Paton PG 500 R V4 Racer
With Phil Aynsley
Giuseppe Pattoni was the chief mechanic for the FB Mondial GP team when the company (together with Guzzi and Gilera) quit racing at the end of 1957. He and former company engineer, Lino Tonti, then formed their own company, Paton.
Their first bike was a 125cc single, closely based on the Mondial. Mike Hailwood finished seventh on the bike in the 1958 IOM Lightweight TT. This was followed by a 250cc parallel twin which in turn spawned 350 and 500cc versions.
The 500 was the most successful and is still produced for classic racing, indeed it is generally considered the go-to bike for the 500 classes and many are still raced by high profile names at the Classic TT.
In 1975-76 Pattoni started development of a V4 2-stroke. It was the first single crankshaft V4 to appear in the 500 Championship. It was also the first design that Pattoni’s son Roberto was involved with.
However it wasn’t until 1983 that the much refined C1 500 was ready for competition. As with the original design the cylinder angle was 115º. It wasn’t until 1990 that it was changed to 90º.
A redesign in 1994 saw the angle further reduced to 70º. A boost for the team came from a visit to the Paton workshop by Youichi Oguma, head of HRC.
After being told of the difficulty in obtaining small enough carburettors to properly fit the engine architecture, Oguma arranged for a set of Keihin 36mm units, specifically developed for Honda’s NSR bikes, to be supplied to Pattoni.
The new bike showed great promise at the beginning of 1995 but a crash by rider Jean Pierre Jeandat in the warm up for the British GP affected his results for the next two years.
A further blow occurred at the start of the 1997 season when the Paton team was denied automatic entry to the Championship, ending 39 years of continuous competition by Pattoni. However he continued to develop the bike, entering occasional races as a ‘wild card’ team.
Giuseppe Pattoni died of a heart attack after a test session in August 1999. His son continued work on the bike and presented the PG 500 R for the 2000 season. The frame was by the L.M. Gianetti firm and rider Paolo Tessari entered five races and scored Paton’s final point (and only point with a 2-stroke) with a 15th in the German GP. It is this bike I photographed.
The metallic green paint was used for the first time as a tribute by Roberto to his father. Also used for the first time was a new motor design with 54x54mm cylinders. Output was 190hp at 12,100rpm. Weight 135kg.
Although Paton’s final 2-stroke was the 2001 PG500 RC, which employed a 1994 Cagiva GP chassis, it was never able to compete in the Championship.