Guess That Bike Revealed – Rare Italian Racer Edition

In Italy, Race by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

Congratulations to reader yrrah, who was the first to identify this Sanvenero 125 GP! Turns out it’s currently for sale, so here’s what Tim Huber has to say about it:

The story of Sanvenero motorcycles was a short but interesting chapter in GP history. In 1980 Emilio Sanvenero – a successful Tuscan contractor and diehard motorcycle and race enthusiast with close ties to MBA – would start his own company with the aim of producing a pair of 125cc and 500cc two-stroke GP racers for the ’81 season of the World Championship. Following the shutdown of MBA’s racing division, Emilio asked the entire (former) staff to move from Sant’Angelo in Vado to Follonica – where his construction business was based – to work on his vision of producing elite GP racers.

Sanvenero’s career afforded the Italian extensive financial resources which he used to create his namesake racers. The Tuscan spared no expense and gathered some of the very finest components money could buy while building his machines. The half-liter Sanvenero racers were powered by 500cc, two-stroke, square fours (not unlike Morbidelli’s of the same era). These elite track weapons featured crankcases by Campagnolo, gearboxes by CIMA, cranks by Hoeckle, Nikasil barrels, and Mahle pistons. The frames were trick Nico Bakker units too. The larger displacement Sanvenero’s “architecture and components” were supposedly largely derived from the late-’70’s/early-’80’s Suzuki RG500 Γ – a machine that won a lot of world titles.

In 1981 Sanvenero managed to find some solid riders to pilot his bikes in the World Championship, with Guy Bertin and the legendary Ricardo Tormo racing the 125’s and Carlo Perugini riding the half-liter machine. Bertin would take the top spot on the podium at the round in Monza while Tormo won the round at Anderstorp in Sweden. The next season Tormo remained on the 125 where he was joined by riders Pier Paolo Bianchi and Hugo Vignetti. Bertin would step up to the 500cc Sanvenero in ’82 alongside Michel Frutschi who would win that season’s French GP at Nogaro – an event many riders had boycotted due to the circuit being ridiculously (and unnecessarily dangerous) but a win is a win! Ricardo Tormo would go on to take first at the 1982 GP of Belgium as well as a respectable third-place finish at the Czech GP.

Only a handful of Sanvenero GP machines were ever built, with the company reportedly producing about 2-3 factory works bikes each year. Supposedly only the 1982 examples featured a full factory aluminum chassis. Both the half and eighth-liter Sanvenero GP machines were adorned in liveries courtesy of Aldo Drudi of Drudi Performance – the same artistic force behind many of the designs on Valentino Rossi’s AGV lids. The 125’s zebra-esque paint digs definitely make them stand out and add to their overall appeal.

Unfortunately at some point along the way Emilio Sanvenero lost track of exactly how much he was spending – or hemorrhaging rather – which ultimately lead to the Tuscan going bankrupt in late 1982. Somehow Pier Paolo Bianchi ended up getting his hands on a pair of 125cc Sanvenero GP bikes which he road – with some success – in the 1983 season in which he finished 8th overall after a trio of third-place finishes.

As of right now there are surprisingly two different Sanvenero 125cc GP racer examples that are for sale. One is a recently restored example that the UK-based seller has listed for more a tad over $35K. The other is supposedly an all original example in France, still sporting all of its factory GP hardware such as its Marzocchi forks and disk-brakes. Very few Sanvenero examples were ever built, not only making these extraordinarily rare, but also making them incredibly difficult to place a value on. Either way, this is an opportunity to own an original machine once piloted by the iconic racer who the famous Valencia circuit is now named after.