Auguri Agostini: the "Maestro" who changed races and dominated the bike

Round figure for the champion, born on June 16, 1942, who sealed the motorcycling records, becoming a symbol of it and creating an unimaginable passion in the 60s and 70s. A star champion, without arrogance, but with style, class and a superiority recognized above all by his rivals

Massimo Falcioni

– Milan

He was born in Brescia on June 16, 1942 to his mother Maria Vittoria, so Giacomo Agostini crosses the milestone of 80 years. Agostini is the living legend of motorcycling with his 15 world titles (8 in the 500 and 7 in the 350), with 122 world championship races won (123 always specifies Agostini remembering the last in 750 in 1977 at the Nurburgring), 159 podiums in 230 races world championships (over 5 in 750), plus 18 Italian titles and 331 victories in titled races. Agostini was the most victorious and complete rider, he revolutionized the motorcycling epic of the “days of courage” by paving the way for today’s show-business racing.

from an early age a symbol

Since he was a junior, on the 175 single-cylinder Morini Rebello and Settebello rods and rockers, and then with the “duemmezzo” GP bikes and the 4-stroke and 2-stroke multi-cylinder 350, 500, 750, Agostini was a complete rider, without technical and competitive deficits , a winner. A champion-star, without arrogance and never apparently over-revving, in an environment of strong tensions not without hysteria. Agostini was the right rider at the right time, removing from motorcycling the mold that had accumulated since 1957 after his farewell to the races of the great Italian and European manufacturers and making him relive a second youth, up to date. And who in Monza, in the tests of the GP of Nations in September ’63, did not know who that bewildered kid was that the patron Alfonso Morini had placed next to the legendary Tarquinio Provini to give a hand in the challenge to Jim Redman’s Honda in his race at 250 world title and deep down he grinned certain that the unknown man from Bergamo would have failed the great test of his debut, he will soon have to change his mind. Then, after 1964 with the domination in the tricolor 250 Grand Prix with the “fastest single cylinder in the world” (Morini) and entered in the MV in 1965 by the will of Count Agusta, it will be the same number one as Cascina Costa Mike Hailwood, from high in his class and his palmares, to recognize in the new teammate his main challenger. Ago will soon demonstrate that he will be the opponent to beat and then become the symbolic rider of that motorcycling, indeed of all motorcycling.

fussiness and respect

Unlike many riders of his time, Agostini did not come from the workshop, but he was a technician of intuition, of a relentless fussiness who in his garage did not discount anyone, even knowing who he was dealing with, people of great pedigree and quality, first to Morini, then to MV Agusta, finally to Yamaha. For him, the mistake was an unforgivable exception, but it always became an opportunity to improve himself and the team. In racing, usually, since the time of Nuvolari, it was always the team that gave the driver safety: with Agostini it was the opposite. Ago knew how to be respected and knew how to be pleased even when he had no opponents on the track, not because they lacked a handle, but lacked motion at the height. Would another rider who had not been Agostini, in those races where the second took one lap and the third two laps for several seasons, have been able to keep motorcycling at the top of world sports? It wasn’t just him, it will be said. True. But it was he, and he alone, for a decade and more, the “king of the forest”. In motorcycling, from the very beginning, there had always been typhus, even rough and not without fanaticism. For years, Agostini took everything there was to take on and off the track, with style and with the typical “generosity” of the champion of rank, making sure that even his opponents somehow benefited from a little of that. light brought to the slopes by the Bergamo champion. Agostini had the ability to amaze by making the multiplication of victories become “normal” and demonstrating that the motorcycling show was not that of bullfighting, but the hammer-step in a 300 km race, the magic touch of a record lap, especially when the lap averages flew beyond those of today’s MotoGP, with those bikes, with those tires, with that guard-rail a palm away from the nose, over 250 km / h. The “melee” with the super champions of the time were certainly not lacking and even in those heart-pounding races Agostini always showed who he was, never ceasing to amaze. Yes, to always amaze and thrill, from the first race to the last.

discipline and image

He has never been towed by anyone and, although it has been said and written several times, he has never had teachers even at the beginning as “seniores”: nor Tarquinio Provini at the end of ’63 in his world debut at Monza with the Morini 250; nor, again with the twin cams from Bologna, Silvio Grassetti at the beginning of ’64 when the Pesaro-born was forced to close the account opened with Mino prematurely by embracing a plant in Milano Marittima for blocking the front brake of the Emilian single-cylinder; nor Mike Hailwood in ’65 committed to increasing the game bag of his world titles and ready to jump from MV to Honda. Later, from the first 500 world title in 1966 and the subsequent world championships, he becomes the “master” and no one in the team and on the track would have been able to teach him anything anymore. This is to say that Agostini was not led by anyone and did not need to resurrect because in his career he never fell. He was, therefore, also a champion in luck. In an age where any fall could be fatal, his just 7 accidents in 16 years of racing never had any physical or mental consequences. But Agostini has also put his share in this, combining natural talent with an obsessive precision for his psychophysical state of form, for the technical details of bikes and tracks and that fundamental extraordinary psychological ability to penetrate the defenses of the opponents, and therefore of beat them. Agostini was the first rider to work on himself, imposing a mental and physical discipline never seen before in motorcycling, also capable of promoting his own image at a managerial level, professionally launching the era of communication and sponsoring, a revolution and a good for the entire motorsport sector. Agostini brought new air and lymph from which the whole “motorcycle system” has benefited up to the present day. It is true that Agostini has always ridden official bikes, the most competitive ones: it wasn’t he who asked them, it was always the big manufacturers who called him and entrusted him with their racing cars. Those racing cars that, unlike other drivers, Agostini has always been able to lead to victory or, in any case, to the maximum of their competitiveness. Agostini, for the manufacturers themselves, was a certainty, a guarantee of victory, contributing to the consolidation of the brand’s prestige. From the beginning, Agostini has been defined as a runner with an “angel face”, with the eyes of a predator, however: and with always sharp claws. And, if the epithet of wisdom for a driver is not excessive, who if not Giacomo Agostini also goes to this title? He is, of course, the “master” of motorcycling. When his star begins to wane and for two seasons the victory and the podium become a chimera, on September 25, 1977, at the age of 35, he announces his farewell. “I’m running to win – explains Agostini – and if I’m no longer able to fight for it, it means it’s time to put my helmet on the nail”.

artist and emblem of racing

Anyone who has seen him racing on circuits in real life for 16 years, from 1961 to 1977, knows he was lucky, a bit like someone who at the end of the 1200s and early 1300s had seen Giotto at work. Agostini painted curves like Giotto painted pictures. And how Giotto “changed the art of painting”, the Bergamo champion changed “the art of racing on a motorcycle”. And this is the reason that goes beyond the palmares of the 15 world championships won if to this day, after a quarter of a century since his last race, Giacomo Agostini remains the emblematic runner called as a charismatic guest everywhere: from the revival of a Trento-Bondone uphill or a world championship GP at the television and belmondo salons. Agostini is a living myth whose story tells in depth that motorcycling that closed the post-war era and which is intertwined with today’s motorcycling, infusing it with that epic intensity it needs. Those races did not have today’s media and television coverage and most cheered “by faith”. On the one hand, always and only him, Ago; on the other hand his main rivals: Provini, Grassetti, Venturi, Pasolini, Bergamonti, Hailwood, Redman, Read, Saarinen, Roberts, Sheene. Agostini always at the center, with his hard core of fans who have become, year after year, in the world, a sea of ​​fans of all ages and social backgrounds. After the great duels, from the Italian mototemporada to the world championship, the next day people were reading about Gazzetta dello Sport the story that turned into legend. Perhaps few had seen the race in real life, on the track: but everyone knew, because the story ran from voice to voice. For the fanatics of statistics, what is written above on the titles and on the races won by Agostini is a lot of stuff, but there is no “story” there. The greatness of Giacomo Agostini is not (only) in the number of victories. When there was no opponent on the saddle of a competitive bike, Agostini measured himself against an even more difficult opponent: that chronometer that in the hands of Count Agusta became the decisive tool. When the opponent is the lap time, perhaps the record lap set the year before by himself, it goes beyond winning a race. “Life goes fast, stronger than me when I was beating opponents and track records everywhere”, confesses with his usual sage-humor, the eternal boy Giacomo Agostini. From the beginnings of sport, and in particular the sport of two-wheeled motors, there has always been a race within a race, a race beyond the race in which the opponent is none other than himself. The indisputable superiority, the great and repeated solitary victory – another ‘topos’ by Agostini capable of inflicting a lap on the second runner – are yet another way to talk to us about what it was, what it is, what will always be a real triumph.



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