Libero Liberati : a last title for Gilera
The year of 1957 was the last one for the big fairings (the famous “dustbins”). They started to appear in 1954, and became bigger each year. The FIM decided to ban them for safety reasons, giving to racing motorcycles the general shape they have until today. It was also the last World title for Gilera in the 500cc class. The main rider in the Gilera team was then multi champion Geoff Duke but things would not go as planned after his fourth 500cc title in 1955.
ltalian rider Libero Liberati – born on 20 September 1926 in Terni – had won many races in Italy as of 1947 until two National titles in the 500cc class in 1955 and 1956, beside many wins in international and other national events. He scored World Championship points for the first time in 1953 in Monza, taking a third place at the Nations’ Grand Prix behind team mates Geoff Duke and Dickie Dale. He won his first race in the 350cc in 1956.
1957 would be his year: he won his first 500cc race in Hockenheim, and also won the 350cc race earlier that same day. He finished second in Assen behind John Surtees and his MV but then collected three more victories: Spa-Francorchamps, Ulster and Monza. He also finished in second place in the 350cc behind the first Australian World Champion Keith Campbell and even in points with team mate Bob McIntyre. However, because of “supposed” irregularities he was disqualified from his win in Belgium, only being re-instated in January 1958, with his title confirmed. In any case things should have kept on well for him, but Gilera, as well as Moto Guzzi (their V8 engine was not a success) and Mondial decided to withdraw from the Championship. Liberati had no factory rider, MV had John Surtees. He found a place at Morini in 1959 in the 250cc but only scored in one race. He would then take part in some races with his own Gilera Saturno, but without any significant results.
In 1962 Gilera decided to come back to GP and Liberati started to prepare himself for the racing season. On 5 March he was riding on a wet road near his home town Terni when he crashed and hit a stone wall. All attempts to keep him alive failed.
Text Marc Pétrier – Photo FIM/Maurice Büla Collection