Sanvenero 125cc & 500cc GP Racers
With Phil Aynsley
Emilio Sanvenero (a building contractor) was an enthusiastic bike racing fan and already a sponsor of MBA when he set up his own company in 1980 to produce race bikes with the aim of competing in the following year’s 125 and 500 World Championships.
The 125 proved to be quite successful with team riders Guy Bertin and Richard Tormo both winning a race and finishing 6th and 8th respectively in the ’81 season. In 1982 MBA closed and most of the staff moved to Sanvenero.
Tormo was joined by Pier Paolo Bianchi in the 125 class, with Tormo winning the Belgian GP but finishing the season in 4th, one point behind Bianchi’s 3rd.
After Sanvenero folded (during the German GP!) Bianchi was able to obtain several 125s from the receivers and continued to race them during 1983, scoring three podiums and 8th in the championship.
This 125 is fitted with a special swingarm designed by Antonio Cobas.
The 500cc project was both far more ambitious and far less successful. The engine was inspired by Suzuki’s RG500, but used a shorter stroke.
The crankcases were made by Campagnolo, the crankshafts by Hoeckle and pistons by Mahle. The first frames were made by Nico Bakker but a home-grown chassis was soon used.
At least four bikes were constructed during the ’81-’82 seasons. Riders were Carlo Perugini (no points) in ’81 and Guy Bertin (no points) & Michel Frutschi (14th) in ’82.
Indeed Frutschi won the French GP at Nogaro after all the top teams boycotted the race due to safety concerns.
When the team was declared bankrupt during the German GP at Hockenheim in September the circuit took possession of the two bikes entered and one can still be seen in the circuit museum.
The two ’81 bikes are in English and Italian collections while the one I photographed is with a German collector, was mechanically restored over 2012-13 and was ridden at the Bikers Classic meeting at Imola in 2013. It is in original condition (apart from the tyres), including the paint.