At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Luca Cadalora - motorcycle world champion

Modena rider won titles in 125cc and 250cc categories


Luca Cadalora in action in 1993
Luca Cadalora in action in 1993
Luca Cadalora, the motorcycle racer who was three times a world champion, was born on this day in 1963 in Modena, Emilia Romagna.

Currently working as coach to Italy’s seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi, Cadalora began his professional motorcycle racing career in 1984, riding an MBA in the 125cc world championship.

He picked up a respectable 27 points to finish eighth in his debut season, his best performance a second place in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, but had a very disappointing second season, finishing only three races to collect a meagre four points.

His switch to the Garelli team, the dominant force at the time in the 125cc class, catapulted him to fame.

Cadalora and team-mate Fausto Gresini, his fellow Italian, battled it out for the title through the season, each finishing with four wins. Cadalora took the upper hand by winning four of the first seven races and it was his consistency over the campaign that clinched the title. He failed to complete only one of 11 races and finished in the top four in the other 10, finishing runner-up in his last three to pip Gresini by 114 points to 109.

Cadalora is now coach to  Valentino Rossi
Cadalora is now coach to
Valentino Rossi
That success earned him a promotion to the 250cc class with Giacomo Agostini's Marlboro Yamaha factory racing team in 1986.  Again he was competitive consistently, improving year by year, finishing seventh, sixth, fifth and third for Agostini.

But again it was a switch of team that made the difference.  With five GP wins under his belt, he switched to the Rothmans Honda factory racing team in 1991.

Winning an impressive eight races, he roared to his first 250cc world championship aboard an Erv Kanemoto-tuned Honda NSR250, collecting 237 points.  This time his closest rival was the German Helmut Bradl, who won five races, but fell 17 points short of his rival.

Cadalora successfully defended his title with Honda in 1992, claiming his third world championship.  Bradl failed to win a single GP this time and Cadalora won by a much wider margin, beating the Italian Loris Reggiani, riding for Aprilia, by 44 points.

In 1993 he graduated to the blue riband 500cc division as Wayne Rainey's team mate in the Kenny Roberts-Yamaha team.

Seven-times world MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi teamed up with Cadalora in 2016
Seven-times world MotoGP champion Valentino
Rossi teamed up with Cadalora in 2016
In three seasons on the Roberts Yamaha, he displayed flashes of brilliance and usual consistency, winning two GPs in each of those seasons and finishing as high as second to Mick Doohan in 1994.

Cadalora rejoined Kanemoto for the 1996 season racing a Honda NSR500. Despite lacking any major sponsors, he still managed to finish the season in third place aboard the Kanemoto-Honda.

For the 1997 season, he was contracted as official Yamaha rider in the new Promotor Racing team backed by an Austrian businessman.   After only a handful of races, however, the team collapsed due to financial problems. WCM rescued the team with the help of a Red Bull sponsorship and Cadalora ended the season in sixth place.

At the beginning of the 1998 season, WCM and Cadalora lost Yamaha official support. He returned to the Rainey-Yamaha works team for a few races to replace an injured Jean-Michel Bayle, then helped develop the new MuZ race bike.

Cadalora finished his career with Kenny Roberts' Modenas team in 2000, retiring with 34 Grand Prix victories in his three classes.

In 2016, Cadalora returned to the top level of motorcycle racing as trackside coach to Valentino Rossi, the all-time great among Italian riders, helping him finish second in the MotoGP class for the third year running as he strives to equal his compatriot, Giacomo Agostini’s record of eight world titles in the 500cc/Moto GP category.

He has signed on for a second year, with Rossi leading the field after the first four races.

Modena's cathedral is on Piazza Grande at the heart of the city
Modena's cathedral is on Piazza Grande
at the heart of the city
Travel tip:

Cadalora’s home city of Modena is one of Italy’s most pedestrian-friendly cities, its historic centre off limits to traffic except for residents, commercial operators and tourists staying at city centre hotels with special permits. The centre is walkable, with most of the main sights enclosed within the former city walls.  The cobbled Piazza Grande is the heart of the city and is where visitors can find the city’s cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and consecrated in 1184, and the 86-metre tall Ghirlandia Tower.

Travel tip:

During his two 250cc world title seasons,  Cadalora won the Italian GP both years, the second time at the Mugello circuit in Tuscany. The Mugello is a historic region in northern Tuscany, which takes its name from the Mugello river. Located north of Florence, the region was occupied by the Etruscans, who have left many archeological traces, and subsequently colonised by the Romans. The towns of Borgo San Lorenzo, Scarperia and San Piero a Sieve are part of the Mugello.


More reading:


The 15 world titles of Giacomo Agostini

How Valentino Rossi joined the all-time greats





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