to run a motorcycle in silhouette at the Rally of the Pharaohs, but he declined to repeat the experiment at Dakar. Even the Suzuki tried in our category, and he did it not, as well as Honda Europe with Africa Twin. I think we want a bike, but very competitive to beat the Gilera. There were hardened pilots, Yet we have fought several times with prototypes».

Medardo humble, pretends to forget himself. You need to call it directly concerned to have his opinion.

"The pilot? It's already pretty old, with 31 years and several Paris-Dakar on the shoulders. Not just a young man to beat». The question now arises in opposite direction: is Medardo that will have to go to beat the others, given that next year's Gilera debut amongst the prototypes.

"I think there will be still even in silhouette, but I'll be on the prototype. I know it will be a difficult undertaking, but I'm going to win: otherwise I wouldn't have ambitions. A pilot must always have a clearly defined goal especially in these races so tough. Otherwise you will not find the strength to go on».

If there's one thing that has never been lacking is the determination Medardo, the will to arrive at all costs. He succeeded last year with a sore leg to a distortion, He did it again, with one hand swollen from a fall.
"It was right at the end of the stage of Kiffa, five kilometres from the finish. There was a hole marked on the road book, but there was so much dust. I only found when I got upstairs and fell». A venial sin; the only rider who Besides going strong is wrong no. A pilot for the Gilera is worth gold. And to think that when Perini approached him, offering him the spot on the team, Medardo was pondering thoughts of retirement…

Source motosprint



Gilera: the challenge of 125

Was the 19 December 1987: two French boys, Gilles Valade and Christian Grelaude, They presented themselves to the entrance gates of the factory Gilera Arcore asking for help in preparing the engine: you were enrolled at 10° Paris Dakar, that would match the 30 December following from Paris, with two Peugeot 125 and together formed the Team Defì 125.

This endurino was equipped with an engine built by Gilera on specific Peugeot but was basically the same that equipped the Gilera RX Arizona.

Evidently what must have been a lucky day for the two boys: not only they were shown the door and picked up bad words because of their request to limit of the absurd,
but thanks to the good offices of the volcanic Gianni Perini, Gilera welcomed them willingly and provided them with even two flaming R1 (just presented on the market), that would have been set up in record time in the ten days remaining, blasting Christmas holidays at a good number of technicians in the testing Department!

But the unexpected good fortune had not exhausted. The boys were followed up in Paris from truck Racing Division, and from there until boarding for Africa, to the port of Sete. In addition, If they were able to get up to Agadez, for the day of rest expected in the middle of the race, a technician Gilera (probably the ubiquitous Silvano Galbusera) He'd achieved with fresh pieces, to help the one mechanic that the two boys had predicted in tow.

Despite the almost insane program, the bikes were suddenly ready for pre-departure of Milan Flowers: Needless to say the bikes were indeed very nice, the codon/serbatoio, single piece that was saved from the Peugeot of boys, painted in livery R1, integrated very well and made this enduro, one of the most elegant ever seen at Dakar.

In a timed Prologue Cergy-Pontoise, usually little more than a parade on a small muddy circuit our two boys behaved just fine: Grelaude He made 39° time and Valade the 98° (on 187 registered drivers!) The test was not completely trivial, in many they had problems because of the mud and even some prominent pilot took the minutes of delay, especially those who had departed with tyres and low at the front mudguard.

Once in Africa, our heroes made little headway, during the second stage, El Oued-Hassi Messoud, a stage remembered as one of the most difficult of all Dakar despite being relatively short (250Km, for the timed), because of the many areas with high sand dunes and spongy withdrew failing to reach the end stage in time to start the next day!

A very tough stage, so much so that even other 6 Motocross bike 125 CC. matches from Paris to retire (two Peugeot, 3 Yamaha and KTM famous because his pilot had mounted a whole engine spare tire underneath the mega tank).
Those who came farther were the Brothers Auribault that came just after the middle of the race! Incidentally, the tenth edition was remembered as one of the most exhausting, If not the most grueling ever.

Text taken from:


Assomoto 1991

The Gilera private to Dakar 1991

Also four Gilera private came to the finish of the Dakar 1991, led by four Italians. This is Quaglino (28°), the only group in red, and the three Assomoto Team riders: from left Aldo Winkler (33°), Walter Surini (36°) and Brenno Bignardi (32°). just missing Carlo Alberto Mercandelli, retired.

Gilera RC 750 1992

Gilera RC 750 1992

We are at the start of the Paris – The Cap of the 1992 and the Gilera finally decides to leave with a "prototype" and try to fight for the victory in the overall. The drivers are top notch and they respond with the name of Franco Picco and "Luigino" Medardo, the bike is the new RC 750 that is its sole second exit, After a short experience in the Pharaons Rally of ' 91, interrupted prematurely due to the peak and fracture belt snap onTThe bike by Medardo. The bike is a single from 750 CC. with double overhead in 4 overhead valves driven by toothed belt, change is a 5 marches and dry clutch.

An innovative project that goes against the trend of the time: the power and weight of twins are preferred the lightness and handling officers.
Unfortunately the misfortune rages on this project was born with the best expectations, both drivers retire on the same stage, the special Waw El Kbir-Tumu, Medardo to a technical fault, Peak for a fall that will cause a broken wrist.

Maximum Chinaglia to Dakar 2007

Marmiroli 1993 Gilera Rc600

Gilera RC 600 1993

The 1993 It's an unusual year, with the minimum number of members in the Paris Dakar (only 46 motorcycle starters). A beautiful Flash will give it to you anyway a pilot Italian, Maximum Maddox, 30 years, dealer with a passion for mechanics and adventure, that will give the Gilera to victory in 9th stage to Atar (Mauritania).
Ranked second in that stage, detached only 19 seconds, another Italian: Maximum Montebelli on Yamaha.
In the eighth through tenth General Montebelli realizes what Maddox.

Alberto Mercandelli DAkar 1990

Alberto Mercandelli Dakar 1990

As for Carlo Alberto Mercandelli, very nice VW dealer and Audi of Alexandria, his journey to Dakar 1990 was even more daring.

"I was together with two other pilots says we were advised by a helicopter of the organization that we were on the wrong track, but doing a stretch off piste to get to the right path I stop mo-to maybe for breaking a valve.
It was impossible to hope for a rescue as far out of the way that I should go and I didn't know where I was. But I did not even crossed my mind to turn the balise didn't want to drop out and I didn't want to finish my race.

"After five hours when I started to calculate water and food in my possession I saw from a distance of tuareg with camels. We tied the bike to animals and they pulled me off the soft sand where I had planted, then one of them has gone to get a pick up and I was loaded with the bike. Paying means.

«Looked it over, but after a while’ the driver dumped me saying I had to go to work. So I stopped a huge truck locally but led by an Italian. Took out of me and the bike but after 3 km also added that to get me to Agadez wanted 10 millions of lire, really too. Replied that if I had accepted I would have downloaded.

And did. So I got a row of other means of transportation including eventually a bus. It took a million to convince the driver to contravene regulation and charging me and especially the bike, but in the end I did it. And between chickens, native hens and I managed to get to Agadez».

A beautiful adventure, but it told only half. Because the irreducible Mercandelli obviously was not content to arrive at your destination: Once in the city he has tracked down his team and did repair the bike, While a shower, even finding the time to shave.

Then, washed and scented, occurred at the stage finish around midnight, Having phoned home to reassure the family that the next day would have read of his failure to find; a story dating back to many hours before. That way you're able to present «regularly» when the engine is running and continue the race, the flat-rate penalty for late burdened, a further three hours for the jump control to stamp and a large detachment of General; but he still continued on to Dakar.

Not inconsiderable relief: Since there are no witnesses to all these events, the Organization could not take sanctions against Mercandelli. The word gets around, but no tests, to the delight of Team Assomoto that after Dakar four pilots last year are trying to repeat the feat with three, saw the unexpected withdrawal of Caldwell, that along with Gao completed the team.
(source motosprint)