IVANO Beggio, the man who turned Aprilia from a motorcycling minnow into a giant, has died aged 73 after a long illness.
Beggio took control of Aprilia from his father, its founder, back in 1968 when it employed just a handful of people. But brave expansion plans took the firm to the point where it was, for a while, Europe’s biggest motorcycle company, swallowing up rivals including Laverda and Moto Guzzi along the way.
It was during the 1990s that Aprilia reached its prime. As well as dominating in the smaller classes of two-stroke GP racing the firm, Aprilia was reaping the rewards of the booming Italian scooter market, letting it invest in ever more ambitious projects.
The real turning point came with the RSV Mille in 1998, Aprilia’s first 1000cc bike and its first serious, in-house-developed four-stroke machine. It allowed entry to WSB championship the following year and made Aprilia a real alternative to the likes of Ducati and the Japanese superbike firms. Follow-on machines, the Tuono, Falco, Caponord and Futura, established it as a major player across the big bike market.
In 2000, Aprilia’s strength under Beggio allowed it to take control of both Laverda and Moto Guzzi. While the latter remained largely unchanged, Laverda’s ancient parallel twins were ditched among plans to revive the brand around the RSV Mille’s V-twin engine. Those plans never came to fruition.
Sadly for Beggio, the new millennium also brought a sudden downturn in the scooter market that was Aprilia’s foundation, and the company’s fortunes suddenly nosedived. Rival Piaggio was able to take advantage of the situation, taking control of Aprilia in 2004. Beggio remained at the company for a few more years before retiring.
However, Beggio’s achievements at the helm of Aprilia can’t be diminished, having steered the company to growth unlike anything seen elsewhere, not to mention backing the racing careers of many of this generations legends, including Valentino Rossi, of course.
We want to remember Ivano Beggio for the creativity, the imagination and the passion of an entrepreneur, who set an extraordinary Italian story in motion. Ciao Ivano! #Aprilia pic.twitter.com/sUFJugSM2a
— Aprilia (@ApriliaOfficial) 13 March 2018