Moto Guzzi V1000 Le Mans Part 3
Here, as it is often said, lies the rest of the story. At least what we’ve uncovered. One fact remains – enthusiasts all around the world were willing to pay for a high performance 1000cc Le Mans, and dealers delivered them homologated specials. Who did what? Read on –
(Charles Krajka V1000cc Type KC Le Mans – made for purchase)
Judged strictly on its character, Moto Guzzi’s production Le Mans 850 remains a very satisfying machine to ride. Few machines offer the symmetry of Mandello’s most famous son, yet it is the Guzzi’s performance that sent it to motorcycling’s hall of legends. Under-stressed from a mechanical engineering standpoint, Mandello Guzzi supplier Duilio Agostini pushed that margin forward with his 1000cc tuning methods, but the extra speed only required a better pair of shocks…and a fiberglass enclosure from which to escape the blast. Built with the spirit of Bol d’Or, we discover Agostini was far from alone in this work, but the basic formulas developed by his team eventually became factory specification.
Revised in March of 2023 with some of the older archived articles, Bill Ross and I were very pleased to make contact with Charles Krajka. Very kindly arranged by son Erik Krajka, we were able to obtain first hand knowledge of important developments between Moto Guzzi and the importers, tuners and racers in France – home of the Bol d’Or. Before the original writing of V1000 Le Mans Part 3, both Steve Kealy (formally of Roma Guzzi, Australia) and Guzzi ace Chris Armstrong (transplanted from the UK to France) delivered clarity and new info. By including Charles Krajka to the list, our greatest hope in publishing the first two parts was met. Thanks to all who contributed passionately and onto the story – covering miles of old territory with plenty of grainy old newsprint collected by our great team; Alex Woodbury, Joe Caruso and Bill Ross.
Seudem – Moto Guzzi importer for France
Several names dominate the Moto Guzzi scene in France during the 1970s-80s; Charles Krajka, distributor SICEM, Teston and Seudem, the last two as importers to France. Any study of Guzzi in that region of Europe immediately begins with the iconic Krajka; providing parts, service and motorcycles to clients in France before and after murky import/export dealings had developed. The stocky tuner was active and successful as both a racer and builder, crafting fast street specials for those who insisted. Now widely considered a patriarch of the Guzzi brand among French enthusiasts, Krajka was instrumental in fueling a deep passion for the brand.
Local owners say the problems began when Guzzi owner DeTomaso slid the French export business into the hands of Motobecane – no doubt a major player in the V1000 Le Mans story. That failed, so Krajka and others pooled resources until Seudem was reformed in Germany sometime around 1977-78, primarily to deliver Moto Guzzi and Benelli. Very active, Seudem found fame in 1979 with its shocking win at the prestigious “Bol d’Argent” on a 1000cc Le Mans II ridden by Jean-Lou Colin and Guy Meynet. Few doubted Krajka played a role, and at this point it seems certain.
Competing against the world’s fastest endurance superbikes, Seudem’s V1000 Le Mans proved fastest of all at 1979’s Bol d’Argent. (Photo: Gijs Van Dijk)
Our best look at Seudem’s V1000 comes from Cycle Guide magazine, early 1980. Included in coverage of the 1979 Paris Expo, this V1000 debuted next to a V40 Imola in Le Mans garb. “Drawing crowds was this customized Le Mans 1000 done up by the importer,” reads the text. “This, with a new fairing, high compression pistons, a close-ratio five speed, rearset controls and 40mm Dell’Ortos.” Elegant with chrome exhaust and 1-3/4 seat, the round lamp Agostini fairing is the same part Duilio used on Agostini’s prototype V1000 tested by Motorrad. Note: rearsets, high-end Marzocchi shocks, and bold ‘Le Mans’ lettering. “I’m told 34 V1000 Seudem were produced,” reports Armstrong, who’s chasing one down as we speak.
As required, the liter-Le Mans was made available to meet homologation. In addition, rumor says Seudem reworked a number of SP1000 tourers into Le Mans guise, possibly due to availability, price, or both. Photographic evidence suggested the SP connection was valid, then confirmed by Armstrong after translating into English a review published in the April, 1979 issue of Motorevue. Reportedly, Seudem’s V1000 Le Mans came to be under the direction of project manager/chief mechanic Alain Rosier, who built the racing prototype shown at the 1978 Paris show. Questions to Krakja about DMB’s involvement regarding tuning, building and application went unanswered, and I trust for very good reasons. “Contrary to what one might think, the basis of the Seudem !000 is not the 850 Le Mans, but a standard series 1000 SP…broken down from new then rebuilt.”
Added to the SP’s 88mm cast iron liners and forged crank were coated big end shells, high-comp (10.8) pistons and the factory B10 camshaft. “All blueprinted and balanced to insure reliable performance.” Rosier and crew then fit the bigger-valve (44/37mm) 850 Le Mans heads, heavier BMW valve springs and opened inlets for the 40mm Dellorto PHMs. Final rating: 82-hp @ 7500-rpm. The customer could opt for the close-ratio 5-speed and other gearing options. Not left out, Seudem’s chassis parts list magnesium Marzocchi AG 3 shocks, DMB rearsets and drilled Brembo rotors. Final touches include the fairing, LeMon bodywork and a solo option if the handsome Le Mans ‘3/4’ seat didn’t fit your tastes. “Each build is carefully tuned and tested before final delivery” concluded the staff at Motorevue. “With a delay of approximately one-month from date of order.”
Every inch a national treasure, ex-BSA and Guzzi single tuner/racer Charles Krajka jumped to Guzzi’s new V7 twin in 1968. Campaigned on French endurance circuts, Krajka took his modified V7 to the factory where it was inspected by engineer Lino Tonti; busy himself setting speed records with tuned V700s. Thus established as a close friend of the company, Krajka (pronounced “Kra-sh-ka”) received bikes and parts directly from Mandello. Many race efforts followed.
We learn from Krajka adverts the tuner seemed to prefer Stucchi’s color matching full fairing, and other components (example: the rear-set controls) all somewhat similar to parts found on both DMB and Seudem models. Built in ‘Type’ V1000 Le Mans tune, clues from interviews suggest the Le Mans’ 37/44mm valve package was retained, along with stiffer springs and Krajka’s own camshaft. Easier to spot are Koni shocks and seamed Lafranconi exhausts, the latter a benefit of dealing directly with Guzzi’s own parts suppliers. Some basic info I can share lists 1961 as the year Krajka hung his shingle, and is quoted as saying his close relationship with Tonti was professional and based on “deep, mutual respect.”
All looking very serious, one interesting development is the proddy racing 1000 Type KC, with gearing options and built in either 850 or 1000cc displacement. Note Factory Works exhaust. Both a rider and Bol d’or builder, the French tuner is refreshing candor; describing matter-of-factly his role in developing the Guzzi racing twin and the difficulties working around De Tomaso. Vintage file: Here’s Krajka posing with his 1000cc racing Guzzi Matic pared down to 350-lb dry! Sealed in history by decades of accomplishment and his competitive spirit, Krajka remains active.
Australia – Ted Stolarski – Guzzi Australia
Another local with a worldwide reach was Guzzi Australia’s Ted Stolarski. Remembered now as an extremely gifted fabricator, builder and tuner, Stolarski measured his racers against the most powerful, best funded endurance teams of the era, and made plenty of fans doing it. He is credited with helping develop Guzzi’s 4v engine. This quote from ozbook summarizes: “The late Ted Stolarski, Australia’s Moto Guzzi importer. Based in Western Australia he campaigned two Arturo Magni-framed Guzzis in the late 80’s, early 90’s using modified engines with prototype Daytona 4v components. Ted actually took these bikes to Daytona where they proved competitive among the best in the world. Ted’s efforts were recognized when Arturo Magni released his beautiful limited-edition Magni Australia in tribute to Ted’s Magnis.”
An online review and gallery by Skrunkwerks brilliantly shows a Stolarski-modified Agostini V1000 III, very faithfully preserved and nearly in ‘as-delivered’ condition. In addition to flaunting the V1000’s wind cheating shape, the owners call out how Stolarski cut the fairing into a two-piece assembly (to facilitate service) and fabricated the Agostini inspired dual saddle-tailpiece. Only the angled ‘V1000’ script on the fairing’s side is omitted, but all is forgiven. Simply a stunning motorcycle.