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Cecotto finally “back on the streets” again at Imola...

Saturday and Sunday October 2nd & 3rd 2010 at Imola, Italy
Great news was that Johnny Cecotto finally would sit on a bike again and that was at the 200 Miglia Imola Revival in Italy. He would ride on the 500cc Yamaha OW45 from Ferry Brouwer of the Yamaha Classic Racing Team. This event was held from October 1. to 3. and it was good reason for us to go to Italy for this event. After 1980 we didn't see Johnny on a motorcycle racing machine. In October 2008 at Oschersleben I had met Johnny in person for the very last time. Occasionally we had contact by e-mail or phone but I was looking forward to see him again. With Carolien I made a little vacation in Italy. For Imola we had press passes so we were secured to be able to make a report for this site. When we arrived at Imola we achieved the passes and photo vests before we went to the YCRT. There we met Ferry Brouwer who of course also was delighted Cecotto finally agreed to drive on a Yamaha of his team. I promised to make some photos available to him for the website of YCRT. As hobbyist it's great to attend these events to enjoy this history, both in terms of motorcycles as drivers who race them. And when your idol in name of Johnny Cecotto is also there what more can you wish. The drivers who would race for YCRT were not the least: Agostini, Cecotto and Baker, the Yamaha team of 1977! It wasn’t a surprise most public made way to the team of Ferry Brouwer! I saw Jonathan (son) stand at the back of the box with Isabella (wife) and Julie (daughter). Also Johnny came out and we also welcomed each other. There was little opportunity to talk as for several people appeared to Johnny for photos and autographs. Johnny had to change because the first practice was to be done by the 200 Miglia drivers. The Yamaha 500 of Johnny was provided with #96 to which he won the Imola 200 Miglia in 1975. The 750 Yamaha OW31 was to be driven by Baker. Agostini would ride the Yamaha OW29 on which he won the Daytona 200 in 1974. Cecotto was fully dressed and appeared in the pit box. I noticed he wasn’t in his old familiar leathers but had a modern suit with his name on the back. It appeared that in between now and the confirmation of his participation in Imola the organization was out of time to prepare a whole new suit in the old design. Ferry and his mechanic André warmed the engines. Baker and Cecotto were attacked by a massive audience that stormed the YCRT box. Of course everybody wanted an autograph and a picture from these great drivers of yesteryear in motorcycle racing. There were more big names. Roberts, Luchinelli, Sarron, Coulon, Lega, Lavado, Kneubühler and many more. During warm up you could already hear the Yamaha OW45 didn’t run smoothly. Cecotto departed for free practice but already after 2 laps came in with technical problems. The Yamaha had to be checked by Ferry and André of the YCRT and Cecotto was forced to stay inside without further driving. Between the courses we looked for Stefano Bondi, an Italian to whom I've been e-mailing since years. He was a big fan of Kneubühler and would stay in his box. We met there and it was kind of weird as if I actually met a friend whom I had known for years. I think this has to do with the same passion that we share. I arranged he could stand with Cecotto for a photograph. It was nice to meet and I hope to see him again. It was time for 2nd practice of the 200 Miglia. Roberts, Baker, Cecotto, Lavado, they got all the attention of the public as they emerged. But Agostini is and remains the largest, he is very popular, especially with the Italians. No luck for Cecotto because the 2nd session was interrupted with a red flag. So I almost had no action shots of Johnny today. With Johnny we sat in the Bikers' Day's tent with Olivier Aerts from the organization and later Christian Sarron joined. It appeared Johnny Cecotto actually had to be in Venezuela for important appointments. So it was doubtful whether he would be here tomorrow. We already said goodbye to Johnny and would see the next day if he was there or not. On Sunday morning we drove to Imola with the feeling Johnny Cecotto wouldn’t be there. When we arrived at the box I asked Ferry if Cecotto was coming and he confirmed that he was gone. He had to go to Venezuela. That was quite a disappointment on this event for us because Sunday is always the best part with rider presentation and parade on the starting grid. We were there and would enjoy it nevertheless. The weather was great so made it even more attractive. As the morning continued with the "privateers" we investigated the circuit of Imola to be able to make make better pictures later on the day. We now had found the way to the other side of the track at the chicane where you had a nice view. We went back to the YCRT where the crowd scrambled for a glimpse of Agostini and Baker. For us it became a bit "normal" to be here with the giants of yesteryear without being dismissed as it was with the rest of the public. While all drivers got on the track the bike of Cecotto was still in the pit. I asked permission to Ferry to sit on it and he agreed. There I was on the Yamaha which Johnny Cecotto had driven yesterday. It was the 1st time I ever sat on such a racing machine and the feeling was weird. It wasn’t as comfortable I thought and got even more respect for the drivers racing high speed around the circuits. Carolien and I sat on the stands to eat and enjoy the sun. At the box of YCRT Olivier Aerts informed us the 200 Miglia starting grid was at the pit end. There was a lot of traffic on the grid with guests and press. Here I saw Mario Lega, 250 world champion, who I occasionally sent photos of Classic events. Dr. Costa made a tribute to Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini who were killed at Monza 1973. Everyone had to leave the track because the 200 Miglia started. Photographers were on the side to witness this moment. It was very special as it really gave a feeling how it was when the 200 miles of Imola started. At the chicane we made action shots. Baker made wheelie's as he went up the straight. You could see the 750 Yamaha OW31 was a superior bike. After the 200 Miglia Agostini rode 6 laps on the Yamaha M1 of Valentino Rossi. A special end to the 200 Miglia Imola Revival which certainly was successful! We got a nice dessert because Johnny Cecotto said it was okay if we came to his home. Johnny was in Venezuela but Isabella was there. On Tuesday we got to Treviso and dropped by at Cecotto's house. Isabella was surprised because Johnny didn't tell her we would come. Nevertheless we could come in and talked a bit. Isabella showed me the 750 Yamaha OW31 in the garage on which Johnny became world champion in 1978. There were a lot of trophies from both motorcycle- and car racing. More things were stored somewhere else. It was very special to see all this stuff. What a "Cecotto history" was lying here! Isabella asked if I wanted something but I didn’t want to take anything without Johnny knowing it. Isabella took us to the centre of town for a tour and to eat and drink on a terrace. At 15.00 hours we went back home and we said goodbye as for she had to pick up the kids from school. We for sure had a nice and pleasant time with Isabella in Treviso. She told us to come back some time again when Johnny was home. We keep that in mind! Both our visits to the 200 Miglia Imola Revival and to Johnny's house in Treviso are beautiful memories for us. After 2 years we met Johnny Cecotto again and also our first real encounter with Isabella (we only met her 2 times shortly) was special and very pleasant although we, including Isabella, were a little nervous at the beginning. We want to thank some people for our wonderful time at Imola and Italy. Olivier Aerts, Ferry Brouwer and the rest of YCRT, Stefano Bondi and of course Johnny Cecotto but mainly Isabella Cecotto for her kindness and hospitality! Hope to see you soon again.....

200 Miglia Revival Imola 2010

Johnny Cecotto & me
Johnny Cecotto on his Yamaha
Giacomo Agostini & Johnny Cecotto