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King for a Day

This is Benjamin – Min to friends and fans – Grau at the 1975 24 Horas race, showing why the competition called him the King of Montjuich Park. Ducati had a long history of successes racing singles at this street course on the outskirts of Barcelona and first entered the new V-twin in 1973 ridden by Grau and Salvador Canellas - who scored a debut victory. The '73 bike used the '73 750 Imola's 86mm bore cylinders together with the standard stroke for a capacity of 864cc. The 750's 60 degree heads and dry clutch were also used. In 1974 a gearbox problem caused the same pairing to retire while in the lead after 16 hours but they won again the following year, beating the Godier Genoud Kawasaki by 13 laps. New, narrower sand-cast crankcases perched in a lightweight Daspa frame, and capacity was raised to 905cc to give 96bhp at 9,000rpm. Grau and Virginio Ferrari also won the 1000km race at Mugello that year. Grau’s critics might point to the fact that he entered more races at Montjuich Park than any other rider, so of course he has the most wins. But then Montjuich Park also hosted world championship Grands Prix, so the names that slip in above him visited just once a year — names that included Stanley Woods, Tarquinio Provini, Carlo Ubbiali, Bill Ivy... and Phil Read. Phil's name deserves highlighting because he's the only rider, beside Grau, that I can recall winning a 24 hour endurance event as well as a 125 world championship race. For Grau hasn't just won the 24 Horas at Montjuich Park, aboard a 905cc Ducati bevel twin, a 1980s 748cc TTI, and even a Bultaco 360cc two-stroke: in 1974, when Montjuich Park still hosted the Spanish Grand Prix, Derbi found him a 125, just like multiple world champion Angel Nieto's bike. Grau won.

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