Many fans are convinced that the first and only Agostini in the history of motorcycling was the renowned Giacomo from Bergamo, but they are wrong. Agostini is a name that, well before Giacomo became a national hero, had appeared several times in the chronicles of the sport, particularly those about Mandello.
Carlo Agostini, for example, was the famous Moretto (would be a nickname for someone of dark hair and complexion – Peter), the chief mechanic of the competition department during the pre-war years; Luigi Agostini was his grandson ans successor in the prestigious position during the fifties, and Duilio Agostini was one of the best, and one of the most reserved, Guzzi riders during the golden years of the early fifties.
From trusted test rider to champion.
The career of Duilio Agostini, born in 1926, started as a “waiter” in the Mandello restaurant of his parents (at the Hotel Giardinetto on the lake – Peter) which was frequented by race riders and executives of Moto Guzzi. It is logical that, having grown up in such an atmosphere, he commenced work at the factory after the war. His first assignment was in the client assistance department but he was soon promoted to test rider for the production bikes, and after gaining the confidence of Carlo Guzzi, entered the experimental department and became the test rider for experimental machines.
Not withstanding all this his 1950 entry into the world of competition was a somewhat casual event due to his being “sponsored” by the Lecco Mi-val dealership who lent him the Moto Guzzi Condor that they tuned for Giulio Galbiati, a rider from Sesto San Giovanni.
His debut was at the Asola circuit in the province of Mantova which was reached with the bike loaded into a small Fiat Balilla van. His winning debut was rewarded with the prize of a suit, a radio, a salami, a case of pasta, one hundred thousand lire from the enthusiastic owner of Fossati chains, and, also from Fossati, a second hand Moto Guzzi Dondolino for the next race at Lodi. Following this he was victorious at Crema, Codogno, and Castano Prima: a series brutally interrupted by a fall at Legnano that kept him immobilised for a year.
1953 was the year of the consecration of Agostini with the victories, always with the Dondolino, at Crema, Bergamo, Busto Arsizio, and with the triumph in the Milano-Taranto, won in record time with an average speed of 109,678 km/h. (Note: remember that this was on ordinary roads of the period through towns and villages for a distance of just over one thousand kilometres – Peter)
He was also judged champion of Italy in the Second Category and was promoted by the authority to First Category(Note: First and Second Category are equivalent to A and B Grade competition categories. – Peter), and appointed to the official Guzzi team at the Nations G.P. At Monza with the single cam. He finished third at the shoulders of the “masters” Lorenzetti and Anderson.
Unfortunately Agostini was always considered an employee of the factory before being thought of as a works rider and consequently was often subject to team orders to allow past his more “noble” companions. None the less he was able to win at Locarno and convincingly beat Lorenzetti at Senigallia and was judged champion of Italy in the 250 First Category.
In 1955 he obtained his first victory in a World Gran Prix at the Reims circuit in front of team companion Dickie Dale. There followed a sequence of mixed results including the very difficult Isle of Man Tourist Trophy; a competition to which Agostini was particularly attached because at the 1955 edition he came to know a beautiful and likeable girl from distant Australia, Margot, who he was to marry a short time later. (He finished 8th in the Junior TT despite crashing and breaking his nose. He also competed in the 1956 Junior TT finishing 9th – Peter)
He also raced in the 1957 season but when Moto Guzzi abandoned competition Agostini also left the field. He went on to manage the AGIP service station at Mandello and opened a Guzzi dealership, then in 1976 opened at Mandello, together with his wife and daughters (Alis and Lindy) a large Centro Assistenza Moto Guzzi (Service Centre and Dealership- Peter) which quickly became the indisputable reference point for all Guzzisti. He left us in 2008.