The full cladding from the mid-1950s looks a little grotesque today. Here Carlo Ubbiali on the 125cc MV. At the Ulster GP, this monstrous thing was partly responsible for the Italian’s fall when a gust of wind caught him during the race and carried him off the track. With a lot of luck he survived the fall into an embankment with only slight wounds. It wasn’t until the 1958 season that these misshapen things were finally banned by the FIM.

The 1956 season of Carlo Ubbiali

After his 250cc victory at the season finale in Monza in 1955, it was clear to the Italian and his team that he should now attack in both smaller classes. The 125 Bialbero was his new weapon to defend his title in the smallest category and an improved 250 cm³ machine was made available to him. After NSU withdrew at the end of the 1954 season with their 2-cylinder “Rennmax”, MV Agusta now also tried a two-cylinder machine. Compared to the previous year, it was now a full 250 cubic centimeters, in 1955 it was actually still a 220cc single-cylinder. Nevertheless, the manufacturer had won the world championship title, which was, however, also due to the withdrawal of NSU. The driver’s title in 1955 was won by the former works driver H. P. Müller with a privately used Rennmax.

MV 125 cm³ Bialbero – Carlo and his teammates’ weapon in the fight for the 1956 world title.

The factory teams of the 1956 motorcycle world championship

There was no change in the two smaller classes in the MV factory team. The company from Varese near the Swiss border entered all categories. The Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe in South Africa) Ray Amm was replaced by Tito Forconi after his fatal accident in April 1955 in the Curva Rivazza at the Copa d’Oro in Imola. As a new competitor in the 250cc class, DKW also entered the factory. But MV Agusta was still a big favorite after the manufacturer’s title last year and 3 wins by different drivers. In the 350cc category, however, DKW with its two-stroke RM 350, known as the “singing saw”, was definitely a favorite, along with defending champion Moto-Guzzi. As a newcomer to this category, MV was initially more of an outsider.

Brands Hatch was a guest place for many races per year after the war, most of them national events – here is a photo from the start of a national race in spring this year.

1956 season opener

At the start of the season, Ubbiali took part in races for the Italian championship. On the first lap at the Circuito di Modena, he won both races in the smaller categories. In Monza, he finished second in the 125cc race and won the 250cc class. Then he won both races in these categories in Faenza. Due to the strong competition in their own country, it was clear early on that he and his team could be confident for the World Cup. The season started north of the Alps with the race in Salzburg and at the Hockenheimring. The strongest impression was made by Gustl Hobl with the works DKW and Moto-Guzzi works driver Enrico Lorenzetti with the 250 series. But the latter may have only competed north of the Alps because he feared the superiority of the MV Agusta. In any case, the season should show that Guzzi would fight with blunt weapons in the fight for the World Cup. Only Hobl, but in the 350cc class and not in the 125s, should prove to be quite competitive.

Carlo Ubbiali on the way to his victory in the 2nd round of the Italian 250cc championship in Monza in 1956.

Second double victory of the career at the Tourist Trophy
The 1956 World Championship season started on the Clypse Course, this time with the Isle of Man. Ubbiali naturally had fond memories of this track after his win last year on June 8th in the 125cc class. In the so-called ultra-lightweight category he was only in second place after the first lap, 16 seconds behind Sandford. But the Italian caught up and managed to catch up with the Englishman when his Mondial gave up, and he had to give up. In the end Carlo won by a huge margin over the Spaniards Cama, Gonzalez and Sirera (all Montesa). The runner-up had lost over 5 minutes on Ubbiali and the colleagues behind more than their eleven.

The 250cc lightweight class was also a prey for the Bergamo man, with which he achieved his second double victory after the 1955 season finale in Monza. At first, he was only in third place, before he increased the pace and in the end won with over 2 minutes ahead of team-mate Roberto Colombo. Private driver Hans Baltisberger with his NSU was already two and a half minutes behind the winner. Luigi Taveri was eliminated due to a fall and luckily got away with no injury.

Marcello Cama (Montesa) – the surprising second in the 125cc race of the 1956 TT.

Dutch Grand Prix victories for Carlo
With his victory at the Dutch TT in the 125cc race, Ubbiali underscored that the path to the 1956 World Championship title should only lead through him. This time team-mate Taveri came second in front of Gustl Hobl, who achieved his only podium this season in the smallest class. In the 250 cm³ race Carlo achieved the second consecutive Grand Prix double victory of the year. Immediately afterwards we went to neighboring Belgium to Spa-Francorchamps.

Today’s aerial view of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes.

Carlos’ premiere in Spa
Ubbiali had never competed on the fast Belgian course before. But that did not prevent the Italian from clinching his third double victory in a row for MV Agusta. This time team-mate Fortunato Libanori came in second in the 125s ahead of Frenchman Pierre Monneret (Gilera). In the 250cc class, as in Assen, Taveri took second place in front of the German private driver Horst Kassner on NSU. After 3 of 6 runs, Carlo was the world championship leader in both categories in the middle of the season with the maximum number of points.

In Assen, August “Gustl” Hobl (DKW) and John Surtees (MV Agusta) fought for second place in the 350cc class, and in Spa-Francorchamps the two were fighting for victory. Both times the young Englishman had his nose in front, in the end.
Carlo Ubbiali on the podium after his second victory at the Belgian GP in 1956. The Italian raced this track for the first time and immediately won the 125 and 250cc races in Spa-Francorchamps.

Grand Prix of Germany
On the Solitude Carlo was beaten for the first time after 3 victories in a row in the 125cc GP of Germany. It was Romolo Ferri with the Gilera who, nine seconds ahead of Ubbiali, clinched the first ever Grand Prix win for the Italian brand in the 125s. This time the podium was completed by Tarquinio Provini (FB-Mondial). In the 250cc race, Ubbiahli struck back and won the fourth race in this category for the third time in a row, ahead of Taveri. With the maximum of points, he was about to secure his first driver’s title in the 250s. In the 125 cm³ class he was already sure of defending his title.

Carlo Ubbiali on the 125cc MV Agusta – from 1955 an almost unbeatable combination. From the season opener in Barcelona on May 1 of the previous year to the German GP on July 22, 1956, the Italian had won eight times in a row.
Start of the decisive 250cc race of the 1956 World Championship on the Solitude near Stuttgart. Carlo Ubbiali with starting number 124 is already in the saddle, takes the lead and will win the race.

Ulster Grand Prix with the first zero of the season
After second place on the Solitude, the 125cc race was again a prey for the Bergamo man. This time he had his conqueror at the German GP under control again and Romolo Ferri had to be content with second place ahead of Bill Webster (MV). At the 250 Grand Prix, however, Carlo had bad luck. He had already set the fastest lap and was on the way to victory. But a few kilometers from the finish, Ubbiali was stopped by a technical problem on his MV. After his failure, teammate Taveri was the beneficiary, so the decision about the 250 cm³ world championship title could only be made in Monza. However, Taveri should have won here.

The portrait of the new double world champion in the smaller classes up to 125cc and 250cc, Carlo Ubbiali, in a German magazine from 1956. Because of his distinctive eyes, his compatriots often called him the Chinese.
Carlo Ubbiali on his victory drive at the 1956 Ulster GP in a French magazine – his fourth win of the season in the 5th race. After 3 victories in a row, he had already secured the title defense in the 125cc class with second place at the Solitude.

Season finale in the royal park of Monza at the Grand Prix of Nations
The race of the 125cc class saw a Hitchcock finale after the leading Ferri on the Gilera two-cylinder engine failed. The battle for victory between the two single-cylinder pilots Ubbiali and Provini on their FB Mondial turned into a photo finish. In the end, Carlo was a wafer-thin lead with just 4 tenths of a second. The MV drivers Remo Venturi and Luigi Taveri only got 3rd and 4th places. In the 250cc race it was old master Lorenzetti who, together with Carlo, pulled away from the field early. In the end, however, the younger prevailed and the two teammates Venturi and Taveri took the same places as in the race in the smallest category. Carlo Ubbiali was not only two-time world champion and had now also given MV the 250cc title. By the way, he had also secured the Italian championship in the two smaller classes (125 and 250 cm³).

In the two smaller classes, Ubbiali was the absolute number 1 in 1956 – here with the 125cc MV. But the following season should not be a piece of cake for him after FB-Mondial had upgraded.

125cc Riders World Championship 1956

After only the first 6 drivers of a race were able to win championship points at that time, here are also the drivers who finished 7th to 10th in a GP (with the country codes customary at the time): Douglas Allen (GB, FB-Mondial), Ernst Degner (DDR, MZ), Dudley Edlin (GB, MV Agusta), Alberto Gandossi (I, Ducati), Alano Montanari (I, Moto-Guzzi), Olle Nygren (S, Ducati), † Lo Simons (NL, FB-Mondial).

125 cm³ Manufacturers World Championship 1956

250cc Riders World Championship 1956

For completeness, here are the pilots who finished 7th to 10th in a GP: Günter Beer (D, Adler), Phil Carter (GB., RDS/Norton), Frank Cope (GB, Norton), William Dehaney (N.Irl., Velocette), Karl-Julius Holthaus (D, NSU), Albert Jones (GB, Norton), Fritz Kläger (D, NSU), Kurt Knopf (D, NSU), Siegfried Lohmann (D, Adler), Hubert Luttenberger (D, Adler), Tarquinio Provini (I, FB-Mondial), Norman Webb (GB, Moto-Guzzi).

250 cm³ Manufacturers World Championship 1956

The 1957 season of Carlo Ubbiali

Defending both titles was a mammoth task for the Italian in 1957. With FB-Mondial, the competitor, for whom he had won his first 125cc World Championship title in 1951, had apparently improved significantly. This was already evident at the first national races in Italy. For example with the victory of Tarquinio Provini in the 25cc championship run on April 21, 1957, at the Conchiglia d’Oro (Shell Gold Cup) in Imola. In the first championship run in Italy on the Syracuse circuit, the Mondial driver had already won both runs in the smaller classes. Ubbiali competed in the Austrian race in Salzburg on May 1st and won the two smaller classes. But it was already clear that Carlo would have to fight harder for victories in both categories than in the previous year.

Carlo Ubbiali in the fast lane, he was a feared driver for his opponents even on a wet racetrack.

The factory teams of the 1957 motorcycle World Championship

The Sankt Wendel race with the GP of the Saarland (West Germany, not a World Championship race), at which Carlos’ MV teammate Luigi Taveri with an injured arm in the sling from a fall in Imola was only present as a spectator.

The season opener made to measure at the German GP
The way Ubbiali went at the start of the season at the Hockenheimring, which was new to him, he would have liked to have continued throughout the year. He won the 125cc race ahead of Tarquinio Provini (FB-Mondial) and MV team-mate Roberto Colombo. Immediately behind and in front of Luiiti Taveri, Eastern German Horst Fügner (see more about him in our history) crossed the finish line on the two-stroke MZ. Ubbiali would meet him even more often the following year. But this time the team from the GDR only made one guest appearance in the world championship.

Sketch of the Hockenheimring from the 1950s.
Poster of the 1957 German Grand Prix.

The next double for Carlo
The 250cc race was also the Italian’s prey. It was already his sixth double victory for MV Agusta. Colombo was second behind him, ahead of Cecil Sandford. The Englishman had become the first world champion for MV in 1952 and drove again for FB-Mondial this season.

Carlo Ubbiali with his MV Agusta before the start on the rainy weekend at the Hockenheimring on May 19, 1957.
Eastern German manufacturer MZ with rider Horst Fügner (see more about him in our history) was the surprise in the German GP, as he crossed the finish line second on the two-stroke MZ.

Isle of Man Grand Prix
After the double victory, second place behind Provini and in front of Taveri in the 125cc race was more damage control than a source of joy. With that, Carlo and Tarquinio each other had won one victory and one second place. Thus, the two of them were equalized in the world championship intermediate ranking in the smallest class. The 250cc race was much more dramatic for the two opponents. Provinis FB-Mondial died about a mile from the finish line after having had a bad start before that. After several unsuccessful attempts to start, the Italian pushed his Motorbike to the finish on foot to the applause of the audience. After Ubbiali was in third position in the meantime, he was also eliminated with technical problems.

Mountain Circuit of the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man.
The Italian Tarquinio Provini on his 125cc FB-Mondial on his way to victory in the second round of the World Championship on the Isle of Man.
Sliding start with the engine stopped, only abolished by the FIM in 1987.

Grand Prix of the Netherlands
From Carlo’s point of view, the Assen GP was quickly told. After a fall during training, the young man from Bergamo had to do without a start. Tarquinio Provini in the meantime landed a double victory in the two smaller classes at the Dutch GP.

Shake hands between the two main opponents in the 125ccWorld Championship – Tarquinio Provini (FB-Mondial, left) and Carlo Ubbiali (MV Agusta).

No start for Carlo in the next 2 World Championship rounds
Ubbiali also refrained from starting in Belgium and at the Ulster GP
After the Belgian GP was on the calendar just a week after Assen, Carlo’s injury came at the worst possible moment. Tarquinio also won at Spa-Francorchamps in the 125cc, which meant that the title could hardly be taken from him. After the fastest lap, he dropped out again in the 250s, while his FB-Mondial team-mate Sandford diligently scored third place. With the victory in the Ulster GP he realized his 250cc world title ahead of time, while Provini had another zero and Ubbiali was still missing. In the 125cc race on the Dundrod track, however, Tarquinio made everything clear. Second place was enough for him at the Ulster GP to secure the first world title in his still young racing career.

Results of the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa, from a German magazine from 1957.
Tarquinio Provini on FB-Mondial – man of the hour for the Italian company, together with Cecil Sandford. For Ubbiali, the two turned into a real nightmare in the 1957 season, along with his injury in the training of Assen.

Conciliatory season finale at the Nations GP for Ubbiali
The Italian returned to the track in his home race in Monza and won the 125cc race at the end of the season. While Provini came away empty-handed, he fought back at the 250cc Grand Prix of Nations and took his second win of the season. According to the regulations in force at the time, precisely these two results were enough for him to become vice world champion behind Cecil Sandford. Carlo Ubbiali was only fifth in the world championship and in the 125s it was enough for him to be runner-up behind world champion Provini. But after the double world championship last year, 1957 was more of a season to forget for the northern Italian. Less than a month after the Monza GP, the starting position for him and MV Agusta should change completely for the coming year.

As this recording at the 1957 German GP proves, the Clinica Mobile was not the invention of the Italian Dottore Claudio Costa (what has often been claimed by journalists in recent decades).

125cc Riders World Championship 1957

After only the first 6 drivers of a race were able to win championship points at that time, here are also the drivers who finished 7th to 10th in a GP (with the country codes customary at the time):
Douglas Allen (GB, FB-Mondial), Frank Cope (GB, MV Agusta), Dudley Edlin (GB, MV Agusta), Wilhelm Lecke (D, Ducati), Karl Lottes (D, DKW), Werner Musiol (DDR, MZ), Mike O’Rourke (GB, MV Agusta), Roberto Piovana (I, Ducati), Willi Scheidhauer (D, Ducati), Len Tinker (AUS, MV Agusta), Gé van Bockel (NL, Ducati).

125cc Manufacturers World Championship 1957

If the points were equal between the two leading brands, a method as in 1953 was used due to identical placements in first and second places. The times of the best drivers of both brands were added together. In contrast to 1953, this time it was not MV Agusta who won, but FB-Mondial was ahead.

250cc Riders World Championship 1957

For completeness, here are the pilots who finished 7th to 10th in a GP: Florian Camathias (CH, Moto-Guzzi), E. Cheers (GB, Velocette), Frank Cope (GB, Norton), Adolf Heck (D, Adler), Roland Heck (D, NSU), Xaver Heiß (D, NSU), Karl-Julius Holthaus (D, NSU), Horst Kassner (D, NSU), Kurt Knopf (D, NSU), Jirí Košt’ír (CS,CZ), Siegfried Lohmann (D, Adler), Hubert Luttenberger (D, NSU), Bill Maddrick (GB, Moto-Guzzi), Adelmo Mandolini (I, Moto-Guzzi), Mike O’Rourke (GB, MV Agusta), Walter Reichert (D, NSU), Tom Rutherford (N.Irl., NSU), Hendrik Veer, Jr. (NL, NSU).

250cc Manufacturers World Championship 1957

Part 6: