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Competitor Profile: Florian Camathias

TT Career Summary

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Being a “natural born fighter” he didn’t know the word ‘impossible’. He was one of the best sidecar drivers.

Born on the 23rd March 1924 in Wittenbach [San Gallo], he worked as a motorcycle mechanic. In 1945 he opened a motorcycle showroom in Veytaux, near Montreux and took part in his first road races: he was 3rd in Losanna in the 500cc class.

In 1949 he was forced to ‘rest’ as a result of a serious accident due to an unlucky fall. Starting again in Ghenf, in the 500cc class he achieved his first race win.

In 1953 he chose to move to sidecars, which were to prove to be his speciality soon gaining his International Licence; 1954 saw him driving for Gilera, winning in Barcelona and finishing seventh in the World Championship. The following year he was back with BMW, taking the chequered flag at the Grand Prix of France and winning the Swiss Championship.

The likeable Swiss took fifth place in the World Sidecar Championship in 1956.

1958 saw him take his first Grand Prix victory at Assen. With passenger Hilmar Cecco in the chair he also managed runner-up position in the Sidecar Championship of Great Britain. Repeating the achievements in 1959, he was Swiss and British Champion in 1960 and once again finished fifth in the World Championship.

In ’61 after his passenger’s death at Modena, he reduced his racing activities, returning in 1962.

1963 saw him win his one and only TT – one of his proudest moments.

The following year, Florian was back campaigning with a four-cylinder Gilera engined outfit, with mixed success, so it was back to his ‘favoured’ BMW power unit in 1965 winning the French Grand Prix once again.

Florian Camathias died during a race at Brands Hatch on 10th October 1965, without achieving his foremost ambition – the Sidecar World Championship. are greatly indebted to Joel Camathias, Great Nephew to Florian for permission to use some of the text and photographs from his personal website. Link: Joel Camathias Official Website.

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