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Pep's Pop Art

If he were a less modest man, Giuliano Maoggi could have claimed that he saved Ducati, so this pop-art tribute by Andrew Peplow, aka Pep, is well deserved. In 1955 Maoggi won the 125 class of the Milano Taranto for Ducati at their first attempt, and the following year won the Giro outright, his 125 beating everyone else’s 175s. Ducati were back from the brink, a practice they’ve thrived on ever since. By the mid fifties Ducati were facing closure, so in a final throw of the dice hired Fabio Taglioni to design a bike to win the Motogiro. This and the Milano Taranto were known as the Gran Fondo (big funds, ie prizes) races, travelling across the Italian countryside as the ultimate high-pressure selling machine. Taglioni’s bevel drive OHC Gran Sport was the result, taking every place but one in the 1955 giro 100cc class, and fifth overall. Laverda withdrew from the race, protesting the 100cc Gran Sport (nicknamed the Marianna) wasn’t a production bike, but a racer conceived solely to win the Giro. How right they were. The 125 version entered in the Milano-Taranto later that year was actually a disappointment to Taglioni because, despite winning its class, it was beaten by the 100cc Gran Sports, and finished 21st overall. Down but far from out, Taglioni redesigned the engine for Maoggi’s 1956 Giro, and his win secured Ducati’s future. The photo of Giuliano aboard his Mariana, ready to race, is genuinely iconic in a world where the word is overused and overwrought. This perfect piece of pop art is a modern twist on that image by London born artist Anthony Peplow. His other artwork includes Harry Palmer (as in the Ipcress File) and Steve McQueen. More on this and the Dream Engine recreation of the Giro in Benzina 3 available via my shop




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