A Triumphant Return To Glory For Gilera.

Manuel Poggiali

Manuel Poggiali by winning the GP 125 class World Championship, has secured the first title for Gilera since the 1950's. Gilera have secured the Championship in their first year after the Piaggio group took over Derbi. However Poggiali was not the first GP victor on a (125cc) Gilera, this was achieved by Romolo Ferri in the 1956 German GP.

Gilera are certainly no new name on the block and have been around for many years, their very first competition victory being in 1908 on the famous “la bicicleta” at the Como climb. Through the 30’s they had moderate success at various competitions with the likes of Rosolini, Grain, Miro Maffeis, Luigi Gilera and Umberto Meani astride them.

The 50’s proved to be very successful for Gilera, coming to prominence and world attention with the introduction of their four cylinder dohc racer. In 1950, Umberto Masetti won the first 500cc World Championship, taking two victories out of the six rounds. Geoff Duke took the 51 Title on a Norton but lost it back to Masetti again in 52. Geoff Duke switched to Gilera himself in 53 and managed to take the World Title in not only that year, but also in the following two years. Their last world title coming in 57 with Libero Liberati winning 4 of the 6 rounds.

Geoff Duke

Libero Liberati

Liberati never did ride the TT course for Gilera, in fact his rides were given to The Master – Bob McIntyre, who of course entered the history books eventually achieving the magic 100 mph lap in 1957. At the TT, Reg Armstrong achieved success with the Gallarate Four in the 53, 54 and 55 Senior with 3rd, 4th and 2nd place finishes respectively.

Reg Armstrong

Bob McIntyre

It was in 57 that not only Gilera, but also Mondial and Moto Guzzi announced their departure from competition, primarily as was stated at the time, “For financial reasons”. Coincidentally Guiseppe Gilera lost his son to Hepatitis at the age of 26, while in Argentina that year.

In 1963 Geoff Duke approached Giuseppe Gilera about a possible return to competition and for three years he was supplied with engines from Acrore in 350cc and 500cc capacities to run under the Scuderia Duke banner. Unfortunately with the 5 year break in competition and the lack of continued development, the engines just did not appear to have that edge anymore, despite the best efforts of Phil Read, John Hartle and Derek Minter, the Gallarate four had to give best to Mike Hailwood (MV). Finally in 66, the era of the four stroke 4; came to a final close with the Japanese now firmly established as a major player in the sport.

Gilera participation in other classes were long in coming and did not prove to be so impressive as the heady days of the 50’s. In the 250cc Class they entered the World Championships in 92 with Jean-Phillipe Ruggia and Carlos Lavada and in 93 with Paolo Casoli and Alessandro Gramigni aboard. Their highest placing in 92 was ninth which they managed to achieve five times and in 93 did not fair much better with only one 12th, one 13th and one 14th position between them.

Returning to the 125cc Class, prior to Poggiali taking this years Championship, Gilera’s only notable success came in 1956 when they finished second with Romolo Ferri on the “Jewel Like Twin” behind Carlo Ubbiali. The Italian achieving victory in Germany inflicting the only defeat of the season upon Ubbiali on his MV. Ferri also managed a second in Ulster that year with the Frenchman Monneret taking a third in Belgium.

Romolo Ferri

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