Surfing the web, I couldn’t find something regarding to Ducati 125 Cross, rather some forum reported that it was a hoax and that Ducati had never dealt with neither off-road competitions nor two-stroke bikes.
Recalling my memory, I can confirm that Ducati set up some off-road bikes and that there was a two-stroke 125 Enduro, which was promoted by specialized magazines, had only little success. I saw an off-road 200 Ducati in one of the first historical commemorations happened on the racetrack in Cuneo, although I was aware of the two-stroke 125’s existence. In fact it took part of the off-road 125 Italian Championship.
Going over old magazine with a fine tooth comb, I find out that in the end of 1977 Italo Forni, a racer from Bologna, was charged with dirt bike’s development, thanks to his experience and victories on a Husqvarna in the previous year.
We have had the opportunity to meet the current off-road 125 Ducati’s owner, a collector coming from Piemonte, who made it available for our photo shoot. This dirt bike, coming from race department, was purchased by an old Ducati’s dealer, who had directly picked it up in its office, with a Six Days 125, with its documents related. It was born “old”, even though it was a new model, because it had a bigger base’s engine, some inner project mistakes that added to the extreme weight didn’t let it be quickly competitive.
EFIM and some designers’ Ducati didn’t agree with the creation of this dirt bike but they tried to make it able to race, entrust it to Forni, who gained a great experience in off-road field.
Italo Forni made his best to set up a new dirt bike, even though little resources and money that restricted experiments and tests, and so also the development of a dirt bike based on a little competitive Regolarity model, thanks also to the growing mechanics and racers’ Ducati friendship. He entrusted to Da.Spa. for the frame creation, looking for different solutions and rubber dingly grades, obtained satisfying shape and dimensions that showed it able to de driven, above all in slopes.
There were many replacements: advanced pivot magnesium Marzocchi’s front fork, gas Corte&Cosso‘s rear suspension, Magura’s control gear, Akront’s wheel rims, Grimeca’s hubs, still mounted on Enduro’s model.
Also the chain guards were melt on the ground, even if extremely bulky. The cylinder mounted on a Mahle piston and the Dellorto carb took place of a Bing’s one, but the power was already lower in order to the competition.
Ducati 125 was growing, even if some difficulties and some engine parts’ breaks, and Forni could race only a few rounds and achieved only the first five positions. He could start well and continued to be in the first positions but then run always into some unexpected setbacks
In the middle of 1978, the second year forecast by the project, Ducati achieved a great competition and endurance level, even if not at the same of the rival‘s one. Unfortunately Italo Forni had a car crash and broke his leg and his dirt bike, without any possibility to be developed by its first creator, it has been given to some inexpert racers, who weren’t able to achieve the awaited outcomes.
Finally the EIM gave up the project. What remains is the regret of this failure. Maybe nowadays we would have a successful Ducati, even if in the off-road field.