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Three years on two wheels

28 febbraio 2019

Everyone knows that in its early years Scuderia Ferrari used Alfa Romeos before moving over to Maranello-built cars. However, not everyone is aware that for three years the team from Modena also took part in motorcycle competitions and won several races around Italy.

Same philosophy
The purpose was the same as with four wheels: to help sports customers wanting to try their hand at competitions by providing them with men, equipment and technical support. Enzo Ferrari also believed in motorcycling as a training activity for drivers who could potentially have to work alongside gentlemen drivers in endurance races. After all, both Tazio Nuvolari and Achille Varzi, two key Scuderia Ferrari drivers, came from motorcycling.

British motorcycles
While the team cars had to be Alfa Romeo, the Scuderia’s motorbikes were almost always British. Not that there weren't any decent Italian motorcycles: the Bianchis and Moto Guzzis were competitive, but they were not offered for sale to private firms. So Enzo Ferrari had no choice but to go for Rudge and Norton. Ferrari had encountered the former in the car world as Rudge-Whitworth had developed a quick mounting rim, a patent that gave it an advantage over the competition. The Scuderia sometimes used Italian motorcycles but only in the less powerful classes: Benellis or MMs, built in Bologna.

The races
Scuderia Ferrari motorcycles debuted with a win. It was 28 March 1932 when Guglielmo Sandri rode a Rudge 350cc to first place in the Spring Grand Prix in Modena. Forty-four victories and three national titles came in just three years thanks to the Milanese riders Giordano Aldrighetti in 1932 (250cc class) and 1933 (500cc class) and Aldo Pigorini in 1934 (350cc class). However, that season the Rudge proved uncompetitive in the other classes, so Scuderia Ferrari decided to abandon two-wheeled competition. Its final appearances were in August at the Trofeo Acerbo, in which Pigorini won his class, and at the Coppa Adriatico in Rimini.