When 1987 vice-world champion Randy Mamola was unexpectedly let go by Yamaha’s Team Roberts, the Italian Cagiva factory was quick to sign the 13-times Grand Prix winner to race their new C588 Grand Prix bike alongside Frenchman Raymond Roche and Italian test rider Massimo Broccoli. Mamola, who had been beating the best of the world for almost a decade, experienced a wretched start of the season on the only factory bike to use Pirelli tyres. But all was forgotten when the American achieved Cagiva Corse’s first podium finish, which in turn earned him a brand new Ferrari Testarossa.

Motorcycle brand Cagiva was the brainchild of the Italian Castiglioni brothers who were very passionate about motorcycles and motorcycle racing. They initially tried to take over the former MV Agusta racing team to go racing under the famous MV flag, but Count Agusta would not have it. In 1978 the brothers took over the old Aermacchi factory including its racing department from Harley Davidson. They renamed it after their father, Castiglioni Giovanni of Varese. 500 cc vice-world champion Virginio Ferrari was given the honour of debuting Cagiva’s first Grand Prix bike in 1980. Dutchman Nico Bakker had built a frame around an in-line four-cylinder engine, which at first was a Yamaha TZ 500 engine, but, after fitting rotary valves, soon became a genuine Varese-built Cagiva engine. It was South-African 350 cc world champion Jon Ekerold who collected the first world championship points for Cagiva on the 1982 C2, powered by a square-four engine, a copy of Suzuki’s RG 500. It would take another five seasons of development to collect that elusive first podium finish..


The 1988 Cagiva C588 was designed by legendary designer Massimo Tamburini and was loosely based on the V4 Yamaha YZR 500 which Mamola used to finish as runner-up in the 1987 world championship. Both Roche and Mamola deemed the 150 horsepower strong Pirelli-shod bike ‘unrideable’ on several occasions, suffering some nasty crashes. The tv footage of Mamola smoking the tyres of his ‘Italian stallion’, suffering a vicious high-side in Brazil, happening just as he was taking a glance over his shoulder, brought publicity, but for the wrong reasons. Fortunately for Cagiva and Mamola, Pirelli improved tyre feel and performance and there was nothing wrong with their rain tyres, as wet-weather specialist Mamola would prove during round nine of the world championship at Spa-Franchorchamps. In treacherous conditions a visibly emotional Mamola rode the Cagiva to 3rd place behind his old adversaries Wayne Gardner and Eddie Lawson. He took an excellent 4th place finish in Yugoslavia and a great 6th in France, finishing 12th in the world standings, easily outperforming his teammate Roche. The Castiglionis kept their promise and in 1989, Randy was handed the keys to a brand new Ferrari Testarossa..

This C588 is one of six factory bikes built in 1988. It was lovingly restored by Duncan Dunbar of Dunbar Race Engineering in the UK, with assistance from BSR racing, Classic Cagiva Racing and former GP-mechanics Nigel Everett and George Vuckmanovich. It is currently owned by Brendan Holland, an enthusiast from London with an appropriate surname, since he will bring the bike to the TABAC Classic GP Assen, thirty-four years after it was last raced in the ‘Cathedral of Speed’.

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