Cre­ated to show­case the Benelli 750 Sei, this am­bi­tious en­durance racer was built by France’s Mo­to­be­cane for its as­sault on the 1977 Bol d’or


One-off six-cylin­der en­durance racer, built by F1 engi­neers for a French moped firm...

Two cu­ri­ous bikes en­tered the 1977 Bol d’or en­durance race at Le Mans. The Benelli MOC pro­to­types were the work of Mo­to­be­cane; the French firm is known for Mobylette mopeds, but it built mo­tor­cy­cles, raced in GPS and, at the time, was the Benelli im­porter for France.

With poor sales for the six-cylin­der Benelli 750 Sei, the idea was that tak­ing part in the fa­mous Bol d’or would pro­vide a re­tail boost.

It was en­trusted to Philipp Moch, a French side­car rac­ing hero also as­so­ci­ated with Re­nault’s For­mula One pro­gramme, who had just six months to de­sign and build two rac­ers around the big, not-so-re­li­able Benelli en­gine. His small team com­pen­sated for en­gine weak­nesses with clever de­sign. The tuned six­pot had ex­hausts by an F1 spe­cial­ist, with a sub­stan­tial fuel tank un­der­neath to lower the cen­tre of grav­ity and sup­port the pivot point for a sin­gle-sided swingarm. Light sub­frames sup­ported the front and rear of the bike.

Alu­minium wheels were spe­cially made, the rear hub al­low­ing wheel re­moval in less than six sec­onds. Fair­ing, seat and dummy tank were Kevlar, and weighed just 7kg.

The chas­sis was light and han­dled well, but things didn’t work out. The first bike broke af­ter five hours; this one strug­gled on and man­aged 204 laps (865km), but was way be­hind the win­ning Honda (3235km). The Benelli MOC team didn’t race again, which is a shame – if en­gine de­vel­op­ment could have matched the in­no­va­tive chas­sis, who knows what it might have achieved.

MOC’S aero­dy­namic body­work is made from Kevlar – the en­tire set weighs just seven ki­los Oil cooler helps dis­si­pate six’s heat Fab­ri­cated al­loy swingarm is as light as the body­work Whole lotta frame­work un­der dummy fuel tank

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