The small town of Rovetta, with its population of four thousand, is located close to Bergamo in the very heart of the Seriana Valley, an area characterised by quiet villages and upright characters. As so often happens in the world of motorcycling, important milestones are hidden in this rural stillness. The “Valli”, returning to the world championships after four years, is one of these.
Three days of rocky slopes and an exhilarating race course in the most beautiful parts of the Bergamasque Prealps will once more leave their mark on the history of what was called Regularity until the early 1980s and what, thanks to the FIM, is now universally referred to as Enduro.
Quite a few years have passed since the first edition. Seventy-one to be precise.
After the World War local drivers from Bergamo had started modifying their street motorcycles in order to speed along the mule tracks connecting the scattered villages of the Seriana Valley. The enthusiasm spread by word of mouth until the Moto Club Bergamo, which turns one hundred exactly this year, decided to organise an official event. The then president of the Club, Giacomo Manzoni, named the emerging legend “Valli Bergamasche”.
It was immediately obvious that it was something new, something totally different from everything that had existed before: more than two hundred would start, but only four would arrive. The racing track was so demanding and complex that it required an effort unknown to many, and unsustainable for most, bikes.
This was not any old outing; this was not a race. It was quite simply the “Valli”.
It was so revolutionary that after only a few years it was the principal date in Italy, more important than the “Scudo del Sud” or the “Tre Mari”, classics at the time. There was no doubt that off-road Regularity in Italy was Bergamo: in 1950 it became a race of the Italian Championship. More and more difficult stages were added to the course and its characteristic trails and mule tracks would have been deemed impossible anywhere else.
It did not take long before this Italian race started attracting drivers and teams from abroad: already in the 1960s the majority of participants were foreigners. For many years these non-Italians achieved the best results also because of the two-stroke engines which adapted to the path much better than the four-stroke engines used by the locals at the time.
It has always been the most difficult track. It forged the greatest drivers of the past and served as testing ground for motorcycles. If they performed well here, they would have performed perfectly everywhere else.
This triumphal march shaped the birth and evolution of the discipline called Regularity back then and Enduro today. After 1969, when the “Valli” became part of the new Enduro European Championships promoted by the FIM, special tests were introduced. This followed a trend present in foreign competitions. According to legend the fascination grew to the point that more than thirty thousand people came to see the 1979 race.
Great men, but also great bikes.
From the first pioneers who manipulated their street motorcycles to the conformed bikes of today, which can be enjoyed by all aficionados on any road.
The different companies have invested great efforts over the years in order to arrive at this incredible level of technology, where mechanics work to a millimetre accuracy and the various parts are increasingly advanced.
One should only think of the fact that once upon a time, after the first street bikes, old adjusted scooters were used because their small wheels enabled the driver to be nimble even in the tightest and most complex stages. It may seem absurd, but it is true.
Later on, specialised motorcycles were developed and thanks to these not only the technical level, but also the number of participants grew.Bikes which are firmly ingrained in the collective imagination. Bikes which were created for the “Valli”, but which can also be used on the road, every day.
Pieces of iron with a soul, icons full of history, and a passion which lives to this day, shaping the essence of today’s Enduro motorcycles.
Look into their eyes during the over seven hours of racing and you will not see a single racer but a team of two: a driver who gives and resists everything, and a bike which must not give in. A hard test, which is difficult for some and impossible for others, but which is a legend for everyone.
A circuit of fifty kilometres to be repeated three times, with five different special trials and three time checks. The first taste already on Friday, 21 June with the inaugural Super Test.
In all categories, the teams and racers are ready for the big day.
Brad Freeman (GBR-Beta) wants to confirm his position as number one driver in Enduro 1. the Italian trio Matteo Cavallo (Sherco), Davide Guarneri (Honda) et Thomas Oldrati (Honda) will give their all in order to stand out at their home race
“Rocky” Salvini (ITA-Honda) returning home after his heroic Greek race where he came in fifth with an injured shoulder, tries to distance his competition in Enduro 2.
Great expectations also for Giacomo Redondi (ITA-Husqvarna), victorious in Greece on Saturday and here by miracle despite a broken rib, two squashed ribs and a compressed verterbrae.
In Enduro 3, all eyes are on the duel between Steve Holcombe (GBR-Beta) à Danny McCanney (GBR-TM Racing), who are contending for the first place in the ranking.
In EnduroGP, the same Holcombe will have to engage in a head-to-head with Freeman for the top of the general rankings.
Enduro is a great story, the last page of which still needs to be written.
The great drivers and enthusiasts of today will compete with the greats of the past, all of whom inevitably left a piece of their heart here in Rovetta.
Bernard, Boano, Botturi, Cervantes, Croci, Grasso, Gallino, Fossati, Edmondson, Esquirol, Erikson, Evers, Johanson, Kytonen, Muraglia, Nilsson, Paoli, Pellegrinelli, Rinaldi, Rome, Rossi, Rubin, Sala, Rubin, Sala Wirz.
Welcome to the World of Enduro.
Welcome to the Italian GP.
Welcome to Valli Bergamasche.