Franco Uncini, who won the 500 world title on Tuesday

Forty years ago, on August 3, 1982, the news of the title arrived with Roberts' forfeit. But with five wins, the Italian Suzuki rider's advantage in the standings was enormous. Today Franco is FIM Safety Officer, responsible for the safety of the circuits

August 3, 2022

G.just in these days, after the splendid victory at Silverstone on August 1st, he arrived the news that Franco Uncini was the world champion of the 500 of the year 1982: Kenny Robertsjust fractured hands and an operated finger, would not participate in the Swedish test on the following Sunday.

The advantage of the Suzuki rider became unbridgeable, 103 to 58. The Gazzetta published the great news on Tuesday, August 3, 1982: the article was signed by the correspondent to Silverstone, Carlo Canzano.

ORToday his friend Canzano is on vacation somewhere and Franco Uncini, born in 1955, is FIM Safety Officer: he has been working on the subject for thirty years, with IRTA and Dorna, it is he who supervises the safety of the slopes, it is always he who signs the new homologations in the name of the FIM. Let's start from here, from a precious and not easy role.

“I know that more and more are expected, but unfortunately - he tells me on the phone, connected from his house in Formentera - I have to fight with compromises. Homologations are not just MotoGP, there is also F1and maybe an escape space that F1 wants all asphalt, we want it half and half… Let's say that out of ten things I normally ask for, they give me nine… ”.

I have long argued that Franco does a good job, the level of safety has improved a lot, even if a lot remains to be done. It is slippery and complicated terrainthere are money at stake, different needs, permits, politics ...

“To make you understand: do you know for how many years we have been asking for the escape space of turn 1 in Barcelona? Minimum ten years: first there are no permits and there is a public road behind it, then we make a project and find the funds to divert the road, when everyone agrees, the political references change and we have to start over ... ".

TO By the way, isn't there an excessive tendency to asphalt everything for the escape areas? Security grows, but regulate the many overruns and sanction them homogeneously it becomes almost impossible.

“In reality we manage to mediate in some way, especially on new circuits. I fight a lot with the FIA, often they ask for more asphalt and us less. But it is also true that we have changed our philosophy a little: where there is plenty of escape space, we prefer to have more asphalt because falling on asphalt is less dangerous than falling on gravel. The pilot tends to slide without triggering deadly carom as happens in gravel. Although gravel slows down speed drastically, asphalt is safer.
We realize that to solve the safety problem we create another one, the pilots tend to exaggerate and the stewards have a lot of grain…. Sometimes our interventions (we are a team) create problems on the other side, but safety comes first and must stay there".

So let's go on world title forty years ago. In Gallina's La Spezia team, which managed the factory Suzuki cars, that year Uncini replaced Marco Lucchinelli'81 champion who moved to Honda with Spencer.
With the private RG Franco had already pointed out how better than private individuals. He was a light and very fast pilot, intelligent and rational; he had a good style of driving and also of life, if you can tell.

“When I won in Great Britain, at Silverstone, the advantage was practically unbridgeable. Officially I was champion when the doctors who operated on Kenny told him that he would not be able to race a few days later at Anderstorp in Sweden. But the games were made: with five victories, against the two of Spencer and Roberts, that year we were the strongest ”.

It was a great party at Silverstone: a lot of advantage and Franco in top form. For the team it was an encore, something absolutely fantastic. For the pilot the crowning of a dream.

“We celebrated too much and went into crisis, we ended up losing focus. Everyone, including myself. In Sweden I was ten seconds ahead and with nine laps to go the crown began to move on the hub: the mechanics had forgotten to tie the nuts. Then at Mugello in the San Marino GP I got my head up in qualifying, and after setting record after record to do even better stupidly you exaggerated and I hurt myself. Finally at Hockenheim I did another bullshit: a misunderstanding at the braking of the Sachs, Mamola who took off in front of me in an anomalous way and I who take Spencer in full. We celebrated badly ”.

But the season remains unforgettable.

“That was the best year of my career, when you win the joy is extreme. Of the five victories (Austria, Nations of Misano, Assen, Rijeka, Silverstone ed) the best race was Austria, the first in Europe. There in Salzburg I had started last as was almost always the case, with the push; as in the opening in Argentina with the broken scaphoid.
There thanks to Costa I was able to run, after the bad start I recovered up to fourth position and I was approaching the leading group
(Roberts, Sheene and Spencer at the finish line ed). That day I said to myself: here we are. Even at Salz I had a very bad start and climbed up to gain the lead, then the great duel with Lucchinelli and in the end, when he slipped into the fastest corner, I didn't know it and in the last lap I risked pulling over the limit some detached ...
It was the first victory after my daughter was born a week ago: beautiful, as was the one at Silverstone too ”.

P.Arlami of your great historical mechanic, Mario Ciamberliniand the team of Roberto Gallina.

“Mario had been with me for years and I also wanted him in 1982, he was my confidence: he was what… just the first glance and you understand many things. It gave me a sense of calm and confidence, which was also very important that year there. In the team he found himself well, Roberto welcomed him very well, he was not a stranger, he was part of the team, he worked in harmony and without jealousy. A real family was created, so much so that after my accident in 1983 (in Assen, invested by Gardner ed) when I wanted to go back to competitions, the first thing I did was to go back with Roberto Gallina: I wanted serenity, I wanted him at all costs, I didn't look for alternatives ”.

Yours was a very short career, seen today. The debut in '76 and the definitive retirement in 85 ...

“Almost a record. If I went back I would run again: I loved racing, I regret a little about having stopped so soon. E 'that as a child I saw the old thirty and when I started, I was 19, I decided that I would quit at thirty, like Jackie Stewart who gave up in that period. Then Suzuki was no longer competitive and I didn't have a manager to explore other possibilities: I found myself without horizons and I stopped there. I said to myself: I have won a world title, I have escaped from a bad accident, I have a family, I am leaving. But after six months I was already sorry. I would have left immediately if I had had something competitive ”.

P.rhyme of the 500, where you were with Mario Ciamberlini the fastest private individual in the world, there were three seasons with medium displacements ...

"I started racing in 250 and 350 because the offers arrived there: they saw me so thin and puny that I also received offers for the 50 and 125 ... I saw 250 and 350 as a springboard for the 500 and the real mistake I made at end of '76: Gallina offered me the 500, but at the same time the Harley-Davidson of Varese offered me the official team and the world champion bikes, with an even higher salary. I made up my mind, but that was a mistake: I was dreaming of the 500, I should have taken Roberto's proposal straight away without looking for the official team ”.

To close, is there anyone, among today's riders, in which you see yourself a little?

“As a character I see myself a little in Dovi and Mir, those thoughtful and more secluded types. They seem reserved and silent to me, they don't look for noise and they want to do things well ”.

And here we return to the present. Those who are not looking for noise and want things done well, those like Franco Uncini.

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