UNIQUE BENELLI RACER
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