Italian in the Middle

Franco Uncini, along with his countryman Marco Lucchinelli, landed Italians smack-dab in the middle of the American domination of 500cc Grand Prix Road Racing. Of the two, Uncini was easily the most unexpected champion, earning his world title in 1982.
Uncini was a solid, if not spectacular GP racer in the smaller classes. He scored two wins in the 250cc in 1977, on a Harley-Davidson no less. But once moving to the premier class Uncini only scored three podiums (all thirds) in three seasons. His injury-plagued 1981 season was totally unspectacular with a season best result of seventh (twice).
That’s why Uncini was not among the pre-season favorites for the ’82 season, but he found something magical on the factory Suzuki squad ran by Roberto Gallina. Uncini made the most of the top-level machinery and scored a series leading five GP wins (GPs of Austria, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Great Britain and GP of Nations) en route to winning the 1982 World Championship over Yamaha’s Graeme Crosby and Honda’s Freddie Spencer.

Almost unbelievable Uncini built up a large enough lead in the point standings, that he won the ’82 GP title in spite of retiring and scoring no points in the final three rounds.

Uncini was in a devastating crash in the Dutch TT at Assen in 1983, but he was able to eventually recover and return to racing for two more seasons and scored solid results before retiring from Grand Prix racing after the 1985 season.

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