Taglioni and Ducati made the decision to take a shot at the 125 Grand Prix World Championship, and for their entry, they settled on a double overhead cam version of their bevel single design.
Marianna, the nickname for the Gran Sport, was a limited production machine built specifically for racing and it ultimately won the 100cc class at the Motogiro d’Italia – on the first try.
Featuring a single overhead cam driven by straight cut bevel gears, the 100cc powerplant generated a startling 9,000 rpm.
But it was GP glory Taglioni wanted and his solution was to design a double overhead camshaft head for a 125cc version of the Gran Sport. That version cranked up 11,500 rpm and generated a modest 16 bhp, but it didn’t stand a chance against the MV Augustas, Gileras and Mondiales of the day.
It may not have set the world on fire with its performance, but the 1955 prototype was a real looker.
The racing failure of the Gran Sport led Taglioni to solve problems with valve float and a shaky transmission by getting rid of standard valve springs completely by creating his Desmodromic valve system.
By 1959, the DOHC 125 Desmo Racer won a Grand Prix race in Ulster with a 19-year-old Mike Hailwood on board, and the legend had begun.