Italian motorcycle legend dies
Italy lost one of its most famous motorcycling heroes yesterday when 250 GP legend Walter Villa passed away at his Modena home. The 58-year-old died of a heart attack.
Villa dominated the quarter-litre class in the mid seventies, taking three consecutive 250 GP crowns in 1974, '75 and '76, all on Harley-Davidsons. He also managed to take the 350cc GP world title in 1976, making him one of the last riders to take more than one Grand Prix title in a single season.
Villa quit racing in the early eighties, but was revered by the 'new wave' of stars who followed him into the class, including three-time 250 champ Luca Cadalora who is said to have based his clinical smooth style on classy Villa.
He started racing in the early sixties when he started spannering his brother Francisco, who raced in 125s in the late fifties and early sixties. Walter would debut in 125s before moving up to the bigger series. He also won nine Italian domestic titles as well as his world success.