Trieste remembers Parlotti, who died 50 years ago at the TT.  Agostini was tough: "Never that race again"

On June 9, 1972, the rider from Trieste who will be remembered in the city lost his life in the fearsome English race, then part of the world championship. The great Ago recalls: “Gilberto was a friend, after his death we communicated to the Federation that we would no longer run on the Isle of Man”

Massimo Falcioni

– Milan

Fifty years ago, on 9 June 1972, after a dramatic fall in the 125cc race at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, 32-year-old Gilberto Parlotti, official driver of Morbidelli from Pesaro, lost his life. That fifth round of the 1972 World Championship was preceded by tensions and controversies because many riders contested the TT track branded as a “asphalt snake” with its 256 curves and its 364 kilometers per lap between jumps, walls, pavements, poles, holes, plants. It was called the “killer circuit” also because in one lap you passed from the sun, to the rain, to the fog, with sudden bursts of wind. Among these contestants of the TT also some Italians who in the end decided to desert the trip to the Isle of Man, the fifth round of the world championship, 54th edition of the most spectacular and participatory world race (over one million spectators per race) and more dangerous and fatal (over 150 victims). In the end, in the four classes (125, 250, 350, 500 plus side), there were three Italians at the start but only two crossed the finish line: Giacomo Agostini (one-two with the Mv Agusta in the 500 and 350) and Alberto Pagani (second in the 500 with the Mv Agusta).

from the mess tin

One was missing, Gilberto Parlotti, who died on Friday 9 June after a fall in the 125cc race. in the lead ahead of Frenchman Charles Mortimer (Yamaha), after two victories at Nurburgring (Germany) and Clermont Ferrand (France) and two podiums at Salzburgring (second) and Imola (third). Gilberto Parlotti, Trieste by adoption, grew up in the workshop with his father Angelo, an experienced mechanic, since he was a boy he had an obsession with motorcycles, speed, competition: he came from the apprenticeship, working hard in the workshop all week, becoming a superfine technician and in weekend, cheating on age to be accepted in the registrations of local competitions, to gain experience (and to break them) in gymnastics, in snowmobiles, in improvised and dangerous road circuits in the surroundings, especially in those across the border. Thus, between races won by the handle and races lost due to mechanical breakages and the many falls due to his shabby vehicles, it was not difficult for the young Parlotti to make his way as a runner. Gilberto wanted to emulate the great Treviso countryman Omobono Tenni (the first Italian to win the TT in 1937 on a Guzzi 250) and above all he wanted to crown his life’s dream with the world title, following a career of over 15 years: many cups and medals , but always in a “zig-zag” way, paying a lot even with falls and cashing in little of securities and money. This time, in that TT at the beginning of June ’72, Gilberto and his Morbidelli seemed to lack nothing in order to achieve the triumph at the TT by taking the road to the world title at full speed. The forfeit of the Spaniard Angel Nieto, absolute number 1 in the eighth of a liter, seemed to be the final push to make Parlotti fly towards the coveted triumph of the Isle of Man.

the advice of needle

The evening before the race Gilberto asked his friend Giacomo Agostini to drive a last lap of the circuit (open to traffic) to remember the braking points and the trajectories in some curves, to better see the valleys and holes. Ago, who was also a very good friend of Angel Nieto, repeated to Gilberto: “At the TT it doesn’t matter where you have to open the throttle, but where you have to close it”. The very strong Italian duo had the game in hand, when that June 9 the sky changed its mood, passing from a laughing spring day to a gloomy winter day, with pouring rain, thick fog, gusts of icy wind. Parlotti, a tough “wet” driver and a lover of impossible tracks, had a serene start, immediately taking the lead with his very fast biancoceleste twin-cylinder and gradually increasing his advantage over Mortimer (15 seconds) and the other opponents. The 125cc race started early in the morning. Destiny awaited Parlotti on the mountainous part of the track, bypassing the Snaeffel, at the Verandah, a wall ended the fall triggered by the slippery asphalt. The white-blue Pesaro twin, bent over the yellow lines of the flooded asphalt, had sprung away like a crazy bar of soap: the strong speed, the impact with the obstacle. The sky became even darker, but the race – as always – continued as nothing had happened, with the organizers engaged on two fronts: that of the celebrations and the opposite, adding to the other 98 crosses, also this one of the Italian ace. Agostini was immediately warned of the tragic fall of his friend Gilberto but at 11 he started the same with his MV Agusta in the 500. At the end of that race, Ago too will say enough about the TT. “A boy had died, a dear friend who had been with me a few hours earlier. I talked to Read and other riders, then I went to the Federation saying that we in the world championship would no longer go to the TT. They resisted for another four years, but in the end the TT came out of the world championship ”.

the program of remembrance

Gilberto Parlotti was a nice neck from the difficult 60s and early 70s. Calm and modest by nature, drawn face but always open to a smile, especially in the hardest moments, technical rider, a bit “rigid on the bike when braking, very strong in hand-to-hand combat and on the tracks where the difference is made by the strong courage up to the point of audacity, Gilberto accepted the response of the checkered flag with stoicism, always respecting his opponents, never complaining. Parlotti gave his best in the “small”, but competed as a champion in all displacements, always looking for the official bike, which only came in flashes: Morini 250 double shaft in 1964, third in Cesenatico behind Provini and Grassetti; Benelli 250 4-cylinder in 1969, squire of the world champion Carruthers; Two-cylinder Ducati 500 GP in 1971 with a nice victory in Scophya Loka, first the Yugoslav Tomos 50 and then, since 1970, the Morbidelli 50 and 125. Parlotti, three Italian titles, had raced and won in Italy and abroad in all displacements: in the 50 with Tomos and Morbidelli, in the 125 with Aermacchi and Morbidelli, in the 250 with Morini, Benelli, Ducati and Yamaha, in the 500 with Ducati. Trieste now remembers it on 9 June, thanks to a series of significant appointments of the city Moto Club: the laying of a laurel wreath on Gilberto’s grave in the municipal cemetery, then the ceremony in via Parlotti, the road on the outskirts that leads to the name of the unfortunate champion. At 6 pm, in collaboration with the Municipality, in the Auditorium room of the Revoltella museum, the memory of those who were there at that time when motorcycling thus took away his best children. All fans should pay a visit to the Sant’Anna cemetery in Trieste, to say hello to Gilberto. The sun always beats on its marble slab placed above the ground. And in the photo, Gilba smiles at everyone. Like in the old days, lit cigarette.

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