After nearly a decade of competing without a victory in 500cc Grand Prix racing, boutique bike builder Cagiva entered the early 1990s desperate to leave its mark on the rarified world of MotoGP. But having taken blows from mega-budgeted Japanese manufacturers, the Italian underdog was resigned to the possibility that the price of entry into the world of top-dog motorcycle racing might lie beyond the scope of its relatively limited finances. It nonetheless pressed on by recruiting the best riders it could afford while its small technical team pushed the performance envelopes of the race bikes.
At the 1992 Hungarian GP, American Eddie Lawson finally proved Cagiva could win when he correctly bet that the wet weather would clear; he switched to slicks and claimed Cagiva’s first MotoGP victory. Lawson’s later departure from Cagiva during his last season of world championship racing would beg the question: Would lightning strike twice for the tiny Italian manufacturer?
Enter John Kocinski, another American racer, who had finished fourth and third, respectively, in the ’91 and ’92 500cc world championships. His passion and determination appealed to the struggling company, and Kocinski joined Cagiva late in the 1993 season. Kocinski finished fourth in his first race in the Czech Republic, and fourth again in Italy two weeks later. Cagiva’s only prior GP win had been with Lawson, and Kocinski’s strong finishes made his next race—the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in California—a critical test. Not only was the racetrack on Kocinski’s home turf, it would also be GP’s final stateside race, an event in which Kocinski and Cagiva could shine and the last time in the foreseeable future that it could occur on American soil. After qualifying second behind Honda’s Mick Doohan on September 12, 1993, Kocinski attacked Laguna Seca with the singular intent of victory. Thirty-three laps and 48 minutes, 17.165 seconds later, John Kocinski succeeded, taking his V593 Cagiva bike to first place in what would be the last Grand Prix motorcycle race in the United States for 12 years. At the following and final race of the season in Spain, Kocinski was pushed out of the lead. He ended the year in 10th position overall, after competing in only four races that season.
In 1994, Kocinski won the first race of the year in Australia, though a crash in Germany eliminated the possibility of his taking the championship. Three pole positions and six other top-three podium finishes later, Kocinski finished the season in third place. But having finally found a perfect blend of man and machine during the 1994 season, Cagiva chose to bow out of Grand Prix racing.
Twelve years after Cagiva’s stunning victory at Laguna Seca, GP racing is finally returning to the United States this year. And the bike that won the last American GP race, John Kocinski’s Cagiva V593, is now for sale.
Though the bike had a reputation as a challenging ride, in Kocinski’s opinion it was also fully capable of winning a world championship. The bike’s evolution exemplifies how racing can push the limits of design and engineering. Kocinski lauds the bike’s impressive 287-pound dry weight and tight chassis dynamics, which produced superlative agility and handling. On the other hand, he also found modulating the powerband of the Cagiva’s 2-stroke, water-cooled V-4 engine—with a staggering peak horsepower of 180—a challenge.
The engine is surrounded by hardware that—a decade later—is still considered exotic. A titanium expansion chambered exhaust with carbon fiber mufflers boasts electronically controlled cylindrical power valves. Stopping power comes courtesy of twin, 320mm carbon rotors up front via Brembo 4-piston monoblock calipers, while rear brakes feature a single, Brembo twin piston carbon monoblock. Carbon fiber abounds throughout the bike, from the entirety of its bodywork to the Marchesini wheels that were manufactured in conjunction with Ferrari, as well as the carbon fiber reinforced swingarm and the clip-on handlebars.
The V593 represents years of research, development and racing, and captures a moment in history that proved Italian passion, combined with American determination, could vanquish the seemingly unconquerable Japanese competition. The bike is available through GP Star, a brokerage firm that specializes in exotic motorcycles.SPECS CAGIVA V593
Prototype Cagiva 2-stroke, water-cooled V-4
180 at 12,600 rpm
Titanium expansion chamber with carbon fiber mufflers
Front – 320mm carbon rotors with Brembo 4-piston monoblock calipers
Rear – single rotor with Brembo twin-piston carbon monoblock caliper
1993 USGP Laguna Seca