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Starting Small

This 125GP Ducati is like the one Mike Hailwood raced to his first Grand Prix win in 1959. Bought from Fron Purslow it wasn’t a desmo because Taglioni wouldn’t allow his ideas into the public domain. Or did Stan Hailwood persuade him to retro fit desmo valve gear? We’ll probably never know Having won the Motogiro Taglioni’s next target was Grands Prix, designing a twin cam version that proved uncompetitive against the dominant Mondials and MVs. So he returned to desmodromics The desmo 125 gave 19bhp and could rev on to a then-unbelievable 15000. The ability to overrev became a hallmark of Ducati’s success at shorter circuits like Hedemora, Assen, Monza and Montjuic where you couldn’t just gear for long straights. Taglioni debuted a brace of 125s at Hedemora for the 1956 Swedish Grand Prix Taglioni’s #1 rider Gianni Degli Antoni was excited at entering the crucible of Grand Prix competition. When the race began his team mate Olle Nygren, the Swedish champion and speedway star, took the lead aboard a second desmo 125, but Degli Antoni quickly squeezed to the front of the pack. When Nygren’s Ducati failed he just had to sit and watch his team mate not only steam to victory, but lap the entire field in the process Tragically Gianni’s happiness was short lived. Practicing at Monza a month later he crashed and died instantly. Taglioni was devastated and wrestled with the heartbreak while Ducati’s Grand Prix ambitions went cold. It would be eighteen months before they were resurrected for the 1958 125 world championship. Ducati’s Alberto Gandossi’s consistency aboard made him champion-elect, Motociclismo reporting that he dominated the season But leading the penultimate round Gandossi fell and handed MV’s Carlo Ubbiali the win. The sweetener to Ducati’s bitter pill came at the final round at Monza when Bruno Spaggiari led a team that filled the first five places. This was Spaggiari’s first and only Grand Prix win, achieved at his first attempt, but it wasn’t enough to stop Ubbiali and MV taking both the rider’s and constructor’s championships. So near, yet so far Photo courtesy Mykel Nicolaou / @snapteachphoto More in Benzina 7 and Ducati & the TT

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