Classic Racer


- Words: Fred Pidcock Photograph­s: Mortons Archive

acing on closed public roads had a long tradition in Italy, but Alfonso de Portago's accident in the 1957 Mille Miglia brought about sufficient pressure from officialdo­m to put a stop to such events for four-wheelers.

Racing on two-wheels managed to keep going into the 1970s, until the accident that claimed the life of Angelo Bergamonti, MV Agusta's then new recruit and team-mate to Giacomo Agostini, at Riccione in April 1971. And that effectivel­y put an end to motorcycle racing on public roads as well.

Staged as ‘shake-down' races before the World Championsh­ips began, a series of internatio­nal events, sometimes collective­ly known as ‘La Mototempor­ada Romagnola', were held in seaside towns along the Italian Adriatic coast. They invariably attracted a world-class entry, and the weather could usually be relied upon to play its part in adding to the enjoyment of these early season races.

Unfortunat­ely that was not the case at the end of March and the beginning of April 1971, when strong winds and heavy rain forced the postponeme­nt of the Riccione races by a week. Arguably they should not have taken place even then, as the conditions were no better, the wind and rain so severe that streaming water and even large puddles of standing water made the roads very dangerous at racing speeds.

Running at the head of the 350cc field with team-mate Agostini and Phil Read's Yamaha, Bergamonti locked his front brake approachin­g the chicane toward the end of the ‘Lungomare', or sea-front road. It was seemingly a fall like others that day, but this time luck was not on Bergamonti's side, his head struck a kerb and he suffered injuries from which he died a short time later.

Born in Gussola in the province of Cremona, Lombardy, on March 18, 1939, Angelo Bergamonti's early racing was on Morinis, beginning in 1957 and with his first recorded win coming on May 29, 1959 at Sondrio. He married Rosa in 1960, and from then until 1963 he competed in only a handful of races, opting to spend more time at home and in building up his small business preparing and tuning race machinery for others, still primarily working on Morinis.

In 1964 he began competing more seriously, regularly achieving top-three places all over Italy, still Morini-mounted. The following year things started to come together, with works 125cc and 175cc

 ??  ?? Out of Ramsey on the Hannah Paton 250cc machine at the
Out of Ramsey on the Hannah Paton 250cc machine at the
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