500 GP

The 500 GP was the first Ducati L-twin racer.

The 1971 500 GP was the last Ducati bike to contend in the foremost class for some time, until Ducati made its comeback with the Desmosedici in 2003.

The classic L shape of the twin-cylinder engine fathered by Fabio Taglioni is clearly visible in this picture. The 500 GP's engine did not use the Desmodromic system.

The 500 GP contended in the 1971 500cc World Championship and in the Mototemporada Romagnola in the town circuits of Rimini, Riccione, Cesenatico and Modena.

Bruno Spaggiari on the Ducati 500 GP ahead of Agostini riding a MV Agusta at the Cesenatico Grand Prix in 1971.

The starting grid for the 500 class at the Modena circuit.


Since 1958 Ducati had taken no part in the world speed trials. For this reason the appearance of the 500 GP in 1971 drove the manufacturer's fans wild. Finally their favorite brand had returned to its natural environment.

Taglioni used the prototype sand-cast crankcase which he came up with for his first experiments on the 750. To this he applied two cylinders from the 250 single (with spring and not desmo heads). To optimize the engine a sixth speed was added to the gearbox. Troubles with the gearbox and the electrical equipment were the major defects of this bike, which, with a rated output of 72 hp at 12,000 revs, was competitive with the other 500s in the world championship. Perhaps most impressive of all, the bike was fully developed in only six months.

The bike's debut was the race at Modena. The two riders (Spaggiari and Giuliano) and their Ducatis quickly made an impressive display. Unfortunately, teething troubles forced them to retire before the end of the race. In the next race at Imola Spaggiari had to retire again, while Giuliano came in behind Agostini on his unparalleled MV 3 cylinder.

Although it had not yet displayed its full potential, the bike had proved competitive from the outset and Ducati began to search for a rider capable of realizing the bike's full promise. The company's first choice was Hailwood, but the Englishman was unavailable. In the end they found Phil Read, who managed to come in second behind Ospedaletti. Read also raced in the world championship at Imola, where, plagued by gearbox problems, he dropped from second place and finished fourth.



30/05/1971 1° circuito di Skopja Locka
Gilberto Parlotti
12/09/1971 4° Gran Premio delle Nazioni - Monza
Phil Read
21/05/1972  3° Gran Premio delle Nazioni - Imola
Bruno Spaggiari

Technicals data