Italy's Mario Lega won the 250cc World Championship in 1977 riding a Morbidelli. 

Up until that year the Italian constructor had only been successful in the 125 class, but Lega presented the factory with its first and last 250 title. 

Beating world champion Walter Villa and his young Harley-Davidson team-mate Franco Uncini that year was a terrific feat and one not to be underestimated. 

Tom finished fifth in the standings, four points behind fourth place man Takazumi Katayama. 

Mario lined up alongside Tom on the grid on many, occasions, particularly as the battle for the 250cc world title raged during the long campaigns of 1977 and 1978 and the two shared many great duels and a mutual respect on the track. 

Here Mario relates his memories of Tom whom he was proud to know not just as a rival, but also as a friend..................................... 

'I recall with pleasure Tom! He was a strong rider, a true friend, what I call: a world champion without a title, but he deserved much more than others, myself included. 
Courageous, determined, technical, kind-hearted. 

In the time of crisis between my team and myself, I suggested three names to the team manager at Morbidelli. 

Tom Herron, Jon Ekerold and Patrick Fernandez, widely the best at that time. Morbidelli then, chose Jon for a short test. 

I also remember a fist fight outside a pub, Jon and Tom took on some rude people and I think they spent the night in jail, but after a great battle and satisfaction: real strong men!'
............................................................................... 

With thanks to Mario Lega. 
Tom'TW'Herron.com 
February 2011

Main Photo
Mario Lega leads Tom Herron and Jon Ekerold during the 1978 250cc Italian GP at Mugello.
Photo: Manfred Mothes
By Kind Permission.