The 1958 season of Carlo Ubbiali
Less than a month after the 1957 season finale, bad news shook the motorsport world. On September 26th, the three Italian brands Gilera, FB-Mondial and Moto-Guzzi announced their withdrawal from the motorcycle world championship. The reasons for this were varied, as announced in the communiqué. On the one hand, there were rising costs with a simultaneous decline in sales. On the other hand, motorsport did not have a particularly good image in the land of pizza at that time. What was really scandalous about it, however, was the fact that almost all the drivers affected had to find out about the news from the media.
Various reasons for the exit of the 3 renowned plants
Part of the reason was, of course, the very high number of fatal accidents, including in extremely dangerous road races like Milano-Taranto. In Italy alone, more than 20 riders had sacrificed their lives to motorcycle racing since World War II. In addition, there were concerns about the ever faster and more powerful machines. Together with MV Agusta, only Ducati affirmed that it would continue to be involved in motorsport. For the 1958 season, the brand from Borgo Panigale near Bologna even decided to participate in the world championship.
The factory teams of the 1958 motorcycle World Championship
For 1958, Ducati had signed the former and multi-year team colleague of Carlo Ubbiali in the person of Luigi Taveri. In the two larger classes, John Hartle had now been signed on alongside John Surtees. After Umberto Masetti had not met expectations in the previous year, they now bet on 2 Englishmen. Ubbiali had once again lost a teammate in a fatal accident at the Belgian GP. This time it was his compatriot Roberto Colombo who lost his life on the racetrack on July 6, 1957, during training at Spa-Francorchamps. The fact that he was replaced for the 1958 season by Carlos’ toughest opponent Tarquinio Provini was anything but beneficial for the now 28-year-old from Bergamo. After the 3 Italian manufacturers FB-Mondial, Gilera and Moto-Guzzi had withdrawn, a certain vacuum was created. But shortly, Honda, the first Japanese company to get involved in two-wheel racing.
Season start 1958
With Tarquinio Provini’s victory in the 250cc national championship run on April 5 at the Conchiglia d’Oro (Shell Gold Cup), things started similarly to last year. Ubbiali was after all second in Imola, but now his strongest rival from last year was even in his own team. Ubbiali won the two smallest classes at the Austrian GP in Salzburg, which was not yet part of the World Cup. The Italian championship was not in the focus for Carlo after he had won the titles in the two smaller classes (125 and 250cc) two years ago. He was already a multiple national champion and in 1958 finally wanted to build on his successes in the previous years in the World Cup. After all, he had already won 4 world championship titles since 1951, 3 in the 125s and one in the 250cc class two years ago.
Perfect start to the season for Carlo Ubbiali
With the Swedish GP in Hedemora, there was one more race on the calendar. At least there were seven rounds in the 9th year of the World Championship for the first time in the 125cc class. The season opener on the Isle of Man in this class was made to measure for Carlo. With his 4th win on the Clypse Course in front of Romolo Ferri and Dave Chadwick (both Ducati), the MV Agusta works driver had a perfect start to the season. Provini, on the other hand, had exaggerated it and fell out of the race.
The 250cc race
Ubbiali was only beaten by his new team-mate and reigning 125cc world champion Provini. A certain Mike Hailwood took 3rd place with his privately used NSU. A small sensation in the 125cc race was the performance of the Eastern German MZ troop with Ernst Degner in 5th place ahead of his teammate Horst Fügner. With their fast 125cc two-stroke engines both made it into the points at their TT premiere. In the 250s race, however, the team from the GDR decided not to take part; the problems with the new bi cylinder machine were too great.
Grand Prix of the Netherlands
At the Dutch TT in Assen Ubbiali clearly emphasized that he could be expected again this season. He won before Taveri and Provini in the 125cc race, which he expanded the lead in the world championship. In the 250s, Carlo lost second place in front of the German Falk (Adler) as on the Isle of Man only to his teammate Provini. This class had a break at the Belgian GP. In Spa-Francorchamps only the 125cc and the larger categories were advertised. On the fast course 6 out of 16 drivers withdrew after the training due to lack of competitiveness. Ducati was represented by 4 drivers, opposite only two each from MV and MZ. Ubbiali had bad luck as his MV Agusta lost a lot of power in the course of the 125 cc race. In the end, Ducati rider Alberto Gandossi won ahead of his teammates Romolo Ferri and Provini. 4th place went to Chadwick and Carlo had to be happy with 5th place to have saved 2 points at all.
Grand Prix of Germany
The young man from Bergamo came to the Nürburgring as world championship leader. Since his victory on the Solitude in the 125cc race in 1953, Carlo had already won several times in Germany. On the Nordschleife in the Eifel he also triumphed in the smallest category in 1955, and two years later he even landed a double victory at the Hockenheimring. With the third win of the season in 1958, Ubbiali seamlessly continued this series in the 125s. Provini came in second ahead of the surprising MZ pilot Ernst Degner with his two-stroke engine from the GDR. Carlo had bad luck in the 250 cc race and had to give up due to transmission problems. Provini took victory on the wet track ahead of Horst Fügner, who had achieved the first podium for MZ in this category.
Premiere in Scandinavia
Hedemora was the first Grand Prix race in Scandinavia. The Newcomer to the World Championship Ducati had proven to be superior to the 125cc MV in the last races. This is what the drivers Gandossi and Taveri played against Ubbiali at the Swedish GP. Initially, the two Ducatis clearly separated from the rest of the field, but Carlo then managed to catch up again. In the tenth lap he even took the lead for a short time, but had to let the two opponents pass again shortly afterwards. In the end, Ubbiali was only third ahead of Provini and the two MZ from Ernst Degner and Horst Fügner. The 250cc race was a prey for MZ with Horst Fügner after both MV drivers had retired with transmission problems.
Securing the world champion title at the Ulster GP
For MV Agusta, August 9, 1958 was a day of joy. While Provini was unlucky again and was eliminated, Carlo had taken the lead after the first round and at the end of the day took the fourth win of the season. The fifth world title of his career was achieved, in the smaller class it was already number four. Tarquinio Provini copied Ubbiali at the 250cc Grand Prix and won the race ahead of Tommy Robb (NSU), Dave Chadwick (MV), Ernst Degner and Horst Fügner (both MZ). This secured the 250cc title for MV Agusta before the season finale at the home race in Monza. For Provini it was the second world title after 1957 in the 125 class.
Changing luck at the season finale
In the 125 cc race Ubbiali and Provini had to accept a zero. The Ducatis completely dominated the GP of Nations and took the first 5 places in Monza. Bruno Spaggiari won ahead of Gandossi, Villa, Chadwick and Taveri. Degner at the MZ, like the two MV pilots, also retired early. Carlo was granted a little more luck in the 250 cc GP. Behind Emilio Mendogni on the outstanding new Morini and his teammate Giampiero Zubani, Ubbiali still managed to finish third, while Provini also remained without points in this race. The latter couldn’t care less, he already had the World Cup safe. For Carlo, however, the third place was valuable. After all, it was enough with the same number of points as Vice World Champion Fügner for World Cup rank 3. With his victory in Sweden, the East German earned his runner-up title despite the same number of points.
125cc Riders World Championship 1958
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), Mike Hailwood (GB, Paton, Ducati), Karl Kronmüller (D, Ducati), Hubert Luttenberger (D, FP-Mondial), Billy Nicklasson (S, Ducati), Bill Peden (GB, Montesa), Fron Purslow (GB, Ducati), S. Rinaldi (I, Paton), Willi Scheidhauer (D, Ducati), Leif Smedh (S, Montesa), Werner Spinnler (CH, Ducati), Len Tinker (AUS, MV Agusta), Bill Webster (GB, MV Agusta), Dietmar Zimpel (DDR, MZ).
125 cm³ Manufacturers World Championship 1958
250cc Riders World Championship 1958
For completeness, here are the pilots who finished 7th to 10th in a GP: David Andrews (N.Irl., NSU), G. Henderson (GB, NSU), Eric Hinton (AUS, NSU), Sammy Hodgins (N.Irl., Velocette), Karl-Julius Holthaus (D, NSU), Fritz Kläger (D, NSU), Siegfried Lohmann (D, Adler), Hubert Luttenberger (D, Adler), Ludwig Malchus (D, NSU), Adelmo Mandolini (I, Moto-Guzzi), Bill Peden (GB, NSU), Fron Purslow (GB, NSU), Michael Schneider (D, NSU), Rudi Thalhammer (A, NSU).
250 cm³ Manufacturers World Championship 1958
The 1959 season of Carlo Ubbiali
The Italian had been very successful in his favorite class the previous year and now it was a matter of confirming this success in 1959. For this he received an improved version of the 125cc and, together with Tarquinio Provini, a competitive 250cc two-cylinder engine. For the first time in history, with MV Agusta in 1958 a single manufacturer had won all world titles in all classes. The company from Varese near the Swiss border had to defend this success in the following year. The two pilots had proven their worth, and so despite new competition, MV started the 1959 season with great confidence.
The factory teams of the 1959 motorcycle world championship
MV started with an almost unchanged line-up like last year, only Remo Venturi was new. However, he was intended for the larger classes together with Surtees and Hartle. New in the 250cc World Championship were Benelli and Morini, the latter having already shone at the Nations’ GP in Monza last year. Ubbiali had no chance against the two Morini pilots Mendogni and Zubani at the time. However, MV had refined and the two-cylinder engine had been improved for 1959. In the meantime, it produced around 36 hp at 12,000 rpm.
Season start with Provini’s double victory
The reigning 250cc world champion and teammate started the Tourist Trophy in this class with a tailor-made start. Second place went to Ubbiali, ahead of Dave Chadwick (MV) and Tommy Robb (GMS). The latter should start at the season finale on MZ. Tarquinio Provini also won the 125cc race ahead of Luigi Taveri. This was new to an MZ and was no longer under contract with Ducati as in the previous year. The young Mike Hailwood on a privately entered Ducati came third, ahead of Eastern German MZ driver Horst Fügner and Carlo Ubbiali.
Grand Prix of Germany with the turn
After numerous victories on German soil, the Hockenheimring, of all things, marked the turning point for Carlo. In the 125cc German Grand Prix he gave his opponents no chance and won ahead of teammate Provini and Mike Hailwood with his private Ducati.
In the 250cc race, the Bergamo man followed suit and won ahead of Emilio Mendogni (Morini) and Eastern German Horst Fügner (MZ). This made him the world championship leader in this category and was able to significantly reduce the gap to his teammates in the smaller class. Only two weeks later it went to Assen for the Dutch GP.
GP of the Netherlands
At the Dutch TT in Assen Ubbiali achieved the second 125cc victory in a row, while Provini came away empty-handed this time. A valve spring broke two laps before the end. Second place went to Bruno Spaggiari (Ducati) ahead of Mike Hailwood (Ducati) and GDR ace Horst Fügner (MZ). As a result, Carlo now took the lead over the young Englishman Hailwood.
In the 250cc race, his team-mate Provini retaliated and relegated his strongest rival Ubbiali to second place. Third place went to Derek Minter on Morini. It was the second podium in the third race for the Italian brand that had just entered the 250cc World Championship. However, there was no longer any sign of their superiority as in the 1958 season finale in Monza. MV Agusta had meanwhile more than caught up.
Grand Prix of Belgium
Only the smaller class was advertised in Spa-Francorchamps. In contrast to only 6 rounds of the 250 series, the 125cc class was held again over 7 rounds, as in the previous year, and the larger category had to pause in Belgium. Carlo managed the hat trick and won his 3rd race in a row ahead of Provini, Taveri (now back on Ducati), Minter (Morini) and Ken Kavanagh (Ducati).
GP of Sweden
It continued with the Swedish GP, where Tarquinio Provini struck back again. Ubbiali took second place in front of the GDR pilot Werner Musiol. The East German had secured his first podium for MZ. The win in Kristianstad went to Englishman Gary Hocking on MZ, ahead of Ubbiali and Geoff Duke (Benelli). Since Provini had retired with ignition problems, Carlo was able to take over the lead in the intermediate championship ranking from him.
The Italians renounce the Ulster GP
To the surprise of many in attendance, the MV team decided not to start at the Ulster GP. The Italians ‘title was already safe and the drivers’ championship could hardly be wrested from their drivers in mathematical terms. In the absence of the Varese company, Mike Hailwood won ahead of Gary Hocking and Eastern German Ernst Degner in the 125s. Gary Hocking was the winner in the 250cc class ahead of Hailwood and Degner.
Season finale in the Royal Park of Monza
At the Nations GP in Monza, MV Agusta took part again. Ubbiali took second place in the 125cc race behind Ernst Degner (MZ) and ahead of Luigi Taveri (Ducati) and Derek Minter (MZ). The world title went to Ubbiali with a 2 point lead after Provini did not get past 5th place. Carlo won the 250cc race ahead of Degner and Morini pilot Mendogni. It was the revenge for the defeat against Morini in the previous year and after the zero from Provini Ubbiali was confirmed as 250cc world champion. The second double after 1956 and Carlo was already seven times world champion!
125cc Riders World Championship 1959
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): Janne Ackerstrom (S, Ducati), Rolf Amfaldern (D, FB-Mondial), Jim Baughn (GB, EMC), Walter Brehme (DDR, MZ), Harry Dunlop (N.Irl., EMC), Lennart Hedlund (S, Ducati), Billy Nicklasson (S, Ducati), Hans Pesl (D, Ducati), Fron Purslow (GB, Ducati), Tommy Robb (N.Irl., Ducati), Willi Scheidhauer (D, Ducati), Werner Spinnler (CH, Ducati), Giichi Suzuki (J, Honda), Cas Swart (NL, Ducati), Teisuke Tanaka (J, Honda).
125 cm³ Manufacturers World Championship 1959
250cc Riders World Championship 1959
For completeness, here are the pilots who finished 7th to 10th in a GP: Josef Autengruber (A, NSU), Silvio Grassetti (I, Benelli), Xaver Heiß (D, NSU), Sammy Hodgins (N.Irl., MVAgusta), Siegfried Lohmann (D, Adler), Gilberto Milani (I,Paton), Werner Musiol (DDR, MZ), Noel Orr (N.Irl., NSU), Fron Purslow (GB, NSU), Michael Schneider (D, NSU), Frantisek St’astný (CS, CZ), Arthur Wheeler (GB, NSU, Moto-Guzzi).