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Luigi Taveri enjoys the Estoril action with Kawasaki

Luigi Taveri enjoys the Estoril action with Kawasaki

Luigi Taveri enjoys the Estoril action with Kawasaki

He may not have won his three world titles aboard a Kawasaki, but that wasn't going to stop Fuchs Kawasaki Racing Team Manager, Harald Eckl, from insisting that Luigi Taveri join him in the Kawasaki hospitality unit for lunch, after bumping into the triple World Champion in the Estoril paddock.

Born in 1929, Taveri is one of the few riders who can lay claim to international racing experience on both two and three wheels. During his debut international season, the Swiss rider competed in Grand Prix as a sidecar passenger for Hans Haldemann, while at the same time campaigning privately owned 350cc and 500cc British built Norton machines in the solo classes.

In his time Taveri was a factory rider for Ducati, MZ and Kreidler, but it was with Honda that he had his greatest success, winning three world championship titles for the Japanese factory; the last of which came in 1966 aboard Honda's famous 20,000 rpm, five-cylinder RC149 machine.

Proving his versatility even further, Taveri also took three Isle of Man TT victories during his time with Honda; two in the Lightweight 125cc TT and one in the 50cc TT.

But while his racing days may be well and truly behind him now, 75-year-old Taveri is still heavily involved with motorcycles. As well as riding regularly on the road, the Swiss resident spends a lot of his spare time restoring old motorcycles, with his air stewardess daughter regularly recruited to bring back the more difficult to get hold of parts from her travels abroad.

For Alex Hofmann, today was something of a reunion. The Fuchs Kawasaki rider moved to Switzerland at the start of the 2004 season, and it didn't take long for him to discover he had a former World Champion as a close neighbour; Taveri is well known in the area.

"Luigi might be 75-years-old, but you'd never guess it," said Alex Hofmann. "He still rides a bike on the road, and he's invariably one of the faster riders when he makes one of his regular appearances at classic race meetings.

"I guess with Luigi it's a case of once a racer, always a racer; I know his family have suggested to him a few times that he might like to slow down a bit, but it's obvious that he isn't taking their suggestions too seriously just yet! It's good to see him here in Estoril, and I'm sure he'll have a few pointers for me once he's had a chance to get out on track and see what's going on."

"I'm proud to welcome a champion such as Luigi Taveri into our team," declared Fuchs Kawasaki Team Manager, Harald Eckl. "It is incredible that he still displays the same passion for motorcycles and racing now that he obviously had during his racing career.

"It was also very interesting to listen to riders from two very different generations talking together, and it was a good opportunity for Alex and Shinya to exchange views and ideas with someone who was so successful in what was definitely a golden era in Grand Prix racing.

"While Grand Prix racing may have changed beyond all recognition over the past four decades, one thing still remains the same; to do well in this sport a rider must display the same determination to succeed that took Luigi to his three world titles."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, GRANDE PREMIO MARLBORO DE PORTUGAL, Kawasaki Racing Team

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