Where did Fer­rari go?

Stylish Ital­ian who beat Sheene and raced Joey Dun­lop

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Vir­ginio Fer­rari fin­ished sec­ond to Kenny Roberts – and ahead of the late, great Barry Sheene – in the 1979 500cc Grand Prix world cham­pi­onship. Then he found him­self trav­el­ling to Dun­drod to fight Joey Dun­lop on the roads. But what is the re­tired Ital­ian stal­lion do­ing with him­self th­ese days? MCN track him down to Monaco to find out.

Ital­ian racer Vir­ginio Fer­rari fin­ished sec­ond to Kenny Roberts – and ahead of Barry Sheene – in the 1979 500cc Grand Prix world cham­pi­onship. Then, in an un­usual ca­reer twist, he found him­self trav­el­ling to the Dun­drod pure roads cir­cuit out­side of Belfast to fight Joey Dun­lop for a world cham­pi­onship. How the hell did that hap­pen?

When did he start rac­ing? Fer­rari started out in the Ital­ian cham­pi­onships in 1972, rac­ing a 500cc sin­gle-cylin­der Du­cati and 500cc four­cylin­der Pa­tons and Hon­das. By 1975 he had turned pro­fes­sional and had his first out­ings in the 500cc Grand Prix world cham­pi­onship.

When was his best sea­son? He won the Ger­man GP at the old Nür­bur­gring in 1978 but his best sea­son came in 1979 when he fin­ished sec­ond in the world cham­pi­onship on a Gal­lina Suzuki RG500 be­hind Kenny Roberts and in front of Barry Sheene – de­spite Sheene be­ing Suzuki’s num­ber one rider. Fer­rari ac­tu­ally led the se­ries af­ter win­ning at Assen but a run of bad form saw the ti­tle go­ing Roberts’ way.

How come he never en­joyed that sort of suc­cess again? Be­cause he switched to the fledg­ling Ca­giva team for the 1980 and 1981 sea­sons and failed to score a point on the un­com­pet­i­tive bike. He also rode for Ca­giva in 1983 and 1985, again fail­ing to score a point. He fared bet­ter on an HB Suzuki in 1982, fin­ish­ing eleventh, and on a Marl­boro Yamaha in 1984, fin­ish­ing tenth, but never came close to win­ning an­other Grand Prix and moved to the 250cc class in 1986 on a To­tal Honda, fin­ish­ing 14th by year’s end. Fer­rari rounded off his GP ca­reer in the 250cc class in 1989 on an Ital­ian-built Gaz­zaniga 250 but again failed to score a sin­gle point.

How come a Grand Prix star ended up rac­ing against a pure roads spe­cial­ist like Joey Dun­lop? The TT Formula 1 world cham­pi­onship – which had al­ways been a roads-based se­ries – had started tak­ing in more short cir­cuits such as Misano, Hock­en­heim and Assen. By 1987 short cir­cuits made up six rounds of the se­ries while pure road races only ac­counted for two. Fer­rari won the ti­tle on a Bi­mota YB4 with­out tak­ing part in any road races and be­came the man to fi­nally de-throne Joey Dun­lop af­ter the Ir­ish­man had won five con­sec­u­tive F1 world cham­pi­onships.

Did he ever ac­tu­ally try rac­ing be­tween the hedges? In a bid to score points to­wards the 1987 TT Formula 1 world cham­pi­onship, Fer­rari turned up at the Ul­ster Grand Prix at Dun­drod – right in Dun­lop’s back­yard – but didn’t last long. The Ital­ian did one sight­ing lap of the course in a car and made a run for

the air­port, declar­ing the cir­cuit far too dan­ger­ous to race on!

Wasn’t he a suc­cess­ful team boss af­ter he stopped rac­ing? Yes. In 1990 Fer­rari be­came team boss for Ca­giva in the 500cc world cham­pi­onship with rid­ers in­clud­ing Randy Mamola, Ron Haslam and Alex Bar­ros. Be­tween 1994 and 1998 he was Du­cati’s World Su­per­bike team boss, over­see­ing the likes of Carl Fog­a­rty, Troy Corser, Pier-francesco Chili and John Kocin­ski, and guid­ing the firm to two world ti­tles and 43 race wins be­fore be­ing re­placed by cur­rent Du­cati Mo­togp team boss Da­vide Tar­dozzi in 1999. Fer­rari also brought Bi­mota back into WSB in 2000 and helped his rider, An­thony Gobert, to a dra­matic wet weather win in Aus­tralia that year. His fi­nal foray into race team man­age­ment was a brief spell with the Kawasaki PSG-1 WSB team in 2007.

What’s he do­ing now? Liv­ing the high life in the Monaco sun­shine. His com­pany, Vir­ginio Fer­rari Rac­ing, is the of­fi­cial im­porter of MV Agusta mo­tor­cy­cles in Monaco and his premises also act as the of­fi­cial Monaco work­shops for both MV and Du­cati. Sell­ing ex­otic Ital­ian mo­tor­cy­cles to the rich and fa­mous in Monaco doesn’t sound like such a bad post-rac­ing ca­reer.

Fer­rari (11) on his way to vic­tory at Assen in 1979, he was to fin­ish sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship that year

1987 TT F1 world cham­pion for Bi­mota

NOW Sell­ing Ital­ian ex­ot­ica to the su­per-rich folk of Monaco? It’s a tough old life…

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