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Development of the 500cc Camel
and participation in
offroad competition
and desert rally's



This page was made in close cooperation with desertpistons.com


Desert pistons.com
Rally participation in the 80s
Paris - Dakar,
5x5 Transafrica 80
Rally of the Pharo's

More info on the early editions of Paris-Dakar 1979 - 1985


 Above an original 500cc Valentini Camel from app. 1985.
 On this type of bike Massimiliano Valentini participated in desert rally's
like Paris-Dakar


Introduction

The information on this page was quite difficult to find. Especially North of the Alps, were information on Kanguro's and Camels from Valentini is very scarce. On this page, I've tried to make some scene of the scattered information of these rare machines.

It is remarkable to realise that Moto Morini has been on the basis of desert rally's! At the time, the Morini Camel 500 and also the BMW GS80 were the first 2-cylinder offroad bikes. The Morini had real offroad capabilities. The BMW became a very successful bike as a "travel enduro". The Morini Camel 500 was sold in very limited numbers, probably caused by poor marketing and also because of the limited capacity of the factory. Pendant of the BMW and Camel was of course the Yamaha XT500/600. The XT500 single ("thumper") became a real classic bike.

Moto Morini had built enduro/off road motorbikes in the 60s and 70s, based on the Corsaro 125. Antonio Valentini (a successful dealer from Prato/Italy) would ask the factory to build a 500cc enduro/off road. Valentini built the first three prototypes with support of the factory. Because Massimiliano (Antonio's son) immediately took the machine to the North African desert (Sahara), the new motorbike was named "Camel".


Valentini, the company
In the 50s, Antonio Valentini was very successful at racing motorcycles. He also had excellent technical skills. After his racing career and with his experience, he started his own motorcycle company. His company became a Moto Morini dealership. Apart from the standard motorbikes, Valentini soon produced all kinds of plastic parts for the 350cc and 500cc. Also, Valentini supplied tuning parts like cylinders, pistons and special mufflers (exhausts). In the mid-80s, Valentini presented it's own designed and build prototype of a 350cc (watercooled)"Kanguro H2O". Bikes with Valentini plastic plastic panels and parts do not automatically have a tuned engine, as these fairings, fueltanks, etc. were individually available. So with a Valantini bike, it is never certain if it is a tuned motorbike, or a standard motorbike with just the plastic parts. For a longer period of time, this was an important task for the Valentini dealership. Antonio Valentini mentioned the following about this work in a 2005 interview: "For years we transfered standard bikes. We had complete kits available and we listened to the customers wishes, but took into account his financial possibilities. The complete set of parts included a fueltank for those who only wanted to do some enduro riding. They did not need the large square fueltank, further the set included a double headlight, double exhaust, sprockets and chain. Furthermore we tested the bikes. Customers came from all over Italy. We had two or three mechanics who were just involved in this type of work. The customer would call us, make an appointment and we took the whole day to update his bike. The customer went home and afterwards we sent him the replaced parts by post".

Antonio Valentini

Antonio Valentini

 

Below: the Valentini 350 Special:
* lhs, "350 Valentini Special", typical 70s design,
* rhs an advertisement for the "Special kit", consisting of:
   2-into-1 exhaust, rearset, 3 Bremo discs and the polyester
   parts like fairing, seat, fueltank and mudguards (fenders).

Hieronder: de Kanguro X1
in Valentini uitvoering.

350 Valentini Special

350 Valentini Kanguro X1

   

First Camel
In the Autumn of 1979 Valentini built the first three prototypes of the 500cc Morini off-the-road (6-speed), based on the streetmodel the 500 SeiV. The company was supported by ing. Lambertini, technical director of Moto Morini and designer of the Morini v-twin models. Lambertini laer mentioned: " Valentini, our important dealer in Prato came storming in. He was determined to get an offroad bike from us. Then we decided to bring the Camel to live. Basis was the 478cc SeiV streetmodel. The frame of this bike was good and with minor adjustments it was suitable for it's new purpose. With springs/shocks for offroad use, the end result was well-balanced. For the engine, we used a different, more flat camshaft to generate more torque at lower revs.".



Massimiliano's ambition
Massimiliano Valentini (?09/1998), partly followed his father's footsteps, because from the early '80s he took part in enduro competition and also desert rally's. With the three 500cc prototypes Valentini registered for the "5x5 Transafrica 80" rally.

1980
The 5x5 Transafrica 80 rally started at the 29th December 1979 and lasted until the end of January 1980. Total distance app. 7,000km's (4,375 miles). Start was in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. From there the route took the riders North through countries like Burkina Faso, Niger and Lybia. Finish was in Turin. The team valentini consists of three riders: Massimiliano Valentini, Leandro Ceccherelli and Giuseppe de Tommaso. At the end of this extremely tough rally, only 6 (out of 26 started) make it to the finish. Among them: Ceccherelli ended 4th and Valentini ended 6th. De Tommaso made a very bad fall and had to give up. A year later this young rider and journalist would die in a car accident during the Paris-Dakar rally.
During the rally in Afrika, the bikes were very fast, according to Antonio Valentini. Lack of experience of the riders is the cause that they stay a little behind in the overall ranking. The trial tyres which all Italian participants use are inadequate for the rough terrain. Yet, these were recommended by Pirelli. The (rear)sprockets of aluminium wore quickly in the African sand and the standard chain adjusters were insufficient to keep the right tension in the chain. The factory informed Italy of the success in the African desert and soon everybody in Itaky was talking about "the great Italian enduro".

From Valentini Camel to factory Camel
De factory supported Massimiliano and his team members' participation to the "5x5 Transafrica 80 rally" Moto Morini advertised with the participation of their 500cc offroad during this rally. The factory proudly announced that of "three prototypes with 500cc engine (meant is the Camel-ed.) two made it to the finish in Tunis "Total distance of the rally was app. 7,000km's and took the riders through countries like Ivory Coast, Niger and also the desert of Libia. One of these three bikes has dropped out of the race by mechanical problems. This confirms the outstanding quality and performance of Moto Morini", according to the text of the advertisement.




Next, in the Autumn of 1980, the Camel was taken into production by the factory. In 1981 it became more widely available for customers. These Camels had a red tubular frame. The first 50 built had a white polyester fueltank and white sidepanels. Total production of this first model was limited to app. 200~250 bikes. The second build series of Camels (of this first model) was mostly red of colour. Also the badges on the fueltank and sidepanels were different, but these bikes were technically identical to the first series.



The Valentini Camels were clearly different in certain details, compared to the Camels later build by the factory. The rear swingarm was different/reinforced, the shocks are of a different type and are mounted in a more upright position. Also the shape of the fueltank is slightly different. I have reason to believe the small model fueltank, used during the ISDT/Elba is made of steel; the larger fueltanks used during the desert rally's are made of polyester. Also the Camel made by the factory had a polyester fueltank. Below some photo's of the Valentini Camel in six-day-enduro trim.


First 50 build Camels were white

Second series of the first model in red

The end classification of the ISDT 1981 (six-day enduro)
on the island of Elba. Italy won both the Trophy as well as the Cup. Netherlands achieved a
6th and 4th position!

Above and below: Valentini Camel in six-day enduro trim



Rhs: logoof the 1981 ISDT which was held on the isle of Elba.
It reads: "Campionati del Mondo Regolaritá. Isola d'Elba 5-10 October 1981".

 

For a fast opening/closing of the valve covers



Massimiliano after arrival at the island of Elba for the ISDT (1981).
Below, the same place in 2011

Valentini (362) achieved
a 3rd place in the final classification

Team member Marco Elmi (367), achieved a 7th place

Team member Nardo Noé (365) had to give up


Please note: While compiling this page, I found more models
of different Valentini fueltanks. They are meant for the offroad
Camel and Kanguro. Some of them perhaps not the best samples
of Italian design, but very practical for long distance riding. Fortunately
it's easy to swap fueltanks on the offroad models ;))

Rhs a page from a Spanish motorcycle magazine on the development of the Camel. The Valentini Camel at the top of the page is one of the three proto types used during the 5x5 Transafrica 80 rally.

28, 29 and 30: Valentini Camels

Lhs: Massimilano Valentini during the 5x5 Transafrica 80 rally. Next to the picture you can read the final classification: Ceccarelli 4th, Valentini 6th













Above: factory advertisement. Most likely,
the rider on the picture is Leandro Ceccarelli:
A) because he became 4th and
B) Gianni Gagliotti did not make it to the finish.


Lhs: Valentini in 1983.


Below: photo album, nice souvenir of the 5x5 Transafrica 80.


Advertisement "La moto che viene dal deserto" or the bike that comes from the desert.


1981


Team Valentini is supported by the factory and participates to the competition of the Italian enduro championship in the senior class above 500cc 4 stroke. Both competitions in Camerino were won by Valentini and his team member Elmi. Marco Elmi achives a second place in both competitions in Rocca di Ruffeno. In the enduro final classification Elmi becomes 2nd and Valentini 4th. Valentini participates in the international 6-day enduro on the isle of Elba and wins the golden medal and third place in the class above 500cc.

Below: Valentini Camel and Fiat Campagnola service jeep in the colours of sponsor Zanussi.


1982

Team Valentini participates in the classification of the Italian enduro championship
and again, the factory supports the team. Massimiliano Valentini achieves a 2nd place on Elba, twice a 3rd place in San Remo and 4th in Polte dell?Oglio, 2nd and 4th in Rufina. With these results he became 2nd in the final classification of 1982.



 



 



 



1983


In 1983 the three friends Massimiliano Valentini, Leandro Ceccarelli and Gianni Gagliotti appeared at the start of both the Rally of the Pharao's, as Paris-Dakar! The rally of the Pharao's starts and ends in Cairo. Total distance app. 3,100km's (1,950 miles). In the final classification of this rally, Gianni Gagliotti achieves a 9th position and 3rd in his class; Massimiliano Valentini achieves a 12th position and 4th in his class.

During Paris-Dakar of '83, the three participating Morini?s of Team Valentini are riding on positions 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately our three musketeers finally have to give up, after the cambelt of the camshaft badly frayed by the impact of the desert sand.
 

In 1983 Team Valentini had 2 service vehicles to their disposal. Among the drivers Antonio Valentini and accompanied by the mechanics Ivano Masseluci and Aligi Deganello. Both service jeeps of course Italian made Fiat Campagnola's.

Also the sponsor was Italian: Zanussi, a well-known brand for electronic products like washing machines and TV's. The whole Team wore the bright yellow outfits, the colour of the sponsor.

(84) Massimiliano Valentini's bike

Above: Marco Folignati nr 14.
Back in 1983, he was the 4th participant of Paris-Dakar on a Valentini Camel. Like the three other riders, he did not make it to the finish. During two other Paris-Dakar rally's he rode a Yamaha XT500. Unfortunately on this machine he did not make it to the finish either. Because of his deviating number 14 it is not likely that he was a member of the Valentini Team. He does not wear the typical yellow outfit. On the picture, you can clearly seen the air intake for the airfilter (the black stripe on the side
of the fueltank).


         

Lhs: Leandro Ceccarelli (82),
Middle: Gianni Gagliotti (83) and
Rhs: Massimiliano Valentini (84)

 

In the middle of the desert. The large fueltanks have a capacity of app. 35 liters

 

Ceccarelli's bike in an oasis

 

Gianni Gagliotti (83)

 

Evening or night camp

 


1984

No participation of Valentini Camels to important rally's that year. Yet, there is another model Valentini known from that year 1984. A German rider owns this bike already for a long time. This bike is different from the bikes used by Team Valentini. Not just the used colours, but also for the rest of the bike. The front seems to have an even longer suspension. Also the angle of the telescopic front end seems different. The rear swingarm seems to be a 'standard' Camel part. Does anyone know more about this bike?

 

Air intake at the top of the fuel tank

On the rhs picture you get a better idea on the air intake). Best place on the bike, because of the desert sand. Sand penetrades anything at wind or storm, but it should not get into the carburettors or engine. On the rhs photo, the actual airfilter element is missing.



1985
During this year, Team Valentini participated to Paris-Dakar for the last time. This time the Team has not got the factory support. Antonio Valentini and Aligi Deganello leave nothing to chance and prepare the bikes for the event. Ceccarelli gets hurt at the end of the first week, due to a fall. He has to give up. Gianni Gagliotto rides very well and after thousands of kilometers he is just within a stone's throw from the finish in Dakar. 17th in the overal-classification and 2nd in his class. On the beach in Dakar with just 3 kilometers to go, together with Gualini and Balestrieri he is surrounded by cheering children. To prevent any accident he packed in the race there and then on the beach, directly on the Atlantic Ocean. He is unable to re-start the motorbike. Towing the bike, to get the engine going again, results in disqualification after 14,000kms in 20 days.

"Simun" on the side of the fueltank with a picture of the African continent reffers to the name of a wind in the Sahara desert. Similar to names of cars, think of European VW models Golf (Rabbit), Passat and Scirocco. These are all names of a specific wind on different locations

A compass on the bike and above it a (lhs on the handle bars) the holder for the roadbook. Picture clearly taken in the pre-GPS era



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