The passing of Franco Farnè: a recollection


by Livio Lodi, Curator of the Ducati Museum

For many, very many Ducati fans, mechanics, and riders, Franco Farnè was simply Franco; a shy man, who didn't particularly like being famous, but who never avoided it if it meant he could take Ducati a step higher.

Franco Farnè, however, was also a rider, and above all head mechanic of the Ducati Corse Team, as well as the true right arm of Fabio Taglioni.

He joined Ducati in 1951 (his mother gave up her job at the company just to please her son), and from the start he showed an innate capacity for mechanics, beginning as a young test rider on the Cucciolo. When Fabio Taglioni joined Ducati in 1954, Franco was immediately taken on by the engineer from Lugo, from the very outset with the Gran Sport Marianna. A Ducati rider at the Motogiro d'Italia, at the Milan-Taranto race and in the first races on city racetracks, Franco proved himself a gifted rider and mechanic, and won the Italian Junior Championship in 1956 and 1957 with the Ducati 100, and in 1958 with the Ducati 125 Desmo.

It's to Farnè that we owe the "physical" development of the first Desmodromic system, too, along with the mechanics Mazza, Recchia and Amaroli in 1956.

In the first half of the 1960s, when his work as a rider was "sacrificed" for him to become test rider and head mechanic for Ducati in the United States (the 350 displacement was actually developed by Franco in the States) and for the Spanish subsidiary Mototrans, Farnè became the main point of reference for everyone in the preparation of prototypes and race bikes.

And to Farnè we also owe the development of the first racing twin-cylinder bikes, the successes at Imola, participation in the 1978 Tourist Trophy, but also the development of the Pantah engine, the trellis frame, the successes in the Paris-Dakar, and on up to the Superbike. In 1999, Franco retired, although he never kept himself away from the world of Ducati and competitions, always with his wife Vanna alongside him.

The list of the riders who had the good luck and the pleasure of working with him is impressive: first of all Bruno Spaggiari, with whom he had an inseparable friendship, and then again Mike Hailwood, Ricardo Fargas, Paul Smart, Franco Uncini, Benjamin Grau, Salvador Canellas, Virginio Ferrari, Mario Lega, Tony Rutter, Davide Tardozzi, Marco Lucchinelli, Raymond Roche, Giancarlo Falappa, Doug Polen, Carl Fogarty, Troy Corser, and Pier Francesco Chili.

All in all, Franco was a valuable colleague of not only Taglioni but also other people from the world of Ducati such as Massimo Bordi, Gianluigi Mengoli, Giorgio Nepoti and Rino Caracchi of the NCR team, the brothers Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni, Massimo Tamburini, until we get to Filippo Preziosi and Claudio Domenicali.

Ducati is mourning the passing of one of the most iconic figures in its history, one of the true cornerstones of Ducati's story, of the Corse department and of Ducati Corse, as well as a dear friend of the whole company and of all Ducatisti. Not many people at the Borgo Panigale firm have been able to do so much, and give so much.

The CEO Claudio Domenicali and all of Ducati warmly embrace his family.

Livio Lodi, Museum Curator

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