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CHRISTMAS SPECIAL EDITION

JOURNEY BACK IN TIME

VINTAGE BIKES

HALL OF FAME

PHOTO GALLERY

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x e d In L A I R O T 5 EDI

y r e l l a g o t o h 6 p e m a f f o l l a h

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S E K I B e g a t n i v


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EDITORIAL

ear MXGP Friends, For these Christmas holidays Youthstream wanted to offer an exclusive gift to all Motocross fans with this special edition fully dedicated to the Champions and the bikes who made the history of our sport. All the fans over their 50’s will enjoy to see the bikes of their young days and remember the Champions who allowed us to dream and love this sport. For the younger fans, it’s very interesting because they can discover the roots and the long and impressive road that all together we made to bring Motocross of today to such high professionalism, incredible technology and ample media coverage. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of what we all love – Motocross!

Giuseppe Luongo President of Youthstream Group

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PHOTO GALLERY

Bultaco pursang mk10 370 • Model year: 1977 • Frame numbre: VIN#HB-193300116 • Model number: 193 • Production: 2.000 units • Bore: 85 mm • Stroke: 64 mm • Displacement: 363,168 cm3 • Horsepower: 41,37 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

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TGM 125 C.E. 76 • Model year: 1976 • Frame numbre: 125YS00*1579* • Bore: 54 mm • Stroke: 54 mm • Displacement: 123,6 cm3 • Horsepower: 25 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

YAMAHA 500 HL • Model year: 1979 • Bore: 87 mm • Stroke: 84 mm • Displacement: 499cm3 • Horsepower: 38 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

Husqvarna 400 • Model year: 1968 • Frame numbre: VIN#MF 5354 • Bore: 81,5 mm • Stroke: 76 mm • Displacement: 395 cm3 • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

TGM 125 C 80 • Model year: 1980 • Frame numbre: 125R*0381* • Bore: 54 mm • Stroke: 54 mm • Displacement: 123,6 cm3 • Horsepower: 25 • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

Puch MC 250 twin carb • Originally World Champion 250cc 1975 with Harry Everts (BEL) • Model year: 1975 • Frame numbre: 2599915 • Bore: 70 mm • Stroke: 64 mm • Displacement: 248 cm3 • Horsepower: 43,5 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

MAICO MC 250/T • Model year: 1979 • Frame numbre: 345769 • Bore: 76 mm • Stroke: 54 mm • Displacement: 245 cm3 • Horsepower: 27 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

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Husqvarna 400

• Model year: 1974 • Frame numbre: VIN#MK 16257 • Bore: 81,5 mm • Stroke: 76 mm • Displacement: 395 cm3 • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

YAMAHA 500 OW (YAMAICO) • Model year: 1973 • Frame numbre: 0W 26 B 402 • Weight: 103 Kg. • Stroke: 64 mm • Displacement: 450 cm3 • Horsepower: 45 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

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SIMONINI 125 Mustang • Model year: 1978 • Frame numbre: 920965 • Bore: 54 mm • Stroke: 54 mm • Displacement: 123,6 cm3 • Horsepower: 25 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

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Husqvarna 250 • Model year: 1973 • Bengt Aberg Replica • Bore: 69,5 mm • Stroke: 64,5 mm • Displacement: 245 cm3 • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

CZ 380 • Model year: 1970 • Engine number: 981-003699 • Weight: 102 Kg • Displacement: 379 cm3 • Horsepower: 45 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

MONTESA CAPPRA 250 VB • Model year: 1978 • Frame numbre: 73M12702 • Engine Number: *5M1872* • Production: 2.400 units • Bore: 70 mm • Stroke: 64 mm • Displacement: 247 cm3 • Horsepower: 37 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

MAICO

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PHOTO GALLERY

Husqvarna 125 • Model year: MK- 1974 • Frame numbre: VIN#MK 21289 • Bore: 55 mm • Stroke: 52 mm • Displacement: 124 cm3 • Horsepower: 20 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

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MONARK 500 • Model year: MK- 1960 • Frame numbre: LH 05 • Production: 7 units • Craftsman: Ove Lundell • 2nd Classified at the 1960 Motocross World Championship 500 cc class with Sten Lunding • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

CZ 250 1983 typ 513 • Model year: 1983 • Engine Number: 513 0 015023 • Bore: 70 mm • Stroke: 64 mm • Displacement: 250• Horsepower: 37.6 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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PHOTO GALLERY

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BSA B50 MX • Model year: 1971 • Frame numbre: 379 • Engine Number: B50 MX BH 00379 • Bore: 84 mm • Stroke: 90 mm • Displacement: 499 cm3 • Horsepower: 34.00 HP • Private Collection Youthstream

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VINTAGE BIKES

Jeff Smith’s

1964 BSA B40

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J

eff Smith was born in Colne, in Lancashire, England and stumbled upon motocross almost by accident, having dabbled first in the discipline of trials riding where he won two national championship titles. Riding for BSA he had ridden just a handful of (scambles) motocross races when his bosses at BSA asked him to ride the Dutch GP as part of the factory team in 1954. And it did not take long for him to get noticed in the motocross world, winning his first GP on his debut. After a couple of years in The Army, he returned to the BSA factory where he also worked, and switched his attentions to motocross GP’s and in 1964 became Great Britain’s first ever world champion, riding a British-built BSA. But how different was his factory bike compared to the rest of the bikes he was up against? The BSA B40 was originally a street bike but it was also an engine that BSA supplied to the military. Considering Smith was racing in the FIM 500cc Motocross World Championship BSA did not actually make a 500cc engine. Instead, the B40 factory bike started life as a 350cc and was bored and stroked to 420cc capacity. At the time, BSA and the 4-stroke market were being pushed to the limit of their capabilities with the threat of the Japanese 2-Strokes that were gaining traction being faster and much lighter. So, pushing the motor out to 420cc was the only way to go. But this kind of intuition came about as a result of another model that BSA produced, the C15, as Jeff Smith recalls: ‘The C15 was a push rod 250. Basically it was a motocross engine specifically made for racing in the 250cc class. It was obviously much lighter, and we realised we could put a 250cc into places on the track where you could never put the bigger Goldstar, which Arthur Lampkin and I were using at the time. So, around 1960, ’61, ’62

when we raced the 250cc world championship, I think we experimented by putting the 420cc engine into one of the 250cc frames to start with, and then we did whatever we needed to do, to strengthen the frames, or to change them to accommodate the 420. From there we started thinking in terms of making a much lighter, but not so powerful machine for the 500cc class, and the B40 was a derivative to some extent of the 250cc; it was a 350cc made basically out of the 250cc crank case, and so that was immediately a much lighter engine than a Goldstar, and so we started playing with the engine and pushed it out to 420cc and that’s the machine that I used in the 1964 500cc World Championship.’ During this iconic era of motorcycling, experimentation was commonplace, none more so than for BSA whose background was in the military. BSA stands for ‘Birmingham Small Arms’ and the factory on Armoury Road, had unrestricted access to all kinds of different materials. Motorcycles back then, particularly 4-Strokes were extremely heavy, so if anything could be done to make them lighter, then it was greatly welcomed. And Jeff’s 1964 B40 was the epitome of that. Magnesium was used for fun it seemed, with the lightweight material being used on a multitude of parts; hubs, crankcases and fork legs would normally have been made from aluminium, but on the B40 those were all Magnesium items. Titanium nuts and bolts were used all-round; the steering head and column were also made from Titanium and believe it or not, so too were the front and rear spindles. The swinging arm pivot though was aluminium. There was also talk of BSA experimenting with Titanium handlebars. Was this true Jeff? ‘Yes I did actually; I raced with Titanium handlebars and had a nasty accident in Czechoslovakia in the grand prix there, and one half of the handlebar fell off, or broke because

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VINTAGE BIKES welding with Titanium in those days was not well understood and where the crossbar had been welded on, it had notched and the notch turned into a crack and so the handlebar broke off. Fortunately I didn’t crash but I certainly should have done as the left hand side of the handlebar fell off. But yeah, I rode with Titanium handlebars but never again after that.’

The side panels were all made out of fibreglass which at the time was unheard of. It was also another lightweight material.

There was much speculation over the front wheel as well, with BSA opting to run a 20” as opposed to the standard 21”. The Paddock gossip came up with all kinds of conspiracy theories but the reality was much more simple. The smaller wheel and therefore smaller tyre that accompanied the wheel were just lighter. There was certainly no advantage in terms of its handling over the bumps, but if there was, Smith didn’t notice.

While the bike played a major role in helping Smith to the 1964 world championship, there was another very telling factor a well. In an age where reliability issues were commonplace, Jeff was best known for his good engine management skills, and where many other riders suffered as a result and lost vital world championship points due to mechanical breakdowns, rarely was it Jeff Smith.

The rear suspension was provided by Girling, but according to Jeff there was nothing overly special about them, other than they were handbuilt which meant when he would go testing at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire, the guys from Girling would show up with up to fifteen sets of dampers, and they would test and test until they found something that they were happy with. Of course, being hand built, they could pull the dampers apart during the tests to change some of the elements and make more adjustments. The front forks were BSA’s own in-house design, except for the Magnesium fork legs. They also benefitted from a system not too dissimilar to the Girling shock absorbers, and so the B40 had a very good damping system. The engine was extremely lightweight too, being an all-alloy motor with a chrome bore, and Magnesium crankcases. The cylinder head was sand-cast instead of die-cast and the fuel tank was also a larger capacity alloy item, specifically designed with the two forty-five minute race duration in mind.

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Overall the bike would have been around 1520lbs lighter than the production version known as The Victor, a bike that was built in 1965 as a result of Smith’s 1964 success.

In 1964 Jeff Smith’s biggest rival was Rolf Tibblin of Sweden who had won the 500cc world championship on the previous two occasions in 1962/63 on his Husqvarna and so intense was the battle for supremacy in ’64 that even with seven wins out of fourteen, six 2nd place finishes and one 3rd due to a puncture, therefore never finishing off the podium, the title still went down to the final race of the season in Spain. Smith won the first race while Tibblin suffered a DNF after he broke his front wheel. With Smith placing 2nd in Race Two after it was enough to be declared World Champion, winning by 2 points over Tibblin. Jeff Smith went on to win the 500cc world championship the following year in 1965. It was the last time a British-built motorcycle would ever win a motocross world championship. It was also the last time a 4-stroke would win a world title before Jacky Martens won the 500cc title in 1993.


JEFF SMITH’S 1964 BSA B40 Photos: P. White & J. Smith

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HALL OF FAME Motocross Marvels:

Roger De Coster

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he January afternoon sunshine cooks the pavement in Murrieta, California but inside the Red Bull KTM workshop Roger De Coster is keeping very cool. The Belgian adjusts his glasses as he fine-tunes the lathe for a steel component he is cutting. “It is something I thought would help the mechanics,” he offers by way of careful explanation. Normally you wouldn’t expect to find an icon of the sport getting his hands dirty but you get the feeling that the 69 year old doesn’t warm the seat of his office chair that much in the process of resurrecting yet another brand on the AMA racing scene after historic and defining success with Honda and then Suzuki for the better part of two decades.

When he first arrived at KTM there was understandably a degree of reverence. De Coster had ‘been there and done that’ to such a degree that it is hard to imagine how he still drums up the energy and enthusiasm after a full lifetime around a single sport. Technicians would actually remark of their surprise as De Coster would call the shots, and then get hands-on with the job himself of prepping the Austrian machinery so that the likes of Ryan Dungey, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin would have no second doubts about their leaps of faith to help KTM crack America. Over the past two years many keyboard letters have been punched about the De Coster ‘effect’ on the North American racing team’s turnaround – see belief, organisation, determination,

FIM 500cc World Championships: 5 (1971-3, 75-6) Motocross of Nations winner: 6 (1969, 72, 73, 76, 77, 79) Trans AMA Winner: 4 (1974-77) Grand Prix wins: 36 (all 500cc) Grand Prix rider: 1976-1980 (won final GP in Luxembourg)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME preparation, communication and work ethic as some of the qualities he has instilled. The same descriptions and adjectives have been thrown at the five times 500cc world champion and six times Motocross of Nations winner for an age. It seems that De Coster draws success and admiration around behind him like a sweeping royal cloak. And plenty of people have ridden on the back…some of the most glittering racing talent to have followed in his footsteps in Europe and also on American soil. Part of his appeal is the recognition of an enduring legend in practically all spheres of motocross and across geography (he even won an ISDE medal in 1964, the same edition in Germany that saw another symbol – but of the silver screen - Steve McQueen compete for the USA). Rider, Team manager, promoter (USGP events in the 1990s), Nations strategist (he brought the USA to their first victory in 1981 and has stuck around since), ambassador and mentor; De Coster appears to have the ‘set’ and undoubtedly helping Ryan Dungey and KTM to the 2012 AMA 450X Pro Motocross title was one of the last great acts of not only a career but a motocross lifetime.

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ROGER DE COSTER

Text: A. Wheeler. Photos: G. Meyer

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VINTAGE BIKES

Bill Nilsson’s

1960 Husqvarna Albin 500

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B

ill Nilsson will always go down in history as the winner of the first ever FIM Motocross World Championship, claiming the title in the 500cc class in 1957 in what was a close run battle, edging out the Belgian René Baeten by a single point. But, Nilsson would go on to claim a second crown in 1960 and it’s his 1960 Husqvarna Albin 500 that we are featuring this month. The road to glory Bill Nilsson was born in Hallstavik, Sweden on December 17th 1932 but it would take 18 years before he would make his first race appearance in 1950 on the Swedish speedway ovals, but after failing to ‘get a ride’ he switched his attentions to motocross two years later in 1952 where he immediately started to get noticed and was part of Team Sweden that won the Motocross des Nations at the end of his debut season. At 5’7” Nilsson wasn’t the tallest rider out there but what he lacked in stature the tough Swede who inherited the nicknames Buffalo Bill or Wild Bill, more than made up it with pure guts and determination and a neversay-die attitude that often rubbed his fellow competitors up the wrong way. In fact, it was alleged that his tough persona cost him his factory ride with the British-built BSA team, but sources close to him would beg to differ, and so the following year he went out, purchased an AJS road bike, converted it into a scrambler and won the first ever world championship. That alone should tell us all we need to know about the man. After finishing 2nd in the ‘58/’59 seasons Nilsson was picked up by Husqvarna and he would ride a Husqvarna Albin 500 and that was one of the first truly works bikes ever

entered in the world championship. It had a single-cylinder 4-stroke engine and for the time, it truly was a work of art. In fact, it was so factory that this bike only ever started life as a hand-built factory machine; the term ‘standard’ or ‘production’ didn’t exist at that time at Husqvarna. Full factory With the 500cc class being given world championship status in 1957 the race was on to start building 500cc machines as it was now considered the premier class, the only class where you could be crowned world champion. Ruben Helmin was the man responsible for designing the Husqvarna’s of Bill Nilsson and Rolf Tibblin, while the engines were the responsibility of Nils Hedlund. For the 1960/’61 seasons he had built ten engines and the man responsible for bringing it altogether, the final build process was Morgan Hjalmarsson. The frames were all one-piece handmade in chrome moly and hand welded which was unusual at the time, but interestingly Bill supplied the frame for this one only, and rumor has it that it was a ‘leftover’ from the Cresent days but the bike was built at Husqvarna. As for the wheels and hubs, Pränafa hubs were the preferred choice and these were married to Dunlop steel rims. This is how the bike was ‘delivered’ but the riders had a lot of freedom to change things to suit themselves. Bill often used a rear wheel straight from the BSA, but many riders of that era used a front hub from the Husqvarna Drömbågen, which was a smaller, lighter steel hub. The spokes were pulled straight out of the stock items basket, mostly from some road bike or other where there were always some standard length spokes that could be found from other brands of bike.

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VINTAGE BIKES As for the power plant, well this was a 500cc 4-stroke engine 112 TV that originally started life way back in 1935 in the military, originally designed by Folke Mannerstedt and this was modified by Hedlund. Special Aluminium cylinders made in Germany were also used and had a dual purpose; to save weight and to dissipate heat and with a weight of 145kg (322lb) the 500cc Husqvarna was significantly lighter than other European 4-strokes, although by now the threat of the lighter 2-stroke generation was well in the ascendancy. The gearbox was a 4-speed item and was produced in England. When it came it came to the crankcases though, where BSA were using magnesium the Husky Boys were using aluminium … apparently! That’s what has been documented anyway, but maybe that was all part of the cloak and dagger mentality back then, in an era where pushing the boundaries and evolution was ‘top secret, classified’.

1957 on his modified AJS, transformed from a road bike to a motocross bike by himself, and from the moment he threw his leg over the Husqvarna Albin 500, according to the mastermind Morgan Hjalmarsson, Bill said ‘the bike felt really good right away.’

The rest of the hard parts were aluminium, which was interesting as fiberglass and titanium were on the fringes of being introduced. The fuel tank was originally taken from the Silverpilen road bike but was modified to fit the motocross bikes, and of course there were no problems with finishing the 45-minute moto’s.

After what was another eventful season Nilsson was crowned 500cc world champion for the second time, this time by 2 points over fellow Swede Sten Lundin with his teammate Rolf Tibblin coming home third.

With the factory being based in Sweden, other countries also contributed to the success of the Husqvarna 500 with the rear suspension units being provided by the British-based firm Girling, which were straight out of the box as opposed to the hand built items that were favoured by BSA for instance. The front forks were also British-made Norton Roadholder units. When it came to setting up his bikes Bill Nilsson knew exactly what he wanted as proved by his first world championship win in

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How meticulous was he? Very! He was an expert machinist and a very meticulous guy, and this was proved many times throughout his career. What we need to remember here is that during this era of trial and error, despite there being an abundance of top designers and technicians, and riders who were very capable at the highest level, compared to now and this generation of engineers, all of the aforementioned were generally uneducated when it came to the most intricate of details, especially when it came to suspension set up, and talk to anyone form that era now and they will say that if it didn’t bottom out then we were generally OK!

After he hung up his boots Nilsson went back to his speedway roots as an engine man, providing motors for the Swedish-based American and world champion, Greg Hancock, but to us in the motocross world he will always be known as the first ever world champion.


BILL NILSSON’S 1960 HUSQVARNA ALBIN 500

Sources: Gunnar G Lindstrom. Action photo: Husqvarna AB (publ.), Husqvarna Museums Archives

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HALL OF FAME

Heikki Mikkola, the ‘Flying Finn’

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erhaps the best ever Finnish Motocross rider, Heikki Mikkola was one of the greatest riders of the seventies and a great example for young riders today. Born on July 6th 1945 not far from the Grand Prix track at Hyvinkää, he started racing Motocross comparatively late as his first race came at the age of 19. Ten years later he would go on to claim the first title of his career, beating the legendary Roger De Coster to the 1974 500cc World Championship.

Heikki Mikkola was not the most talented rider of the seventies, but it’s certain that he was one of the most dedicated athletes and was well known both for his supreme physical condition and his riding style. Like most Finnish kids Heikki did cross country skiing and ski jumping when he was young but he also enjoyed riding his bicycle in the forest and jumping as far as possible with his friends. He had to wait for his 18th birthday before he could buy his first race bike and just a short while later he entered his first GP at Hyvinkää in 1966. Soon after he moved to Belgium to take part in the World Championship, living in an old caravan and going to the races with fellow countryman Kalevi Vehkonen.

1970 - 250cc Motocross World Championship - 4th (Husqvarna) 1971 - 250cc Motocross World Championship - 4th (Husqvarna) 1972 - 500cc Motocross World Championship - 3rd (Husqvarna) 1973 - 250cc Motocross World Championship - 3rd (Husqvarna) 1974 - 500cc Motocross World Championship - 1st ([Husqvarna) 1975 - 500cc Motocross World Championship - 2nd (Husqvarna) 1976 - 250cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Husqvarna) 1977 - 500cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Yamaha) 1978 - 500cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Yamaha) 1979 - 500cc Motocross World Championship - 5th (Yamaha)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME

He claimed the first of his thirty-two GP wins on home soil during the Finnish round of the 1970 World Championship, in Hyvinkää of course. After winning the first heat he was leading the second race when he had to stop in the pits after he lost the fuel tank cap on his Husqvarna. Once he was back in the race he recovered to finished second and win the GP. That year he had two other victories to finish the series in 4th position overall which helped lead to Husqvarna offering him a factory ride for the following three seasons. However, despite the increased support Heikki had to wait until 1974 to win his first World title, twice on the championship podium with a third position in 1972 (500cc) and 1973 (250cc) he finally beat reigning champion Roger De Coster in 1974. The Belgian got his revenge in 1975 as Heikki finished runner up before moving back to the 250 class on the wishes of Husqvarna. He then went on to become the first rider to ever win both a 500cc and a 250cc title, before, after twelve years on a Husqvarna he moved to Yamaha at the end of the 1976 season. The Japanese brand had first approached him in 1972, but Heikki waited four years before joining the team. ‘When we went to Japan to discover the new bike at the end of 1976, I was very surprised to see so many technicians and engineers around us, as I had only one mechanic working on my Husqvarna. We tested new parts daily during one week” remembered Heikki

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who had a successful debut Yamaha season. But it wasn’t all glory as he broke his collarbone during an International race in Belgium just a few weeks prior the opening GP hampering his early season races. Despite that he lead most of the season and was crowned champion during the penultimate Grand Prix in Belgium, ironically he then missed the final race in Switzerland due to a knee injury. During the first season with Heikki, the Japanese


HEIKKI MIKKOLA Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

engineers took note of all his remarks and when he went back to Japan during the winter the World Champion discovered a factory bike with all new suspension. He used it to dominate the opening GP in Payerne and at the end of the season added a fourth World title to his scoreboard. It would be the last one as Heikki injured his knee badly during a pre season race in 1979; he did manage to win a couple of heats and GP’s during the season but after a big crash in Namur he realised that it was time, at 34 years

old, to retire and never signed the contract that Yamaha had prepared for 1980. He went on to make a few Grand Prix appearances as an advisor for Yamaha, but spent most of his time with his wife and their three children in Finland, where they bought a farm. He is still a farmer and when he visited the GP of Finland this summer, it was a pleasure for everyone to see how fit and happy he is!

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VINTAGE BIKES

Sten Lundin’s 1961 LITO

1957 – 2 GP wins and 3rd in the 500cc world championship (Monark) 1958 – 2 GP wins and 3rd in the 500cc world championship (Monark) 1959 – 4 GP wins en-route to his first 500cc world championship (Monark) 1960 – 3 GP wins and 2nd overall in the 500cc world championship (Monark) 1961 title winning machine was an updated version of the 1959 bike and he added 6 more GP wins to his tally (Lito) 1962 – 0 GP wins and 3rd in the 500cc world championship (Lito) 1963 – 3 GP wins and 2nd in the 500cc world championship (Lito) 1964 – 1 GP win and 3rd in the 500cc world championship (Lito)

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S

ten Lundin is perhaps one of the most important riders in motocross history and not just because of his 22 grand prix victories. Born in Sweden in November 1931 Lundin made a name for himself by being one of the most consistent riders on the circuit and from 1957 -1964 never finished outside the top three in the FIM 500cc Motocross World Championship, claiming the title twice in 1959 and 1961 for two different manufacturers. Or did he? A brief history Towards the end of the late 1950’s Monark became the first Swedish motorcycle manufacturer to throw itself ‘into the ring’ in the ever increasing and popular world of grand prix motocross, and so rare and so special was this project that it was claimed that only a handful of race bikes made it to factory ‘production’ in order to go racing, meaning they were as factory as you were ever going to get. Sten Lundin was the recipient of such a bike and these bikes were so revolutionary that when Lundin signed to race for Monark in 1957 he was told he would get two bikes from the factory. But these were no ordinary machines and were completely hand-built, one-off pieces of machinery. Little did Lundin realise but when it came to taking delivery of his bikes the only one available to him at the time was a ‘hand-medown’ year-old bike that had already been through the mill in the hands of a rider by the name of Allan Eklund, and was anything but the finished article, but by 1959 Lundin had completely transformed his steed and turned it into a world-beater, handing Monark its first, and only 500cc world championship. However, disaster struck the following season when Monark’s Race Team Manager Lennart Varborn died unexpectedly and the Swedish manufacturer was forced to take the decision to withdraw from the world championship, never to return. Lundin would place second overall and was told he could keep his race bike as a kind of parting gift, which worked out in his favour.

Green machine With highly skilled engineers now out of work with the closing of the Monark factory a man by the name of Kaj Bornebusch, the owner of Monark, decided he would continue the building process, but with a difference. He had access to a multitude of left over parts and was able to build ‘factory’ bikes, which he now called Lito, and instead of producing them for the few, a bike here and a bike there, he produced a top quality motorcycle on a slightly larger scale. In reality, the Monark had initially been rebranded as a Lito and when Lundin heard of this he offered to paint his Monark green (the colour of the Lito) and run it as a Lito. Bornebusch agreed and the contract was signed. All of a sudden Lundin was now a Lito factory rider. The bike that Sten Lundin would race in 1961 had been a work in progress. It started life as a Monark in 1960 and was an updated version of his 1959 titlewinning machine. It was also the bike he would finish 2nd on in the 1960 500cc world championship. The attention to detail was second to none and nothing was left to chance. Everything was built to Lundin’s own specification and he also had a hand in building it himself along with the Monark technicians before the factory was forced to close in 1960. One of the things that Lundin was most impressed with was the willingness by everybody to produce a winning bike at all costs. When the BSA gearbox became problematic for instance they switched to the more reliable AMC. Nothing was too much trouble and perseverance was not an option if problems were ongoing. Ask anybody from that era about this bike and all would agree that everything about it was special. It was all hand-made. The handlebars were made by Lundin himself; so meticulous was he when it came to things being perfect. The triple clamps had a 36mm offset and the front forks were handmade by the Italian company Ceriani. All the internals were machined from billet aluminium and were the first forks made by Ceriani for a motocross bike. The Ceriani deal came about after Lundin had

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VINTAGE BIKES snapped his frame at Gallarate, Italy, and an employee from the motorcycle firm MV Augusta offered to help fix it. The welder at MV also added strengthening gussets which Lundin chose not to include to save weight, but it was more of a benefit than a hindrance in the end when it came to reliability. It also transpired that his new Italian friend’s fiancée was the daughter of Ceriani, the introduction was made and a new set of handmade forks was the result. The rear shocks were British-made Girling units and the swingarm was a particularly special item and took around three years to perfect.

off and such was his pace he had lapped Jeff Smith who placed 3rd. Smith would go on to win the 500cc world championship in 1964 and 1965. Attention to detail with the brakes was also taken into account. The front hub was from Pranafa as it produced excellent stopping power but modifications to the rear brake were simple yet effective. Where other bikes ran a solid braking rod, the Lito ran a cable system so that if it ever got hit, it wouldn’t break or lock up.

The footpegs were also hand made. If you look at the image you can see where the footpegs are mounted The engine was the popular military engine from Albin to the frame, and that the right one was made in such but with a much higher compression cylinder head, a way that it was curved around the exhaust pipe. with the compression ratio being 10:1. This alone meant that the fuel required to run it needed to be Noise regulations were a thing of the future in 1961 extremely high octane. The cylinder bore was chrome and the Lito ran without a silencer and by all accounts plated by Karl Schmitz in Germany and needed special it sounded amazing and was quite literally like nothing pistons, which were also German made. else. All the cases were sand cast and handmade. The gearbox was a 4-speed item and was initially produced by BSA but after reliability issues, switched to AMC. The carburettor was an Amal GP5 as it was smaller, easier to set up and offered up a better power delivery. When it came to wheels, Lundin had a contract with the British-based Dunlop factory and they were also responsible for producing lighter rims, made from lightweight tensile steel, and whilst they were much stronger and lighter, they were also very expensive to produce. The size of the tyre was 400x19. The fuel tank was a handmade item and made out of sheet aluminium. It was held on by a small strap and at Namur in his 1961 title-winning year, the strap broke and the only thing that held the tank in place was the fuel pipe. Lundin had to grip the tank with his knees thinking it would fall off at any given moment, and with this in mind rode the race flat out to let everyone know that if he wasn’t going to finish the race it wasn’t for the lack of trying. The tank never fell

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On his way to winning the 1961 FIM 500cc World Championship Sten Lundin won six GPs and took maximum points. But the win-history of this bike runs much deeper. If you take into consideration the 1959 Monark that Lundin won his first title on and the 1960/’61/’62/’63’/64 bikes he used just being updated versions then the 1961 Lito can lay claim to having won no less than 17 Grand Prix victories, including the ones through to 1964 which was the same bike. Not only is that pretty impressive, it also proved how good the Monark / Lito was a motorcycle. To run the same bike from 1959-1964 is testament to that and was admired by the likes of Roger DeCoster, Joel Robert and Håkan Andersson amongst others as the finest bike ever built.


STEN LUNDIN’S 1961 LITO

PHOTO CREDITS: Motocross Action: Terry Good and Tom White

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HALL OF FAME

Alessandro Puzar,

the Italian legend

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ith Michele Rinaldi and Antonio Cairoli, Alessandro Puzar is one of the greatest Italian riders in the history of Motocross. The likeable and enthusiast Italian, born on the 19th November 1968 in Ceva, only started racing when he was fifteen years old but had a long and successful career with two World titles and four other final podiums. True passionate, he is still involved in the FIM Motocross World Championships!

As most of the young kids Alessandro Puzar had more interest for the calcio than for Motocross when he was young, but when he got a 50 AIM he started to ride and later entered the 80cc local championship when he turned fifteen. Two years later he won the 125cc Italian Junior championship and when he turned seventeen he entered the Grand Prix with the support of KTM Farioli. Puzar ended eighteenth in his first ever campaign, but he became famous in Italy by winning the 1986 Genoa Supercross! Two years later with the support of his manager Luigi Toschi, who was like a second father for him, Alessandro claimed his first GP podiums

1986 125 cc Motocross World Championship - 18th (KTM) 1987 125 cc Motocross World Championship - 23rd (KTM) 1988 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 4th (KTM) 1989 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Suzuki)) 1990 250 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st ([Suzuki) 1991 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Suzuki) 1992 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 4th (Yamaha) 1993 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 10th (Kawasaki) 1994 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 19th (Kawasaki) 1995 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Honda) 1996 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 13th (Honda) 1997 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (TM) 1998 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (TM) 1999 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 8th (Yamaha) 2000 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 12th (Yamaha) 2001 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 10th (Husqvarna) 2002 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 5th (Husqvarna)

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EDITORIAL

Victoires in GP 125 : 4 (89) + 4 (95) + 2 (97) + 1 (98) + 1 (2002) soit 12 250 : 7 (90) + 2 (91) + 1 (92) + 1 (93) soit 11

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HALL OF FAME (3rd in Ireland and 2nd in France) and scored a final fourth position in the 125cc series. A young team manager after a successful career as rider, Michele Rinaldi signed him in his Suzuki Chesterfield squad and Alex made another step; winner of four GP’s and ten heats in 1989, he battled for the World title with Trampas Parker to finish runner-up in the 125cc series. Moving in the 250cc class in 1990, he reached his goal and won his first World title after a strong season (thirteen heats and seven GP wins) on his Suzuki. With his nice riding style and his enthusiasm, Puzar became a hero in his country with a strong sponsor as Chesterfield supporting him, as well as his team, and he attracted many young fans to the Motocross tracks. The following seasons were not so successful for him, and after four years in the Rinaldi team, he switched to private teams and made a successful come back in the 125cc class in 1995. Working with Corrado Maddii, another famous former Italian rider who had became a team manager, Alessandro wrote another very nice page of the Motocross history when he finally beat Alessio Chiodi, who was riding on a factory bike, with his private team. Four years after the 250cc title, Puzar became the first Motocross Italian rider to get a second world title. The 125cc class was for sure ‘his’ class and even if he raced in 1999 the 500cc World Championship, dreaming to be a World Champion in all the classes, it’s in the smallest category that he finished his career. Riding for Italian brands such as TM and Husqvarna, he got some great results such as two final podiums with TM and a fifth overall during his last season. He loved so much racing that he retired only at 34 years old and got the last of his twentythree GP wins during his last season in 2002. He also added to his list of success a win at the Motocross of Nations with the Italian team, and retired in Monaco with his wife and their children to enjoy a comfortable life. However, racing has always been in his blood, and when

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training to prepare a comeback in the veteran class, he had a terrible accident. It was time to have a normal life, but life without motocross was impossible for Alessandro, so he is still involved in the sport with Pro Grip. Working for the Italian company he is following the World Championship with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion.


ALESSANDRO PUZAR

Text : P. Haudiquert

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VINTAGE BIKES

René Baeten’s 1958 FN 500 BELGIUM’S FIRST MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPION

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R

ené Baeten was born in Herentals in northern Belgium on June 10th 1927 and was one of the best motocross riders of his era. Despite not starting his racing career until he was 20 years-old it wasn’t long before he found himself on everybody’s radar and within 6 years he was among the elite of Europe’s finest motocross riders, placing 2nd overall in the European 500cc Championship two years running in 1953 and 1954. The following two seasons left beaten off the podium, barely placing inside the top ten but when the European 500cc Championship was upgraded to world championship status in 1957, Baeten was back in business, showing everybody his obvious talents. Despite his efforts and after a close run world championship campaign, Baeten fell short of becoming the first ever motocross world champion by a single point, finishing 2nd to Sweden’s Bill Nilsson. However, 1957 was to be the year of his life. Even though he didn’t know him personally, according to Sylvain Geboers, René Baeten was the first true professional motocross rider that took his racing seriously and he was good friends with the cycling world champion at that time Rik van Looy, who also hailed from Herentals. Both riders had access to their own sports doctor, a man by the name of Dr. Claes, the father of the doctor of the same name that fixes up a lot of today’s current professional racers and as a racer he was inspirational to watch as Sylvain recalls: ‘He was fantastically fast through the corners at that time; it was unbelievable and watching him inspired me to go as fast as he was going when I started riding’. History Nowadays we are used to seeing the ‘big 4’ brands

of Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha as well as Husqvarna, KTM and TM out on track. Of those 7 brands only Husqvarna has stood the test of time and is still going strong today, the Swedish brand being the first ever world champions in 1957 with a Swede at the ‘bars in the form of Bill Nilsson. But back then, brands such as AJS, BSA, Norton, Monark, Crescent, Matchless, Saroléa, Maico and Jawa led the way, and in Belgium one brand in particular stood out, and that was FN. These two letters were an abbreviation of ‘Fabrique National de Herstal’ otherwise know as the National Factory of Herstal, and just like the British-built BSA, FN motorcycles were little more than an after thought with the company’s primary business being the production of arms and ammunition. The first FN motorcycle rolled off the production line in 1901 but during the 1950’s FN were a real force to be reckoned with and was widely

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VINTAGE BIKES regarded as the biggest factory effort leading up to the 1960’s and engines were produced with the primary aim of going racing at the highest level. In fact, FN was way ahead of its time, and anyone who raced for them were in a real privileged position; frames were made to measure and so each bike was a ‘one size does not fit all’ item.

factory to lease out its motorcycles to anyone with a big enough wallet, lack of sales inevitably meant the swift demise of the Belgian brand. New technology and the emergence of the 2-stroke was not that far away either and the FN was sadly, outdated.

Baeten claimed a second Belgian championship The engines were fast too and when Sten Lundin, in 1959 but on the world stage could only muster the 1959 world champion tested one prior to up 9th overall. The worst was to come though lifting the crown for Monark his comments were and during the following season, Baeten sadly that while they were fast in a straight line on succumbed to head injures sustained in a crash tarmac, at 5000rpm and 40bhp they were just too after his throttle jammed on a downhill. He was 32 powerful with too much wheel spin on a race track but his legacy lived on to inspire a new generation made of dirt. However, FN themselves determined of Belgian riders such as Joel Robert who would go that they had a user-friendly engine that was a on to claim 6 world titles in the 250cc class. more sedate 20bhp at 2000rpm lower down the rev range. You just had to know how to ride it! Despite the racing department closing in 1960 motorcycles were still produced up until 1967. As The FN looked heavy and cumbersome but for FN though, the company is still around today despite that, the excessive use of aluminium and and is a world-leading firearms manufacturer magnesium ensured that the FN was one of the and the largest exporter of military small arms in lightest bikes on the start line weighing in at just Europe. under 300lbs; 297lbs to be exact, or 134.7kg. Compare that to the weight of Jeff Smith’s 1964 world championship winning BSA that came in at 246lbs or 111.5kg, a difference of 23 kilos, or the equivalent weight of a small child! This gives an indication of the Herculean efforts needed to muscle these lumps of metal around in the name of entertainment. No wonder the riders of that generation were much revered and respected at the same time; they were a different breed of Air cooled 500cc, Single cylinder 4-Stroke animal altogether. Single overhead cam

Tech Spec

The 1958 season was as good as it got though for FN with René Baeten winning the 500cc world championship and his Belgian teammate Hubert Scaillet placing 5th. However, the FN Factory closed its doors on the competition world at the end of that historic season amid concerns of massive financial losses, which was particularly strange to some who thought that FN was in a strong position both on and off the track. But despite being one of the first, if not THE first

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Bore and stroke 80 x 99 2 valves with hairpin springs Chrome steel hub brakes Front wheel 21” Rear Wheel 18” Weight 297ibs 40bhp @ 5000rpm


RENÉ BAETEN’S 1958 FN 500

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HALL OF FAME

Harry Everts:

The start of the dynasty!

F

our times a World Champion, Harry Everts the racer wrote some of the very best pages of Belgian Motocross History way before he gave the sport another huge champion in his son. The father of Stefan, the greatest Motocross rider in the history of the World Championship, Harry had to work harder than anyone to reach the highest level. A task he has never shied away from and that dedication and

passion for the sport continues today at 61 years of age, as he shares his experience with new young riders. Born on the 6th of February 1952, Harry had to fight on his hands from day one as he had early physical troubles that required repeated surgery before he could even walk normally. Perhaps it was in that formative time that he forged his legendary obstinacy, a trait that helped him to overcome obstacles that any other might have

1973 250cc Motocross World Championship - 14th (Puch) 1974 250cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Puch) 1975 250cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Puch) 1976 250cc Motocross World Championship – 5th (Puch) 1977 250cc Motocross World Championship - 4th (Bultaco) 1978 250cc Motocross World Championship – 6th (Bultaco) 1979 125cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Suzuki) 1980 125cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Suzuki) 1981 125cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Suzuki) 1982 125cc Motocross World Championship - 4th (Suzuki) 1983 500cc Motocross World Championship – 4th (Suzuki)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME found insurmountable to eventually become World Champion. It was thanks to his uncle Jeff Teuwissen that the young Harry discovered Motocross and entered his first race when he was fourteen years old. It was a race that required a tiny bit of deception as Everts was too young to race his 400cc Maico in the event, but the organisers never knew his true age. It was first race and first win for Everts and it was enough to convince him to continue in the sport, and three years on from that moment he claimed his first title of renown in the Senior Belgian Series. Harry scored his first point in the World Championship during his first GP season in 1971 but had to wait 3 more years before he stood on the podium. 1974 was a great season for Harry and the Austrian manufacturer Puch with the Belgian ace winning one Grand Prix and finishing third in the standings - in fact he was second in total points scored but the rules back then stated that only the top twelve results of the twenty two events were counted towards the final classification. Winning the last round of the 1974 series gave Everts a momentum that he was able to carry into the following season, Harry was one of the regular GP winners alongside Hakan Andersson and Willy Bauer, both riding for Japanese brands. It was Everts who took the spoils come seasons end and claimed his first title in the 250 class, a category where he would stay for a few years more until the call came from Suzuki. The Japanese marque were saying farewell to their number 1 rider Gaston Rahier, who was jumping ship to Yamaha, and Everts took the chance, after 250 campaigns for Puch and Bultaco, to lead the charge for the Hamamatsu brand in the smallest class. It was the beginning of his domination, as Harry won three consecutive titles and sixteen GP’s in the class with Suzuki. A time which he looks

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back on fondly: “My best memory was 1979; it was a fantastic season as I won eight GP’s, seventeen heats, the 250 Belgian GP and nearly won the 500 Belgian round. And we also won with Malherbe and De Coster the Motocross of Nations! I had a couple of accidents in my career as I broke more than twenty bones, but luckily I was a very fast healer; for example one day I broke my wrist and four weeks later I was riding my bike”.


HARRY EVERTS Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

Motocross was in Evert’s blood, and when the inevitable retirement came in 1984 he didn’t move away from the paddock, continuing to work in the sport to this day. He opened his Motocross school in Spain,www.evertsmxcamp.com which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, where he was the first mechanic and he worked for several years with his son Stefan before creating his own team. He worked for the Spanish Federation and finally joined the KTM factory staff several years ago.

Always working with young riders, he has been involved in the success of riders such as Steffi Laier, Jonathan Barragan and Glen Coldenhoff, and continues to enjoy a daily motocross life, his life. Always smiling and friendly, this ambassador of our sport is now also taking care of young Liam, who may well become the third generation of the Everts family to shine on the motocross tracks of the world!

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VINTAGE BIKES

Harry Everts 1975 TWINCARB PUCH MC250

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T

o some people, although not that many, Harry Everts might need some sort of introduction but to almost everybody else in the paddock they know him as a 4-time world motocross champion and father to Stefan, the winner of 10 motocross world titles. Harry is part of the Everts motorcycling dynasty and is still very much involved in the sport today. His first world title came aboard the Austrian made PUCH MC250 and it’s this machine that we will cover in this issue of MXGP Magazine. Born February 6th 1952 Harry Everts’ first experience riding a motorcycle was ‘when I was 10/11 years old on a road bike and my first race was at 14 on a 400cc Maico. There were no small bikes back then’ commented the diminutive Belgian when we sat with him recently to discuss this feature. Most kids get the riding bug through a family member, mostly the father, but it was Harry’s uncle Jeff Tuewissen that had the now 14-year-old hooked on going racing: ‘He was the best rider in the world in the sand and they called him The Sand Man, The Sand King’, reminiscing on his early days. After a ‘mix-up’ on his race license filled out by his father that had Harry being one year older than he actually was and then someone finding out about it, Harry was demoted ‘to the hobby federation’ where he won his first amateur title at 14 in 1967 before re-joining the ‘BMB’ in 1968 where he won the Junior Championship followed by the Senior title in 1969. After that he was in with the big boys, the hard men of world motocross and the likes Robert, Decoster, Rahier and the rest. Around that time the most successful GP racer of all time Joel Robert was spending a bit of time in the USA and had designed this motorcycle with a good engine and equally impressive chassis which later became the PUCH 125 and Harry Everts was drafted in to race this revolutionary machine for his

fellow Belgian where he was winning on a regular basis until PUCH decided to bring him back to Europe to race the 250cc world championship for them as a factory rider. Having spent his time racing in the USA Everts experience on the GP circuit was very limited, having ridden less than a handful of GP’s from 1971-1973 ‘just to gain some experience’. That 1974 season in his first full world championship campaign Everts placed 3rd overall and picked up his first GP win along the way at Hyvinkää in Finland, with a second victory at Wohlen in Switzerland. All of a sudden PUCH were a force to be reckoned with and the stage was set for what turned out to be a historic season for both Everts and PUCH. At that time the Japanese were the dominant force in the 250cc class, having won three 250cc world titles on the bounce with Joel Roberts and Suzuki from 1970-72, followed by the Yamaha of Häkan Andersson in 1973. KTM beat PUCH as the first Austrian manufacturer to the title in 1974 but Everts would re-write history books in 1975. The PUCH MC250 was a full factory weapon and no expense was spared when it came to producing a bike of the highest quality; this thing oozed bling! The PUCH literally dripped Magnesium and Titanium; the aim was to be as fast and as light as possible. Everything from nuts and bolts, front and rear hubs, the Magura clutch and 4-speed gearbox were made from magnesium. Bizarrely, Everts only found out recently that the camshaft was made from Titanium after a conversation with one of the engineers from that era, closely connected with the PUCH project. ‘The frame was very thin like paper, and so was the swingarm’ recalled Harry. The lightweight engine was cut from Magnesium but the biggest change between the ‘74 and the ‘75 bike was the addition an extra carburettor. In ‘74 the bike ran just one

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VINTAGE BIKES carb’ like everybody else but in ‘75 the bike came equipped with twin 32mm Bing carburettors; one to feed the traditional piston port whilst the second carb’ serviced a rotary valve on the right hand side of the engine. The power delivery was pretty brutal as well. Another change that was obvious to the keen eye, was the alteration to the exhaust pipe: ‘The original pipe went from the port and then under the bike but we had so many problems with this system, always breaking them, so we changed the position after a few races and in the end the pipe went over, which was better,’ remarked Everts. Maybe it comes as no surprise that this bike was a constant work in progress but that was factory racing no matter the team or the bike back in those days, the days of trial and error and the need to be the best.

says ‘wow, this is new’ but I had this when I was a young boy. Also my clutch; I would always adjust it after the start. The clutch was lightweight from Magura and they also made this on the replica bike in 1976.’ The 1975 season turned out to be a successful for one as Harry Everts clinched his and PUCH’s first world title. ‘In 1974 I won my first grand prix at Hyvinkää in Finland and in 1975 I won the world championship there as well. My contract was if we won the world championship, then we would race one more year, and after 1976 they stopped.’ That world title was the only one that PUCH would win but before they bowed out of the world championship they produced a total of 96 factory replica bikes for sale to the public, or more realistically, to those who could afford them. Just like the race bikes they were made to the highest possible specification, complete with magnesium and titanium parts and in good condition can still command a high price on the classic bike market.

Other subtle changes were made to the suspension, the bike originally being dressed in Marzocchi front and rear suspension units. The rear shock units were changed though for Koni as they performed better than the Italian ones, but Marzocchi were still the forks of choice, made of titanium of course. One subtle change here in ‘75 was the positioning of the point of where the axle connected with the front wheel. Previously it is was directly at the bottom of the fork leg, but it Engine Magnesium was moved slightly more forward which altered Clutch cases Magnesium the overall handling of the bike massively, making it better under braking and cornering. ‘I was one Clutch Magura of the first to use this new design,’ he says proudly, Nuts, bolts, front and rear wheel hubs magnesium ‘there was so much difference when it came Tyres Metzeler to handling and braking; more progressive and smoother, less clunky, especially into the corners. Rear wheel 18” It was much safer for the riders and much easier to Front wheel “21 ride’ and in fact this design can still be found today on the modern day racers that grace MXGP. Front Forks Marzocchi Titanium

Tech spec

Back then, braking technology was pretty basic and the drum brakes were made in-house, but even here there were some gains as ‘I could adjust the brakes myself during the race. Today everybody

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Rear Suspension Koni Cam shaft Titanium Carburetion Twin 32mm Bing carburettors


HARRY EVERTS 1975 TWIN-CARB PUCH MC250

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HALL OF FAME

Eric Geboers,

T

Mr 875!

he First rider ever to claim the big three individual World Titles, 125cc, 250cc and 500cc World Championships, took him to the magic total of 875. Eric Geboers is still heavily involved in the World of Motocross as team manager of the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP Team. Rider, promoter and now manager, Eric is a true expert of Motocross and puts just as much energy into his current job as he did in his racing career. With five World titles and thirty-nine GP wins, Eric is one of the greatest ever riders of our sport. Born on the 5th of August in Balen, Eric was immersed in Motocross from the first hours of his

life, as his older brother Sylvain was, on that very day, in the process of winning the support race of the 500cc Belgian GP in Namur! As the fifth son of the family Eric had more interest in football when he was a kid, even if all his brothers were all racing Motocross. After football he tried his hand for a while at gymnastic in the sport school of Hasselt, but perhaps inevitably he finally entered a motocross race in Balen when he turned sixteen. It was a special event for him and a poignant moment in MX history as, for the first and last time, the five Geboers brothers all raced together. Topping that, that race was to be the last one of Sylvain but for Eric, racing aboard a 500cc Maico that he discovered two weeks earlier, his first attempt took him to twenty-fourth at the flag.

1980 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Suzuki) 1981 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Suzuki) 1982 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Suzuki) 1983 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Suzuki) 1984 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 5th (Honda) 1985 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Honda) 1986 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Honda) 1987 250 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Honda) 1988 500 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Honda) 1989 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Honda) 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Honda)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME

Two years later, with a national licence in his hand, Eric entered the 125cc Grand Prix of Belgium. After his first test with a 500cc, and one season in the national senior series on 250cc and 500cc Maico machines, Eric chose a 125cc Suzuki – much more suitable for his size – to enter the GPs and with it he impressed everyone as he took fourth and a fifth place in the heats to get 4th overall, one week later he did even more. The 125cc French GP in Verdun was a muddy one, despite the conditions or perhaps in spite of them Eric took a fourth place and followed it up with a win to take the overall GP victory and became the youngest rider to win a GP! After that result he became a regular GP rider, and did the entire season with the financial backing from his family and fans; Eric ended the series in third position with three GP wins (France, Germany and the Czech Republic) and signed with Suzuki for the following year. He took that bike to the runner up spot in 1981, and he came back stronger in 1982. Working for the first time as a full professional he was the Winner of six GPs and took his first world title just a few days before his 20th birthday. After another 125cc title in 1983 Eric expected to continue his great relationship with Suzuki in the 500cc class, but the company stopped their

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involvement in the biggest class and that move forced him into the hands of Honda. Racing the 500cc series alongside Andre Malherbe, Andre Vromans and Dave Thorpe, Eric won some GP’s but had to wait a few more years before he could really fight for the world title. It was 1987 when Honda asked him to race the 250cc GPs and Eric won that title at the first attempt before he mounted a successful come back in the top class. For Geboers the 250cc World Championship in 1987 and the 500cc World Championship one


ERIC GEBOERS Text and photos: P. Haudiquert

year later was just a part of a very successful period as he triumphed at races such as Le Touquet, winning it in in 88, 89 and 90, and got some good results in the European Supercross.

Since his retirement Eric has always stayed involved in the Sport and not only in Motocross as he also worked through his company EG Events in triathlon, hockey and cycling. But Motocross was and is his life, and he finally came back to In 1989 3rd was his reward come years end, but the roots as coach, manager and also organiser in 1990 he was back on top, winning what would at Lommel in Belgium. Always cheerful and a be his last 500cc title as he surprised everyone man who loves a joke, Eric is a figure that people when he announced his retirement live on always like to meet in the paddock where he is Belgian TV just after being crowned at his home well respected by his colleagues, the fans and the GP in the Citadel of Namur! press.

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VINTAGE BIKES

Paul Friedrichs

1968 CZ 360

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B

orn in Buchholz East Germany in 1940 Paul Friedrichs was a 3-time 500cc motocross world champion and the first rider to ever win three world titles in a row, winning in the premier class in 1966, ’67 and ’68. All those titles were won on the Czech branded CZ machine becoming the first rider to win the 500cc title on a 2-stroke in an era dominated by 4-strokes. What was even more impressive was the fact that each of those titles were won on a CZ 360cc and it’s his 1968 championship winning bike that we are featuring in this issue of MXGP Magazine. Well actually, it’s more of a journey as to how his ‘68 bike came to be.

happening in the 250cc class, Paul Friedrichs was pushing for the 500cc title but lost out to Jeff Smith on his BSA. That all changed in 1966 when Friedrichs dominated the 500cc series to become the first 2-stroke winner in the 500cc class, winning a total of 7 GP’s along the way, and he did it on a 360cc CZ.

The first 360 was a prototype model in 1964 and was based on the 250 in terms of crankcases and running gear but came with an aluminium cylinder with pressed-in steel liner and weighed in at around 105kg. It also came with a ‘twin port’ cylinder and a low exhaust that almost went under the bike. When it went into production the following year it was around 3kg lighter, had redesigned Like most motorcycle manufacturers at that cases, produced 2bhp more at 32bhp and time, CZ originally started out as an arms and when it entered the 500cc world championship ammunition company but after World War I the class that year, took 50% of the GP wins with need for weapons started to wane, and after Friedrichs winning 3 of them. Part of CZ’s acquiring a bicycle parts manufacturing plant success was down to the fact they were the in 1929 things really started to turn around first manufacturer to incorporate an expansion for CZ. After the first motorised bicycle hit the chamber in the exhaust where all other brands roads in 1932 the production of full-blown used the then trialled and tested exhaust with motorcycles soon followed and before long CZ straight tubes. was the biggest manufacturer in what was then known as Czechoslovakia. During the 1950’s 1966 and ‘60’s CZ had grown to become the second The bike that Friedrichs rode in 1966 was largest manufacturer in Europe after claiming heavily based on the production bike of which a succession of victories in various high profile there were a limited number. The bike featured competitions, and it didn’t get any higher than a standard steel fuel tank and fibreglass airbox the FIM Motocross world Championship. and the production handlebars were produced in-house at the CZ factory; so too were the In 1960 Miroslav Souchek gave CZ its first world front and rear suspension units. Whilst the championship overall podium when he ripped 250 came with a steel-cast cylinder the 360 to 3rd in the 250cc world championship, whilst was made from aluminium with the factory 3 years later Vlastimil Valek and Igor Grigoriev cases being made from Magnesium. All CZ claimed 2nd and 3rd overall respectively in bikes came equipped with a 4-speed gearbox; the same category. Joel Robert bettered that the rear wheel was 18”, the front was 21”. The by claiming the 250cc title in 1964 as Victor biggest change on Friedrichs bike in 1966 was Arbekov took 3rd before winning it himself the that it came with the new ‘side pipe’ complete following year in 1965, and whilst all of this was with new single-port cylinder, derived from

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VINTAGE BIKES the 1964 CZ ISDE model ridden by Joel Robert, although Robert did not use the ‘side-pipe’ model himself until 1967, probably because of the modifications that needed to be made to the frame to cater for the new direction of the pipe and how it came out of the cylinder. As a result the only CZ Factory rider to use the new single-port/side pipe configuration was Friedrichs, and with it he went on to win the first 500cc GP of the year before going to claim the world title by a comfortable margin. 1967 The following year, the biggest and perhaps most interesting change was to the size of the engine; in all snippets of information the record states that Paul Friedrichs won all of his titles on a CZ 360 but while some that is true – his bike started life as a 360 – the reality was that in ‘67 his engine went from 360cc to 380cc, otherwise everything else was mostly the same according to another CZ Factory rider at the time, Sylvain Geboers, although CZ did start to use an electronic ignition from the Spanish supplier ‘Femsa’ but this was only for the Factory bikes. On top of that they also ran special carburettors from ‘Jikov’, which again, according to Geboers were ‘really, really special carburettors’. Friedrichs raced to another 500cc title, claiming 7 more GP wins along the way, 1968 Just like the previous year the ‘common knowledge’ was that the bike that Paul Friedrichs was racing was a 360, but as we have already learned the ‘67 machine was bored out to 380cc, and whilst the bike remained very much the same, there was one more change to the engine and the ‘68 bike that he raced was actually a 400. So, whilst there were little or no changes everywhere else in terms of suspension, electronic ignition and Jikov carb’ for instance, the CZ engineers had once again found another way to push the boundaries in order to give Friedrichs more power.

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According to Sylvain Geboers, you didn’t want to mess with Paul; he was a very strong man with an even stronger character and you wouldn’t want to fight him and that made him the perfect person to be able to race this bike; ‘Friedrichs was the only one who was able to handle it!’ Paul’s teammate at the time was Roger DeCoster: ‘While the bikes were similar they were not the same. Paul’s bike had sand casted Magnesium cases and Magnesium Jikov carb’ and of course the side-pipe, or ‘up-pipe’. I couldn’t use this pipe because it interfered too much with my leg! My bike had standard aluminium cases, standard Jikov carb’ and a low pipe.’ Despite that though the 400 had a very useable power for that time but things like the clutch were very fragile because CZ used a dry clutch and if you used it too much you were out of power; it would just burn itself out. It was almost certainly used for the start of the race and that was it; in muddy conditions there was a huge risk of not finishing the race, especially if you got stuck. In the right hands though the CZ 360 or 380 or 400 was bulletproof and Paul Friedrichs made it his own and his 1968 world title meant he became the first rider to win three titles in a row; his victory in 1966 signalled the end of the 4-stroke era until Jacky Martens won the 500cc crown in 1993 aboard his Husqvarna.

*Special thanks to Sylvain Geboers and Roger DeCoster for the extra information.


PAUL FRIEDRICHS 1968 CZ 360

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HALL OF FAME

Joel Robert,

the legend!

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uring the 1960’s our sport bore witness to the exploits of a true legend, a man whose records stood for nearly 40 years and established the level for greatness in Motocross. Joel Robert, the original icon of Belgian MX, racked up 50 GP wins in the decade of free love and it was only with the advent of Stefan Everts that his career records were broken. Since retiring he took to the role of team manager for the Belgians at the Motocross of Nations helping them to a rich run of form in those years, Joel Robert to this day remains

one of the greats of Belgian motocross

Born on the 24th of November 1943 in Grandieu, Joel was only four years old when he got his first bicycle and it was just three years of pedal power before he got his first motorcycle. It was his destiny from the day he was born, as his father always said “he will be a motorcycle rider”. Fernand was there from the start to help his son climb on the bike and ride at around the garden, which was vital in the first few years as the 7 year old Joel was too young to start racing. A few years later in an age long before google had

1964 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (CZ) 1965 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (CZ) 1966 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (CZ) 1967 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (CZ) 1968 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (CZ) 1969 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (CZ) Winner of the Motocross of Nations (Team Belgium) Winner of the Trophy of Nations (Team Belgium) 1970 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Suzuki) Winner of the Trophy of Nations (Team Belgium) 1971 250 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Suzuki) 1972 500 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Suzuki) Winner of the Trophy of Nations (Team Belgium)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME

all the answers Joel faked his entry papers to get into his first MX race, before waiting a little bit longer to turn 16 to get his first genuine Belgian licence. First on a Zundapp and later riding a Greeves, Joel was a fighter from the start and he moved to England with the support of the British factory to get more race experience. Joel had no driving licence and didn’t speak English but he always found a way to get to the races including travelling by train with his bike in his luggage. He entered his first Grand Prix in 1962 and always got to and from the races with the help of some friendly support, thanks to his friends, rivals, mechanics and journalists. “It was all great experiences and you know you’re stronger when you succeed like that” admits Joel who spent two seasons as a privateer, learning his new trade. Thanks to his good results in the 1963 season CZ, the Czech manufacturer, offered him a factory contract. With his new bike underneath him Joel didn’t wait long to celebrate his first win and after a stunning series of successful GPs he claimed his first title in 1964 to become the first Belgian World Champion since René Baeten in 1958. The following seasons weren’t as successful for Robert, who missed out on several titles due to injuries, mechanical failures and mistakes.

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However, Joel never lost his self confidence and finally beat Torsten Hallman in the last GP of 1968 in Austria to clinch his second World title, then in 1969 he found a new rival in his way in the shape of Sylvain Geboers who he eventually got the better of. Geboers moved to Suzuki at the end of that season only to have his former team mate make the move to join him a few months later and so it was that once more the two Belgians battled for the title until the last GP, where Robert took the top honours to cap of a hugely successful period where he won 5


JOEL ROBERT Text: P. Haudiquert.

Motocross World Championship titles in a row. The last of his titles as well as his 50th Grand Prix win came in the 1972 season and they were to be his last taste of the top step as he was past the zenith of his career and retired from the sport a few years later. “I probably didn’t stop in time, as after my last title I had some physical trouble. It’s true that I never really worked on my physical condition as for me training on my bike was enough to win. I was always looking for the best lines, playing with my bike on the jumps, and even on the starting grid I was sometimes smoking a cigarette. That was my way of life and I

have no regrets” After his racing career ended he stayed involved in the sport; with his Moto club he organised trial races, a charity race – the youngster Cup in Jamioulx – and the “12 hours of la Chinelle” a famous endurance race, all the while taking care of the Belgian team at the Motocross of Nations. Now 70 years old Joel is just a fan of the sport and a regular visitor to the European Motocross events, enlivening the paddock with his legendary good humour.

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VINTAGE BIKES

Bengt Åberg’s

1969 Husqvarna 400 Cross

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B

engt Åberg entered the world on June 26 1944 in Sörbo, Hälsingland, Sweden but it wasn’t until he was 15 that the farmers’ son rode a bike for the very first time. However, his rise to stardom was a bit on the slow side and his first world championship points didn’t arrive until 1966 where he placed 12th overall in the 500cc class. Four years later, aged 25, he was world champion riding a Husqvarna 400 Cross and it’s this now iconic bike we are featuring this month in MXGP mag. As was always the case, the competition race bikes of this era were very much built on a trial and error basis, although by the late ‘60s things were starting to become a little more uniform as the quality of production bikes was getting a little better. Husqvarna had had world championship success in the premier class on three previous occasions in the hands of Bill Nilsson, who became Husqvarna’s first 500cc world champion in 1960, followed by Rolf Tibblin in 1962 and 1963 and by the time Bengt Åberg landed the title in 1969, you could say it was long overdue, especially since the only other podium placing came from Åke Jonsson one year before in 1968 with 3rd overall. The six-year itch However, before we even get to 1969, we need to cast our minds back a few years to the early ‘60’s. You see, in 1963 the FIM made the ruling that the 500cc class bikes had to be at least 351cc, but from Husqvarna’s perspective they didn’t have any confidence in its transmission for the 360cc they were running. The problem with the transmission was to do with the spacing between the two shafts as it was originally made for the Drombagen and Silverpilen, the 3-speed 175cc road bikes. To try to solve this problem Husqvarna incorporated the British-made BSA transmission, which wasn’t unheard of back

then. But when that turned out to be a failure, they were forced to suck it up and built a 360cc from its existing 250cc machine. It was hoped that there would be a couple of benefits; to field a bike that would meet the displacement rule with 250cc like power, but the 360 was still not as competitive as hoped, especially against the 360 CZ. A long stroke 416cc version was also tried, with Britain’s Vic Eastwood playing a major part in what was very much an experiment, although by the time the 400 was ready he had already left Husky. During the ‘66/’67 seasons the riders had complained about the 360’s lack of performance compared to the competition, saying the 360cc engine was underpowered and that the ‘bolttogether’ frame handled badly, so in 1968 money was finally allocated to change the crankcase casting and the space was made for a no-compromise 400cc cylinder, which was developed by engineer Tommy Malm. Whilst the Husky boffins were working methodically to get on top of the engine configuration, their 4-time 250cc world champion Torsten Hallman had been chipping away in the background developing a new frame and at the same time, in 1968 and after some 18 months of prototype development, a new welded one-piece frame was introduced, the benefits being it was longer, a little lower and more stable. Finally it looked as if Husqvarna was making significant progress. Other new parts included a new rear hub, Femsa ignition from Spain and a shorter front mudguard. There was also an improvement in the rear sprocket mount along with a new chain guide system and new style rear brake pedal, with material upgrades to the gearing for increased durability and reliability, new shaft, piston and rings. On the whole the Husqvarna 400 Cross was pretty much a standard bike pulled straight off the production line and there was certainly

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VINTAGE BIKES nothing in the way of Magnesium or Titanium parts. The front forks were made in-house by Husqvarna and the riders were not even offered the choice of different spring rates; if the forks bottomed out, the answer was to use thicker oil or opt for more preload! The rear shocks were the British-made Girling units, which came with just one damper setting, although someone like Åberg would have had the luxury of trying a stiffer spring straight off the Husky workshop shelf. Proper factory! The exhaust was also stock and ran along the left side of the bike. As with all Swedish and British bikes of that time, the gear lever was on the right with the brake pedal on the left. The kickstart was also on the left hand side. When it came to the rubber it was a case of whatever came with the bike but Åberg mostly favoured Barum, although with no official tyre contract in place he had the freedom to use what he thought was best suited at the time, given the circuit conditions. Most riders had to pay for tyres but some, like Åberg, were lucky enough to get them for free.

According to Husqvarna Factory rider Gunnar Lindstrom, ‘the ’69 400 Cross was the perfectly balanced bike; it always started on the first kick, well almost, it had a wonderful torque band, the right ratios, slippery foot pegs, (what were we thinking?) not much of a front brake, and needed extra water protection for wet races, but once you knew the maintenance quirks, it was dead reliable. The bike had a wonderful balance of weight, gear ratios, geometry and powerband. It definitely hit the sweet spot; 4-speeds with no alternative ratios to choose from. The shifting mechanism was a little odd, on the right side, down for low.’ Bengt Åberg doubled up on his world championship tally by winning again in 1970 with four more GP wins on what was pretty much the same bike he’d ridden to the 1969 500cc world crown, the only significant change being the introduction of the centre-float Bing carburetor; the reputation of the Husqvarna 400 Cross in motocross world championship history had been cemented.

Åberg had put Husqvarna back on the map with his two world titles and such was the popularity As for the engine, well, this underwent even of the 400 Cross it became an instant hit in more scrutiny; a major new design that saw The USA, so much that it was the bike that was five intake transfers instead of three helped famously featured in the Bruce Brown movie Husqvarna’s cause massively, although the bore ‘On Any Sunday’ in the hands of Steve McQueen and stroke measurement was 81.5mm x 76mm and Malcolm Smith in 1971. Maybe Husqvarna which actually meant it was a 396cc. After just a didn’t realise it at the time but the ’69 Husky 400 few months in development the ‘400’ was finally Cross became one of the most iconic bikes of a unleashed, and as soon as it left Tommy Malm’s generation and no doubt it had a massive impact dyno, it went down an absolute storm with Åberg on Husqvarna’s image and sales in the US going winning on it first time out at the opening 500cc into 1972. But that, as they say, is another story GP of 1969 at Sittendorf in Austria, but due to the for another day. bore and stroke, there were naysayers who were convinced it was a 405cc! No matter, that win was Åberg’s 3rd career victory and he went on to win three more GP’s during the season, the final win coming at the final round in the deep mud of Wohlen, Switzerland, to be crowned 500cc World Champion for the first time.

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BENGT ÅBERG 1969 HUSQVARNA 400 CROSS

*Special thanks to Gunnar Lindstrom, author of ‘Husqvarna Success’ for his invaluable information **Colour image of 400 Cross courtesy of Tom White •••Arne Kring and Bengt Åberg fighting for the lead at the 1970 Swedish GP at Vasteras, they finished 1-2 in the championship that year. The Husqvarna 400 Cross won 18 of 22 moto’s in the 500cc world championship that year

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HALL OF FAME

Akira Watanabe

Japanese Motocross Legend Attends MXGP 2014

J

apan was, arguably, responsible for the evolution of dirt bikes, almost to the point that if it wasn’t for Japan pushing the envelope, developing, creating mods and bolt-on bits, improving performance and increasing production numbers, we could all still be on air cooled twin shockers. Despite Japan’s massive role in the evolution of motocross machines, they have only produced a handful of FIM Motocross World Championship competitors and have only one FIM Motocross World Champion, Akira Watanabe. Back in 1978 Watanabe flew the flag for Japanese motocross when he took one of the first ever Suzuki RM 125’s to victory in the FIM Motocross World Championship. In doing so he not only wrote his name in the history books as the one and only Japanese FIM Motocross World Champion, he also was the only guy to throw a spanner in the works of nine-years of Belgian domination. Back in the late 1970’s, 1975 to be precise, the FIM Motocross World Championship introduced the 125cc class. Throughout the first decade of 125cc racing, three Belgians ruled the roost, namely Gaston Rahier, Harry Everts and Eric Geboers. Rahier won the first three of the FIM 125cc world titles, only to loose it in 1978 to the young Japanese phenomenon. The following year, Watanabe and Rahier lined up again and the Belgian had unfinished business with the Asian

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usurper. While Watanabe won that particular battle, finishing ahead of Gaston Rahier in the final standings, both stars lost the war to a name that would eventually take the motocross world by storm, Everts. Today, thirty-six years on from his and Japan’s one and only FIM Motocross World Title, Watanabe still pops up here and there at selected rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship and now with MXGP’s expansion into Asia, Mr. Watanabe San, a long time Suzuki rider, supporter and employee, jumped at the opportunity to join the pits and support crew of Rockstar Energy Suzuki World as they took on round two of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Si Racha, Thailand. MXGP Mag: First of all, welcome to the MXGP of Thailand! When was the last time you were at a World Championship race? Watanabe San: Um, last year I came to MXGP Thailand because it’s pretty close to Japan, so it’s easier. It is also a nice opportunity to be in the sun and warm weather because in Japan it’s still cold. MXGP Mag: Back in your glory days, would you have liked to race in Thailand? Watanabe San: Yeah, of course! If there was a Grand Prix in Thailand when I was a young guy, I would have been very interested. In my time, there was no Grand Prix of Japan, nor was there a Grand Prix in Asia, so I had to go to Europe and stay until the end of the season. It was a hard time but I did get to go to a lot of cool places in America and Europe, just not in Asia. Now I am


EDITORIAL

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AKIRA WATANABE

Action Photos: Pascal Haudiquert

HALL OF FAME

getting old and there is a race in Asia and that is awesome for the young guys. MXGP Mag: Really? What was so hard about it? Watanabe San: It was hard in Europe, without my family or friends and I couldn’t eat Japanese food. MXGP Mag: Do you still have a bike? Watanabe San: Yeah, if you go on my Facebook page, you can see how I ride. I am still riding a Suzuki RMZ450. MXGP Mag: Do you hope to see a round of MXGP in Japan in the near future? Watanabe San: Yeah, I really hope so. I think about six years ago, we had a GP there. It was great. It’s a shame we don’t have it anymore, but I think the Japanese Federation is talking about it again, that would be cool. MXGP Mag: What do you think about the bikes now?

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Watanabe San: They are very fast but I think in my time the machines were around ten kilos lighter, only there was not enough power. MXGP Mag: Do you know Kei Yamamoto the Gariboldi Honda rider? Watanabe San: Yeah, I have trained him since he was five years old. Two years ago he rode for my team, Suzuki Japan. Then it was my first year working on the team and he took the 250cc title. MXGP Mag: So you’re happy to see another Japanese rider back in MXGP action? Watanabe San: Yeah for sure. He has a good chance to improve this year. So I told him how he should ride this year; in the beginning he must go easy, not push too hard and crash, but just get better and better. Thanks Watanabe San, we hope to see you at more MXGP rounds in the future!


VINTAGE BIKES

Roger De Coster’s 1971 Factory FN71 Suzuki

Tech spec 1971 Factory Suzuki FN71 Capacity 362cc Gearbox 4 speed Bore / Stroke 80mm x 72mm Carburettor Mikuni 36 mm Ignition Nippon Denso (Points & Condensor) Rims D.I.D Tyres Dunlop Front 21 x 1.60 / Rear 18 x 2.15 Suspension KYB 36mm with 150mm travel. Rear travel was 75mm Weight 95 Kg Engine cases and hubs Magnesium Most bolts Titanium but they used a lot of Aluminum in places CZ was using steel.  Handlebars Suzuki Gas tank Suzuki aluminium hand-formed

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R

oger De Coster is without doubt one of the most iconic riders the world of motocross has ever seen; his dashingly handsome looks and effortless style on the bike won him an army of fans all over the world. He truly was a global superstar and if the truth were known, he still is to this day. Roger first started riding a bike aged 17 and like most riders of that era the bike of choice was European; in Roger’s case it was a CZ and while he was relatively successful with the Czech brand with three 500cc GP wins in consecutive years ’68,’69 and ’70, it wasn’t until he switched to Suzuki that his star status began to shine. In his debut season with Suzuki in 1971, the Belgian raced to the first of his five world motocross titles, and his RN71 Suzuki that took him there is our feature bike in MXGP Mag this month.

motocross and after sending home rider Matsuhisa Kojima from Osaka to the Belgian GP in 1966, they contracted Ole Petterson to race 250 GP’s in 1967 to help develop their bike further. In ‘69 Suzuki hired Joel Robert and Sylvain Geboers and a year later rewarded Suzuki with a one-two in the 1970 250 World Championship. The new brand on the block was an instant success, too, and when the time came to enter the 500cc class there was never any doubt as to who Suzuki felt was the man to chase the title; quite apt really as De Coster later became known as ‘The Man’. But how difficult a decision was it for De Coster to park the CZ in favour of the journey into the relative unknown, with a bike that was unproven?

‘At CZ things weren’t so clear; I was supposed to get a small financial help equal to about $5000.00. Well, I never saw any part of it! And many of the spare parts given to my Czech mechanic would be sold on the way to Belgium. This was not unusual Laying the foundations in the CZ days; Dave Bickers experienced the same For a rider so successful De Coster didn’t actually start riding and racing until he was 17 years old, his habits by his mechanic. CZ was behind the ‘Iron first bike paid for as a result of him working six days Curtain’ and this was a way for the mechanics to make ends meet!’ remembers De Coster. a week in a local bike shop whilst still in school. By 1964 the 19-year-old had already claimed the Belgian Junior 500cc title, winning the senior 500cc ‘So making the change wasn’t so difficult! After Joel Robert and Sylvain Geboers finished 1st and title two years later. His first season in the FIM 2nd I was told later that they (Suzuki) also tried to 500cc World Championship was in 1967 riding for contact me with a written letter but this never got CZ where he placed 5th overall and it wasn’t long before he would claim his first victory at the Italian to me until late the next season. Anyhow, late in 1970 I had an agreement to start racing the new GP at Gallarate in 1968. RN370 in the ‘71 500cc World Championship.’ The following two seasons saw the Belgian place 5th overall and if he was to advance further up In it to win it the world rankings, a brave and bold decision was Roger’s move to Suzuki may have been seen as needed. daring and a bit of a risk, especially as he was already a proven GP winner at CZ. For Suzuki, that’s After being the dominant force during the 1960’s why they hired him, and they had nothing to lose. CZ’s time in the spotlight was drawing to an end Roger on the other hand was in danger of facing as Suzuki entered the fray in the 250cc class after career suicide, even if he could see how serious taking road racing by storm. Suzuki was the first of Suzuki was about competing for world titles. the Japanese manufacturers to show an interest in

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VINTAGE BIKES There was no such thing as winter testing back in the ‘70’s, and certainly something of a far cry from how teams go about their racing today, but surely De Coster must have had a fair amount of time on the bike prior to the first GP of the season, right?

the European made ones. Also the ignition system was real good and not affected as much by the rain as the European ones of the time. Low-end response was really good for the time, better than the CZ although it didn’t have much top-end; it was necessary to shift early and at first it was a case ‘Suzuki sent me two bikes; a 250cc and a 370cc in of ‘here’s your bike Roger, good luck’ but as time early February with some parts. I picked them up went by we got to give some input. The first couple at Brussels airport and raced the first time in an of years there was no pre-season testing but Suzuki international event at Lummen in Belgium. They was really good at communicating my comments brought two new bikes to the first GP of the season to Japan after each race; we would go find the at Cingoli, Italy, and the first time I saw them nearest post office and would cable or send a was inside the Ford Transit on Friday night before Telex. There was no email or even fax at the time!’ the GP, travelling with my new mechanic Mino Harada, chassis designer Tamaki and translator As the lone rider in 1971 De Coster went on to Tommy Sakuragi.’ win five GP’s in his debut season with Suzuki in what was its first season in the 500cc world That weekend, Roger De Coster went on to win his championship and it was the start of a racing love first 500cc GP! Remarkable. Even more so was the affair that would last until 1979. During his time fact he maintained his form and went on to win the there the Belgian amassed five 500cc world titles title, although it obviously helps when you go into and 32 GP wins with the Japanese brand, 36 in the weekend knowing that you can win, right? total if you include his three victories with CZ and his one for Honda in 1980, his last ever GP. Part of ‘I can say that when I raced I always started the his and Suzuki’s success was down to wanting to race believing I had a chance to win, although early succeed, something that De Coster fondly recalls on I was probably fooling myself, but still I believed when asked if there was a particular story that it! But I was so happy; the Suzuki guys gave me a stood out from 1971, about a race or about a lot of increased trust and the manager at the time problem with the bike he had to ride with, with the Mr. Tamaki told me they trusted that we were team or mechanics or other riders: ready to win all races! I was a bit surprised but it felt good.’ ‘A continuous difference in attitude from the Japanese compared to the European factory staff But how different was the factory Suzuki compared was that if your bike broke and you got back to to the CZ he had been racing previously? First the paddock; if you broke the frame or bent the impressions are made to last and the Suzuki forks; the euro factory guy would say ‘you are certainly left more than a good impression on De stupid, why did you jump that, or why did you land Coster. The bike was about as full factory as you front wheel first in case you broke the hub? The could get and everything about it was different; Japanese would ask how it happened and with every bolt, every single part was all hand made. tears in his eyes would go find the nearest post But that wasn’t all, as Roger remembers: office and let them know at home and someone would design a counter measure part.’ ‘Well, for a start the FN71 weighed in around 8kg lighter than the CZ, which was one thing, but the engine would run real clean from low rpm; the 36mm Mikuni carburettor was much better than

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ROGER DE COSTER’S 1971 FACTORY FN71 SUZUKI

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HALL OF FAME

André Malherbe,

a lord of Motocross

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hree times a World Champion in the prestigious 500cc class, André Malherbe will forever be an icon of Motocross. One of, if not the top rider in the 80’s aboard his factory 500 Honda, André was not only a top racer but he was also a true star. Racing with white riding gear, living in Monaco and coming to the races in flash cars, Sabine his beautiful and elegant companion, Andre ‘Hollywood’ Malherbe had it all, but his brilliant career stopped suddenly at the end of 1986 as he made the move to car racing. Later a horrific accident during the Dakar rally let him paralysed from the neck down. Born on the 28th of March 56 in Huy, where his father owned a garage, Andre was always near engines when he was young as his father raced Motocross. He was only six years old when he had his first opportunity to try his first little bike and four years later his father prepared him a 110 Honda. On that bike he did his first local races and started to enjoy the sport so that when he turned twelve he got his first real Motocross bike, a 50 Zundapp. 125 Junior amateur champion in 1969, he switched to a 250 CZ to get his other

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titles in the amateur ranks (senior 250 in 1970 and intermediate 250 in 1971) and later in the national series (Belgium Junior champion in 72). With results like that to his name the call of a factory ride came to the talented Belgian and with Zundapp he lined up to compete in the brand new 125cc European championship. Claiming two consecutive titles in that class, André moved to the 125cc World Championship with Zundapp but didn’t have so much success as in 1975 he broke his wrist in the middle of the season. He moved on in 1976 and signed with the Belgian KTM importer to compete in the 250cc class, where he got his first GP win in one year later in Germany, and finished third in the series behind Russian teammates Moiseev and Kavinov. KTM pushed him into the 500cc class for the next season and Andre battled for fourth position in the championship but had a couple of DNFs and finished the year sixth in the series. Impressed by the suave young talent, Honda offered him a ride in the factory team alongside Graham Noyce. Moving into such a major team team that raced in the premier was the real start of the Malherbe legend as Andre wrote along with HRC the best


EDITORIAL

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ANDRÉ MALHERBE

Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

HALL OF FAME 1972 250cc Belgium Junior Championship – 1st (CZ) 1973 125 cc Motocross European Championship – 1st (Zundapp) 1974 125 cc Motocross European Championship – 1st (Zundapp) 1975 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 7th (Zundapp) 1976 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 14th (KTM) 1977 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (KTM) 1978 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 6th (KTM) 1979 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Honda) 1980 500 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Honda) 1981 500 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Honda) 1982 500 cc Motocross World Championship - 5th (Honda) 1983500 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Honda) 1984 500 cc Motocross World Championship - 1st (Honda) 1985500 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Honda) 1986500 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Honda)

pages of his career. Winner of the final GP in Luxemburg and third in his first year in red just one point behind Wolsink, Andre was ready to win and entered the 1980 campaign with a win in Switzerland; it was a fantastic season as he came to the final round just one point ahead of Brad Lackey! From that he became World Champion for the first time after an epic race but André had to wait the final round of the 1981 season to beat Noyce and Carlqvist to get his second crown. The disaster of a broken leg, sustained during the US GP, ruined his year in 1982 so he had to wait until the following year to challenge for the title again. Then he came to the final round embroiled in a struggle with Carlqvist but even though he won his ninth GP in St Anthonis, Carlqvist got the title and André had to wait one more year to claim a third crown. “I had two young and fast team mates as Honda had hired David Thorpe and Eric Geboers, but that was not a problem for me. They were good riders, but I had more experience and was strong mentally; Eric was more aggressive than I but

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sometimes lost a bit of control, David was not 100 per cent aggressive but was there all the time and never did any mistakes,” remembers André who finally beat both his team mates to secure what would be his third and last title. Twice runner up in the series in 1985 and 86, André surprised many people when he announced that he was moving to car racing at the end of the 86 season. Racing the French formula 3 series, he was approached later by French Yamaha boss Jean Claude Olivier to race the Paris Dakar in January of 1988. It was his last race, as he had an unfortunate crash and was left paralysed, a dark ending to a bright career. Always calm and relaxed before the races, he has stayed strong in his new challenge and continues to enjoy his changed life with the support of his devoted friend Jean Claude Laquaye who took on the full time responsibility for André’s wellbeing.


VINTAGE BIKES

Sten Lundin’s

1959 World Championship winning Monark

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ten Lundin burst onto the motocross scene in 1957, the very year that the 500cc championship was upgraded from European status to the FIM Motocross World Championship and he would eventually come to be known as one of the most consistent riders on the circuit during his eight year career, never finishing outside the top three for eight consecutive seasons, culminating in two world titles. His 1959 championship-winning Monark took him to his first title and it’s this bike that we are featuring this month in MXGP Magazine. The Monark business was set up and run by The Warborn brothers, although originally their plan was to create these special bikes for promotional purposes only, and despite dealing in the business of sporting goods such as bicycles and lightweight motorcycles, they never intended to develop and market a 500cc motocross machine. Originally the Monark started life as a repainted BSA in disguise, but in 1955 Lennart Warborn ordered two new lightweight frames and special engines from Gunnar Hagstrom, who worked for Endfors and Sons, where coincidentally a young Nils Hedlund also worked. Initially the frames proved to be something of a structural disaster but were soon very successfully redesigned and remade in-house from then on by Ove Lundell, a Monark factory racer himself. Towards the end of the late 1950’s Monark became the first Swedish motorcycle manufacturer to throw itself ‘into the ring’ in the ever increasing and popular world of grand prix motocross, and so rare and so special was this project that it was claimed that only a handful of Monark race bikes made it to factory ‘production’ in order to go racing, meaning they were as factory as you were ever going to get. In fact, the amount of bikes built is still unknown; some say five were built and others say that it

was nine. Either way, these motorcycles were extremely rare, so rare in fact that they were never produced for the public. Sten Lundin was the recipient of such a bike and these bikes were so revolutionary that when Lundin signed to race for Monark in 1957 he was told he would get two bikes from the factory. But these were no ordinary machines and were completely hand-built, one-off pieces of machinery. However, little did Lundin realise but when it came to taking delivery of his bikes, only one was available to him at the time and it was a ‘hand-me-down’ year-old bike that had already been through the mill in the hands of a rider by the name of Allan Eklund, and was anything but the finished article; everything about it in Lundin’s eyes was wrong and was a source of constant problems. The wheels, the brakes, the gearbox and the engine were all problematic but he soon came to realise that no matter what the problem was, the technicians at the factory were more than willing to put in the man-hours to put it right. In fact, it was one of the things that Lundin was most impressed with, the willingness by everybody to produce a winning bike at all costs. It took two years of constant effort but by 1959 Lundin had completely transformed his steed and turned it into a world-beater, handing Monark its first and only 500cc world championship. The Monark was powered by the Swedishmade Albin M42 engine, which was a licensed version of a 1935 Husqvarna engine design by Folke Mannerstedt called the ‘112 TV’. The design was simple, reliable and very slim and to go racing was bored out to 490cc by Nils ‘Nisse’ Hedlund, a master engine builder and former road-racer. The engine itself was a work of art and came equipped with an alloy barrel and head, a chrome-plated cylinder and larger valves. The piston was from the German firm Kolbenschmidt. The bike produced around 27bhp and could rev out to 7000rpm, although

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VINTAGE BIKES tyre choice was left to the rider and was either Trelleborg or Dunlop as there were no formal contracts. However, no two bikes were the same, so it really was a case of trial and error but with Lundin at the ‘bars, who was widely considered by the factory to be a better rider than his team mates, things started to happen. As a person Sten Lundin was a gentleman in every sense of the word, always dependable and presentable and was very meticulous with his bike. Few riders from that era had what you would call a true mechanic and Sten, like all the other riders of that time, would do his own weekly routine maintenance. He was also a very quiet, unassuming man and often kept himself to himself, preferring to listen and not provoke.

those boundaries were rarely, if ever reached and while it might not have been as punchy as the Belgian-made FN machine, its delivery was much smoother and therefore easier to ride. The team had experimented with an AMAL GP road-race carburettor but despite it producing more horsepower, it was deemed too complicated to set up and dial in, producing less torque than the simple 32mm AMAL monobloc unit, made in England, so the team opted for the latter. The gearbox was a 4-speed British-made item by BSA while the British-built Norton forks and Girling Shocks kept the bike stable. Other British components that adorned the Monark included handlebars, levers, mudguards and cables. The wheels were German-made Pränafa items as they were deemed to have better brakes, but the rear wheel was often changed to a BSA rear wheel because of its strength and simplicity. When racing at the GP’s the

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On his way to claiming the FIM 500cc Motocross World Championship in 1959 Sten Lundin claimed four GP victories to take the title by eight points over Bill Nilsson. Monark’s history was shortlived when its Race Team Manager Lennart Varborn died unexpectedly in 1960 and the Swedish manufacturer was forced to take the decision to withdraw from the world championship, never to return as an official factory team. Lundin would finish 2nd overall that season on a bike very similar to his 1959 title-winning machine. As an official factory team Monark claimed twelve GP wins, with eleven of them in the hands of Lundin; Lars Gustafsson (1958) won the other. Ove Lundell also registered a win for Monark in 1963 but by then the factory team was no more.


STEN LUNDIN’S 1959 WINNING MONARK

Lundin and Monark’s GP record 1957 – 2 GP wins and 3rd in the 500cc world championship (Monark) 1958 – 2 GP wins and 3rd in the 500cc world championship (Monark) 1959 – 4 GP wins en-route to his first 500cc world championship (Monark) 1960 – 3 GP wins and 2nd overall in the 500cc world championship (Monark) Many thanks to the additional information provided by Gunnar Lindstrom and Nisse Wedin.

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HALL OF FAME

Dave Thorpe ,

the gentleman

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hree times 500cc World Champion in the most prestigious class aboard his factory HRC Honda, Dave Thorpe was one of the main stars of the 80’s and the best British representative in the history of our sport. Adding a fourth title in 2007 in the FIM Veterans Motocross World Championship and always involved in the UK as a team manager, Dave who turned 51 in September, remains as one

of the most contained heroes of our harsh and demanding sport. With his father Keith racing motocross, Dave spent a lot of time at motocross tracks when he was a kid, always waiting for someone to lift him onto his father’s bike for the trip back to the pits. He was five years old when one of his father’s friends built a 50cc Suzuki for him on which he experienced his first taste of success at the local club events. Later he won races and titles in the famous schoolboys series but unfortunately

1979 500cc British Championship under 18 – 1st (Kawasaki) 1980 500cc British Championship – 1st (Kawasaki) 1982 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 6th (Kawasaki) 1983 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 5th (Honda) 1984 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Honda) 1985 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Honda) 1986 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Honda) 1987 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 5th (Honda) 1988 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 3rd (Honda) 1989 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Honda) 1990 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 5th (Kawasaki) 1991 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 7th (Kawasaki) 1992 500 cc Motocross World Championship – 17th (Honda) 2007 Veterans Motocross World Championship – 1st (Honda)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME

wasn’t granted permission from the British Federation to enter the adult class before he turned sixteen. At the ripe age of sixteen-years-old, Alec Wright knocked on the door of the Thorpe family home which was located in close proximity to the Kawasaki UK headquarters. Wright, who at the time was the manager of Kawasaki UK, came forth with the offer for Dave to ride on the ‘Green Team’ on board a 420cc. With Dave’s love for riding the bigger 420cc bike he graciously accepted. Throughout Dave’s time on Kawasaki, the youngster went on to claim two British titles in succession, and also entered the FIM Motocross World Championship mid season which ended with a remarkable sixth place finish at the final round in Luxembourg a mare three days after turning eighteen. Leading the reigning World Champion Andre Malherbe during most of the second race in the 1982 FIM Motocross World Championship season opener in Villars sous Ecot (France), Dave Thorpe known to his fans as ‘DT’, won races in Austria and Great Britain securing a long-term deal with Honda HRC alongside the champ Andre Malherbe. After spending two years in the ‘learning phase’ with Honda, Dave proved in the final stages of his 1984 campaign that he was ready to win.

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In 1985 Dave was stronger than ever taking the honours during the last three Grand Prix’ before approaching the final round of the series as a serious title contender against teammate Malherbe. With Dave being the successor that day he wrapped up his first ever FIM Motocross World Championship which he went on to defend in 1986 after an epic battle with Vromans, Geboers and Jobe. “In 85cc I really, really wanted this title. When things got tough, I had the ability to knuckle down and crack on. When I was getting close to André I’d think as I was going off to sleep “in 20 years time do you want to have any regrets?” The next day in training I’d push, push and push. I was lucky never to go to a championship decider and not emerge a winner. What really sticks in my mind is


DAVE THORPE Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

the ability to put pain behind me and still deliver the goods,” he reminisces.

of Paul Malin and Kurt Nicholl defeated the heavy favourites Team USA.

Unable to defend his titles in 1987 and 1988 due to injuries, Dave claimed his third title in 1989 and then moved to Kawasaki. Back on a green machine, Dave with a head full of dreams and heart full of ambitions hoped to claim yet another world title but failed to succeed and finally retired in 93 with his final season being on Cinti Honda.

Moving into management roles, Dave has gone on to manage Cat Honda, Buildbase CCM, which has recently change to Buildbase Honda, and has been working closely with Honda UK running his training school. To this day Dave still carries that same passion and enthusiasm for his sport “How many nice people have we been privileged to meet in our lifetime in this sport? Motocross brings people together in the right way” and with a statement like that, it shows.

After hanging up his boots, Dave has stayed involved in the sport reaching success as coach of Team Great Britain’s Motocross of Nations team. It was a memorable day that day in Roggenburg Switzerland when the British team

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VINTAGE BIKES

Heikki Mikkola’s 1977 Yamaha 500cc

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eikki Mikkola was and still is one of the true legends of our sport. Four world titles in two different classes, The Flying Finn was the first rider to win titles in two different categories and the first ever back-toback winner in different classes: 250cc world champion in 1976 and 500cc world champion in 1977, and it’s his 1977 500cc Yamaha that we will feature in this month’s MXGP Magazine. Heikki Mikkola’s racing career was split between racing Husqvarna and Yamaha, with just the last three years being spent with the Japanese marque, and in the eleven years he spent as a GP rider, only in his first season in 1969 he was placed outside of the top five finishing fourteenth. His first title came with Husqvarna in 1974 as a 500cc rider and he followed up in 1976 in the 250cc class for the same team, but when Yamaha came knocking, it was an opportunity he grabbed with both hands. There were many obstacles for him to overcome; he’d never raced a Japanese bike before and so the way the team worked was also very different to what he’d been used to. The overall feel of the bike was also very different but with his own hard working spirit and determination, he got his head down and did everything he could to make things happen. It wasn’t until December 1976 that he was able to ride the bike for the first time, riding every day for two whole weeks over the Christmas period in order to get to grips with his new machine.

looking for any information about this bike, it is very hard to come by, mainly because this was a time when the manufacturers were starting to take things more seriously in terms of factory development, and this Yamaha came right at the beginning of that period, and usually when the season was over, the factory bikes were destroyed in case they fell into the wrong hands where important information could be garnered.

An FIM rule meant that no more Titanium parts were allowed like in the days of Jeff Smith’s BSA for instance, but the frame was specially Everything about it was factory. The engine made and suspension was taking a different displacement like so many ‘500’s’ of that era direction as well; you only need to see the 1973 wasn’t the true capacity and when asked Yamaha of Håkan Andersson, Yamaha’s first whether he knew exactly, all he would say was ‘I ever word champion in the 250cc class riding the think it was more like 450cc, something like that.’ revolutionary Monoshock, to see that. In actual fact, it’s not surprising Mikkola couldn’t be precise about this detail, because if you try What was interesting here was that most of the

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VINTAGE BIKES development seemed to be done on the smaller capacity bikes before it ever reached the 500cc class and whilst he was running the Monoshock, he was still riding an air-cooled bike instead of the new water-cooled system that came standard on the production 1977 Yamaha 250cc. Imagine that; a production being ‘more factory’ than his factory 500cc? That wouldn’t happen today. His decision to move to Yamaha was not so difficult as Mikkola recalls; ‘the factory between Husqvarna and Yamaha were little but different, and obviously the bikes were different, but with time spent testing everything was okay. I’d seen the bike in some places before but the first time I rode it was in Japan in December 1976 around Christmas time. We spent two weeks testing, riding every day. It was difficult to ride in the beginning but it was coming better and better every day. Eventually I had a bike exactly how I wanted and one that was capable of winning the world championship.’ When it came down to it, turns out he was right, winning almost 8 of the 12 GPs on offer and ‘that means bike is very good’. Roger De Coster won the opening round of the 1977 season in Austria at Sittendorf but Mikkola responded at round two taking the next five wins on the bounce, and with that kind of dominance Mikkola was crowned world champion at Namur before the season ended, with two rounds remaining. The bike may have been difficult to ride in late December 1976 but with his hard work and the dedication of his mechanics, Mikkola was able to get the bike exactly how he wanted it and whilst there was no real such thing as Factory suspension like we know it today, what he did have was the certainly the next best thing, and it was this that made all the difference. The man responsible for dialling it in was a Belgian by the

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name of Lucien Tilkens and it was he who was believed to be the man responsible for creating the Monoshock for Yamaha, pioneered by Håkan Andersson in 1973. The factory engine was very strong off the bottom and middle such was the way Mikkola rode; he liked to carry momentum, drifting for fun through the turns where his rivals were maybe more cautious. The gear box was 5-speed and the tryes he used ‘were mostly Pirelli’ but other important details such as form dimensions and carburettor brands and size of carb’ he couldn’t recall. ‘Maybe there was some Magnesium, but I don’t know exactly. It was 40 years ago now,’ was his response when quizzed about the bikes finite details. The swingarm was factory and ‘cornering was very good. There was no difference between riding in the sand or on the hard pack, the bike was very good on both, but personally I preferred the hard pack.’ Mikkola won the title again for Yamaha in 1978 but injury during the ’79 season left him fifth in the standings. He retired at the end of the ’79 season with his legacy intact but will forever be remembered as Yamaha’s first ever winner in the 500cc class, the first Yamaha back-to-back winner in the same class (1977 / 1978) and the first ever back-to-back world champion in two classes (1976 250cc, 1977 500cc). In total Mikkola won 32GP’s with 18 of those being won for Yamaha.


HEIKKI MIKKOLA 1977 YAMAHA 500CC

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HALL OF FAME The O’show;

Johnny O’Mara

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ohnny O’Mara is one of those riders whose name will forever be remembered. His silky smooth style and fluidity on the bike was second to none and when paired with his boy next-door look, blonde hair and blue eyes, O’Mara was the 1980’s poster boy of American motocross. Born and raised in Southern California, his upbringing was constantly focused around dirt bikes with his father being a keen desert rider, so it was only natural Johnny would be inclined to swing his leg over one. While joyous family outings on motorcycles were great it didn’t feed Johnny’s hunger for success and at the age of ten the eager beaver began dabbling in local the motocross scene. Lining up next to the nearest milk crate, a petiteframed Johnny O’Mara would climb aboard his 100cc motorcycle in an effort to bring home some amateur race glory. Although the road up to and through the amateur ranks wasn’t easy, Johnny had one quality a lot of other motocross talents didn’t have – a fierce work ethic. The saying “Hard work will beat talent when

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talent doesn’t work hard” is one that Johnny swears by. “I am definitely one that would say with physical training you can never do enough. I believe your body is the only thing that can make you win. They say it’s a lot about the motorcycle, but I don’t agree, I say its more about your body because if you have a weak body you are not going to be able to ride fast on a motorcycle. It’s a combination but it starts with your body.” In the 1980’s, Johnny O became that guy all kids aspire to be, he signed a deal with the dominant force of Factory Honda and was officially living the dream. While most Americans remember him for rolling out dressed in white motocross gear and making it look effortlessly cool, or his famous ‘boot gatorz’, the kids across the Atlantic, in Europe, remember him as a key player on America’s first ever victorious Motocross of Nations team. “My first trip to Europe was in 1981 for the Motocross des Nations in Lommel, a track that will be in my head forever. It was really gnarly; we had never seen sand like that, just like everybody still says. You can think you’re a sand rider but until you really ride Lommel in race conditions, you can’t say.” In the years that followed Johnny’s first taste of international success he went on to win the Motocross of Nations a further three in more


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HALL OF FAME

times in ’81, ’82 and ’84 to rack up a record of four Motocross of Nations victories with the pinnacle of his career being his victory on the team named as America’s ‘Dream Team’ featuring David Bailey, Ricky Johnson and himself, at the 1986 FIM Motocross of Nations in Maggiora, Italy. “I am fortunate enough to say that I was always on a winning team or had a winning performance at the Motocross of Nations, so doing that as an athlete you are always happy and that’s the finish deal when you can win.” After a storming eleven years as a pro motocross rider Johnny accumulated 16 AMA national wins of which 7 were onboard a 125cc in the AMA outdoors and a further 7 in supercross with the final 2 deriving from his days on the bigger, more lethal 250cc. In the 1990’s, Johnny hung up his boots for good, shifting his commitment to another form or racing. With a passion for endurance training in his heart all those years of pounding the pavement or grinding out hours upon hours on a bicycle served Johnny well, “Since I was already cross training a lot, like I was a runner but then my knees got a little bit hammered so I started cycling, I was already doing quite a bit of endurance sports, so when I retired I literally just put my motorcycle aside and just started focusing on riding my bicycle, like I was instantly

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competitive in mountain biking because of my fitness from motocross. In 1991 I became a professional cross-country mountain bike racer, because I was still young enough to do it then. I raced from 1991 – 1996 on the highest level in mountain biking, I even travelled to Europe a little bit to race but then after that I got to the age where I just started doing age group stuff and that’s what I am currently doing now. I have been 6 times the national champ, like for me it replaced what these guys, in motocross do, like I am still competitive and I have always been into the physical fitness side of things and this way it keeps me in good shape and all of that.” Amongst his achievements after retirement as a motocross rider, Johnny played a key role in the


JOHNNY O’MARA

success of the man named as America’s ‘GOAT’, Greatest Of All Time, Ricky Carmichael. “I met Ricky when he was a teen-ager, I was just retired from racing and it was kind of interesting like we just kind of gravitated to each other. He knew about my career and we just kind of clicked right away and I met his parents and somehow they just couldn’t get enough information from me, they liked me and they trusted me. Our relationship grew and I became his mentor that was something special, they didn’t let a lot of people in, so I was that single person for him. I built his training programs and just prepared him for the national stuff, at the time he was about 1.5 years away from going pro. I worked with him on everything from A – Z, even down to the set up of his bikes. He already had the speed; he

was a natural and naturally a winner. I have been there pretty much his entire career, which has been great.” Since guiding Ricky throughout his phenomenal racing career, Johnny has gone on to mentor a few more up and comers with one of the freshest faces on MXGP’s scene being one of them. CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s young American Thomas Covington spent a couple of years under the wing of Johnny O, “Thomas Covington has been my job for a couple of years, I’ve been trying to prep him for what he is doing today. Although my gut told me he should race in the US, that was our plan, but as you can see that has changed a little now. I think there was a part of me that wanted to see him at least get

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Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

HALL OF FAME

JOHNNY O’MARA

on the starting line at the US nationals, but things change and he had an opportunity to come over here and race and he felt like this was his spot to be and I can’t really influence his feelings on that, all I could do was try to prepare him as best I could for professional racing. I will always support him, he knows my work ethic and still does some of the stuff I taught him already like with his physical training, his cycling and endurance stuff, so I’m not worried about him too much, I am sure he is still doing the stuff I have taught him already and he will be alright.” Although Johnny wanted to see his latest prodigy shine in America before venturing off to Europe he did say “The tracks here look good, at one point I used to think US tracks were rougher but I want to change my ideas on that because I have seen them here that they are just left rough. I also hear it from the guys here when they come in. I understand

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that they leave them rough because when they are super smooth it doesn’t allow the most technical guys to win.” These days, when he’s not out cycling, Johnny dedicates most of his time to his family “I’ve got my kids at home a 7 year old boy and a 10 year old girl, and my wife, so I don’t like to be away too much but if it’s for the right reason, you never know I am happy to do some quick trips. Like I have heard that in two years the Motocross of Nations will be back in Maggiora. I would really love to be apart of that, that would be awesome!” It’s safe to say that Johnny will have an invite to the 2016 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations which will take place in Maggiora, Italy, a perfect 30 years after the 1986 edition at the very track where he took the world by storm.


VINTAGE BIKES

André Malherbe’s 1980 Honda CR500

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n 1979 Great Britain’s Graham Noyce became the first rider to win a motocross world championship for the now powerful Japanese manufacturer Honda, by winning the 500cc world championship. In 1980, his teammate André Malherbe of Belgium claimed the same crown and became part of an era dominated by HRC where Honda lost the world championship just TWICE from 1979 – 1992.

up 9 GP wins in the premier class. Things were looking good.

Reaching those dizzying heights wasn’t always easy and for this issue of MXGP Magazine we will take a look at André Malherbe’s title winning Honda 500cc machine from 1980.

Like 1979 the 1980 was completely factory, despite its very production-like appearance. The bike was air cooled and was still blessed with a formidable amount of power. It was more than a handful to ride, and the only difference between the bikes of Noyce and Malherbe was the gearbox. The defending champion favoured a 4-speed, whereas Malherbe opted for the 5-speed and this was purely down to differing riding styles between the two riders.

With Graham Noyce winning the 500cc title in 1979 the bar at Honda had been well and truly raised. America’s Brad Lackey came ‘close’ to winning the title in 1978 but his deficit of 85 points was a ‘best of the rest’ shot at the crown. Until Lackey’s visit to the championship podium there hadn’t been too much in the way of success on the world scene for Honda, although like with all the Japanese brands at that time, they had entered the campaign during years of dominance by the European brands that were hell bent on producing 4-stroke machines.

However, Lackey left Honda at the end of 1978 leaving Noyce as the main man on the team and the rider who had experience with Honda having placed 7th in the same season. Part of the problem in 1978 was Honda’s reliability but after a solid winter Honda produced a bike capable of winning in the hands of Noyce. His new teammate Malherbe placed 3rd overall.

Noyce was a hard charger and a bit of a late braker who chose to wind open the throttle and drift his way through the turns. Malherbe on the other hand entered the turns a bit slower, held a tighter line, rolled on the throttle and short-shifted his way on the way out in a much more controlled manner, so where hard-packed Times had changed though and from 1971 the circuits like Sittendorf in Austria proved difficult Japanese were on top with Suzuki leading the for Noyce to ride, Malherbe thrived on them way with Roger DeCoster’s 1971 title sparking due to the nature of his riding style. Tyres also the riot, and from 1971-1978 the new 2-stroke played a part in the success and for the most machinery claimed the 500cc title every year but part Honda ran Pirelli, but because there was one, in 1974. Yamaha had taken two back-tono official trye contract in place at that time, back titles in 1977-’78 and Honda wanted a piece the team had the option to run whatever was of the action. best for the conditions, meaning Dunlop or Bridgestone for the harder conditions and the Honda’s first GP win belonged to Pierre Pirelli Sandcross everywhere else. The wheel Karsmakers in 1975, with Lackey adding one sizes were 21” front and 18” rear. more in 1977 followed by his three GP wins in 1978 on his way to 2nd overall. Malherbe and Initially, the Honda was not blessed with great Noyce added 4 more in 1979, two apiece, so by handling but there were some improvements the time 1980 rolled around, Honda had notched to the suspension by the turn of the 80’s. The

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VINTAGE BIKES conventional Showa forks were top notch but the Twin Shock Showa units had to be shelved as neither rider could get on with them, despite repeated attempts at trying to get them to work. In the end Noyce favoured White Power shocks whilst Malherbe ran Öhlins units and the combination of front and rear was exceptional. The rear tracked well and the overall stability meant that attacking jumps was less risky. Another reason for the improved handling was down to the introduction of a steeper steering angle in 1979 and by making it steeper enabled the bike to turn that bit sharper. However, according to Heikki Pentilla, Malherbe’s mechanic the rear end handling was a constant problem: ‘1980 was the last year of the Twin Shock for Honda before they introduced the Pro-Link in 1981, because Yamaha already had the MonoLink and Kawasaki had the Uni-Trak system, so I think this was the main reason why I think Honda fell back a little bit there, maybe because they were developing the Pro-Link. It wasn’t ready for 1980 and by then the Twin Shock was a little bit outdated already.’ With Honda being relative newcomers to the world championship at that time, both Malherbe and Noyce’s bikes arrived exactly the same from the factory. There was no mapping and the refinement and attention to detail came down to the two individuals themselves, hence the differing opinions over the gearbox, and from that side there was no need to ‘test’ each other’s bikes to see if one was better in some way than the other. According to Heikki Pentilla the two riders were like chalk and cheese when it came to setting up their machines: ‘I would say that Malherbe was a lot more sensitive for the settings and also in testing. Graham was much more rough, he didn’t really care and wait until everything was good enough

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for him, he was happy with whatever he had and just rode strong, but André needed to feel that everything was perfect, also in how the bike looked, how the stickers were on the bike and how clean it was. He was a perfectionist. His suspension setting was also a little bit softer than Graham’s because of his riding style.’ The 1980 Honda threw out a lot of power; the complete engine was made from Magnesium and so too were the crankcases and Keihin carburettor; but was it a 500? As with all things factory it’s difficult to know for sure, but the chances are that it wasn’t, although according to Pentilla and Noyce it was probably as close to 500cc as it could have been, maybe around 495cc which would have made sense since a production Honda at that time was rumoured to have been 480cc. There’s no doubt about it that Graham Noyce’s victory in 1979 was the catalyst for Honda to remain interested in racing GP’s at the highest level, and this was cemented further by Malherbe’s victory in 1980. When Malherbe won again the following season, it was three-in-a-row for Honda, motocross was gaining popularity, people were buying production bikes like never before, more money was made available for R&D and in many ways helped to create the perfect platform to push motocross and the development of the sport to another level. André Malherbe went on to win three world titles 1980, 1981 and 1984 and won twentyseven grand prix victories for Honda.

*Thanks to Graham Noyce and Heikki Pentilla, Malherbe’s mechanic from 1981-1984 who had first-hand knowledge of the 1980 CR500 from winter testing at the end of the 1980 season.


ANDRÉ MALHERBE ‘S 1980 HONDA CR500

Tech Spec 1980 CR500 Honda Frame Factory Swingarm Factory Engine Magnesium Crankcases Magnesium Carburettor Keihin Magnesium Spark plugs Champion Lubricants Bel-Ray Front forks Showa Rear Shocks Öhlins Chain D.I.D Tryes Mainly Pirelli

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HALL OF FAME the other Finn

Pekka Vehkonen In the history of World Motocross only two Finnish riders have won more than one Motocross world title. Heikki Mikkola was the first and had the greatest impact but a few years after his retirement another young Finn put his name forever on the FIM history books: Pekka Vehkonen. Born in May 1964 in Vantaa, close to the former GP track and not so far from Hyvinkää, Pekka Vehkonen started his racing life in 1977 following in the steps of Heikki Mikkola who that same year claimed his second 500cc World title. With his uncle Kalevi, a former GP rider with a 4th position in the 250cc World Championship in 1972 as his best ever placing, it was only natural that Pekka would have an interest in this sport and it was on a 25cc Montesa trials bike at

the age of seven that he got his first off-road experience. But he had to wait a few more years to do his first real race in 1977, going on to claim his first Finnish title two years later. He had a taste of GP’s during the 1981 Finnish Grand Prix in Salo; not many people paid any attention to this young kid, the Finnish 125cc champion, who didn’t score a single point, but fourteen months later everyone knew the name of Pekka Vehkonen as the Finn got a strong second position behind Eric Geboers in the opening round of the 1982 World Championship! Later he went on to claim his first ever heat win in Germany and then his first GP win in Sweden, Pekka was a Yamaha hopeful but as the Japanese brand stopped its investment in Motocross he signed with the Italian factory Cagiva for the

1982 125 cc Motocross World Championship - 15th (Yamaha) 1983 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 4th (Yamaha) 1984 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 14th (Cagiva) 1985 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 1st (Cagiva) 1986 125 cc Motocross World Championship – 4th (Cagiva) 1987 250 cc Motocross World Championship - 2nd (Cagiva) 1988 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Cagiva) 1989 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Yamaha) 1990 250 cc Motocross World Championship – 2nd (Yamaha) 1991 250 cc Motocross World Championship - 6th (Yamaha) 1992 250 cc Motocross World Championship - 15th (Yamaha)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME next few seasons. His first year with Cagiva started pretty well with a couple of podiums, but Pekka broke his leg during the season and missed several GPs to finish just fourteenth in the standings. The 1985 season was to be his best ever and he served up, along with Dutch Dave Strijbos, one of the most exciting seasons in the history of the 125cc series. Heading into the last GPs in Argentina and Brazil with barely anything between them in the standings, they fought until the last minute of the last race as Pekka beat the Dutchman by nine points to become the second, and unfortunately the last, Finnish World champion. Strijbos also moved to Cagiva in 1986 and went of to bring another title to the Italian brand, while Pekka scored a fourth overall and decided to join the 250cc class. He twice finished runner up in that series, missing a bit of consistency to be able to truly fight with Geboers and Van Den Berk. Back on a Yamaha again for 1989 he got two runner up spots behind Jean Michelle Bayle and Alessandro Puzar to head into retirement with one gold and four silver FIM medals. Always very quiet in his day to day life, Pekka was another man when he put his helmet and jumped on his bike. “In fact I was never so good and so motivated when I entered a practice session, but when the gate dropped I always gave 110% to get the best possible result. I know that many people talked about my riding style but I don’t know why I should ride as the other riders. I have my own style, get good results and don’t want to change anything,” he said in 1989. He personally had to put a lot in to launch his international career, he lived in a caravan with his mechanic for the first few seasons, but Pekka had a successful career and now shares his time between Monaco, Belgium and Finland. When we met him during the last GP in Finland in front of us it was the same fit, happy and smiling man that we had always known.

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PEKKA VEHKONEN

Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

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VINTAGE BIKES

Joël Robert’s

1964 CZ 250

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J

oël Robert is not just one of the most famous riders of his generation, but one of the most famous riders in motocross history, period! As a six-time world champion his record number of championship wins stood for thirty-one years before it was broken by fellow Belgian, Stefan Everts in 2003 when the now record breaker and most successful racer in GP history with ten world titles, claimed his seventh world crown. Robert’s first world title win came in 1964 riding a 250cc CZ, and it’s this bike that we will feature in this month’s issue of MXGP Magazine. From the moment Joël Robert entered the world in 1943 his speedway riding father knew that his new born child would be riding motorcycles in some way, shape or form. By the age of seven he was bombing around on his own bike, a Gillet 125cc without a care in the world, paying little or no attention to the flak that he got from his neighbours. By 1960 he was competing at European Championship level and whilst he never placed inside the top three overall, he was very quickly making his mark.

GP winning bikes were put into production for sale to the general-public which meant they were able to buy the first ever ‘out of the crate’ factory bike in order to go racing. Until then, the CZ was deemed as a bike that was reliable, yet unexciting! The twist Now, Joël Robert was not a factory rider in 1964 and the CZ he rode in the world championship that year was provided by the Belgian CZ importer and what happened next was simply quite stunning. Out of the twelve GPs raced over the season, Robert won four on his production / out of the crate / factory bikes and at 20 years old became the youngest ever world champion at that time.

In one of his much later interviews he stated that, at that time there was not a lot of difference between the production bikes and factory bikes, other than the exception of Husqvarna and BSA, and that the bikes were only improved slightly over production. How slight are we talking though? After all, his bike was a not just a factory replica of the 1963 GP winning machine but a real McCoy! In standard trim the catalogue stated a return of 26bhp whereas Robert’s was rumoured to punch out When the 250cc European Championship was a staggering 27bhp! Other than that, there was granted FIM World Championship status in not a lot of difference. So, given his future results 1962 Husqvarna were the dominant force, with you would have to say that it wasn’t just the bike Torsten Hallman winning the first two world titles alone that elevated him but his dedication to in the new division. However, in 1963, the Czech hard work and commitment as well. branded CZ had three riders placing 2nd and 3rd and 4th. Vlastimil Valek (2nd), Igor Grigoriev The goods (3rd) and Karel Pilar (4th) were CZ Factory riders The engine itself was a single cylinder 2-stroke who had been developing the 250cc, an exercise with a twist, boasting twin exhaust ports from the single cylinder as opposed to the usual single that started in 1960. By 1962, the CZ 250cc was port. Whilst this was pretty unique to CZ, it considered fast enough to be a winner at world level, although that first GP win was still elusive. wasn’t entirely new to the bike in 1964, having been tirelessly tested since 1960. In 1963 CZ recorded five 250cc GP wins with The bike came with twin chrome header-pipes Valek taking four to Pilar’s one and such was which exited the air-cooled cylinder, splitting the the delight at the factory, exact models of these

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VINTAGE BIKES frame’s front downtube. There were still no rules regarding silencer’s or noise control either so it sounded loud and proud.

1964 CZ 250cc – known as Model 968

Magnesium was used for the drum brakes, wheel hubs and engine cases to help keep the weight down. All of this sounds very, very swanky and utterly factory, doesn’t it? You’re right, it does, except for the fact that CZ then decided to lower the tone somewhat by opting to run ‘fixed bars’ as footpegs, which usually offered up little or no grip to the rider, and while we are at it, let’s pull them up on the brake and clutch lever pertches that were welded directly to the handlebar! That’s right, you heard correctly. Welded! Better not crash then! It also came equipped with a 4-speed gearbox. So-good was the bike that CZ had five riders placed inside the top ten in the 1964 250cc World Championship. It may have lacked that track-side appeal or ‘wow factor’ but boy, it was reliable, as the results proved.

Engine: 2-Stroke, single cylinder, air-cooled

Prolific Joël Robert’s career had many defining moments: when he became the third ever 250cc world champion he also became the youngest ever (at the time) at 20 years-old, the first to win five world titles in a row and the first rider to win six titles – a record that stood for 31 years. He was the first rider to hit the milestone of winning FIFTY GP’s, eventually equalled by Stefan Everts in 2001 and bettered by Everts in 2002.

Width: 850mm

In 1964 Robert recorded eight GP wins and a total of thirty-two for CZ as well as three world titles. When he switched to Suzuki in 1970, the Belgian may have taken another three titles, BUT he only recorded eighteen GP victories. This means that his most dominant time in the FIM Motocross World Championship was during his time at CZ between 1964 and 1969 where he totally dominated, and it all started with the 1964 CZ 250cc machine right here.

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Tech Spec Ignition: Magneto flywheel 6V Gearbox: 4-speed Bore and Stroke: 70mm x 64mm Capacity: 246.2cc Compression Ratio: 10.5:1 Output: 26bhp @ 5990rpm Front fork travel: 170mm Rear suspension travel: 86mm Wheels: 21” front / 18” rear Fuel Capacity: 8 litres Length: 2060mm Height: 1100mm Wheelbase: 1380mm Ground clearance: 235mm Dry Weight: 97kg


JOËL ROBERT 1964 CZ 250

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HALL OF FAME Mr Motocross

Torsten Hallman

W

hen Torsten Hallman was born on 17 October 1939 in Uppsala, Sweden nobody could have guessed that the rider eventually known as Mr Motocross would become the first real legend of motocross around the World. Four FIM 250cc motocross World championships to his name, 37 Grand Prix victories (36 in the 250c class and a single 500cc GP win in Payerne, Switzerland in 1967) and known as the first man to head to American to help improve the sport there. He was the owner of THOR clothing back in the 1970’s, long before brands like FOX, JT, or MSR gear were on the market, and he was one of the first major signings for the Husqvarna factory, a brand he would stay with most of his career. While fellow Swedish riders Bill Nilsson, and Sten Lundin had won a couple of World 500cc championships each it was the arrival of Hallman that attracted a lot of attention with his good looks and professional attitude. “Those men were my big heroes. Riding those big four stroke machines and fighting so hard for success. I learnt a lot from watching them and they inspired me to always improve as a rider myself. Of course also Joel Robert, who was my biggest competition, he also gave me a lot of good moments in my career.”

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Hallman’s big break came in 1957 when he won a major junior team race riding a Husqvarna. It was then that Bror Jauren, manager of Husqvarna’s racing team, gave Hallman the chance to become a factory-supported rider. The tall blonde was the first official FIM 250cc World motocross champion in 1962 and won the title again in 1963. This young man that brought a lot of charm and character to the GP series. Of course his battles with Belgian great Joel Robert probably best described his motocross career. Robert the big strong Belgian who was known for his wild personality and well known likeness for a beer, and Hallman the super fit and determined Swede. It was two men with very different characters, but both had a strong desire to be a motocross world champion. The two won a total of 10 FIM motocross World championships between them, and from 1962 until 1972 won all but one of the World titles in the 250cc class. Amazingly during the early-1960s, Hallman was a full-time university student and a full-time racer. In 1965, his senior year in college, the workload became heavy and Hallman had to back off on his racing and training schedule, yet he still managed to finish fourth in the world championships that year. Hallman made his first trip to America in 1966 at the behest of Edison Dye to help introduce the sport of motocross to America and to


EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME help promote Husqvarna. Hallman’s method of introduction was to enter scrambles and other off-road events throughout the fall and dominate like no other rider had done before. One race in particular gave Hallman a great deal of notoriety – the Hopetown GP held in near Simi Valley, California, which was then the foremost motocross-style scrambles race in America. Hallman would add 250cc World titles to his name in 1966 and 1967 although Joel Roberts put together 250cc World titles in 1968, 69, 70, 71 and 72 as Hallman slowly dropped out of contention in those years, finally disappearing from the Grand Prix scene all together. Hallman’s visit helped spur Husqvarna sales, so he was invited back the following season with other world championship and Swedish Husqvarna riders. “That was basically the birth of the Inter-Am Series. It was the series that made motocross so popular in America and I was very proud to be part of it. For many of the Grand Prix riders who visited America for the first time it was a great experience, and one that made me realize that there could also be possibilities for starting my business interests with THOR and really learn a lot. Some really enjoyable moments and ones I will never forget.” A back injury slowed Hallman by the end of the 1960s. His results suffered and Husqvarna dropped him from the factory squad. The fledgling Yamaha motocross effort quickly picked up Hallman and the factory made the most of the world champion’s knowledge. With Hallman’s input, Yamaha developed its championship-winning YZ series of motocross bikes, the first production motocross machines to utilize mono-shock rear suspension. Besides being a world champion racer, Hallman proved to be a world-class businessman, as well. He became a Husqvarna

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dealer in Sweden and as previously mentioned began the now famous THOR brand. In 2013 Hallman was invited to the end of season FIM awards for his huge success in the sport of motocross. It was a special moment for Hallman as the invitation came 50 years after he had won his first ever 250cc title. “It was a big honour for me to be at that awards, I had been to many, but that was maybe 46 years ago. I also had the honour of giving Ryan Villopoto his award as he was my favourite rider (and also rode in THOR gear all his career). It’s nice to be remembered for your accomplishments and to meet some of the current motocross heroes.”


TORSEN HALLMAN Text: Geoff Meyer Photos: Torsten

The FIM motocross World championships are still something that interests Hallman and he is occasionally seen at the Grand Prix races. We were fortunate enough to see him at the Grand Prix of Thailand in 2013 where he was visiting after a trip in Thailand to help friend Kent Ohlin open a new race shop and play some golf. “I still love to watch the Grand Prix races. I missed many years because I was so busy with my business interests, but I had two heart attacks and decided to spend more time enjoy life and less working. The FIM motocross World championship is a great series, and riders like Antonio Cairoli are really very nice to watch. I try to get to some races still, and

the professional attitude of the series now is very impressive. It will always be in my blood. I was in Thailand for the opening of the new Ohlins shop and play some golf, and couldn’t miss the Grand Prix.” Torsten Hallman will always be the sports first big legend, a rider who not only won on the track, but also off it. His business smarts and sensible attitude made him the champion he was, but it also made sure that after motocross he could create even more success and financial gain. A true hero and an inspiration to many of the riders who followed in his path.

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VINTAGE BIKES

Torsten Hallman’s 1962 HUSQVARNA 250CC

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F

or those who are relatively new to the sport of motocross it’s highly likely that you have never heard the name Torsten Hallman, but you would have seen part of his legacy every time you enter a practice facility or a racetrack anywhere in the world. Hallman is a 4-time FIM motocross world champion, the first ever in the old 250cc class now known as MXGP! When he stopped racing he set up Hallman Racing, which later became known as Torsten Hallman Original Race wear, or THOR to you and I. But that is not what defines the man known as Mr. Motocross, instead it’s his four world titles, all won on Husqvarna motorcycles that does, the first of which was won in 1962 and it’s this iconic machine that we will feature this month in MXGP Magazine. One Man Brand What makes Torsten Hallman unique is that when you trace his history, one thing stands out more than anything else, and that is he was a ‘one brand’ man. He only raced Husqvarna and his association with them as a factory rider spanned an incredible 14 years. Hallman grew up on a farm near Uppsala, north of Stockholm, and his first riding experience came when he kicked off across the fields on his brother’s bike at 13 years old and from there the young Swede had the bug. Three years later he was competing on his own bike in the Swedish championship, on the iconic 3-speed Husqvarna Silverpilen (Silver Arrow) and was already turning heads. As a result, Husky Team Manager Bror Jauren wasted no time in offering the young Swede a ride on a prototype 250cc factory bike, which at the time was still a 3-speed. Unlike the 500cc class which had already become categorised as a world championship

series, the 250cc class was still just a European series, and the three years that Hallman spent competing at that level saw him improve year on year from 9th in 1959, to 7th in 1960 and 4th in 1961. The following season the European 250cc class was given world championship status and chief engineer Ruben Helmin realised that the stakes were raised and it would be difficult to compete riding a 3-speed engine. The 175cc Silverpilen had sold well since 1955 but by 1961 had reached the end of its shelf life. Thus, the powers that be at Husqvarna were facing budget cuts and the racing division was one of the areas that was about to be squeezed, meaning its racing effort would have been compromised. After realising this, Hallman decided to race a Greeves as a one-off in a Swedish race in order to keep his options open, and had it not been for the intervention of that man Ruben Helmin, history might have taken another course. Helmin hailed from the engineering department at Husqvarna and his plan was to create 100, 4-speed motocross machines in order to sell them to prominent racers which in turn would help generate much needed funds and Husqvarna PR in order to go racing. After much prodding and cajoling, Helmin finally got the nod to build a prototype 4-speed engine and when he ran his idea past Hallman, telling him that he wanted him on board, Torsten agreed to stay with Husqvarna. Whilst Helmin thought his idea was a good one, it was still met with concern by part of the Husky board due to the downturn in moped sales. So, Helmin decided he should use surplus Silverpilen parts to help get the project underway but with every new chapter there is always bound to be a set back.

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VINTAGE BIKES New Era The 2-stroke 1962 250 Husqvarna came equipped with the new engine and 4-speed gearbox along with significant gains in power. It had twin exhausts but the suspension proved to be something of a real headache for the technicians. A lightweight telescopic fork with acceptable travel did not exist, so the factory built their own leading link, using the same Girling shock absorber as used in the rear, which originally came from British road bikes. Travel up front was about 125mm and rear was about 100mm. Hallman didn’t like the leading link front fork so he personally went out and bought a set of British-made Norton Roadholder forks that gave him the handling he liked. These were the lightest telescopic forks he could find with the required travel. The original Silverpilen hubs were light and strong although brakes were somewhat of an afterthought, especially up front. They were re-laced with wider and stronger Dunlop rims and fitted with Dunlop tyres; 18 inches at the rear and with an option of either 18 or 21 inches at the front. Hallman chose the 21-inch wheel and stayed with it throughout. One advantage the engine had over its competitors was that it was developed originally for the 3-speed transmission and therefore had a wider power band, which was carried over to the 4-speed version. Another was that development engineer Tommy Malm took great pain to make sure that the engine could run for a long time at full power without seizing or overheating, something their rival competitors could not do based on Husqvarna’s in-house comparison dyno data. A constant weakness was the Bosch flywheel magneto, of Silverpilen origins. The mounting taper to the crankshaft was too weak and

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required constant maintenance. Another carryover was the front sprocket mounting on a small taper (instead of splines) on the outgoing shaft. It was insufficient for the power the 250 produced. It would often slip and spin under power and weld itself to the shaft, requiring an angle grinder to get it off. At the first few races of the 1962 season Hallman’s bike wasn’t quite the success he and his team had hoped for, mostly due to a stubborn gearbox. Other than requiring precise right-foot shifting, the problem was that the gear ratios were compromised due to close shaft spacing brought about because of the nature of the Silverpilen castings, and a very rudimentary shifting mechanism, but once this problem was solved the bike proved to be (something of) a winning machine. Vibration was kept to a minimum and was very easy to ride. Over the course of the season, Hallman amassed a total of 7 GP wins, but what was impressive was that from the last six GP’s Hallman took five wins and one second place to be crowned the first ever 250cc world champion. He went on to claim 37 GP wins and 4 world titles, all on Husqvarna and all in the 250cc class.

*Special thanks to Gunnar Lindstrom, author of ‘Husqvarna Success’ for his invaluable information


TORSTEN HALLMAN’S 1962 HUSQVARNA 250CC

Tech Spec 1962 Husqvarna 250cc Engine: 2-stroke Gearbox: 4-speed with shifter on the right Capacity: 250cc Twin exhaust pipes Magneto: Bosch Forks: Norton Roadholder telescopic Rear suspension: Girling Wheels: Dunlop Hubs: Husqvarna / Silverpilen Tyres: Dunlop Rear 18” Front 21”

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HALL OF FAME

Jeff Emig,

the talented kid

P

erhaps the best ever Finnish Motocross rider, Heikki Mikkola was one of the greatest riders of the seventies and a great example for young riders today. Born on July 6th 1945 not far from the Grand Prix track at Hyvinkää, he started racing Motocross comparatively late as his first race came at the age of 19. Ten years later he would go on to claim the first title of his career, beating the legendary Roger De Coster to the 1974 500cc World Championship. With four US Motocross and Supercross titles to his name and being an integral part of the American team at the Motocross of Nations for seven years, including four wins, Jeff Emig

was truly one of the main US super stars of the 1990’s!

Born on December 1st 1970, Jeff Emig grew up in a racing family driven by the aspirations of his father Gary, who soon got him riding his first motocross bike. A member of the legendary Team Green Kawasaki effort, Jeff was one of the most talented kids from the Midwest and when he was seventeen he turned Pro with a bang, leading the majority of his first race at Washougal! It was 1991 when Jeff got his first overall podium in a series, after a great battle with Jeremy McGrath who would turn out to be his main rival during his career. Jeff won four Supercross races in the West coast series, and finished runner to McGrath just three points

1992 125 AMA National Motocross Champion (Yamaha) 1996 250 AMA National Motocross Champion (Kawasaki) 1997 250 AMA Supercross Champion (Kawasaki) 1997 250 AMA National Motocross Champion (Kawasaki) Member of the US winning team at the Motocross of Nations in 1992, 1993 and 1996 Member of the US team at the Motocross of Nations in 1994 (2nd), 1995 (2nd) and 1997 (8th) Winner of 36 AMA races in his career (29 in Motocross and 7 in Supercross)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME shy of the title! Jeff was already a great Supercross talent but he was even stronger when it came to the outdoors and that’s where he collected his first National title in 1992. It was also that year that he discovered the Motocross of Nations, dominating the 125cc class and helping team USA to clinch its 12th consecutive win! For the next year it was time for a change and he moved onto the blue colours of Yamaha. This time in Supercross he had an epic battle with Mike Larocco and at the mid point of the season he found himself more than 60 points behind his rival before recovering for an epic showdown as he clinched the title at the last race of the season. Emig had been racing the main 250cc class in Supercross but would stay in the 125cc class for the outdoor series for two more seasons; narrowly missing the title in 1993 by nine points, but again being a member of the winning Team USA at the Motocross of Nations. For 1994 he had to deal with injuries before taking the full time step up to the 250cc class. In that first full season in the 250cc class he proved it was the right choice to race the bigger bike outdoors as well, as he finished both the Supercross and the outdoor series on the podium. With a third overall in Supercross and the runner up spot in the outdoors he was once more the main rival to Jeremy McGrath, but the Californian racer always loomed large over Emig’s own racing successes. Moving back to Kawasaki in 1996, Jeff struggled at the beginning of the season but finally stopped the winning streak of McGrath in St Louis. He finished second in the SX series to McGrath, but Jeff ruled the outdoors to clinch his second US title in the open air and also claimed his third win at the Motocross of Nations. That success meant he was a renewed rider at the start of the 1997 Supercross season where he went on to win both the Supercross and Motocross titles to assert himself as the

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best rider in the world, and coupled with his charisma and attitude Jeff was also one of the most popular athletes around. Then it started to get more difficult. The US team only scored a disappointing eighth position at the 1997 MXoN after sixteen consecutive podiums – including fourteen wins – and in 1998 Jeff was unable to defend his titles in America; scoring only one top five result during the first part of the SX season he ended the winter racing with an injury. Motocross was little better and the best he could muster was fifth position. The last real highpoint in his career was at the US Open in 1999, where, just a few weeks after leaving Team Kawasaki to build his own private team


JEFF EMIG Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

on a Yamaha, he got an unexpected win and scooped the $100.000 winners prize! Shortly afterwards there started a series of bad injuries that effectively stopped his racing career; first he broke both wrists while training in the winter at the end of 1999, and later in 2000 once he had recovered he had another big crash and broke both his legs and his back in a practice session. It was too much for Jeff, who stopped racing a few days before turning thirty. For some riders it’s impossible to leave the racing world behind and Jeff is one of them. After spending some down time enjoying his retirement, Emig, with the help and support of long time friends and sponsors, came

to realise he needed a focus in his life and turned his attention to television, becoming a highly respected commentator for the American series. Now he has started to spread to Europe, joining Paul Malin in the booth at the 2014 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. At the race in Latvia he was honoured for his achievements and commitment to the sport with a ‘Lifetime career award’ but that may be premature as Jeff is still striving even now to better himself and as a TV journalist he has the same enthusiasm and passion for racing that he has always had. If he had one wish for the future it would be that team USA would win again, preferably before the MXoN returns to the USA in 2017!

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VINTAGE BIKES

Guennady Moisseev’s

1977 MC250cc KTM

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G

uennady Moisseev hailed from Russia and in motocross circles was possibly one of the gnarliest dudes out there. As a member of the Russian Army he was fit as well as fearless and during his time racing the FIM Motocross World Championship he reached the pinnacle of the sport on three occasions, winning the 250cc world championship in 1974, 1977 and 1978. Each title was won riding a KTM and it’s his 1977 MC250 KTM that we will feature in this issue of MXGP Magazine. Born in 1948 Guennady Moisseev entered his first race in 1964 aged 16 years old and three years later entered his first ever world championship race. The following year, 1967, he was the Russian 250cc national champion. In short, he was a fast learner. The world championship though was a different nut to crack altogether and from 1967 – 1972 he placed 15th overall on three occasions and 10th twice, riding a CZ. However, in 1973 he started the year on a CZ and finished it out on a KTM. He might have placed 11th overall, but he did win his first GP riding a KTM at Maribor in the country formerly known as Yugoslavia. That win boosted his confidence somewhat and the following year he was world champion for the first time. Had he not switched to KTM when he did, maybe the history books would look a little different today. 1977 was arguably his best period though and the MC250 that he raced was virtually hand made. It was a true factory bike. KTM’s team manager and chief engine tuner was Sigi Stulberger and he worked closely with both Moisseev and his teammate Vladimir Kavinov. Moisseev’s mechanic was Hans Bader, a man who was instrumental in the first KTM tests with Kavinov from the end of 1972.

Working with the Russian riders at that time was quite difficult as you can imagine, not least because of the language barrier. Neither rider nor mechanic spoke fluently in each other’s language and despite broken German and Russian being used, the need for a Russian translator was always a necessity, certainly at the races. The 1977 MC250 was something special back in its heyday and each bike was tailored to suit the individual rider, and according to Hans Bader, every frame was hand made with Moisseev’s frame and bike marginally bigger than Kavinov’s. ‘Moisseev was the tallest of the two riders so his frame was bigger; I adapted the frames to suit the respective rider. The seat height and the footrest position was also higher. The swingarm was handmade but it was neither longer nor

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VINTAGE BIKES

Tech spec

shorter than the production one, just lighter and the only special materials used on the bike were 1977 MC250 KTM the screws which were Titanium. The engine was of course factory and we used a 38mm Bing Engline: Single cylinder 2-stroke carburettor instead of the 37mm which came Capacity: 250cc standard. We also used a Motoplat ignition from Spain, and all our exhaust pipes were handmade. Frame: Handmade factory item to suit the individual rider Moisseev preferred his engine to be much Gearbox: 6 speed stronger on the top.’ Ignition: Motoplat The difference in power output was immense, Carburettor: Bing 38mm the factory MC250 KTM pushed out around Power: 44-45 bhp 44/45 bhp compared to the standard offering of 36/37 bhp. The bike was suspended front Seat: Higher to suit Moisseev and rear with Marzocchi forks and ÖHLINS rear Footrest: Higher position to suit Moisseev shocks, and as was the norm at the time, the kick starter was on the left hand side. The riding Front forks: Marzocchi styles of the two riders couldn’t have been Rear shocks: ÖHLINS more opposite, with Vladimir Kavinov being the Wheel size: Front 21” / rear 18” more technical rider as opposed to the forceful Moisseev, but despite this, the MC250 KTM Swingarm: Handmade, lighter, production spec finished every single race that season. Along with lifting the title for the second time, the 1977 season was the most successful in Moisseev’s career winning six GP’s along the way. From KTM’s standpoint, the Austrian brand took a total of nine GP victories that year, with Vladimir Kavinov taking two and André Malherbe taking the other in addition to Moisseev’s. The year also finished out as a KTM 1-2-3, something that has only happened twice since for KTM: 2005 in MX3, the old 500cc category and 2013 in MX2. That makes the 1977 season the most remarkable, given the fact that KTM were the first ever manufacturer to take the first three podium places in any wold championship category. Guennady Moisseev won a total of 14 grand prix victories for KTM with six of them being won in 1977.

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GUENNADY MOISSEEV’S 1977 MC250CC KTM

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HALL OF FAME

Jean Michel Bayle

the precursor

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here is little doubt that he had spent his entire career racing off-road, Jean Michel Bayle would have one of the all time best Motocross World Championship scorecards. Yet the Frenchman, a double FIM World Champion and a three time AMA champion, was never one to rest on his laurels and constantly chose the

toughest path to search out new challenges for his remarkable skills. As soon as he felt his job was done in Europe, he crossed the Atlantic to win in the USA, when that goal was chalked off the list he took the unprecedented step into road racing where he rode factory bikes for some of the legendary teams in the sport. There are not many riders that have jumped successfully from off road to asphalt, or

1982: French 80cc Minivert Champion 1986: 4th in the 125cc French Motocross Championship 987: 3rd in the 125cc FIM MX World Championship French 125cc Motocross Champion, French 250cc Supercross Champion 1988: 125cc FIM MX World Champion, French 125cc MX Champion, French 250cc SX Champion 1989: 250cc FIM Motocross World Champion 1990: 2nd in the AMA 250cc Supercross Championship 1991: AMA 250cc SX Champion, AMA 250cc MX Champion, AMA 500cc MX Champion 1992: 3rd in the AMA 250cc Supercross Championship 1993: 22nd in the FIM 250cc Road Race World Championship 1994: 8th in the FIM 250cc Road Race World Championship 1995: 15th in the FIM 250cc Road Race World Championship 1996: 9th in the FIM 500cc Road Race World Championship 1997: 18th in the FIM 500cc Road Race World Championship 2000: Winner of the 8th hours of Estoril, Endurance World Championship 2002: Winner of the Bol d’Or and winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans, Endurance World Championship 2003: Winner of the Bol d’Or and 2nd at the 24 hours of Le Mans, Endurance World Championship

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME indeed moved in the opposite direction, and none with the success of the enigmatic Frenchman. Perhaps it was his innate feel on the bike, a feel that helped him to win both the 125cc and 250cc Motocross World Championship titles and both Supercross and AMA 250cc and 500cc national titles in one year in 1991, or his desire to innovate in his riding that meant he could make the move to the tarmac with more success than riders who had grown up on the asphalt. Pole position in the both 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix classes and a sting of top 10 finishes aboard the fire breathing 500cc machines of the 1990s in nothing to sniff at and it means that he still draws a crowd in both the MXGP and road race paddocks today. Born the 1st of April 1969, Jean Michel Bayle got his first bike when he turned four, in spite of the fact that nobody in his family was a motorcycle fan. 6 years later he jumped onto a motocross bike but he hurt his knee after ten minutes and had to keep it in a plaster cast for six weeks, hardly a star studded start. However, the young rider was never one to back away from a challenge and two years later he was rewarded with his first French title and impressed everyone as he won 24 heats of that years Minivert Series! On his 80 KX he continued to display great potential in the 1984 campaign as he beat all comers in the Kawasaki Trophy even though his rivals were mainly racing on 125cc machines! Always fully dedicated to his passion Jean Michel never missed an opportunity to watch videos or read magazines about the generations American riders and events, until in 1985, for the first time in his career, he raced against American riders in the famous Paris Bercy Supercross, and it was then that he knew that his future would eventually take him across the pond to the USA.

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Coming to the 125cc GP’s in 1986, he only needed three seasons to get the world title; 24th in 1986 and 3rd in 1987, and the winner of the 1988 title over Dave Strijbos in the last GP of the campaign he beat the might of the Duthcman and the Cagiva factory on his privately run Honda. In 1987 he had his first taste of America as he raced the Motocross of Nations at Unadilla as a part of the French team. Fourteen months later, he was back to train in the US and it was then that he started building his future with the help of former 250cc World Champion Danny Laporte and Pro Circuit’s owner Mitch Payton. Riding


JEAN MICHEL BAYLE

a Pro Circuit Honda he collected his first Supercross podium in Miami, a second place behind Rick Johnson, and later claimed a fantastic win in Gainesville for the opening round of the 250cc Motocross series. That was as far as he went that year as he had the challenge of the 250cc World Championship class to take care of. He returned to Europe but missed the first GP of the season as he broke his arm while practicing. It wasn’t enough to stop him claiming his second world title for Honda before he upped sticks and moved to the US with the full support of Roger De Coster, then the off road manager of American Honda. He maintained the pattern that he had established in Grand Prix of one full year to learn and the second

to win. With just a handful of supercross races to his name in 1989 to test the water, he was back full time for 1990 where he finished runner up and the following year he won the Supercross title. That 1991 season was a truly incredible year as Bayle became the first and only rider to ever claim three crowns as he added both the 250cc motocross title and the 500cc motocross title to his tally. He could of and perhaps should have had a long and profitable career in the US, but JMB had other plans and during the 1992 season he convinced Honda and some of his long term partners to give him a chance to move into road racing. When he raced

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Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

HALL OF FAME

JEAN MICHEL BAYLE

the French 250cc GP at Magny Cours he proved his determination for his new challenge and the decision was made to move permanently to road racing for the 1993 campaign. Bayle spent 3 seasons in the 250cc class – with an 8th position in the 94 series on a factory Aprilia his best result – before he moved to the 500cc class with Yamaha and the legendary Kenny Roberts run factory team. A stunning pole position at the Czech Grand Prix was the highlight of both the year and possibly his road race career as 1996 would prove to be his best season. In 1997 he followed Roberts into the unknown as the team took on the radical technical challenge of a 3 cylinder machine, and though the bike had potential it was fragile and rarely completed a full race distance. Improvements came in 1998 but a heavy concussion after a high-speed crash took the wind out of Bayle’s sails and effectively

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ended his GP career. The final chapter of his racing life came in the incredibly tough and mentally demanding scene of endurance race where he had marked success, winning the two most prestigious races of the series the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Bol d’Or. After coming to a few MXGPs in the last two seasons, Bayle will be following the entire series in 2015 and he remains a shining example for many people. It’s always surprising to see young kids waiting for an autograph of a rider who stopped racing more than ten years ago. And yet to this day whenever he jumps it’s easy to see why he remains an idol of many, with that silky smooth riding style that so effortlessly mastered the toughest challenges of the sport.


VINTAGE BIKES

Gaston Rahier’s

Suzuki RA75

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I

t’s not very often that we take the time to look back on the history of this wonderful sport of motocross, but when we do it’s filled with a lifelong mixture of emotions. We remember a multitude of things, such as our first bike, our first visit to a racetrack, our first ride, first race, first crash and maybe even our first GP visit. If we are even luckier then we can add first race won, first title, first EMX or GP ridden and who knows, maybe even first GP victory or world title won. However, there aren’t many people that can lay claim to having become the first person to do something for the first time and in the case of Gaston Rahier, he will always be known as the sport’s first ever 125cc world champion. So, this month we decided to check out his first ever title-winning machine, the Suzuki RA75. In 1975 the FIM had given the 125cc class world championship status but unlike the 500cc and 250cc categories there was never a preceding European championship series; it was a case of jumping straight in, and whoever the winner was come the end of the season would be forever regarded as the first ever 125cc world champion. At the same time, Suzuki was starting to become the dominant force in world motocross having racked up six world titles in four years, with Joel Robert winning the first ever title for Suzuki in 1970 in the 250cc class. Robert and Roger De Coster did the 250/500 double-double in 1971 and 1972 with De Coster winning again in 1973. With no titles in 1974 there was a bit of pressure to get back to winning ways and no doubt all eyes were on the new offering from Suzuki with its eighth-litre machine in particular. The standard Suzuki was the RM125 with the factory version being known as the RA75; the ‘RA’ told us it was the factory bike whilst the ‘75’ determined the year. The RA75 first hit the track as a test bike in Japan during the summer

of 1974 and it was Rahier who was on it from the word go. By the time the bike reached the first GP in 1975 it was clear it was more than ready for action and from the very first lap of the first 125cc grand prix at Cognac in France, it was clear that Suzuki was the team to beat. Rahier started the season in dominant fashion, winning the first five GP’s of the year; he missed out on the win at round six to fellow Belgian Gilbert De Roover, but Rahier was back to winning ways at the next two rounds in West Germany and Czechoslovakia. In short, it was a dream start for Rahier and Suzuki, winning seven of the first eight GP’s. Rahier’s teammate Akira Watanabe took the win at the penultimate round, whilst his teammate and the new world champion Rahier sealed his title with a win at the final GP at Orp Le Grand in Belgium with his eighth victory of the year. Rahier had won the first ever 125cc world championship with eight GP victories with Suzuki winning nine out of the twelve GP’s that were up for grabs. Very impressive indeed. And in case you’re wondering, Roger De Coster won the 500cc world championship for Suzuki in 1975 as well, which at the time made it eight titles in six years for Suzuki. In production form the RM125 Suzuki was measured at 123cc and threw out 23bhp and whilst there are no accurate figures to hand, you can assume that the Factory RA75 packed a few more ponies, and one of its strengths was its all-round power delivery; it was strong from the bottom to the top and quite possibly the strongest motor out there, and it sounded awesome. The carburettor was a Mikuni 30mm/32mm. The RA75 had a six-speed gearbox and the exhaust pipe was an in-house factory item by SMC. The bike itself was suspended by Kayaba units front and rear, with twin shocks at the back of course. The frame was a factory item but was the same for both Rahier and his

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VINTAGE BIKES teammate Akira Watanabe. Whilst the swingarm dimensions remained the same as standard, the factory version was a combination of aluminium and iron. The engine was made from a different material to standard but could utilise a standard piston, and it also came equipped with magnesium cases. Rims were Takasago with the front measuring 1.25 x 21” and the rear 1.85 x 18”. Sprockets were standard and chains were from D.I.D. Perhaps another overriding fact was the bike was light and strong and with Rahier standing at just 5’3” or 1.60 metres tall, the Belgian was like a modern day jockey which certainly would have helped in terms of power to weight ratio’s.

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Gaston Rahier won the next two 125cc world championships with Suzuki, so he not only became the first ever world champion in the class but also the first to win three in a row in the 125cc division. Incidentally, in doing so he became only the fourth rider in history to win three titles in a row after Paul Friedrichs in the 500cc class (1966, ’67, ’68), Joel Robert in the 250cc class (1968, ’69, ’70) and Roger De Coster in the 500cc class (1975, ’76, ’77). **With special thanks to Sylvain Geboers and Masaru Ikeda ‘Mr. Ikeda-San’ for their help with this feature


GASTON RAHIER’S SUZUKI RA75

Tech spec Engine: Single cylinder, 2-stroke, Air-cooled Engine capacity: 123cc Ignition: Nippon Denso Exhaust pipe: Factory, built in-house by SMC Frame: Factory Suspension: Kayaba Front, Kayaba twin shocks rear Carburettor: Mikuni 30mm / 32mm Cases: Magnesium Swingarm: Standard dimensions, made from Aluminium and iron Gearbox: 6-speed Wheels: Takasago – Front 1.25x21” / Rear 1.85x18” Sprockets: Standard Chains: D.I.D

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HALL OF FAME

Guennady Moisseev The leader of the ‘Red Army’

W

ay back in the 1970’s Motocross was one of the sports in which men from the former eastern block were highly successful, riders from Czechoslovakia or Russia brought a high level of determination to the sport with their first World Champion, the Russian Victor Arbekov, laying the ground work for the rest with his 1965 250cc

world title. He will always be recorded as the first to win but at the same time he will be remembered in the shadow of the most successful Russian racer, Guennady Moisseev, who’s three 250 World titles in 1974, 1977 and 1978 set him apart from all the others who came before and after. It was in the 1960s that Motorsport began is rise in popularity in Russia, shortly after the creation of the Auto and Moto sports departments in government. At a time when politics ruled the country it was decided

1969: 10th in the 250 World Championship (CZ) 1970: 15th in the 250 World Championship (CZ) 1971: 15th in the 250 World Championship (CZ) 1972: 11th in the 250 World Championship (CZ/KTM) 1973: 5th in the 250 World Championship (KTM) 1974: 250 World Champion (KTM) 1975: 12th in the 250 World Championship (KTM) 1976: 2nd in the 250 World Championship (KTM) 1977: 250 World Champion (KTM) 1978: 250 World Champion (KTM) 1979: 4th in the 250 World Championship (KTM) 1980: 16th in the 250 World Championship (CZ) 1981: 34th in the 250 World Championship (CZ) 1982: 37th in the 250 World Championship (KTM)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME that no bikes other than CZ or Jawa were allowed for the riders as relations between the East and West of Europe were minimal at best. However that was not much of a problem in the 1960s as CZ was one of the dominant brands in Motocross, claiming GP wins and World titles thanks to Belgian Joel Robert and East German Paul Friedrichs. Born in Leningrad on the 3rd of February 1948, Guennady Moisseev entered the World Championship in 1969 as a member of the official Russian team, which was in fact a military squad with an officer as the team manager. Moisseev was a strong and calm sportsman who learned a lot during his first GP attempts and used that knowledge to claim his first major title back at home with a Russian national crown in 1972. The GPs were not an immediate success for the Russian riders, who were bystanders in the 1968 war between their country and Czechoslovakia. A by-product was that the CZ machinery of the 1970s was no longer the best bike, and as Japanese and European factories made huge progress the Czech company struggled to develop their bikes. For Moisseev the turning point came mid 72, when bikes from the Russian team were stolen during the season; they were lucky to be able to race as a fledgling Austrian manufacturer by the name of KTM was able to provide them bikes. The representative of the Russian delegation lost his Communist party membership and his position in the team that day, but it was a major step for Moisseev in his career as he got a podium result; and from then on the Russian team used both KTM (for their best riders, Moisseev and famous team mate Kavinov) and CZ machinery. Moving up in the standings from 11th to 5th in the 1973 World Championship, Guennady Moisseev was to become one of the main protagonists of the 250 series the following season, coming to the last round of the series close to the Czech points leader Jaroslav Falta, ironically riding a CZ. Fate was not in charge that day however and it remains a sour memory in the history of the sport, as political interests and machinations took precedence over the sporting side to finally offer the world title to the Russian, who had around him a strong and dedicated team.

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An early injury early in 1975 saw Moisseev only get back to his best late in the season, winning one race in Finland and 1976 was hardly better and probably one of the toughest seasons for the Russian star. Rising the rank of Major in the army after his world title he battled with Finn Heikki Mikkola throughout the entire season and at that time only half of the results counted towards the final classification and formula that meant Guennady lost the title by one point even though he actually won more heats (8 for him and 7 for Heikki) including the last three of the campaign. Whatever the final points said Moisseev was back to his winning ways and he went on to dominate the next two seasons to become one of the most successful riders in the history of Motocross. 1978 will surely stay in fans memories as the


GUENNADY MOISSEEV Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

best ever season for Moisseev as he won his third world title and triumphed at the Motocross of Nations with the Russian team which included long time partner Vladimir Kavinov, Valery Korneev and Yury Khudyakov. The following season Moisseev could only finish fourth in the World Championship, with a solitary double win during the final GP in Bulgaria. It was the fourteenth and last GP win for the Russian, who also grabbed the overall victory at the Trophy of Nations (at this time there was the Motocross of Nations with 500 bikes, and the Trophy with 250 bikes, both events with four riders per team) in Vantaa, Finland, again with Kavinov, Korneev and Khudyakov.

Unfortunately in 1980 the Russian riders were forced by the government to return to racing on CZs as friction developed between the KTM factory and the Soviet cycling federation in 1979. “The interest in motocross was still there and the desire, but without new equipment or new parts for the old equipment there was nothing we could do. I won my last Grand Prix in 1979 in Bulgaria, but the trouble started right after that between KTM and the federation,” reminisced the Russian athlete who continued his racing career for a few more years. That 1980 season was to be his last full one in Grand Prix with wildcard appearances dotting the early 80s before his eventual retirement in 1986.

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VINTAGE BIKES

Pekka Vehkonen’s 1985 Cagiva WMX 125

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A

s a rider Pekka Vehkonen was as old school as they come, even in the modern era of the mid-eighties. He was hard, tough, a true warrior in every sense of the word. Above all else he was a fighter. In 1985, the Finn won the 125cc world championship on board an Italian Cagiva. From turning professional in 1982 it took him just three years to win the title and it’s his 1985 Cagiva that we will feature in this issue of MXGP Magazine. After winning his first GP in 1983 on a semi-factory Yamaha at Avesta in Sweden, Pekka Vehkonen caught the eye of Cagiva, who offered the Finn a full factory seat alongside Corrado Maddi in 1984. It was a no-brainer really as around the same time the Japanese manufacturers were pulling their factory support from the eighth-litre class, leaving Cagiva as the only true factory team in the 125cc class. That alone was enough to force Cagiva to up the development of their rocket-red 125cc race bike and throughout the 1984 season it would claim two GP wins in the hands of the Italian Maddii, who was unlucky not to win the title. At the final GP of the season, Maddii collided with fellow Italian Michele Fanton, who was making his GP debut, and the championship leader, who needed just a handful of points was the luckless recipient of a broken leg. The dream of becoming Italy’s first ever motocross world champion riding an Italian machine was over! Instead the title went to Michele Rinaldi and Suzuki. However, after the dust had settled the team knew that they had a potential title-winning weapon in the hands of both Maddii and Vehkonen. As far as Vehkonen’s machine though, the work started at the end of the 1984 season and the saying that ‘no two machines are alike’ was particularly true, as his mechanic Kari Silvasti points out: ‘We were already building things up at the end of ’84. The bike was already there but we changed a

lot of things before ’85 because really, the bike was made for Maddii in ’84 and him and Pekka had a completely different riding style. We had to change the bike quite a bit for ’85 because it was a very wide bike and Maddi was always sitting and Pekka most of the time was standing and it was way too wide, so we had to make it narrower, change the riding position, everything.’ The race team split its time between the factory headquarters in Varese, Italy, and the race workshop in Belgium, with all of the winter testing being done in Italy. This was particularly important because with Cagiva being a small manufacturer compared to the might of the Japanese brands, it meant that if any parts needed changing then it could all be done inhouse in an instant, in order to make the bike better, faster, more reliable for the season ahead. When testing was complete the team headed north to Belgium. As for the machine itself, it was a complete factory bike according to Silvasti: ‘Basically nothing was the same as standard. The geometry and steering angles were all different because we had to change the frame to make it narrower. It had a 6-speed gearbox, we ran a MOTOPLAT ignition from Spain. The cases were all Magnesium. The wheels were Excel and adorned with Magnesium hubs and Pirelli tyres. The clutch was produced in-house and the carburettor was a 36mm Dellorto unit. The piston was produced in Germany by MAHLE. The exhaust pipe was created in-house but recreated in Italy by one of the specialist exhaust pipe manufacturers, probably Messico. The front forks were 40mm Marzocchi conventional units and the rear was by ÖHLINS. The only standard item on the bike was probably the airbox.’ Whilst the bike was something of a rocket ship, the project didn’t come without its problems as Silvasti recalls: ‘At first we had Brembo brakes but in the rear it was still a drum brake. The front was so bad and not strong enough for Pekka, so we had to change to Nissin on the front. Now though, Brembo

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VINTAGE BIKES are really good but back then they were really poor because Pekka was very hard with his braking with the front brake so even in the sand it would boil. After a few Grand Prix, maybe even before the GP’s started, we changed the front brake to Nissin, which meant he had one less problem to worry about. ‘The 1985 season started well but then there was some hassle in the middle of the season. The front forks blew up a couple of times because of some problems with the seals, but the last three races we changed the forks from Marzocchi to Showa. The problem was because Pekka was so hard on the front brake, the damping system was not so good and when he braked the front would dive really bad and the seals would break. There was also one gearbox failure.’ Despite these issues though the bike was very, very fast and that was ‘probably the best thing about the Cagiva 125; it was strong off the bottom and went up through the rev range very nicely.’

TecH spec

Pekka went on to win the 125cc title ahead of Dave Strijbos and between himself and his teammate Maddii, Cagiva won six GP’s between them with both winning three times in the ’85 season. It’s funny to think that as a racer, Vehkonen was known for his hard charging style but as a person he was completely the opposite; you wouldn’t meet anybody more laid back than him. Even his mechanic Kari Silvasti would get frustrated sometimes, as he points out; ‘As a rider Pekka was easy to work with but sometimes frustrating. If his handlebars were in the right position then everything else was okay. We would spend many weeks and weeks testing his factory bike to get it to the best level, and then he would jump on his practice bike and make the same lap times. That’s how he was!’

Cases: Magnesium

Many thanks to Kari Silvasti for the additional information relating to this article.

Engine: 2-stroke, full factory Capacity: 125cc Piston: MAHLE Ignition: Motoplat Clutch: Factory, designed in-house Carburettor: Dellorto 36mm Exhaust: Factory, designed in-house Frame: Made narrower to suit Vehkonen’s riding style Suspension: ÖHLINS rear shock / Marzocchi Conventional 40mm forks / SHOWA forks Handlebars: Renthal Sprockets: Renthal Chain: Tusbaki Rims: Excel with Magnesium hubs Tyres: Pirelli

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PEKKA VEHKONEN 1985 CAGIVA WMX 125

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HALL OF FAME the first US superstar!

Ricky Johnson

M

any American riders have superstar status in the USA, following the footsteps of legendary Ricky Johnson. Winning many races and titles in the 80’s, Ricky was a hard worker and a fighter, but also a great showman who had fans all over the world. Racing mainly in the States and flying every year over the oceans to race the Motocross of Nations and the main supercross events, such as

Tokyo, Paris Bercy, etc., he became a worldwide superstar and remains twenty years later a legend. Born in El Cajon, California, as several of his main rivals, Ricky Johnson raced some of the best riders in American motocross and supercross history like Broc Glover, Jeff Ward, Mike Barnett, David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Ron Lechien and many more. That helped him to dominate the sport as some of his rivals did but with seven US titles, which includes two supercross crowns, four GP wins at the US Grand Prix and four Motocross of Nations success, ‘RJ’ remains one of the greatest US athletes.

1982 250 US Motocross Championship (2nd) 1984 250 US Motocross Champion 250 US Supercross Championship (3rd)

Member of the US Team winner at the Trophy of Nations (Varberg)

Member of the US Team winner at the Motocross of Nations (Vantaa) 1985 250 US Motocross Championship (3rd) 1986 250 US Motocross Champion (Honda) 250 US Supercross Champion 500 US Motocross Championship (2nd) Winner of the 500 US Motocross Grand Prix

Member of the US Team winner at the Motocross of Nations (Maggiora) 1987 500 US Motocross Champion 250 US Motocross Champion 250 US Supercross Championship (2nd) Winner of the 250 US Motocross Grand Prix

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME Ricky was only three years old when he got his first mini bike from his father and since that day he started a promising career. He received the support of Yamaha when he turned 16 and got his pro licence to compete in the 125cc AMA nationals. Racing against Barnett and O’Mara he ended the series with a heat win during the last round in Carlsbad. Moving into the 250cc class in 1982, Ricky was already one of the main guys in that competitive class fighting at 17 years old for the title with Glover and Hansen. Coming into the final round in contention for the title, he lost his chances when he jumped too high and too far on a jump shattering his wheel! It was Ricky, always fighting in every corner, on every jump, with this enthusiasm that the fans love! His riding style, but also his cool attitude, his devotion to the fans and his image developed by sponsors such as Fox Racing made him a superstar. Suffering a fractured hip in 1983, Ricky had to wait 1984 to claim his first title in the 250cc AMA Motocross Championship. That year he also took part at both the Trophy (250cc) and Motocross (500cc) of Nations, coming back home with two team’s world titles. But it was in 1986 when he joined team Honda and legendary manager Roger De Coster that his career reached a high, as he clinched the AMA supercross and 250cc motocross titles, missing the third one, 500cc motocross, by only six points! He also won that year his first US Grand Prix and another FIM Motocross of Nations. In 1987 he was one of the fastest US riders; he missed the supercross title due to some finger troubles but clinched the 250cc and 500cc motocross crowns, and a second FIM Motocross of Nations. 1988 was the peak of Ricky’s career with another supercross and motocross title, another US GP win and another Motocross of Nations triumph! Ricky had no break at that period, travelling worldwide during wintertime to race supercross all over the planet, winning other trophies and new fans every weekend.

races later that same season. He soldiered on for a few more seasons but the injury proved too debilitating. He announced his retirement at the beginning of the 1991 season. At the time of his retirement from motocross racing at age 26, he was the all-time leader in supercross victories.

Ricky was a racer and couldn’t stay home so he moved to off-road and stock car racing where he won many races, including the famous Baja 1000. He also founded the Torc series in 2009, won some other titles At the start of the 1989 season Johnson looked better and is still at 53 years old one of the top off road car than ever, but during a practice session he tangled with racers. another rider who jumped on his arm and broke his wrist! It was a bad injury and Ricky will never got back to his former speed even though he won some more

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RICKY JOHNSON

Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

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VINTAGE BIKES

Joel Robert’s

RH70 – Suzuki 1970 250cc

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J

oel Robert is a rider who really needs no introduction, but for the sake of this feature we will simply say that his six world titles and fifty grand prix victories place him third on the all-time win list behind Stefan Everts and Antonio Cairoli. As a rider, he raced for CZ and Suzuki and became the first rider to win backto-back world championships for two different brands, winning his third title in 1969 for CZ and his fourth on a Suzuki in 1970, and it’s his Suzuki RH70 that we will cover in this issue of MXGP Magazine. The first ever 250cc world championship season commenced in 1962 after being upgraded from European championship status at the end of 1961 and each title race had been dominated by European brands; between 1962 and 1969 Husqvarna CZ had won four titles apiece but Suzuki were about to rewrite history. In the 1968/1969 seasons history was made for the first time as Suzuki became the first Japanese brand to enter the world championship with ‘test rider-come-racer’ Olle Petterson from Sweden, and by the end of that second season Suzuki felt they were ready to commit as serious title challengers. Petterson remained as the third rider but Suzuki brought in two of the most successful 250cc racers of that time; Joel Robert and Sylvain Geboers. As teammates at CZ they placed 1st and 3rd in 1968 and were 1st and 2nd in 1969. They were also Belgian and had a great bond, as Sylvain recalls. ‘We were already teammates from ‘68-‘69 riding for CZ with good results. I looked up to Joél and used him as my teacher; in fact he never worried about me following him studying his lines and technique. That was a big help improving myself as rider. Today I still call him Metre (teacher). I ended with CZ right after Motocross des Nations in 1969 and made my

first test for Suzuki in Hamamatsu in November. The first test involved us being in Japan for two weeks with the next test in January 1970 in Belgium.’ The Programme When Suzuki joined the world championship in 1968 it was with a full factory bike as production did not exist and as the new kids on the block, Suzuki showed a real serious side to the task at hand. There was no way it was going to be held accountable to the homeland by being an embarrassing flop; not on the world stage. No way! When testing began with Robert and Geboers in November 1969, nothing was too much trouble. ‘From the first test in Hamamatsu, the staff worked day and night. Any request for changes was performed overnight. There was no such thing as an engine man or a frame man; in those days, everybody and each technician worked together as team and became all-round specialists in engine and chassis areas. Their names were Katsuhiro-san, T. Sezaki-san, H. Sezaki-san, Harada-san and Sano-san. There were also many others,’ recalled Geboers. ‘We had permanent support by Japanese staff with four or five members between February and September. We also had an interpreter.’ Such was the desire to succeed that from the first test in Japan the team felt they were in a great position to take 1970 by storm. They believed that it was possible to have all three riders finish inside the top three in the championship. Full Factory There was no mistaking the precious metal of the RH70 when it lined up on the grid. Everything about it was way ahead of its time; it was faster, lighter and handled better than anything else out there. It was almost an unfair advantage. The chassis was up to 20kg lighter than its closest

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VINTAGE BIKES compared to its competitors.’ Perhaps one of the biggest gains was how much more effortless it was for the riders to change gears; the 5-speed full factory gearbox was so much smoother to change compared to the Husqvarna and the CZ. Times were really changing, and Suzuki was at the forefront of the latest technology.

rival, and in terms of its handling capabilities, according to Sylvain Geboers the difference in handling between the Suzuki and the CZ ‘was not comparable; it was like riding a Porsche sports car compared to a Ford Mustang.’ Everything from the lightweight, handmade aluminium fuel tank, to the Magnesium engine cases and hubs made people stand back in awe at this beautiful work of art. KYB had done their bit too, with aluminium twin shock bodies at the rear. The engine was obviously full factory but compared to the European rivals, was bang up to date with the latest technology of that time. All three bikes of Robert, Geboers and Petterson were the same except for one or two things! They all ran their own shape handlebar made inhouse at Suzuki. They were all free to make their own tyre choice, from Trelleborg to Metzeler. They also had their own preference in footpegs, rear brake pedal and gear lever. Even back then, seat foam strength was an option as well as seat height. Other than that, all other chassis parts were equal. Cylinder port timing and carburetor settings were also the same but there was a choice between power delivery with a choice of exhaust pipe to offer more top, middle or bottom end power. No matter what they ran, the power delivery ‘was far more superior

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As with all things new though, it wasn’t always plain sailing. ‘Sometimes the handlebars cracked on the crossing bar welding and on one occasion they ‘bars snapped on JR’s bike! It was a different time; in those days there were spark plug failures, punctures, ignition failures and cracked frames. But with Suzuki we never experienced transmission, crankshaft or piston trouble,’ remembers Geboers. Perhaps that was why 1970 was such a successful season. History boys When the season kicked into life in Spain Joél Robert stood on the top step of the podium at the very first attempt. Suzuki were pipped to the post at round two though by Husqvarna’s Torleif Hansen but the pairing of Robert and Geboers was just too strong for the rest of the competition. The RH70 dominated the next six GP’s, with both riders taking three wins apiece. Geboers went on to win the tenth round and the title race went down to the final GP of the season; Joél Robert won the title by two points over Geboers and Suzuki had just won the 250cc world championship at its first serious attempt, winning eight of the twelve GP’s on offer; four each to both Robert and Geboers. Suzuki had just raised the bar and it was up to the other brands to follow its lead; it was another Japanese brand that took the 250cc title in 1973 but not before Robert and Suzuki claimed threein-a-row. A new generation of motorcycles was in the making and it was Suzuki who created the dynasty.


JOEL ROBERT’S RH70 – SUZUKI 1970 250CC

Tech Spec Engine Capacity: 248cc Engine cases: Magnesium Carburettor: Mikuni 36mm Piston: Works ART Exhaust: Factory Clutch: Factory, lightweight aluminium, including the clutch plates Spark plug: NGK Chassis: Factory Transmission: 5-speed Ignition: Nipondenso, non-electronic Fuel tank: Handmade, aluminium Swingarm: Lightweight, aluminium Handlebars: Suzuki brand, made specifically for each rider Front forks: KYB, 150mm travel Rear shocks: KYB, aluminium body, twin shock Brakes: Drum brakes, made from lightweight material Wheels: Front 21” – Rear 18” Hubs: Magnesium Tyres: Metzeler / Trelleborg

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HALL OF FAME

Pit Beirer

Never Give Up

G

erman Pit Beirer is well known today as being the highly successful Director of KTM Sports, but Pit found his fame in our sport nearly twenty years ago when he was one of the main protagonists in the 125cc and later 250cc World Championship.

He won races and took podiums in both series but there was one goal that eluded him throughout his career: becoming World Champion. He was a real fighter on the track, and had a “never give up” attitude both as a racer and then as a man after his horrific crash during the 2003 Bulgarian GP that ended his racing career. Thanks to KTM and his own dogged spirit the ‘Pitbull’ bounced back and has since claimed those

1988 German Junior champion 1989: 36th in the 125 World Championship 1990: 13th in the 125 World Championship 1991: 9th in the 125 World Championship. German Open Champion. 1992: 7th in the 125 World Championship. German Open Champion. 1993: 9th in the 125 World Championship 1994: 5th in the 125 World Championship 1995: 5th in the 250 World Championship 1996: 7th in the 250 World Championship 1997: 3rd in the 250 World Championship 1998: 3rd in the 250 World Championship 1999: 2nd in the 250 World Championship 2000: 3rd in the 250 World Championship 2001: 5th in the 250 World Championship 2002: 3rd in the 250 World Championship

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME World titles from his new position at the head of the companies motorsports division. Some kids dream of being soccer players or tennis stars but when he was ten years old Pit Beirer only wanted to be a motocross rider and follow in the footsteps of his father Peter. At the age of ten he was allowed to buy himself his first bike and from that day on he had no doubts about his future. “When I bought my first bike, a 80cc, I also received a newspaper with a check list ‘how to become a motocross rider’ and I knew straight away that it was my resolution,” remembers Pit who then spent every free moment on a local track. Year after year he got better and better results and just after turning sixteen he got his first contract with Suzuki Kurz who provided him bikes and parts. The Beirer family was not rich enough to travel regularly outside of Germany but both Pit and his father had great friends who raised funds for them by organizing festivals, getting people to donate and also putting some of their own money towards his future by enabling him to race the 125cc World Championship. From his first GP in April of 1989 at Faenza right up to his last one in June of 2003 at Sevlievo in Bulgaria, Pit always ride with a level of determination and energy that made him a crowd favourite. He was a warrior and a fighter, never one to look for excuses when the result was not what he was used to, and he soon became very popular in Germany and all over the world. His racing career was long but never easy, with a couple of injuries that tried to but never broke his determination and legendary enthusiasm.

wins only to stop his season prematurely in Germany when he collided with Pichon.

It was a disappointing end to his penultimate and most rewarding season in the smaller class, but moving forwards Pit joined the Swiss Pamo team He collected his first world championship point to enter the main class on a 250cc Honda. Fifth in during his first ever Grand Prix in 1989 and he 1996, he broke his scaphoid while practicing but needed just two more years to win his first GP in once more was back in action earlier than anyone! “I front of his home crowd in Reil, a win that came got the phone number of Doctor Werber in Munich just a few weeks after he broke his arm during the who was the only one who could operate on such a French GP! It showed that even when injured Pit was sports injury where you could return to competition a rider that fought hard to come back to racing as more or less straight after the surgery. None of the soon as possible, which occasionally led him racing other hand specialists would take it on, and naturally with a broken collarbone! 1993 was a strange season I went to Munich and I did in fact ride again three for Pit as he struggled in the first few races before weeks later for the Belgian GP.” finding his feet to take a string of podiums and GP

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PIT BEIRER

Pit rode for Honda for four seasons and then moved to the Jan De Groot team with Kawasaki. It was huge change for Pit, but he backed it up with a series of other moves to make him a stronger rider; he moved to Neeroeteren and started working with Willy Linden as his new trainer. It meant that Pit entered the 99 season a high and promptly found himself leading the World Championship ahead of his team mate Marnicq Bervoets and French racer Frederic Bolley. The German GP offered up some real highlights in Pit’s career, but sadly not the 1999 edition in Gaildorf as a crash at the start of the first race forced him to retire. Having some technical troubles in race two he only scored a sixth position and offered a strong advantage to Bolley, who finally claimed the title during the last GP in the USA. Being vice World champion that year was backed up by third overall in 2000, Pit

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Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

HALL OF FAME

PIT BEIRER

joined an Italian team for the following seasons but the package was not as good as promised and after that he asked KTM for some support for the next few seasons. That led to a factory ride in 2003, when KTM had a competitive bike for the 250cc class to go up against the first of the 450cc four stroke machines. It was an unequal battle but Pit’s “never give up” attitude meant he fought hard with Pichon during the first few GP’s but they were both behind the 450s of Everts and Smets. In Sevlievo he grabbed the holeshot in the first moto and he really didn’t want to lose this position against the 450cc when he came over the final jump of the Bulgarian track, that determination came at a cost as small mistake nearly cost him his life. Pit was catapulted into the air and landed hard on his head, it was a terrible crash that left him paralysed. Pit didn’t give up and he saw his future life panning out in a different way to most of us.

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“When I regained consciousness some days later in Murnau the paralysis, strangely enough, was not so difficult for me to accept. The joy in the fact that I was still alive was much greater. I had a six months old daughter and my wife Ilona and I knew that she needed me,” explained Pit who found a strong support network at KTM. The company offered him a place in the sport department, and thanks to his strength of will, hard work and knowledge he became later the Off-road and then the overall company Sport Manager. He didn’t claim any world titles as a rider, but every year since his contracted riders have picked up many titles and in his new job he has shown the world the enthusiasm and passion that he has for the sport.


VINTAGE BIKES

Håkan Andersson’s 1973 Yamaha YZ637 250cc

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H

åkan Andersson is a Swedish motocross legend and in 1973 became Yamaha’s first ever motocross world champion. Not only that but he did it on the first bike to feature a single shock absorber or Mono-shock. His factory 250cc Yamaha YZ637 will go down in history as the first ever ‘long-travel suspension’ bike and a bike that changed the sport of motocross forever. Everything that we race today, is derived from Anderson’s championship winning Yamaha, so let’s take a closer look at the Yamaha YZ637 that made history in Finland in 1973. Håkan Andersson signed to race Yamaha machinery at the end of the 1971 world championship season after having placed second overall in the final standings for Husqvarna behind Joel Robert. At the same time, Yamaha had enlisted the services of newly-retired four-time champ Torsten Hallman as a development rider in the hope that the Japanese firm, who were new to the world championship, could get some kind of head start in the toughest series in the world. Andersson and Yamaha’s debut season was a good one but it wasn’t quite the win that everybody had hoped for and Andersson again placed second behind Joel Robert, who was world champion for his sixth and final time. As the newcomers in the class though, Yamaha were pretty ecstatic, but they clearly wanted more. The YZ637 that Andersson rode was a state of the art, full-factory machine and was the only one of its kind on the grid and if that wasn’t enough the 1973 version was about to become even more factory. When Torsten Hallman signed to Yamaha as a test/ development rider, according to Andersson, ‘he had already been doing a good job, but it was 1972 and it was the first year there, and it was completely different (to Husqvarna); they tried to be the best at once but it took a while, you know?’

Despite finishing second overall at the first attempt, there was just one GP win for Andersson, ironically at Husqvarna in Sweden at what was the tenth round of the twelve- round series, but what happened next was about to change all of that, and history would be re-written in the process. A man by the name of … Towards the end of 1969 a Belgian by the name of Lucien Tilkens had worked out that twin shock suspension units were flawed, but because no one else had seen what Tilkens had seen, it was business as usual. Tilkens had worked out that with a single shock system, the overall balance of the bike would be improved by working more in harmony with the front end, as opposed to the short travel and rigid nature of the twin shock system. So, he took an old CZ and set about modifying a chassis that could incorporate a single shock absorber that ran under the seat diagonally. The shock he used was from a Citroen car! When he’d finished the design, he contacted Sylvain Geboers who was then racing for Suzuki and asked if he would like to test the new system. Geboers was impressed by what he had just ridden and asked fellow Suzuki rider Roger De Coster to give his opinion on it as well. He was also blown away at how much faster they could cover the bumps and how it improved overall lap times. Tilkens then adapted the monoshock system to an old Suzuki frame so that De Coster and Geboers could show the Suzuki technicians, but despite the increase in lap times, the ‘techies’ were still not convinced as to how it all worked. In fact, it had everybody baffled. As it turned out, it was something of a lost opportunity for the yellow corner of Japan. Desperate to get his system ‘out there’ Tilkens then contacted Torsten Hallman and having seen the benefits himself, convinced Yamaha that this was

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VINTAGE BIKES fibreglass. This bike was special. The all-new single shock system was hand built and came with an aluminium shock body. Other than a handful of people, nobody else knew that the Mono-shock even existed. It was so secretive and believe it or not, even Andersson had no clue either: ‘No, it was not even discussed in the beginning! I didn’t know anything. The first I knew about it was at the end of ’72; that’s when I first knew that something was going on. Torsten knew before me. He tested the mono shock first, before I did.’

the way forward. Yamaha bought the patent and got work under way immediately to make it lighter and more efficient. We could get lost trying to explain as Tilkens tried to explain to Suzuki the physics of the new system, but the simple reality was that the new design offered more than fifty percent extra travel at the rear wheel. That is why it worked! Whilst it was a no-brainer for Hallman, there was still plenty of work to be done. Top secret As Andersson was globetrotting racing the 250cc world championship, Yamaha was developing its new, state of the art race bike. The 1972 factory bike was already very impressive to say the least. Crankcases were Magnesium, the gears in the gearbox were all machined by hand, the engine was lightweight with the addition of Titanium parts where possible. Every nut and bolt was Titanium and the wheel hubs were sand cast Magnesium; even wheel spacers were Titanium. The exhaust pipe was full factory and so too was the swingarm. The top triple clamp was sand cast Magnesium whilst the lower clamp was billet aluminium and they housed the 36mm handmade forks. The airbox was

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Because the design was so radical, the single shock absorber ran underneath the seat and tank below the frame top tube. It was long, a little weird looking and it wasn’t ideal but for a first-time effort is wasn’t so bad, but it did the job it was supposed to do. However, the shock compromised the airbox by taking up too much space, and so a dual filter system was created to compensate the lack of airflow. The filter though was the least of Yamaha’s problems; when it was time for Andersson to test it at the end of the ’72 season, his first impressions were not that great: ‘It was completely different, you know, I didn’t believe in it from the beginning. When I first tested it I said ‘it feels completely different’ because it was always kicking me up at the back end, all the time, you know. The saddle would kick you up all the time. It was very hard, and there was no compression. It was a strange feeling when I first tested it.’ This was more down to experimentation of the shock absorber itself though as it operated on a spring, oil and nitrogen. The more nitrogen used in the shock, the harder the ride. The power delivery on Andersson’s bike was pretty torquey; he liked a hard-hitting bottom end but he also liked a good, wide, spread of power as well. In short, his bike was a rocket ship. Whilst the engine remained the same as his ’72 bike, the chassis was new to accommodate the new Mono-shock, but no


HÅKAN ANDERSSON’S 1973 YAMAHA YZ637 250CC

matter how many times he tested, he still took some convincing: ‘It took a while to get everything fixed up but after three, four, five months it became better.’ In fact, so unsure was he about the new bike that when the 1973 season rolled around, Andersson refused to race it, choosing instead to race his twin shock bike at the first two rounds in Spain and Italy, much to the dismay of Yamaha and Torsten Hallman. At the third round in Belgium at Wuustwezel, Andersson finally took to the track with the Monoshock Yamaha YZ637 and along with his mechanic Eije Skarin, Hallman and the two Japanese technicians, who attended every GP, placed second in race one behind Heikki Mikkola. He then won the second race and the overall and shockwaves were sent through the motocross fraternity. His lap times on the whole were around two seconds per lap quicker than his rivals and he backed up his victory by winning the following two GP’s with double moto victories in Switzerland and Poland. Another double moto-win at round eight secured Andersson and Yamaha the world championship title, with three rounds to go. The YZ637 had just made history as the first ever long travel suspension bike to win a world championship and changed motorcycle design and therefore, the future of motocross forever, a fact that is not lost on Andersson: ‘Yes. That was a big step in motocross history, one of the biggest ever. The long-travel suspension!’ There was just one mechanical DNF when his frame broke at round six at Orehova Vas in the former Yugoslavia, now Slovenia, but during that historic season, Håkan Andersson took eleven race wins out of twenty-four, scored double moto victories on four occasions and took five overall GP wins. He won the title with three rounds to go at Hyvinkää in Finland.

Tech spec Engine: Lightweight, 250cc 2-stroke – use of Titanium parts where possible Exhaust pipe: Factory, varying designs for top, middle bottom power Gearbox: Factory, all gears machined by hand Crankcases: Sand cast Magnesium Carburettor: Mikuni 36mm Air filter: Dual filter system Air box: Lightweight, fibreglass Triple clamp: Top clamp sand cast Magnesium / Bottom clamp billet Aluminium Front forks: 35mm, handmade with cast aluminium sliders Rear shock: Long, more than 50% extra rear travel; operated by spring, oil and nitrogen Hubs: Sand cast front and rear hubs with

*Special thanks to Terry Good for his comprehensive archive notes *Thanks also to Håkan Andersson for his words

Titanium where possible Swingarm: Factory, hand made

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HALL OF FAME

Hakan Carlqvist the warrior

S

wedish rider Hakan Carlqvist was the last truly top rider to come out of Sweden, a country that was one of the first to claim Motocross World titles with Bill Nilsson, Sven Lundin, Bengt Aberg, Torsten Hallman or Heikki Mikkola. A Double World Champion and winner of 21 Grand’s Prix, Hakan ‘Carla’ Carlqvist was a warrior and a star of the 500cc World Championship in the 1980’s. Born on the 15th of January 1954 in a suburb of Stockholm, Hakan Carlqvist was the third of four

children and was more attracted to the everpopular sport of hockey than motorbikes. Ice Hockey was THE national Swedish sport in the 1960’s and Hakan started to play it at 7 years old alongside football, as was the choice of most of the kids at the time. In fact Carlqvist really just loved to be outside and that’s one of the reasons why he decided to leave school early at just 15 years old. He went to work, earned some money and bought his first Enduro bike when he turned seventeen. Soon after he went to a motocross race, won it, and that was the beginning of his story! It took him three years to get amongst the

1974: 25th in the 250 World Championship 1975: 23rd in the 250 World Championship 1976: 14th in the 250 World Championship 1977: 17th in the 250 World Championship, 2nd at the Trophy of Nations 1978: 7th in the 250 World Championship, 2nd at the Trophy of Nations 1979: 250 World Champion, winner of the Touquet, 2nd at the Trophy of Nations 1980: 3rd of the 500 World Championship 1981: 3rd of the 500 World Championship, 2nd at the Trophy of Nations 1982: 8th of the 500 World Championship 1983: 500 World Champion 1984: 10th of the 500 World Championship, 2nd at the Trophy of Nations, 3rd at the Motocross of Nations 1985: 16th of the 500 World Championship 1986: 8th of the 500 World Championship 1987: 12th of the 500 World Championship 1988: 10th of the 500 World Championship Winner of 21 Grands Prix (6 in the 250cc class and 15 in the 500cc class)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME top ten riders of the National championship, in a country where Motocross was a very popular sport thanks to the Husqvarna factory! Carlqvist rode his first seasons with various different brands (Maico, Ossa) and only joined the national company in 1977, after a couple of learning seasons in the 250cc World Championship. That first year with Husqvarna was tough for Hakan, who broke his leg during the Belgium GP and lost six months to injury as well as his factory status. During his recovery he was warned by the doctors that he had to stop Motocross if he wanted to stay healthy, but for Hakan that was not really what he wanted to hear. So with his health coming back he chose to go it alone for 1978, getting production bikes and parts from Husqvarna which led to stronger support for 1979 as for the first time he got a factory mechanic to take care of his new bike. That ‘79 season remains one of the best for Carlqvist as he won six GPs and beat Hudson, Moisseev, Kavinov, Jobe and Van Der Ven to claim the 250cc World title. At this stage in history the “real” championship was the 500cc one and naturally ‘Carla’ wanted to be a part of the big show in the main class. It was a desire that coincided with the legendary Heikki Mikkola taking his decision to retire which opened up a great opportunity for Carlqvist to join Yamaha and replace the famous Finn. During his first trip to Japan late in ‘79 Hakan asked the Japanese to build a new bike just a few weeks after he signed his contract, something that came as quite a surprise for his new employer! But Carlqvist didn’t want to lose any time riding a bike he wasn’t comfortable with as he was already 26 years old and needed to make the most of his prime racing years with the knowledge that Malherbe, Lackey, Vromans and De Coster would be extremely tough rivals! For his first season with Yamaha, Carlqvist struggled with his new bike but still managed

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to finish third in the standings despite a couple of DNFs due to technical issues. The next winter he went back to Japan, and had tough discussion with the engineers as he asked again them to build a new bike and to develop a new rear suspension system. He clearly had a lot of respect for his employers but he never stopped pushing them, quite forcefully, behind the scenes to consistently try and get the best material. A stand out example comes form the early part of the 1981 season when, during a testing session, the engineers were surprised to see him taking a shovel to make a hole. “What are you doing?”


HAKAN CARLQVIST

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Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

HALL OF FAME

HAKAN CARLQVIST

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asked one of the Japanese engineers, “I want to burry this s**t bike!” he answered.

and they did not leave disappointed as Hakan finally claimed his second World title.

That year would see him take another 3rd place overall in the championship, but with four GP wins to his name Carlqvist and Yamaha had improved the bike so much that the Swedish rider was one of the favourites for the 1982 campaign. However, that was dashed early on as during a pre season race in England Carla crashed and broke his arm. The result was a disappointing eighth in the World Championship at the end of the year, but he put it behind him and set about a storming 1983 season as he battled all season long for the World title with André Malherbe and despite some physical and technical issues during the season, he came to the last round of the series seventeen points ahead of Malherbe. The venue was the Dutch track of Sint Anthonis, which was like a Swedish village as so many fans travelled to support their hero

It would be the last good season for the Swedish rider as he began to struggle with injuries during the later years of his career; a fact he still pays for now with all the old injuries still bothersome in his retirement. Now living in the sunny south of France, Carlqvist has never come back to a Motocross race since he retired at the end of the 1988 season. It was a season to remember for all his fans especially when he did an incredible “Stop and Drink” in Namur during the GP of Belgium; riding a private Kawasaki Carla won the first race, and while leading the second one he took his time to stop at the famous Chalet du Monument to drink a beer! He ended his career a few weeks later at the Motocross of Nations, but this last GP win in Namur will remain as one of the most famous stories of the World Championships!


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VINTAGE BIKES

Heikki Mikkola’s

1976 Husqvarna CR 250

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H

eikki Mikkola is a grand prix God and was the first Finnish rider to win a world motocross championship when he lifted the 500cc title in 1974 aboard his Husqvarna MC 360. In 1976, he switched to the 250cc class and made another piece of history by becoming the first rider to win titles in two different classes, after beating Guennady Moisseev by a single point, and it’s his 1976 Husqvarna CR 250 that we will feature in this issue of MXGP Magazine. After winning his first title in 1974, Mikkola lost out in his quest to make it back-to-back wins in 1975 after he was pipped to the post by Belgium’s Roger De Coster as the Suzuki rider swept to his fourth world title. During the ’75 campaign and despite Husqvarna’s pedigree in winning, both Mikkola and his American teammate Brad Lackey were concerned about the bikes capabilities to perform at the highest level, saying that more improvements needed to be made in order to be competitive. If we cast back to 1974 when Mikkola won the 500cc title on his Husqvarna MC 360, the signs were already on the wall for the Swedish firm; the Japanese brands were starting to dominate and had been for a while, and only Husky was seen as the real genuine threat. Husqvarna’s chief engineer Urban Larsson and overall director of design Rubin Helmin were passionate about what they were doing but only had limited resources compared to the Japanese when it came to development. In ‘74 Larsson took the lightweight 250cc and turned it into a short stroke 354cc - equipped with a 6-speed gear box and a rumoured 40bhp at 8,000 rpm which was phenomenal at that time. Whilst it was good enough for Mikkola to win the 500cc title, it was too much for the average Joe in production form. Husky then started to make cut backs in production, focussing on all models - MX, enduro and trail. Compromises were met, notably with frame design,

where production bikes started to suffer with frame cracks, a situation that would later lead to a lack of trust in the brand from its customers. Whilst this had no direct baring at the time for its GP riders, the factory team was also in disarray and both Lackey and Mikkola were impatient with the pace of development, or lack of it, especially as the bikes were virtually unchanged from the successful year that was 1974. And so, 1975 came and went, Mikkola lost the title whilst Lackey placed sixth. For the ’76 season, Mikkola dropped down to the 250cc class at the request of Husqvarna whilst Lackey flew the flag once again in the 500cc category. Mikkola’s CR 250 was completely ‘factory’ for that era of racing and that included the frame and the swingarm and whilst Titanium was rarely used on this bike, it was still lighter than a production CR 250, coming in at around 92kg. However, let’s determine the term ‘factory’ here. Factory then is nothing to what it is now, and so when Heikki says his bike was factory, according to well-placed sources, that really only meant that it was built in the factory. Even Brad Lackey echoed that when he commented that ‘at this time the Husqvarna ran basically stock bikes with minor changes. The 250cc obviously had cylinder and piston work. But, Heikki was an animal and rode with stock shocks and forks and the frame was also production, not really a factory bike as they would call it now.’ As for the gearbox, there was a 6-speed option available which was used on the smaller 125cc model but Mikkola opted to stick with the 5-speed version, despite not testing the 6-speed at all. The gearbox was also a factory item. Dropping down from the 500cc class, Mikkola would have certainly noticed the difference in power; after all he was a rider who liked a powerful motor but he had to be content with a bike that pushed out around 32bhp, but as Lackey remembers, back then ‘the 250cc Husky was not known for its power or speed.’ As for the carburettor, Husqvarna chose to run with the German made Bing carburettor, bored out from 36mm to 38mm. The

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VINTAGE BIKES

rear suspension units were British-made Girling and according to Mikkola, ‘the bike was okay to ride but was much better when they got better suspension,’ something that would ring true later in the year. The season started well and Mikkola won three of the first four GP’s but then the might of KTM and former champ Guennady Moisseev started to come on strong. The reason for the transformation in fortunes though was that Mikkola was starting to pick up too many DNF’s and the area for concern were the rear shocks. Girling had been Husqvarna’s partner yet both Husky and Girling seemed powerless to do anything to rectify the situation, something that didn’t sit well with their number one rider. So, with the title on the line, Mikkola took matters into his own hands. He ditched the Girling units and rode the last three GP’s with Hulco Shocks disguised as Girling and went on to win the last three races along with the title by a single point from Moisseev. Of course, Husqvarna were not too pleased about what Mikkola did but at the same time they were happy the title belonged to Husky. The 1976 season was Heikki’s last with Husqvarna, but, was it a frustrating year, even though he won the title? ’No, it wasn’t because it was my work, even though KTM was much quicker and much better. This is the

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championship I am the proudest of, my bike was slower than the KTM, so I had to out ride him to get the title.’ Heikki Mikkola won fourteen of his thirty-eight GP’s riding for Husqvarna from 1970-1976 with the other twenty-four racing for Yamaha from 1977-1979.

*Thanks to Gunnar Lindström, Hekki Mikkola, Brad Lackey and Antti Pyrhönen for their help with this article

Tech spec 1976 Husqvarna CR 250 Engine capacity 250cc Carburettor Bing, 36mm bored out to 38mm Frame Factory Engine Factory Power 32bhp Gearbox 5-speed, Factory Suspension Girling Swingarm Factory


HEIKKI MIKKOLA’S 1976 HUSQVARNA CR 250

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HALL OF FAME

Bengt Aberg Stone face

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orn on the 26th of June 1944 in Sörbo, in the province of Hälsingland, Sweden, Bengt Aberg, the son of a farmer, never dreamt of being a world motocross champion; his goals were much more modest, just to be a competitive rider on the GP scene was as high as his aspirations went. “Contrary to most riders,” Aberg said, “a motocross world title was not really my top goal for years. It was in France one year and I started to think that I could conquer the world. I liked to ride smooth, and try and ride carefully and do it easy and then you don’t have to be so strong.” Aberg is one of those riders who had the mixed blessing of being born into one of the toughest eras in the history of motocross, but it was also one of the most interesting and romantic periods that the sport has ever witnessed. It was a time when European riders spread their wings and began to travel and race around the world, something that hadn’t been possible in the 1950’s.

The tough Swede was one of those pioneers who travelled a lot and not just for racing, he would often help young American and Australian riders to improve their riding skills and with it earn some extra cash outside his GP career. “I remember going to America with Torsten Hallman and with Edison Dye the man who imported Husqvarna machines to the USA. Actually first it was Torsten who went and then they invited more European riders and I was one of those. Joel Robert and I did motocross schools during the week to help the Americans learn to ride better. One year after we finished the Trans-AMA series in America we flew straight to Australia to do some races. We were all very home-sick and it was just before Christmas, but hey, we all thought, “ok let’s go to Australia”.” His early GP career took him to 12th place in the 500cc championship in 1966, as a 22 year old he scored six points (championship winner Paul Fredrichs scored 66pts in total), which was the same total as another youngster by the name of Roger De Coster who would cross paths with Aberg nearly 5 years later. That

Bengt Aberg GP wins 1968 Austria, Belgium 1969 Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland 1970 Austria, West Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland 1971, East Germany 1977 Luxembourg

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME season would signal the start of their battle for supremacy in the toughest class of that era. A year later Aberg claimed 10 points to finish the 11 round series in 11th. While German rider Fredrichs was winning his third straight world 500cc championship in 1968 Aberg, who had been nicknamed Stone-face because of his serious demeanor, was putting the final touches to his own championships assault. 29 points, two GP wins and fourth place in the end of season standings got people’s attention and word began to spread that Aberg might have a shot at the title in 1969. With those two Grand Prix wins to his name Aberg went into the 1969 season determined to take his championship results to the next level and that’s exactly what he did by winning the opening GP in Austria and following it up with a second place at the next round in Sweden. It meant that after two rounds he already held a handy 12-point lead over his countryman Arnie Kring. His second win of the year came at the 4th round of the championship in Italy, he then suffered a winless streak that saw him fail to top the podium for the next 5 races before returning to the top step at round 10 of 12. It was in those last three rounds that he regained his early season from his true potential and he easily wrapped up the title. Suddenly Aberg was the main man in Grand Prix motocross. He had wrapped up the tougher of the two motocross world championships and he has crystal clear memories of clinching that championship victory. “My only worry was my last few laps,” Aberg said. “Dirt covered the machine, which meant it was 40 kilos heavier than usual. This made me doubt whether it would put up with the strain until the finish line. I knew I could put up a good fight, but during a long season, anything might happen”.

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Aberg had scored 112 points in total, but back in that era of the world championship it wasn’t the overall total that counted as only riders best seven results made up their final total. For Aberg that made little difference, he still took the title with 94 points, 22 more by British rider John Banks in 2nd. With that title in his pocket he returned to the World Championship in 1970 with newfound confidence and really began to thrive. Just as he had done the previous season he opened his championship defense with victory in round


BENGT ABERG

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Text: G. Meyer photos : K. Olausson

HALL OF FAME

one and then followed that up with another victory in round two. He built on those two early wins with another brace in East Germany and Luxembourg later in the series, wrapping up the title ahead of Kring by 88pts to 80pts. Unfortunately for the steely eyed Aberg another young, hungry rider had his break out year in 1971, a Belgian by the name of Roger De Coster. De Coster, who had won his second consecutive GP at the famous Namur circuit in Belgium the previous year, took his first 500cc world title in 1971 with Aberg back in fifth position in the points. Aberg did claim a solitary GP victory in East Germany, but it wasn’t enough to take him close to retaining the title he had owned for two years straight. De Coster continued to improve, winning his second 500cc world championship in 1972 as Aberg had to settle for seventh place in the 500cc points standings after failing to win a GP in a season for the first time since 1967.

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By 1973 Aberg was a shadow of his championship winning self and he dropped to 12th by the end of season with just one podium finish, a second place in Italy behind De Coster, on his scorecard. In 1974 the Flying Finn Heikki Mikkola arrived and was thrust into the limelight for Husqvarna, winning the 500cc title as Aberg finished in ninth position. Aberg now riding a Bultaco did manage some consolation with a win in the final moto of the season in Luxembourg. Aberg finished seventh in the 1975 500cc championship and followed that up with 11th in 1976. In 1977 and now on a factory Yamaha Aberg claimed ninth place in the series points, and claimed his last Grand Prix victory at the Ettelbruck circuit in Luxembourg, amazingly seven years after he had first won at the circuit. It was also the last time a 4-stroke machine would win a GP (for nearly 20 years) as the 2-stroke machines began their rise to dominance.


BENGT ABERG “I did well at places like Namur and Ettelbruck because of the type of dirt. I didn’t like sand because it was too much work for me, but when I had to ride good in the Grand Prix it was also possible to ride well in the sand, but it was so much hard work. It was easier for me at places like Namur and Ettelbruck, the ground was harder and I could ride smooth and careful.” In 1978 and still on Yamaha he finished 13th in the points and claimed a podium finish once more at the Namur circuit, but his best days were now long behind him and his brilliant career was coming to an end. New names had arrived on the 500cc scene, Andre Malherbe, Hakan Carlqvist and Brad Lackey now led the march to GP wins and world championship glory. The golden age of the likes of Aberg, De Coster and Mikkola was over.

brother and enjoys time with his three grownup children. “I am now divorced, but I do have three children and I work for my brother, he has a digger company. That is where I worked since I stopped racing. I never go to the motocross anymore, I have trouble with my eyes because of diabetes. One of my three children rode motocross for many years, but he wasn’t at the top level, and he is also older now, he is 48, so he doesn’t do it much.” As one of the few European riders to go to America, Australia and other parts of the world spreading the gospel of motocross, and with his 12 GP victories and two 500cc world championships and as a member of three victorious Swedish teams at the Motocross des Nations in 1970, 1971 and 1974, Bengt Aberg had cemented his place in motocross history.

Living the slow life in Sweden now the one time Grand Prix king works alongside his

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HALL OF FAME

Danny Laporte

a Lifetime of Achievement

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ooking at Danny Laporte back in his racing days you could see he was a good looking blonde kid from Los Angeles, a surfer type, handsome, cool and with an ever present smile. He was marketable, determined and most importantly wanted to test himself more that most would dare. He is also one of only a handful of riders who have won both an AMA Motocross Championship and an FIM motocross World Championship, and a big part of the very first teams from America to win the biggest prize of all, the Motocross of Nations. Laporte began riding in the early 1960s when the sport of motocross enjoyed a period of explosive growth in California. He began racing professionally when he turned 16 and by 1976 he was offered a job with the Suzuki factory racing team. Amazingly just three years later in 1979, Laporte won the AMA 500cc national championship for Suzuki, and in 1981 he was part of the victorious American Motocross des Nations team. With the success at the MXoN in 1981 and wanting to seek new challenges, Laporte decided to compete at world championship level in 1982 riding for the Yamaha Factory Racing team. In

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his very first attempt, he claimed the FIM 250cc motocross world championship against the heavily favored Georges Jobe. Jobe and Laporte battled hard all season long and built a strong friendship both on the track and off it. “We got on well, in fact once in Russia we played a joke on the Russian police that nearly got us both into trouble. We came across this Russian policeman’s uniform, which the policeman gave us. Georges wanted me to wear the uniform at a dinner organized before the Russian GP, but I didn’t dare wear it, George did and nearly got thrown in jail. It was fun times and I had the utmost respect for Georges as a racer and also as a friend.” Laporte also helped (along with Brad Lackey) to build a bigger interest in the Grand Prix series in his homeland, and not surprisingly soon after Laporte and Lackey won their 1992 world titles another handful of young American riders made their appearance in Europe. “When I first went over to Europe and we won the Nations it was great and everyone got into it, nobody expected us to win it, so that was a nice surprise. The next year I won the 250cc championship and I was on the cover of Cycle News and Motocross Action, so America was taking notice, and it did help build the awareness


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HALL OF FAME of the Grand Prix series. I mean it made a lot of press in America when I won my 250cc world championship.” The whole Grand Prix scene was exactly what Laporte found interesting about motocross. Growing up in California he got to witness legends of the sport racing in his own backyard, beating the American riders with ease, it was natural that it was Europe that attracted Laporte the most. “When I was young the guys I looked at were guys like Roger De Coster and Joel Robert. We got all the Cycle News issues and it was always the stories about those guys that attracted my attention, and we looked at the Europeans to learn more and that is why I wanted to race in Europe. Also the pageantry of the events in Europe, it has so much history. I mean the atmosphere in the 1970’s and 80’s was in my opinion the golden era of motocross in America and Europe. To go to a track and there was a massive crowd, it was really a lot of romance about it, and you had the Belgian fans in Belgium and the French fans in France and the British in England. In America it’s the same everywhere and it doesn’t change anywhere and in Europe everywhere you went it was different.” Laporte seemed to get bored easily if he didn’t have a challenge that at times seemed unattainable, it was as if he had to push himself to another level to get the most out of his career. Going to Europe in the 1980’s was not easy for Americans and it remains so now but perhaps not quite on the same level. “For me that was part of the challenge, even for the Europeans it is sometimes a challenge, the Italians don’t like leaving Italy with their pasta and lifestyle, or a Belgian might not want to go to Italy to live. You know we have the hard-pack in Italy and the sand in Belgium and Holland. But for me that was part of the challenge, knowing it wasn’t going to be easy, and you have a different language and food, for me that was a big part of the challenge. I have to make things difficult on

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myself and if it seems easy I back off a little.” Returning to America after his GP success, Laporte began to compete in desert racing and won the famous Baja 1000 three times. In the 1990s, he competed in international rally events, winning a stage and finishing second overall in the 1992 Dakar Rally. He is also the winner of 1991 Pharaohs rally in Egypt. While his rally career was also a major success, that very first MXoN victory was the cherry on the top for the friendly Laporte. “I think the des Nations in 1981 was a highlight of all time for me. When Chuck Sun, Donny Hansen, Johnny O’Mara and I won. That was just an amazing event that stands out for


DANNY LAPORTE Text: G. Meyer photos : Racer X

me. It was so unexpected, we had no idea. I did well both weekends, finished second and third both weekends and I was on a mission, because I wanted a deal in Europe, so for me it was important and I wasn’t paying attention to everyone else, but we all helped each other along. At the time we were not stars, but we all won big championships after that event. I mean, what was cool was that Roger De Coster and Honda supported us.” Laporte currently resides in Southern California with his wife and two children, he works with long-time friend Donny Emler at FMF Exhausts and continues to keep an eye on the FIM Motocross World Championships. “I love it, and obviously this year it’s even more exciting because of the inclusion of Ryan Villopoto. With Ryan being THE guy in the US for

so many years, going in the prime of his career to Europe I think it is great. I think Youthstream need to market it right to suit the American public, it can’t be too British or European for the American public, because American’s might not get it. I think the beauty of each country in Europe needs to be shown and respected, because that is a big part of the GP scene. If it’s marketed right, then it will be huge. They need to have passion and get excited.” Laporte is looking at returning to Europe soon, to watch Villopoto racing. He often visits Italy for veteran races and loves every moment of it. “I will always have a connection with Europe, I still love the romance Europe has and the pageantry of the GP’s. That will never change, it was a very important part of my life.”

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HALL OF FAME

Heinz Kinigadner ‘Ketchup’

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he first Austrian rider to claim a Motocross World title was Heinz Kinigadner and in that moment he became a national hero and to this day remains one of Austria’s most famous national athletes, even now, 31 years after that title, he is still deeply involved in off road motorsport in both Motocross and in rally raid. Heinz has always been one of the best ambassadors for KTM and still travels around the world to attend

motorcycle events and to promote the Wings for Life Foundation. Born in Tyrol on the 28th of January 1960, Heinz and his two brothers Klaus and Hans, with the support of his parents who were enthusiastic fans of motorsport, started their off-road careers chasing each other on their own tuned mopeds across the fields. “Before I was even eight years old, we planned that my elder brother Hans would be 500cc world champion, me as the middle one the 250cc

1980: 37th in the 250 World Championship (Puch) 1981: 5th in the 250 World Championship (Puch) 1982: 9th in the 250 World Championship (Yamaha). 1983: 11th in the 250 World Championship (KTM). 1984: 250 Motocross World Champion (KTM). Winner of 3 GP. 1985: 250 Motocross World Champion (KTM). Winner of 3 GP 1986: 13th in the 500 World Championship (KTM). 1987: 7th in the 500 World Championship (KTM). Winner of 1 GP 1994: Winner of the Pharaons rally 1995: Winner of the Paris Moscow Peking, Dubai rally 1996: Winner of the Dubai rally 1999: Winner of the Dubai rally

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HALL OF FAME title and Klaus the youngest the 125cc. Even though I’ve been the only one who finished the plan, we were all successful racers. In 1980, we won all four titles in Austria. I won the 125cc and 500cc, Hans was 250cc champion and Klaus in the 75cc class. Without my brothers I would have never become so successful. We didn’t grow up in a great area for motocross. With my brothers behind me, we pushed ourselves till we crashed. We rode all day until we couldn’t ride any more. We often pushed each other off the track.” Heinz was far and away the most successful of the family on the World stage. He started his GP career on a factory Puch in 1981 and after a strong season and a fifth overall in the 250cc World Championship, Heinz signed with Yamaha and won his first GP moto in 1982. Yet he didn’t finish the season after picking up a knee injury that curtailed his form. Then came what would turn out to be a defining moment in his career and life as he was approached by KTM and signed with the national company for the next season. He went on to claim his first World title in 1984 after a great battle with Jacky Vimond. The Frenchman was his main rival and led the series before the final round in 1985, but Heinz finally got his second consecutive title after an epic GP in Germany before moving up to the 500cc class. However, he never really succeeded on the biggest bike with a single GP win coming his way in 3 years before he retired in 1988 to help his father in the family business. But Heinz without a bike was not Heinz, and after a few years without racing Heinz convinced KTM to follow him into a huge new challenge: the world of cross country rallies and ultimately the 1992 Paris Dakar. “I remember starting to push KTM towards this race and almost everybody inside the company at the time thought I was crazy because they said the bike was not built for such long distance rallies but from the beginning I really saw the potential of the Dakar. It happens at a time of the year where there is no other motorsport, that motorcycle

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riders are thinking about what to do and that the coverage showed pictures and images that you couldn’t really see or find anywhere else“ explained ‘Kini’ who brought a new manufacturer and a breath of fresh air to the rallies with his incredible talent and spectacular riding style. Over the next few years he raced all over the planet, helping KTM to become a major motorcycling force. Even if he never won the Dakar as a competitor his wins in the Pharaohs rally, the Paris Moscow Peking and the Dubai rally gave great exposure to the brand outside their traditional off road markets.


HEINZ KINIGADNER Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

Heinz can be rightly proud of what he began and of the fifteen consecutive wins for KTM in the Dakar that began with Fabrizio Meoni in 2001 and has continued through the eras of Roma, Despres and now Coma to the point where the Red Bull KTM team is the absolute reference in off road rallying and has driven other manufacturers to step up their game to try and claim their own slice of success. Though racing in general was kind to him, life was not always easy for Heinz, who lost his mother when he was young and was unfortunate when his brother and later his son Hannes were both

paralysed in accidents. With his fighting spirit Heinz with his good friend Dieter Mateschitz, the owner of Red Bull, set up the Wings for Life Foundation to seek a cure for spinal cord injuries and do the sort of research that was not even considered before the organisation began To this day Heinz is involved in the KTM Sport Motorcycle Corporation and with his charisma and his legendary enthusiasm he is one of the best ambassadors of the sport and is proof that when racing ends, it is simply the start of the next exciting chapter of life.

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HALL OF FAME

John Van Den Berk

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‘Berky’

n the mid 1980’s, the 125cc World Championship saw two talented Dutch kids coming to the top of class to battle with the Belgians and Italians who had been getting most of the titles and GP wins in the class. Just one year after his fellow countryman Dave Strijbos won, John Van Den Berk claimed the 1987 125 World Championship and one year later the 250 crown in flamboyant style. Born in Oss on the 11th of August 1967, John discovered motocross through his father who

was a big fan of the sport and soon he had his own 50cc machine to start practicing and then racing on in the Netherlands. With the full support of his father, who had always been deeply involved in his racing career, John entered the World Championship in 1984, scoring his first points to end the season in thirteenth position. That same year, with Jan Postema, Kees Van Der Ven and John Hensen he won in Dalecin (Czech Republic) the 125cc Cup of Nations, his first International success (at this period it was organised differently to today with the Motocross of Nations for 500cc, the Trophy of Nations for 250cc and the Cup of Nations for 125cc. There

1984: 13th in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha) 1985: 5th in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha) 1986: 2nd in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha). Winner of 3 GP 1987: 125 Motocross World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 3 GP 1988: 250 Motocross World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 2 GP 1989: 3rd in the 250 World Champion (Yamaha) 1990: 3rd in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) 1991: 16th in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) 1992: 9th in the 125 World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 1 GP 1993: 10th in the 125 World Championship (Honda) 1994: 14th in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) 1995: 11th in the 500 World Championship (Honda)

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HALL OF FAME

were only four editions of the Cup, from 1981 to 1984). From there John never stopped improving on his results, and joined the factory Yamaha team where he got his best career results. Fifth in the series in 1985, he claimed his first GP wins one year later and fought for the title with his ‘rival brother’ Dave Strijbos. It was a tough battle on and outside the track, and even if he won three of the twelve rounds of the series John didn’t get the title and finished as runner up. He came back even stronger the next season, and this time clinched his first World Title which was also the first one for Yamaha in this class. With his modern, fluid and flamboyant riding style, John was one of the first European riders to be also successful in Supercross, and he even won the Geneva Supercross beating famous US riders Broc Glover and Guy Cooper. In his career John never spent too long in the same place, so the following season he moved to the 250cc class; winner of two GP’s and as always very consistent, John was at his best and got another title with Yamaha. The 250cc class was more and more competitive and he faced new rivals in the years that followed. Third in 1989 for his last season with Yamaha, John moved to Suzuki and got another third position; then John’s winning career was stopped rather abruptly by injuries. In 1992 he claimed his last GP win in the 125cc GP of Hungary, then changed

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classes and bikes but finally retired from racing in 1995, after eleven seasons at the highest level. Even before he stopped racing, John started his second career as an MX trainer and became as famous as he was as a racer. He raced over 20 years, and last year he celebrated his 20th season as a trainer! Opening his own school (JB Pro MX Training) based in the Netherlands and in Spain, he also worked successfully as a private trainer with riders such as Remy Van Rees, Kevin Strijbos, Gert Krestinov, Davy Pootjes and Jose


JOHN VAN DEN BERK Text & Photos: P. Haudiquert.

Butron just to name a few. John also joined the FIM Europe and Youthstream to become one of the trainers of the MXGP Academy with Jan Postema, coaching young teams and looking worldwide for new talents. Always as motivated and dynamic as the rider that he was earlier in his career, John remains deeply involved in his sport and is now also involved with the Dutch kids racing for the HSF Logistics MX2 team.

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HALL OF FAME

Georges Jobe

The Racing Entrepreneur

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elgium has given our sport a lot of great champions, men who have dominated the World Championship over several decades. In the 80’s Georges Jobe was one of the most vibrant and determined riders on the track in his claiming of five world titles and near misses in a few others. He was always a real fighter but he lost his last and most difficult fight, the fight against illness.

From the day he was born on the 6th of January 1960, Jobe was always in a hurry and he always looked one step ahead to the next challenge and the next goal. His record began when he became the youngest ever Motocross World Champion upon claiming his first world title in 1980, in a cruel twist he is also one of the youngest champions to leave our world as he was only 51 when he succumbed in his long battle against long illness. Belgium in the 1970’s was motocross mad, with the

1979: 7th in the 250 Motocross World Championship 1980: 250 Motocross World Champion, Winner of the Motocross of Nations and the Trophy of Nations 1981: 2nd in the 250 World Championship 1982: 2nd in the 250 World Championship 1983: 250 Motocross World Champion 1984: 2nd in the 500 World Championship 1985: 4th in the 500 World Championship 1986: 4th in the 500 World Championship 1987: 500 Motocross World Champion 1988: 10th in the 125 World Championship 1989: 6th in the 500 World Championship 1990: 14th in the 500 World Championship 1991: 500 Motocross World Champion 1992: 500 Motocross World Champion

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HALL OF FAME sport ranking as the number 1 for fans and Georges Jobe put himself right in front of the public as he walked in the footsteps of his older brother to start his career. As soon as he started he was already a man in a hurry, needing just one campaign to learn how to win the World Championship. After his debut seventh overall in the 250cc series in 1979 he joined the Suzuki factory team and dominated all his rivals in 1980 to become, at 19 years of age, the youngest ever World Champion in the sport. This season was one of the best in his career, as a few weeks after being crowned he, along with the Belgian team, claimed the overall win at the Trophy (250cc) and Motocross (500cc) of Nations! Georges was on a winning roll, but the next two seasons were harder than expected due to injuries; he twice lost the title by just a few points. Two was the gap in 1982 as he lost out to Neil Hudson and it grew to thirteen in 1983 as Danny Laporte took the title to the USA. Jobe’s last campaign in the 250cc class was a winning one, as he beat Laporte in 1983 to collect his second title before moving up to the main class, that of the infamous 500cc beasts. It was a tough moment as Suzuki officially retired from racing leaving him without a factory ride, while Honda had already a strong line up with four factory riders (Malherbe, Thorpe, Geboers and Vromans). Georges had no other option than to build, along with some partners, his own private team and convinced Kawasaki to provide him some technical support. It was a ‘David against Goliath’ story, but with his determination and talent the Belgian fought for the title until the last heat and finished as runner up to André Malherbe, bringing a piece of green in the mix amongst the five red Honda boys! Despite being the winner of three GP’s in his first ever 500cc season and seemingly setting himself up for a title run, Georges struggled with injuries and mechanical failures over the next two years. That tough time ended on a high note in the 1986 season as he won three of the last four rounds of the series. Staying as a privateer, with the on-going support of

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sponsors who loved his determination and racing spirit, Georges switched to Honda for 1987 and finally got the 500cc title that he wanted so much. And yet, when he seemed to have the world at his feet with the opportunity of staying in this class to get more wins and titles, Georges decided to drop down to the 125cc class in 1988. The logic was simple, he wanted to realise his dream, the dream of becoming the first ever three class World Champion! The move was a big risk as he was turning 28 and racing on a private Honda against young kids such as Jean Michel Bayle, John Van Den Berk and Dave Strijbos who were all equipped with factory bikes! Unfortunately the odds were not in his favour and he never succeeded in his dream to all three titles,


GEORGES JOBE Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

but with his head held high he returned to the 500cc class. Back in the biggest class he won a handful of GP’s and significantly two more titles, in 1991 and 1992, to remain the #4 in the history of our sport with a total of five titles (equal to Roger De Coster, Eric Geboers and Joel Smets), behind Stefan Everts (10), Antonio Cairoli (8) and Joel Robert (6). When he finally retired in 1994, Georges stayed involved in the racing world and had always new ideas; he was the first one to bring International MX events to Qatar, where he twice organised a pre season race, and also built a GP track in Spa Francorchamps, home of several rounds of the World Championship. Team manager of the MX1 KTM Factory team in 2006, he had a big injury one year later, while riding with friends in the desert

near Dubai. Half paralysed, he entered a long fight and finally recovered several years later. Just before he fully recovered his mobility, something doctors thought he would never do, he was diagnosed with skin cancer, and later leukaemia forced him to spend far too long in and out of hospital. For Jobe, it was another challenge to be faced but this one was too much for him to take and he finally succumbed to the disease in December 2012, at just 51 years of age. He will always be remembered as treasured as one of the giants of the Motocross World Championship.

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HALL OF FAME

Bill Nilsson

The First Champion

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wo-time Motocross World champion Bill Nilsson was a rider who took no prisoners in a career that saw him win the first official Motocross World championship way back in 1957. Despite measuring a relatively diminutive 5 feet 7 inches the Swedish legend brushed aside the might of the British BSA riders in an era which saw the European motocross scene rise from the farmer type events to true World Championship caliber. Nilsson didn’t hold back on the track, and still talked of his like for putting fear into his rivals long after he had retired. For Nilsson the sport he loved gave him not only success, but sadly also major disappointment and heartache. Nilsson had two sons, one of whom would go on to win the Enduro World Championship on two occasions, and the other would die tragically in a motocross accident, it was a blow that the famous father would never fully recovered from. If Motocross was fought inside the four corners of a boxing ring you can bet Bill Nilsson would still be punching away when the bell rang to end the final round, in fact the first ever Motocross World Champion didn’t need a boxing ring to vent his anger.

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Nilsson was one of the toughest, roughest riders in the world back in the 1950’s but then again most of the AJS and BSA riders in that era rode on sheer guts, fighting their machines into corners, and never accepting defeat. “I was young when I first came into Motorcycle racing, I think it was 1950 and I was 18-yearsold, I was interested and I had a talent. I was very young when I began, just doing Speedway, then I didn’t get a ride in Speedway so I tried Motocross. After two years I was in the national motocross team, I rode the Motocross of Nations in 1952 and then I got a factory ride with AMC in London. Then I rode BSA, Husqvarna, a lot of bikes, I was also a World Champion on AJS in 1957, I was only 25-yearsold then.” “Back then you didn’t start riding until you were 18-years-old. I was a professional at a very early age for that time. I rode with guys like Sten Lundin, Rene Baeten, Leslie Archer, Jeff Smith, those guys were tough, factory riders for BSA and I spent many years on BSA.” “I got sacked by BSA because I was too dirty, I wasn’t the cleanest rider. They sacked me, and they thought they could cut my wings, but then I went to AJS and won the World championship.” “In 1960 I went to Husqvarna, it was so


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HALL OF FAME different. Unlike the old BSA and AJS bikes it was difficult because you had to have the bike on a rev level, you needed to have it on a power band, while the older bikes like BSA and AJS were just full-on power and pushing hard.” Nilsson caused his share of accidents, and was known for riding hard into his rivals, he never gave an inch on the track. He knew he was feared and his rivals knew not to mess with the dangerous Swede. He was also lucky enough to have crowd support and we are not talking about just a few friends here. “I liked to ride hard, push the other riders around, you know, because of my speedway background I like to slide the bike and that helped a lot. If it had a long start I was good, it was like speedway, it was easy for me to get to the first corner and slide the bike into the corner.” “I could race on any track, sand is very heavy, but I could fly on it. I like to warm the competition up, make some dirty moves and get my competition fired up. Back in my day you could go to a Motocross race in my village, on a day when it was raining and we would get around 10.000 people watching. It was amazing and the crowd always supported me in Sweden, they like it when I would ride hard. Now you only get a big crowd to a race if it’s a World Championship event.”

spent over a long period, it wasn’t one moment, and it was so many. I hated losing and we had so many big battles in Belgium. I lost a World championship at Namur it’s a funny Nilsson didn’t have everything his own way story. I was racing against Sten Lundin and Rene though when it came to dirty riding, he also Baeten. I was 35 second behind the leader after found the Belgian riders and fans could mess with your head if you dare challenge them. Back the first lap, I had crashed and was a long way back. With three laps to go I caught him, I tried in the summer of 1958 Nilsson came across a everything, I tried to over jump him, I tried very determined Rene Baeten. everything, but I couldn’t get him. Then on the last lap I decided to crash into him, take him The two were fighting for the 500cc Motocross World Championship around the Namur circuit from the track. We went down a steep hill and I pushed my bike up against his and crashed him in Belgium. To this day Nilsson feels the crowd gave the championship to Baeten, of course we out, I had a lot of experience you know. My big problem was that I also crashed and the people don’t have Baeten’s side of the story, although broke onto the track and grabbed my bike, they Nilsson’s version is entertaining enough: helped Baeten get going, but would not let me “I think the best moment in my career was

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BILL NILSSON

have my bike. Anyway one of the crowd lost his front teeth, I wanted my bike back, and they wouldn’t give it back. In the heat of battle I lost it a little.” Nilsson was proud of the fact he remained in contention for so many 500cc World Championships, winning a magnificent 15 Grands Prix. After retirement Nilsson still worked hard, played hard and enjoyed being around Motorcycles.

I also got back into Speedway. I made the motors for Grand Prix competitor Greg Hancock, he had seven engines, and I went to many of the World Speedway Grand Prix races. I had always been involved with Motorcycle racing all my life, my son was the World Enduro champion in 1991 and 1992.”

Nilsson retired from racing at the age of 35 and began to help the younger Swedish riders. Having worked on and off with Husqvarna in his career saw the 1957 and 1960 World champion “I was good for ten years, I even went to America pass on his experience to two other legends of in the early 1970’s, showing the Husqvarna the sport. bikes. I never raced in America, just did Enduro racing after I stopped racing Motocross, and I “I had a lot of contact with Bengt Aberg and helped out sometimes with the Husqvarna bikes. Torsten Hallman, I was at Husqvarna from time

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Text aText: G. Meyer

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BILL NILSSON

to time and I would help Aberg sometimes, I was like a mentor and sometimes I would help Hallman with frame building and suspension. I never got the chance to work with Husqvarna as I would have liked. I was tough to work with, I was very demanding.” Despite being one of the legends of the sport Nilsson did not attend Motocross events anymore, whether it was from the sadness of losing a son to the sport or lack of time nobody would ever know. “I stopped going to Motocross. When one of my sons got killed in Motocross, it was a terrible experience. It was 1980 when my son passed away, he was 20-years-old. In that type of situation you just have to carry on, it’s important to not stop and think too much about what happens when one of your children are killed.” Ten years after losing one of his sons to the

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sport his other son Jeff Nilsson took the 1991 125cc Enduro World championship after a season long battle with England’s Paul Edmondson. The young Nilsson, who also raced Supercross in Australia in the 1980’s, showed all the courage of his father as he took up the challenge of Edmondson and doubled his championship tally in 1992, again leading home the British rider. “He was a good rider, rode for an Italian KTM team, I went to some races, it wasn’t like the motocross days but it was very enjoyable to see one of your children take a World Championship, something I had done so many years before.” Unfortunately on August 25 in 2013 Bill Nilsson passed away at 80 years of age and with a long list of success to his name. Nilsson will always be remembered for being the first ever Motocross World Champion and a member of the legendary era of Swedish Motocross.


HALL OF FAME

Jacky Vimond

the precursor

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or three decades now French riders have been winning World titles, but that wasn’t always the case, it took a long time for them to win their first races and titles. The first ever French World Champion was in 1986 and Jacky Vimond was a precursor and an example for all his countrymen in how to approach and win in motocross. Thirty years after his title Jacky is still heavily involved in his favourite sport helping young kids establish themselves. France is often considered by other countries as

an example of how to support motocross, as there is now in the country a level of organisation that allows the kids to start racing in good conditions from a young age. But when Jacky and his older brother Denis started racing in the 70’s it was another story and it was in the UK and among the schoolboys there that Jacky had his first experience as a competitor. That was thanks to the bright idea of their father, Former Motocross rider Jules Vimond, who found a good solution for his sons. As they lived close to Cherbourg he decided to cross the channel on a ferry, rent a car in the UK and then travel regularly just with a motocross bike and Jacky to enter as many races as they could.

1980: 11th in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha) 1981: 9th in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha) 1982: 6th in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha) 1983: 7th in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha) 1984: 2nd in the 250 World Championship (Yamaha), winner of 2 GP 1985: 2nd in the 250 World Championship (Yamaha), winner of 3 GP 1986: 250 World Champion (Yamaha), winner of 7 GP 1988: 5th in the 500 World Championship (Yamaha), winner of 1 GP 1988: 2nd at the Motocross of Nations 1989: 13th in the 500 World Championship (Honda) 1990: 30th in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) Twelve French titles between 1978 and 1989

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HALL OF FAME When he was back in France to race the 1978 Junior Championship, Jacky already had a good level and easily clinched his first title on private bikes. It was enough to convince Jean Claude Olivier (more commonly known as JCO), the boss of French importer Sonauto Yamaha, to hire him and give him the best equipment to race in France, and in the coming years, all over the world. In 1980 Jacky discovered the GPs by scoring an eleventh position, that turned a few heads and he found himself aboard a factory Yamaha thanks to JCO who had strong relationships with Japan. Moving to the 250cc class in 1984, Jacky was immediately successful, winning his first ever moto during the opening round of the World Championship in Saint Jean d’Angely and then fighting all season long with Heinz Kinigadner for the title. Kini finally got the title, but with five heat wins, two GP wins and several other podiums Jacky reached his best level and was one of the favourites for the 1985 campaign. Once more it was a tough affair between him and Kini, but the final round in Germany was a terrible day for Jacky, a man who was known for bringing something different to the sport, such as riding in pink gear! Vimond came into the last round in Germany leading the series but he struggled during the race and had to accept the runner’s up spot to Kinigadner once more, perhaps due to him missing the experience necessary to beat his Austrian rival. Third time is a charm as they say and for Jacky his third attempt was the good one. In 1986 Jacky was unbeatable, winning seven GP’s and eleven heats to be crowned before the final round began. He was the first French rider to win a world title and he did what Daniel Pean (first French rider to ever win a GP in 1979) or Jean Jacques Bruno (first French rider to get a Japanese Factory ride with Suzuki in 1980) could never do before, and entered into the legends of French Motocross. His future was bright as Yamaha offered him a ride in the 500cc class, which was the ‘main class’ at that period, for the following few season. But everything was destroyed in September of his

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championship year, during his title celebration in a famous cabaret bar. All the press and the industry was in Paris to celebrate Jacky, but during the show there was a horrible crash and Jacky broke several vertebras in what was supposed to be a nice party… Spending 1987 between hospitals and re-education centres, Jacky showed his legendary determination when he was back racing full time in 1988, aboard the famous 500 YZM Factory Yamaha. Of course his riding style was different, the pain was horrible, but Jacky did it and even won the 500cc GP of Sweden! With a couple of other podiums he finished fifth in the series and in that same year he won his eleventh French title. It was his last appearance as a factory rider, but not his last season as in 1989 he built his private team and got a thirteenth overall in the 500cc class on a Honda. The following season he went back to the 250cc class, expecting that the 250cc would be less demanding for his body, but after a few GP’s he took the decision to retire from racing and hire a young rider to finish the season on his bike. His racing career was over, but Jacky has always had Motocross in his blood and so he entered a new chapter of his career, a career which is still very active. Working alongside promising kids such as Sebastien Tortelli (125 World Champion in 1996) or Christophe Nambotin, but also with famous riders such as David Vuillemin or Joshua Coppins, he also collaborates with the French Federation as trainer of the prospects team and as the Motocross of Nations trainer. Never giving up he is still very active as trainer of the Monster Bud Racing Kawasaki athletes, following them all year long on the practice tracks and on the races, always smiling and happy to be involved in Motocross. He’s one of the greatest ambassadors of our sport, and one thing is for sure we’ll see him for many more years in the paddock of our sport around the world!


JACKY VIMOND

Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME

Doug Dubach

A Life of Motocross

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American racer Doug Dubach is very much a person who just loves motocross in all its forms. Having raced all over the world in his professional career, and having had the chance to race major events in Europe, such as the Masters of Motocross, Japan, Australia and of course back home in America he knows the true value of the sport. Dubach returned to Europe for the first time in a while in September of this year to made the trip to Ernée for the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. It was a poignant trip for Dubach as it was 30 years since he had raced on the Ernée track against some of the leading French riders of that time. “Going to a place like Ernée, it was just amazing, with the amount of people and the facility, the whole program, it makes you want to race. The track looked perfect, I would have ridden for any country to be able to ride that track. I guess it was funny, but back when I raced I didn’t get the chance to race in Europe for the Grand Prix’s. I mean, I raced a lot of International races in Europe and I had ridden Ernée back in 1988. I am friends with a lot of European riders like Jacky Vimond and Jean-Michel Bayle, and I wanted to get back to Ernée and I wanted my boy to see the crowd, I knew he would be blown away from that event.” For Dubach the sport that attracted him

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at a very young age remains in his blood, and thanks to a father who saw the joy in motorcycle riding, the young Dubach got to experience riding a bike in 1971. “My father and I headed out to the grocery store back in 1971 to grab some last minute items for my mom’s family gathering. Somehow, we ended up bringing home my first mini-bike instead of the salad dressing we were asked to get. In retrospect that random act of convincing my dad to buy a three horse power Cat mini-bike from a grocery store laid the foundation for my career in the motocross industry as a racer, test rider and entrepreneur. We rode up and down my street at eight or nine years old on that mini bike, just a little lawnmower engine in a frame basically.” As far as racing, Dubach didn’t get into that as quickly as a lot of the young motocross talent in USA, but after enjoying riding around the local area for a while he decided to go racing and has never looked back. “My first real bike was a 1978 YZ80 and my first race was also in 1978. I was a late starter, I started racing when I was 15, and I quickly moved through the ranks. I went from an 85cc novice to a 125cc professional in about a year and a half and I was just always excited about riding. The very first day I rode pro I forgot my pants and jersey, I left them at home so I had to ride practice in jeans and a t-shirt. My dad brought my clothes, but by the time I got dressed I had missed the first moto start. I began half a lap


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HALL OF FAME late but I caught up and got third. And I won the second moto, so I won the overall in my first pro race. With not so much money in the family I usually raced locally, but then in 1984 I went to a national and I was 10th in my first attempt. I had a lot of bike failures then I had a lot of injuries and that slowed me up a little. I then got some support from Yamaha in 1987 or 1988 I think. I was beating a lot of the factory riders and got a factory ride and rode for the Yamaha factory for five years. I won a Supercross, and I was always the father of the team, a good test rider and there was often younger guys like Jeff Emig or Damon Bradshaw that I helped a bit.” Despite being known as a good professional racer it was after his factory career that Dubach really came into his own, this time as a veteran racer, well not just any veteran racer, probably the best of his era. “While I had a good pro career it is my veteran career that helped me out and got me a lot of attention. I love riding and there are lots of guys who still race at local meetings and do it for the passion of racing a dirt bike. I also raced in Australia and actually won their series one year. You know you can never appreciate those types of trips and what impact it makes in your life. I mean for me, I feel lucky to be able to do something I love and have all this knowledge and it has been a great life for me.”

USGP in 2010 was coming and that it was being run on the weekend of my birthday, Back in 2010 Dubach had the chance of and to top things off they would be running a lifetime to race the VMX round of the a veterans class. I thought that was pretty Veterans World Cup at the Glen Helen cool, they would run a race and it was in my circuit. He would win the round and return backyard at Glen Helen. It was pretty cool a year later in 2011 to finish second overall and the time was important for the USGP, with 1-3 results. but they still put the veterans in there.” Racing, travelling and enjoying the sport he “Somebody asked me if I wanted to race found more than 40 years ago continues to the veteran races in Europe when they first keep Dubach young and he knows that he started, and I wanted to go so bad and it was should make the most of his life experiences. so popular they were turning guys away, the “You know, I am so lucky I got into racing gates were really full. They told me that the

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Action Photos: PJ. Bonnello

HALL OF FAME

DOUG DUBACH

and have been able to race all over the world and do so much travelling. I know people all over the world and have good friends in like 25 different countries, and that is pretty cool to be able to say that. If I turn up in a place like England I have a place to stay and its people like that I really enjoy their company. Going to England last year for a veteran race was also really cool, I hadn’t seen Jean-Michel Bayle in a while and when he raced in America we got on really well, in fact I was one of the few people who he called a friend. He has always been a good guy and any competitor you could learn from was someone I wanted to get to know, and he was something else on a motorcycle.” Dubach is a fan of motocross and his visit to his local track at Glen Helen for the 2015 USGP this year blew him away. He had of course ridden the circuit before but this year he saw something very special. “I went to the USGP at Glen Helen and it

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was a fun event and sometimes I think the American public don’t really appreciate the global talent of the GP guys. American fans can be narrow minded sometimes and my boy and I had such a great time there and Romain Febvre was just amazing and Glen Helen isn’t an easy track to come to and I hope the Americans embrace the two USGP’s in 2016. You know, it is like anything, everyone shares something at the top and I think American riders dominated for a while, but now it’s very close, and I wish more people would be like Carmichael, he would race for their country, he would ride no matter what and the Motocross of Nations deserves 100% respect, it’s an amazing event. One thing is for sure, Dubach will be in the crowd at the two USGP’s in 2016, smiling and remembering his time as one of the best, but more importantly enjoying watching the sport that has given him so much success and pleasure.


HALL OF FAME

Paul Friedrichs

the Champ from the East

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n the rich history of our sport Germany has always been a major player as an organiser, with winning manufacturers and of course with many riders involved in the Grand Prix series. But as strange as it is, with so many famous riders through the years there are not so many German athletes that have managed to claim a world title; when Ken Roczen got his MX2 crown in 2011, he was only the second German to succeed, forty-five years after the first, Paul Friedrichs. Born in the east of Germany on the 21st of March

1940 Paul Friedrichs became, as many of the best motorcycles athletes of his country did, a member of the police sport club Dynamo, where the sportsmen had good facilities and expert teachers and trained as professionals. During the height of the cold war it was impossible for a citizen of an Eastern European nation to become a top sportsman on their own with the state involvement meaning that being part of a team owned by the government was the only way to succeed internationally. With an intensive training schedule and subsequently great physical condition, Paul

1961: 20th in the 250cc European Championship (MZ) 1963: 17th in the 250cc World Championship (MZ) 1965: 2nd in the 500cc World Championship (CZ), winner of 3 GP 1965: 11th in the 250cc World Championship (CZ), winner of 1 GP 1966: 500cc World Champion (CZ), winner of 7 GP 1967: 500cc World Champion (CZ), winner of 8 GP 1967: 9th in the 250cc World Championship (CZ) 1968: 500cc World Champion (CZ), winner of 4 GP 1969: 3rd in the 500cc World Championship (CZ), winner of 1 GP 1970: 4th in the 500cc World Championship (CZ), winner of 1 GP 1971: 4th in the 500cc World Championship (CZ), winner of 2 GP 1972: 2nd in the 500cc World Championship (CZ), winner of 2 GP

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HALL OF FAME Friedrichs made his first appearance in a motocross world championship when he turned 21, scoring his first points in the 250cc European series in 1961. Riding an East German MZ, Paul got again a few points in 1962, in what was the first edition of the 250cc World Championship. Tall and strong, the German athlete switched to the top 500cc class one year later as part of the CZ assault in the main series. At this time riders from Eastern communist countries could only ride bikes built behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, and the Czech manufacturer offered a good ride to Paul. It was more than a challenge for him, as four stroke machines had dominated the 500cc series since his first edition in 1957; FN, AJS, Lito, Husqvarna and BSA were the references of the class. However, CZ trusted in their two strokes – the brand had a successful experience in the 250cc class, winning the European Cup in 1958 – and developed a new 360 ‘twin pipe’ that was much lighter than the 500cc four strokes. In his first attempt in the 500cc Paul scored some great results, including his first ever GP win during the 1965 East German Grand Prix. He also won both the Czech round and the final race in Luxembourg where he became Vice World Champion behind the legendary Jeff Smith on his 500cc BSA Gold Star who retained his world championship from the previous year with six GP wins. In this period of motocross the rules were different to today, as due to financial and political reasons only a part of a riders’ results (half plus one of the GP’s) were retained for the final classification. That means that the main rivals didn’t face each other at every round, and in 1965 for example Smith did eight GP’s (the best seven results, six wins and one second place were retained) while Friedrichs did only six to finish runner up between Smith and team mate Rolf Tibblin, the 1962 and 1963 World Champion. In 1966 CZ and Friedrichs entered more events and with three wins in a row during the opening rounds of the series the German proved that his CZ was powerful and reliable. Once more he didn’t attended all the races, but with a total of seven wins, one second and one third position

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he easily beat Rolf Tibblin to offer a fantastic 1-2 championship result to CZ, the first World title for a two stroke engine. He also won in that season his home 250cc East German GP and Pauls was elected ‘sportsman of the year’ in his native East Germany, all od which meant he quickly became the man to beat. Even if he struggled sometimes to travel outside the East German Border (the governing body was afraid that their athletes might never come home after racing in the West), Paul had a successful career. In 1967 he repeated his triumph, winning seven rounds to once more beat Jeff Smith; the two rivals only faced each other in six rounds, but it was six wins for the CZ rider! The next season was more difficult for Paul who had another


PAUL FRIEDRICHS Text P. Haudiquert

strong opponent with John Banks. The factory BSA rider only won two of the thirteen rounds of the series, but Paul could only race six Grand Prix due to political troubles between the then USSR and some of the other Eastern Block countries. Paul claimed his third consecutive title by just one point over Banks, and became the first rider to get three titles in a row, an achievement that only Roger De Coster managed to repeat in the 500cc class. It was to be the last title for Paul, who during his career had also claimed many national titles. The political situation and the breakthrough of new manufacturers including the Japanese factories turned his situation against him and even though he won one or two GP’s per year

Paul was never again a title contender. He ended his International career with a second position behind Roger De Coster in the 1972 world championship, and then spent his time hunting, working as representative for MZ and later as a car dealer. He remains the most successfull German Grand Prix rider in the history of our sport with 29 GP wins, Paul was still alive to see the next German champion when Ken Roczen lifted his MX2 champions trophy in 2011, but sadly died shortly afterwards at the age of 72. well respected by his colleagues, the fans and the press.

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HALL OF FAME

Gaston Rahier

‘Tom Pouce’

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aston Rahier was the first rider to win the FIM Motocross World Championship 125cc class after the FIM changed the status of this category to ‘World Championship’ in the early 1970’s. The Belgian rider first raced 125cc European Cup, and that was the perfect platform for the man

who eventually went on to win three FIM Motocross World Championship titles in a row. Born on the 1st of February 1947 in Herve, Belgium, Gaston Rahier got his first bicycle when he was ten years old. At twelve, the Belgian got a moped and four years later he entered his first motocross race on a 50cc. He didn’t have a lot of racing experience, but was naturally talented and won his first Belgian title in

1972: 13th in the 250 World Championship (Husqvarna) 1972: Japan Champion in the 125 and 250 classes (Suzuki) 1973: 20th in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) 1974: 5th in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki), winner of 1 GP 1975: 125 World Champion (Suzuki), winner of 8 GP 1976: 125 World Champion (Suzuki), winner of 8 GP 1977: 125 World Champion (Suzuki), winner of 7 GP 1978: 2nd in the 125 World Championship (Suzuki), winner of 4 GP 1979: 3rd in the 125 World Championship (Yamaha), winner of 1 GP 1980: 10th in the 125 World Championship (Gilera), winner of 1 GP 1981: 7th in the 125 World Championship (Gilera) 1982: 16th in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) 1983: 23rd in the 250 World Championship (Suzuki) 1984: winner of the Paris Dakar rally (BMW) 1985: winner of the Paris Dakar rally (BMW). Sportman of the year in Belgium. 1988: winner of the Pharaohs rally (Suzuki)

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HALL OF FAME the Junior series beating one of the eventual Belgian greats, Roger De Coster. In the years that followed Gaston faced some adversity from life itself with two traffic accidents forcing him to sit out two seasons with a broken leg. The only thing that kept him sane was the fact he lived near Verviers, which back in the day was the area where a lot of the most famous motocross riders lived. Flashing back to his first GP experience. It turned out to be a combination of interesting circumstances. Gaston travelled to Spain with the late Joel Robert just to watch the race but since Roger De Coster withdrew at the last moment, the young Belgian was offered an opportunity. He took it with both hands but ended up retiring in both races with technical failures. A few years passed before Gaston decided to make his return to the FIM Motocross World Championship. One of his most memorable performances was his win in ‘Coupe de l’Avenir’ in 1967, which turned out to be something special as Gaston was too often in the shadow of the other famous Belgian stars, Joel Robert, Roger De Coster and Sylvain Geboers. His small size was a disadvantage when he raced a 250cc or a 500cc bike, but Gaston was a hard worker and his pugnacity was finally rewarded in 1972. Racing the 250cc Grand Prix on a Husqvarna, Gaston got his first podium in Spain and thanks to his fellow countryman Joel Robert, who was the manager of Team Suzuki, he got an offer from Suzuki in the middle of the season. The original plan was not to race the GP’s but to head off-shore to Japan and compete in the Japanese series. A few months later, the Belgian flew to Japan and won both 125cc and 250cc Japanese titles for Suzuki. Upon his return to Europe with a factory contract in his pocket, Gaston raced the 250cc World Championship and went from twentieth in 1973 to fifth the very next season when he also added his first grand prix win. In 1974, the Belgian changed to the 125cc class, which had a new ‘World Championship’ status and no age limit. Gaston was completely ready for the challenge and at the seasoned age of 28 years old he dominated winning eight rounds of the series to get

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the title. The next two seasons were nearly perfect for Gaston, who claimed eight and seven grand prix wins respectively to add two more titles to his name. He also won the FIM Motocross of Nations with Belgium in 1986, but failed to claim his fourth FIM Motocross World Championship as his teammate Akira Watanabe finally beat him in 1978. Gaston still finished the ’78 season as the runner up in the series with four grand prix wins. In 1979, Gaston switched to Yamaha who were looking for such an experienced rider to develop their new bike. Gaston managed to finish on the podium with Yamaha in the 1979 FIM Motocross World Championship in the 125cc class before moving to Italy where he signed with Gilera. Unfortunate in 1981, despite delivering some success to the team with a grand prix victory, Gaston was injured in an accident which he was unable to recover to the same speed he was before. After a glamorous career, Gaston’s last motocross race was in 1983. After hanging up his boots, Gaston took on a new challenge in Rally Raid. The Belgian started racing in the Dakar alongside Hubert Auriol in the official BMW team where he managed to lead the race in Algeria before a crash saw the victory slide through his fingers. Gaston was a small guy and his size didn’t allow him to touch the ground on the 1000cc BMW. Fortunately talent goes a long way and Gaston had enough of it to make a name for himself in the new world of Dakar racing. In 1984, Gaston added a Dakar victory to his resume. In 1985 the Belgian was named Sportsman of the year in Belgium defeating the likes of Joel Robert and Roger De Coster. BMW withdrew from Rally Racing in 1985, which saw Gaston return to Suzuki. In 1986 he took his final victory in Rally, the Pharaohs’ Rally. In 2000, Gaston retired from racing completely and focused on his motorcycle dealership, which he had in France. In 2005, Gaston, who was a massive figure in the motorcycle world and still helped out a lot of young riders, lost his battle to cancer and died in February 2005.


GASTON RAHIER

Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME

Sten Lundin

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ver since motocross began Sweden has long been regarded as one of the main countries in motocross, producing many famous champions from the first European championship race, right through to the mid 80’s. With two world titles and almost ten years where he made it on to the overall podium in the 500cc class, Sten Lundin is one of the most famous athletes ever to come out of Sweden.

first countries to be deeply involved when motocross races started to be organized in the 50’s, and after winning their first Motocross of Nations in 1955 the Swedish riders quickly rose to prominence, becoming serious challengers to the best British and Belgian riders in the European and world championships, so much so that when the European championship gained world championship status in 1957, it was Sweden’s Bill Nilsson that claimed the first ever 500cc world title, with another promising young rider Sten Lundin lurking in his shadows.

Belgium, Great Britain and Sweden were the

Sten discovered motocross in his native

1955: 3rd in the 500 European Championship (BSA), winner of 2 GP

Winner of the MX of Nations 1956: 4th in the 500 European Championship (BSA)

2nd at the MX of Nations 1957: 3rd in the 500 World Championship (Monark), winner of 2 GP

1958:

3rd in the 500 World Championship (Monark), winner of 2 GP 1959: 500cc World Champion (Monark), winner of 4 GP

2nd at the MX of Nations 1960: 2nd in the 500 World Championship (Monark/Lito), winner of 3 GP 1961: 500 World Champion (Monark/Lito), winner of 6 GP

Swedish sportsman of the year 1962: 3rd in the 500 World Championship (Lito) 1963: 2nd in the 500 World Championship (Lito), winner of 3 GP

2nd at the MX of Nations 1964: 3rd in the 500 World Championship (Lito), winner of 1 GP 1965: 5th in the 500 World Championship (Métisse), winner of 1 GP

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HALL OF FAME Sweden, when he first went riding with his 350 AJS street bike in the woods around the family’s home. One day his friends pushed him to enter a local race, and after taking off the lights and license plate he finished second and really discovered the excitement of a motocross race. He was just eighteen yearsold but had to wait a few more years to have enough money to buy a BSA Goldstar, one of the most famous four stroke bikes of that time. When he’d saved enough money he entered his first races, got some good results and later in 1954 with the support of the Swedish importer who officially supported him, was able to enter the European championship and many international races alongside Bill Nilsson. They were among the first motocross riders to understand the importance of having a good physical condition, and both worked hard together with some skiers to be stronger and faster. Thanks to some promising results in the European series, Sten signed with the Swedish factory Monark to enter the 1957 world championship. It took nearly two years for Sten and Monark to build a competitive and solid bike, and after two final podiums and a couple of GP wins in ‘57 and ‘58 Sten became the strongest competitor in 1959, winning in Austria, Italy, Western Germany and Luxemburg. He placed runner up in Switzerland and Belgium, beating Bill Nilsson to take the 1959 500cc world title. Before the 1960 season Sten worked tirelessly during the winter time with the Monark engineers to build a new bike. ‘The bike was home made, by myself and a team of engineers and technicians from the Monark factory. The construction of the bike took most of the winter, and much attention was paid to every little detail. Everything on the bike was made just for me; the engineers listened to everything I had to say, from the frame geometry to the power band of the engine. We built a very light bike for the time, 128 kg,’

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remarked Sten, who finished runner up in 1960 behind yep, you guessed it, Bill Nilsson! The following season, 1961, was the best one of Lundin’s career; his bike was more competitive than ever, reliable, and Sten won six GP’s and scored the maximum number of points to reclaim the 500cc title. At this period only half the rounds plus one other counted towards the overall standings, and with four other podiums Sten was unbeatable and also got the famous ‘Swedish Sportsman of The Year’ trophy. This season the Swedish team just missed a good result during the wet and muddy MX of Nations, where only one team (Great Britain) was able to finish the race.


STEN LUNDIN Text P. Haudiquert

Turning 30 years-old in 1961, Sten was always one of the most competitive riders against his fellow countrymen, and Sweden was at its best in the 60’s. No less than six 500cc titles went to Swedish riders from 1957 to 1963, and from 1962 to 1965 there were another four or five Swedish riders in the top six of the 500cc series! Despite winning GP’s almost every year, Sten wasn’t able to beat Rolf Tibblin though, another Swedish talent who claimed the title in 1962 and 1963.

entered his last world championship on a Métisse in 1965, winning the first round in Austria. He finished the year fifth overall before ending his career two years later. Ten years later Sten, Torsten Hallman and Stefan Enqvist would develop a new bike, the HL500 built with a XT500 Yamaha engine; Bengt Aberg would go on to take a well deserved win at the GP of Luxemburg 1976, the first one for a four stroke in ten years.

Never off the podium, Sten finished third in 1964, and it became clear to him that it was time to change bikes if he was to win again, especially as the two stroke machines were becoming more and more competitive. He

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HALL OF FAME The Enigma

Yves Demaria

B

orn in Marseille on January 22nd 1972 – the youngest of two children, Yves Demaria was introduced to the world of motocross from an early age. His father, Guy, a carpenter, was a good amateur rider but was never able to make the transition to pro-racer due to a succession of injuries,

but continued to work hard in the hope that one day either of his two sons might. He did, however, win the world amateur race, the Coupe de L’Avenir in Belgium as a Team France member. Patrick, the eldest son was born four years earlier than Yves and was the first to take to riding a dirt bike but as for Yves, his first motocross bike didn’t arrive until Christmas

1989 – 8th - First season in 125cc World Championship 1990 – 8th 125cc World Championship 1991 – 4th 125cc World Championship 1992 – 4th 125cc World Championship 1993 – 2nd 125cc World Championship 1994 – 3rd 250cc World Championship 1996 – 4th 250cc World Championship 1997 – 6th 250cc World Championship 1999 – 4th 500cc World Championship 2001 – Winner MXdN with Team France 2004 – FIM MX3 World Champion, KTM 2005 – 2nd FIM MX3 2006 – FIM MX3 World Champion, KTM 2007 – FIM MX3 World Champion, Yamaha 3-time FIM MX3 World Champion – 2004, 2006, 2007 34 GP Victories – 125cc (4) – 250cc (11) – 500cc (2) – MX3 (17)

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HALL OF FAME Day, a Yamaha 80cc, aged ten. The early days were all about riding for fun, riding in the mountains close to his home, but the day eventually came when he would take to the race track for the first time, aged eleven, something Demaria fondly remembers. ‘My first race was in 1983 at the track of Vitrolles … (Note: Eric Geboers won the 125cc GP there that same year for Suzuki; a race that Demaria witnessed as an eleven year-old). ‘The track went up, then down and then up again and then normally it would go down again. But I stopped on the top. I couldn’t go down, it was too steep. I was scared. Those hills were too big, bigger than where I learned to ride. I didn’t ride for one month after this,’ reflected the rider who ironically, learnt to ride in the mountains. Despite his initial fears of the racetrack it wasn’t long before Yves was racing regularly, and the following year in 1984 entered the amateur French national championship. Two years later he won the 1986 80cc French Cadet Championship, which he followed up with the 125cc Junior title one year later. By now Demaria was never in doubt that one day he would go on to compete on the world stage, and at fifteen years-old Demaria was already classed as a semi-professional rider with the Sonauto Yamaha Team. Now riding for Yamaha France, Yves entered his first 125cc GP in 1989, just over four years after starting out as an amateur at the circuit of Faenza where another future star was making his GP debut, a rider by the name of Stefan Everts. The winner that day was the American Trampas Parker, who would go on to win the title that year, but more impressive was perhaps Demaria’s own performance, placing 6th overall. His first two years saw him place regularly inside the top ten but it was in 1991 at the French GP where he scored his maiden race win at Toulon sous Arroux. He would end the season fourth overall. Le ‘Tefli’, or ‘The Fly’ had arrived. The following season in 1992 saw Yves switch

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from Yamaha to Suzuki and shortly afterwards claimed his first overall grand prix victory when he stormed the French 125cc GP at Plomion. He also won the final round at Suzuka in Japan, on his way to another 4th overall in the championship. The following season (1993) and still on Suzuki Demaria was suddenly a contender for the title, but a broken tibia in December ’92 hampered his winter training. Despite his slow start, he was still in the hunt and by mid-season his battles with Pedro Tragter were a real crowd pleaser, but he eventually lost out to the Suzuki mounted Dutchman, to place 2nd, winning three more GP’s along the way.


YVES DEMARIA

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In 1994 ‘Le Tefli’ moved up to the 250cc class, which was then considered the premier class. He had also switched team and brand, riding for the Pepsi Honda team with backing from HRC. Although he would claim six of the twelve GPs on offer, he would only place 3rd overall. In 1995 Demaria signed for Michele Rinaldi’s Chesterfield Yamaha team alongside Bob Moore and Andrea Bartolini in the 250cc class once more but another broken right leg forced him out of title contention. The following year he placed 4th. His 1997 season started with Paolo Martin’s Honda squad but he didn’t like the new aluminium frame, so after the Venezuelan GP decided to end the agreement. With Sebastien Tortelli and Fred Bolley injured at Kawasaki, team boss Jan de Groot brought Demaria in to keep the sponsors happy and four days after receiving the call, arrived with his bags in Indonesia and nailed down an emphatic double-race win at Bandung. Shortly after, Demaria signed to race the rest of the year, and the 1998 season. But the injury curse struck again, and a massive concussion saw him enter just a handful of races. In ’99 he moved up to the 500cc class with Corrado Maddii’s Factory Husqvarna team. He was lying 2nd overall when he picked up another broken ankle and finished 4th. Despite a tough season in 2001 the Skittles Yamaha mounted Demaria became a winning member of Team France at the MXDN alongside David Vuillemin and Luigi Seguy, the first victory for France in this prestigious event. But time was running out and in 2002 he was back in the 500cc class. Still searching, at the age of 30, he was signed by the KTM Factory Team and claimed his 15th GP win

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at Castiglione del Lago but at round three, he broke his shoulder in the tough sand of Valkenswaard. The following year (2003) and still with KTM he broke his neck at Valkenswaard and missed the whole season, but recovered well to enter the 2004 in the newly formed MX3 class as part of the recovery process and finally claimed that elusive first world title. He lost out the following year to the Belgian Sven Bruegelmans due to a broken ankle


YVES DEMARIA Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

whilst leading the championship, but would go on to win two more titles in 2006/2007.

as a coach for Kawasaki Racing Team in 2011/2012.

He retired at the end of the 2007 season with a total of 34 GP victories; 17 in 125/250/500cc and 17 from his time in MX3.

He currently works with Valentin Guillod, taking the Swiss rider to the EMX250 title in 2013 and 4th overall in the FIM MX2 World Championship in 2015 where he collected three GP wins.

He moved into coaching in 2008, won the EMX250 European Championship with Christophe Charlier in 2009 before working

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HALL OF FAME

Jeremy McGrath IT’S SHOWTIME

J

eremy McGrath will go down in motocross history as the rider who changed everything. Fans loved him; riders idolised him and wanted to be him. He was media savvy, an entrepreneur that brought outside interest and sponsors into the world of motocross and supercross and will forever be remembered as an icon of our sport; a true legend. He was a real showman who took the record book, tore it up and threw it out the window, and is probably single-handedly responsible for changing the sport of motocross and supercross in terms of how it is viewed today. It all started on November 19th 1971 when Jeremy was born in San Francisco, California. Although he didn’t start riding a motorcycle

until he was five, it was BMX that took up all his time. But after honing his skills for a number of years, boredom and disillusionment set in and the young ‘MC’ decided to look for a new challenge, and it was in motocross that his senses were re-awakened. McGrath’s first race didn’t happen until he was 14 years-old at Perris Raceway in 1986, and after three years of racing at amateur level, switched to the pro-ranks and by 1989 found himself lining up at the start gate in the fastpaced world of supercross, riding in the 125cc West Coast region. That first season would see McGrath place 8th overall riding a Honda and while most of his results were just inside the top ten he did record a podium at round three with a second position at the Kingdome in Seattle behind Jeff ‘Chicken’ Matiasevich. The following

72 250cc SX wins – Still holds the record 7 AMA 250cc SX titles 1993, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’98, ’99, 2000 2 AMA 125cc SX titles (West Coast) 1991 / 1992 2 FIM Motocross des Nations titles – Team USA

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HALL OF FAME season McGrath upped his game to place second overall in the same 125cc West Coast Supercross Championship, picking up his first 125SX win at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, March 17th 1990, and caught the eye of a team manager that like Jeremy, would change the way teams and riders went racing, a guy by the name of Mitch Payton. With his tuning business already up and running, Payton ran Pro-Circuit Honda’s with the backing of Peak and Splitfire, and pitched his new privateer team against the might of the factory teams. The result saw McGrath embark on a journey that would take his career and send it into orbit. Back-to-back titles in the 125cc West division in 1991 and 1992 saw McGrath sign for US Honda to race in the 250cc supercross class alongside his teammate Jeff Stanton, and after winning the prestigious Tokyo Supercross at the end of the ’92 season, he entered 1993 as a rookie looking to gain experience in the premier class. After taking 4th and 5th at the opening two rounds McGrath took victory at round three at Anaheim, passing his teammate Stanton en-route to the chequered flag. He would take another nine victories that year and won the AMA 250cc Supercross Championship by 57 points in his rookie season, aged twenty-one. Unfortunately for his rivals, Jeremy McGrath was just getting started. The rider now known as ‘Showtime’ dominated the US scene for the next three years straight, winning the AMA Supercross Championship four years in a row from ’93 to ’96. He even managed to wrap up the AMA 250cc Outdoor Championship in 1995, something his mockers thought he would never achieve. There was an FIM Motocross des Nations victory too in 1993 in Austria at the circuit of Schwanenstadt, which he followed up with a second ‘Nations win at Jerez in Spain in 1996.

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Everything that McGrath touched turned to gold and fans all over the world were in awe of him. His most impressive season had to be 1996. With a win at the opening round in Orlando, the McGrath freight train gathered momentum and ten rounds in he was still undefeated. Wins eleven, twelve and thirteen came in Tampa, Pontiac and Charlotte but at round fourteen, McGrath met his match when Jeff Emig took the win that ended the win streak. Win fourteen for the season though came at the very next and final round in Denver, in a season that saw him on the podium at every


JEREMY MCGRATH Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

round. After a falling out with Honda, McGrath signed for Suzuki in what was a shock move and left many, Jeremy included, scratching their heads. After such a dominant season the year before, 1997 was anything but, recording just two SX main event wins, finishing second overall behind Jeff Emig, and to rub salt in the wound, Emig would also win the outdoor title as well.

So, it was all change again for the 1998 season, and McGrath found himself racing for Chapparal Yamaha, a San Bernardino based motorcycle dealership. Again, many were left wondering whether it was a good move, but three more titles in ’98, ’99 and 2000 proved everybody wrong. Even more impressive was that it was the first time that a non-factory team had won the AMA Supercross Championship. It was a case of déjà-vu in 2001, certainly from

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HALL OF FAME

a fans perspective and with McGrath nearing 30 years of age, the biggest question was how much longer McGrath could stay on top? After winning the season opener at Anaheim, it was clear there was a challenger to the throne, and by round two Ricky Carmichael found himself on the top step of the podium – he’d won at Daytona the previous year but was too inconsistent over the season to make an impact. McGrath won again at round three in Arizona but by round four Carmichael took the win at Anaheim A3, and from there went on a streak that matched the 13-ina-row of McGrath from 1996. The reign of Jeremy McGrath was over. While he placed 3rd the following season the wins had dried up for Showtime. A surprise move to KTM for 2003 saw him retire on the eve of the opening race of the season, but being ‘The King of Supercross’ he successfully turned his retirement into a farewell tour.

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JEREMY MCGRATH

He has since turned his hand to X-Games ‘Step-Up’, winning Gold in 2004, raced supermoto; entered the Championship Off Road (CORR) series where he recorded podiums. He also co-owns Pole Position Raceway, a chain of indoor Go-Karting centres. Add to that he was the first supercross racer to have his own shoe line as well as his own toy products so it’s easy to see why McGrath was able to transcend motocross and supercross the way he did. He has starred in movies, has his own movie production company and has even written an autobiography. All of this and he is just as approachable now as he was when it all started. He currently works for Kawasaki in an ambassadorial role.


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HALL OF FAME The Pioneer

Rolf Tibblin

S

wedish legend Rolf Tibblin is very much one of the pioneers of the FIM Motocross World Championship scene. Along with a long list of fellow countrymen, it was the Scandinavian riders who owned the FIM Motocross World Championships in the 1950’s and 60’s. Following victories by names such as Bill Nilsson (1957 and 60) and Sten Lundin (1959 and 61), Tibblin would also add two 500cc world championships to his name in 1962 and 1963. He would in fact become the first rider in the sport’s history to win two world motocross championships in a row. Tibblin also claimed 22 GP victories in the 500cc class, a position that sits him among the all-time greats, the same amount of victories in the class as British legends Dave Thorpe and Jeff Smith. Born in Stockholm on May 7, 1937, Tibblin was a strong build man who could outperform all competitors in any physical exercise. With an interest in both soccer and ice hockey, Tibblin claims today that it was just a coincidence that he chose motorcycles as a hobby. Many felt he could have been world class on both of those

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others sports, but it was the two wheeled action that took his fancy. The son of a scrap-yard lumberman, Tibblin had to work hard from an early age, and this built up his physical condition and stamina. As a young man, Tibblin recalls: “I felt that the team players were complaining about almost everything instead of trying to win games, and since my parents had strict rules about behavior, I had to work when others were training.” “My dad told me there was no money in football, of course he was wrong,” Tibblin said. “One of my uncles helped me buy a bike. No racing they said, it was too expensive. I worked in a scrap yard and I raced without the knowledge of my parents, and in fact I won the European championship without my parents’ support. To become a professional racer, most people don’t really know what it takes to become a racer, it takes a lot of work.” Despite having little time for training Tibblin never had any trouble getting his place in his soccer and ice hockey teams and he always outperformed his teammates. It was during this time that he also started hanging out with young motorcycle friends. “They were more open and easy going so we


EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME socialized much better”, Tibblin remembers. As a consequence, he joined a motorcycle club west of Stockholm, where he claims he was ‘pretty poor in the saddle’. But good partnerships and plenty of practice spurred him on and he began to pick up speed. By the time he was 19 he had built his physical strength to high standards and this meant Tibblin managed to keep up his pace when others started to get tired. In 1958 Tibblin contested the European 250cc Motocross Championship (the predecessor of the World 250cc Motocross Championship), and finished second aboard a Husqvarna. He returned in 1959 and won the European 250cc Motocross Championship with the Husqvarna factory team. In 1960 Tibblin moved to the ranks of the FIM 500cc Motocross World Championship, and he began the season with a lot of confidence and good performances. His Husqvarna was very competitive and he managed to win the two first Grand Prix races in Austria and in France where he finished in third place aboard a Husqvarna. Two years later he captured the top prize in motocross: the 1962 500cc Motocross World Championship title. The most difficult GP of the 1962 season was undoubtedly the Czech Grand Prix where everybody was exhausted after the two heats. This resulted in another world title and as mentioned, it was the first time in the history “It just proved that my hard training paid off of the sport that one rider had taken victory well,” Tibblin said. “I looked at other sportsman, in the half litre class for two successive years. from wrestlers, footballers, and skaters to Tibblin also won the famous Novemberkasan five find out how to get really fit. I called up these times in a row from 1960 to 1964, an incredible different sportsmen and I asked them. All had record at the time. Tibblin was also member of different fitness levels for different parts of their Sweden’s championship winning Motocross of bodies, and I tried to combine a lot of those Nations team in 1961 and 1962. things, to what I felt would suit my body and my At around the same time Tibblin won the first sport.” individual class victory at the International Six He went on to win half of the GP races that Days Trophy, that year held in Bad Ausee in season and was 500cc World Champion for the Austria. The following year Tibblin slipped to fifth first time in his life. Still racing for the Husqvarna place in the 500cc class championship. factory, the following year went smoothly and In 1964 Tibblin changed from Husqvarna to Rolf won five of the twelve rounds.

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ROLF TIBBLIN

Text: A. Wheeler. Photos: G. Meyer

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HALL OF FAME Hedlund, prepared by technician Nils Hedlund, who also had been involved in tuning his previous Husqvarna’s. This season turned out to be a giant battle between Tibblin and British rider Jeff Smith. The title was on a razor’s edge going into the decider in San Sebastian, Spain. But luck didn’t favor Tibblin and he had to be content with second place after his front wheel gave up during the last lap. By 1965, the era of the two strokes had arrived and Tibblin once again switched brands and this time riding for CZ, where he finished third behind Smith and Paul Friedrichs. In the 1966 season he finished second aboard the CZ. Smith who would of course win 500cc titles in 1964 and 65 and also collected a long list of GP victories, had huge respect for his rival, and wasn’t short on giving the Swede compliments. “The man who designed and made Tibblin’s 1964 championship mount was Nils Hedlund,” Smith said. “It was really the last great motocross machine before the two-strokes came flooding in. It took a strong, fit man to handle such a machine and Tibblin was the man to do it. He was the first person in motocross to take training seriously and I was privileged to know him and learn some of his methods. He was also a very humorous person, easy to get along with and always ‘very, very, sorry’ if he knocked you down!” After having raced in Europe for some years he was looking for new challenges and he took his family to the United States where he began racing successfully again. Tibblin soon became a popular name in the US after winning prestigious events like the Baja 1000 and the Mint 400. He also started a famous motocross school on the west coast, which became very popular among up-and-coming US riders. One of Tibblin’s pupils and friends was moviestar of the 1960s and 70s, Steve McQueen

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and they were often seen together riding in the desert sand. Tibblin stayed in the USA from 1971 to 1978 during which time he also raced buggies in the desert, also with great success. That of course is another story! Tibblin is remembered as one of the more physically fit motocross racers of his day. In 1968 he wrote a book about fitness and training, which was published with help from U.S. motocross race promoter and Husqvarna importer Edison Dye. His overall


ROLF TIBBLIN Text: Geoff Meyer Photos :Kenneth Olausson

strength is illustrated in a mid-1970s photo showing Tibblin racing in the Hang Ten Grand Prix at Carlsbad Raceway in California. He is wearing a large, helmet-mounted camera and battery pack said to weigh nearly 50 lbs. Tibblin also raced with Gunnar Nilsson in the 1972 Baja 1000, and the pair won the motorcycle division aboard a Husqvarna with a time of 19 hours and 19 minutes.

After retiring from professional competition, Tibblin ran a motocross school in Southern California. He later moved to Sri Lanka, where he held membership with the Sri Lanka Association of Drivers and Riders (SLARDAR), and is credited with helping SLARDAR to enhance and uplift motor sports in Sri Lanka.

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HALL OF FAME

Jeff Smith

Sir MXoN!

D

ouble world champion in the prestigious 500cc class, Jeff Smith had a very successful career in the 50’s and 60’s with many GP victories, seven wins at the Motocross of Nations, eleven British titles – two in trials and nine in motocross – eight ISDE gold medals and

one Scottish Six Days trial. He was one of the most eclectic off-road riders and claimed most of his success with BSA. Born on the 13th of February 1934 in Colne, England, Jeff grew up during the Second World War and had a few opportunities to start riding an old Triumph two stroke when he was nine years old. Due to the war it was not easy to get gas, so Jeff could only ride

1953: British Trial champion 1954: 3rd in the European 500 Motocross Championship. Winner of 1 GP British Trial champion 1955: 7th in the European 500 Motocross Championship. Winner of 1 GP 1956: 11th in the European 500 Motocross Championship Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1957: 4th in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1958: 6th in the 500 Motocross World Championship 1959: 6th in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1960: 2nd in the European 250 Motocross Championship. Winner of 2 GP Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1961: 3rd in the European 250 Motocross Championship. Winner of 2 GP 1962: 2nd in the 250 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 3 GP 7th in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP 1963: 3rd in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 3 GP 1964: 500 Motocross World Champion. Winner of 7 GP Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1965: 500 Motocross World Champion. Winner of 6 GP Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1966: 3rd in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP 1967: 2nd in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP Winner at the Motocross of Nations 1968: 11th in the 500 Motocross World Championship 1969: 25th in the 500 Motocross World Championship 1970: 3rd in the US Trans Ama 500

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HALL OF FAME in the back of the house from time to time, when his father gave him some gas. And when the war stopped he bought a 125cc BSA two stroke, and Jeff became such a good trial rider that the factory called him to become a works rider in 1952. So it’s in trial that Jeff got his first trophies, with British titles in 1953 and 1954. Working in the factory during the week, racing trials but also scrambles, Jeff got an opportunity to race his first Motocross GP during the 1954 campaign as member of the BSA factory team. Nobody was expecting him to win his first ever Grand Prix but he did it, beating all his rivals in Holland to claim a sensational victory. “Fortunately it rained like mad, so it was really more a trial than a motocross! When I came back home, the head of BSA racing told me that perhaps they should let me race more scrambles and motocross events,” he said a few years later. Moving definitively to motocross in 1955 he won his home British GP, claimed his first British title and entered a full GP campaign. It took nearly a decade for Jeff to become world champion, as he had to wait till 1964. Always faithful to BSA, who gave him his chance, he made steady progress each season, winning one, then two and three GP’s per year to finally join the top three in 1960; it was the ‘Swedish’ era in the 500cc class, as riders (Sven Lundin, Bill Nilsson, Rolf Tibblin) and manufacturers (Monark, Husqvarna, Lito) dominated the 500cc world championship from 1959 to 1963. Runner up in ‘62 and third in ‘63, Jeff entered the ‘64 series with a BSA Goldstar B40 (in fact a 350cc punched out to 420cc) and was immediately the main rival of Tibblin. It was an epic season; Jeff won seven of the thirteen rounds, never missed the podium and got the title with a narrow margin in the last race of the season! As Tibblin did in the past, Jeff Smith claimed a second consecutive title in ‘65 on his factory BSA,

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the last one for the legendary four stroke engines as two stroke engine technology went on to dominate the next decades. “I was thirty when I got my first title and I have to say that I thought I was never going to win the world championship but obviously experience and an excellent machine came together at just the right moment” he reminds. In ‘65 he was so dominant that he was already champion at mid season, and BSA asked him to race with a stock model the last rounds of the series. Just scoring one point with this bike, he entered a new challenge with the British manufacturer to try to get a third consecutive title in ‘66; BSA assigned a team of engineers to develop a


JEFF SMITH Text : P. Haudiquert: Photos: Tom White

new bike able to fight with the two strokes CZ or Husqvarna, but all season long Jeff struggled with technical failures.

closer to their mechanical limits to compete with the lighter and more powerful two stroke machines.

“In fact it took four years for that bike to become successful, and we were really developing the machine at the Grand Prix events,” commented Jeff who got a third and then a second position in the ‘66 and ‘67 seasons. He retired in the mid 70’s, after racing the brand new Trans AMA series in the USA, and continues his career in the US as consultant for Can Am who produced off road bikes in the 70’s. Jeff had a strong reputation, as he was not ‘the’ master to preserve the mechanic at one period when the four strokes were pushed closer and

Very popular all over Europe and recognized as one of the most technical rider, Jeff Smith was also during his career a vital member of the British team at the Motocross of Nations. On the podium at ten editions between ‘56 and ‘69 including seven wins, two second and one third position, he won more MXoN than anyone and has achieved fantastic results during his long career.

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HALL OF FAME the first one!

I 500cc class.

Rene Baeten

n Belgium, motocross and cycling are two of the most popular sports. There have been thirteen Belgian FIM Motocross World Champions with Rene Baeten setting the tone back in 1958 as the first Belgian to win the motocross world championship back in 1958 in the

Born in Herentals on the 10th of June 1927, Rene Baeten didn’t have the longest of careers

as he started racing motocross when he was twenty years old and disappeared tragically in an accident less than fifteen years later. Coming late into motocross, in 1947, Rene Baeten had to wait a few years before bringing home his first trophies; but when the little and talented man started to win some races two years later, he immediately switched to the International class to race against some of the most famous Belgians riders such as Auguste Mingels, Victor Leloup or Paul Janssen. Winning

1953: 2nd in the 500 European Championship (Sarolea), winner of 2 GP 2nd at the MX of Nations 1954: 2nd in the 500 European Championship (Sarolea), winner of 2 GP 1955: 9th in the 500 European Championship (Matchless) 2nd at the MX of Nations Belgian champion 1956:

8th in the 500 European Championship (FN) 3rd at the MX of Nations 1957: 2nd in the 500 World Championship (FN), winner of 1 GP

2nd at the MX of Nations Belgian champion 1958: 500 World Champion (FN), winner of 3 GP

Belgian Sports Merit Award 1959: 9th in the 500 World Championship (Matchless) 1960: 7th in the 500 World Championship (Matchless)

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HALL OF FAME races on his home soil on a factory Sarolea, he entered the 500cc European Championship for the first time in 1953 and immediately won his first grand prix in Sweden and Belgium. Vice European champion behind Mingels and member of the Belgian Team runner up at the Motocross of Nations, Rene had a tremendous start to his international career and confirmed his potential in 1954 when he won two GP’s and finished again second in the championship behind Mingels! Dominating the European series since it’s first edition, the Belgians lost their supremacies in the next seasons, as British John Draper and Leslie Archer but also Swedish Bill Nilsson started to win GP’s and titles. It was a tough period for the Belgian riders; twice vice champion in ‘53 and ‘54 Rene Baeten had some troubles to confirm his previous results, but also claimed his first national title in 1955 and got a factory deal with FN, the famous Belgian manufacturer. His ‘56 campaign was ruined by an accident during a pre season race in Namur, but in 1957 he won another National title, collected his fourth podium at the Motocross of Nations with the Belgian team and finished runner up behind Bill Nilsson in the brand new 500cc World Championship. Ten years after his first race, Rene entered the ‘58 season with all the pieces of the puzzle in his pocket: a factory and solid FN, a strong experience after five European or World Championship campaigns, and a strong motivation. It was a great season for him and the reigning champion, who dominated their rivals and fought for the title; Namur and the GP of Belgium will remain as one of the greatest duel they never had, as they did the last four laps of the race together on one of the most selective tracks of the series. Winner of his home race, Baeten claimed the title in the next event as he dominated Nilsson once again at Ettelbruck (Luxemburg) and became the first Belgian to get a world title. Winner of three GP’s, Belgian and world champion, Rene Baeten was also celebrated in his home country when he received the ‘Belgian Sports Merit Award.’

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It was a perfect season for him, but a few weeks after the winning festivities FN announced that they stopped their racing activities. Forced to find a new ride, Rene struggled during the ‘59 season and was expecting better results when he had a terrible accident during an international Belgian race in 1960. At 33 years old he didn’t survive his injuries, and let Swedish, British and German riders dominate the 500cc class. Belgium had to wait fourteen years to see one of their riders, Roger De Coster, again on the top of the box in the main class.


RENE BAETEN

Text: P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME

Victor Arbekov

the Shooting Star

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n the 1960’s, riders from the URSS were some of the main competitors in the brand new 250cc world championship, along with the Swedish and Belgian riders. Torsten Hallman and Joel Robert were the first 250cc world champions, but Victor Arbekov became the first Russian rider to win a grand prix in 1964 and then a world title in 1965. Born on the 8th of March 1942 in Podolsk, a city near Moscow, Victor had an interest in motorsport racing when he was young; his first experience was when he was ten yearsold when a young rider put him on his bike for a few meters. He started his career as a mechanic, and entered his first race in 1956 on a home built machine and won a national 125cc title a few years later. However, Victor was also a serious student and attained a sports trainer diploma at the prestigious University of Leningrad. In 1961 he entered the military CSKA Moscow as a sport trainer, and then got the opportunity to race more events as a member of the Russian

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team, which was the only way to race outside the Soviet Union. During this period the most popular bikes in Russia were the Eso, Jawas or CZ built in Czech Republic and in 1963 Victor was selected for the national team to race the 250cc Grand Prix of Russia on a CZ, just like all the other Russian riders. He picked up some good results there and he was picked up by the Russian government to represent the country in the 1964 series. He won his first GP in Eastern Germany and finished 4th in the series, and he was a strong rival for Torsten Hallman (world champion in ‘62 and ‘63) and Joel Robert (world champion in ‘64) before he finally beat both of them in 1965 in what was only his second full campaign. He won five rounds in 1965 (Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands and Poland) of the 250cc world championship, and Victor had some great battles with reigning champion Joel Robert, the British rider Dave Bickers and Torsten Hallman; at the time only half of the results counted towards the final classification, and Victor secured the title in Finland to beat Joel Robert by four points. He became the first rider from the Soviet Union to


EDITORIAL

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VICTOR ARBEKOU

HALL OF FAME 1963: 20th in the 250cc world championship (CZ) 1964: 4th in the 250cc world championship (CZ), winner of 1 GP 1965: 250cc world champion (CZ), winner of 5 GP 1966: 4th in the 250cc world championship (CZ), winner of 2 GP 9th in the 250cc world championship (CZ), winner of 1 GP 1967: 4th in the 250cc world championship (CZ), winner of 1 GP

Text : P. Haudiquert

1968: 9th in the 250cc world championship (CZ)

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dominate an international series, so Victor Arbekov was treated as a national hero; he collected some famous awards, including some official diplomas and a Skoda offered by CZ as he made some great advertising for the brand by winning this world title. The next two seasons Victor was again one of the top Russian riders, and despite winning some more GP’s, he couldn’t repeat his success. Still working as a coach and trainer in the military CSKA Moscow, he finished twice the series in fourth position and raced his last season in 1968, scoring a ninth position in the 250cc world championship. He retired as a racer after only six world campaigns, but continued to

train young athletes until his retirement in 1992 as lieutenant colonel in the army. Victor Arbekov remains as one of the top Russian riders in the History of motocross with Guennady Moisseev, who finally succeeded nine years after Arbekov, always in the 250cc class. With one world title, fourteen national titles and nine GP wins, Arbekov is the second best Russian rider in the history of our sport behind Moisseev, who won two titles and fourteen GP’s in the 70’s.


HALL OF FAME ‘Rolls’

Graham Noyce

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hen he was crowned 500cc World Champion in 1979, Graham Noyce was the youngest ever rider to do so in the premier class, yet despite being considered as one of the most promising riders of that era, the British star never added another title and retired a few years later with just six GP wins to his name. Born on the 18th of February 1957 in Southampton, Graham Noyce started racing as many British kids in the famous ‘schoolboys’ when he turned ten. He claimed his first title in 1971, and immediately moved into the Senior class where he obtained some great results,

including a 3rd position in the British series. Racing a few GP’s in 1975, on a 125cc Husqvarna as well as a 500cc Maico, he signed with the German factory to race the full GP season just after he had turned nineteen. At this period the 500cc class was the pinnacle of the sport, but in his rookie season Graham impressed everyone as he got his first podium during the opening GP in Switzerland, scored a total of seven podiums and even won his first heat during his home GP at Donington Park! Fourth overall in the series, he stayed put on the Maico and was one of the favourites for the 1977 series but too many DNF’s left him eighth overall in the series. Taller and heavier than most of his main rivals, Graham sometimes asked too much of his bike

1975: 125cc Motocross World Championship 13th 1976: 500cc Motocross World Championship 4th 1977: 500cc Motocross World Championship 8th 1978: 500cc Motocross World Championship 7th 1979: FIM 500cc Motocross World Champion - 2 GP Wins 1980: 500cc Motocross World Championship 8th - 1 GP Win 1981: 500cc Motocross World Championship 2nd - 1 GP Win 1982: 500cc Motocross World Championship 4th – 1 GP Win 1983: 500cc Motocross World Championship 3rd – 1 GP Win

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HALL OF FAME and even though he joined Honda at the end of the year, he continued to struggle with technical problems the following season. His 7th overall in the 500cc class was a far cry from where his American teammate Brad Lackey placed, who ended the year as vice champion. The following season in 1979 Graham entered his fourth season of 500cc competition as HRC team leader after Lackey had jumped ship to Kawasaki, and it was in this season that Noyce finally found the consistency he’d missing to dominate the series; he won the opening round in Austria and collected sixteen podiums en-route to the 500cc title in Belgium, the penultimate race of the season. Winner of three heats and two GP’s, scoring points in 22 of the 24 races, at 22 years old he became the youngest ever rider to win the 500cc world championship and the first Brit’ to do so since Jeff Smith in 1965. In doing so Noyce became the first rider to win a motocross world title for Honda, and as a result was treated like a hero by the company, and continued most of his career on HRC machinery. However, the 1980 season didn’t go according to plan as he damaged his shoulder in a crash during a preseason race in the Netherlands and ended up missing the first few GP’s, ruining his chances of a successful defence of the crown he’d won the previous year. To make matters worse, ‘Noycey’ was hit by a way ward bike at the Italian GP; the incident left him with a Unfortunately, the next two seasons were not to be broken leg. as good; despite his place at HRC within the team Graham did not always work as hard as his main During the off-season Noyce worked hard to get rivals and was never able to fight for the title again, back to his best, and while he started the 1981 instead it was his younger teammate David Thorpe, season slowly he claimed eleven more podiums to take the lead at the top of the 500cc championship Malherbe, Carlqvist and Lackey who did most of the winning. standings, setting up an end of season showdown between his teammate Andre Malherbe of Belgium Fourth overall in 1982 and third in 1983, his and the ‘Super Swede’ Hakan Carlqvist. The last three GP’s of the season provided all kinds of drama last GP win was in that ‘83 season at Payerne in Switzerland. He joined KTM in 1984 but struggled but it was Malherbe who took the title as Noyce with injuries and we never saw him on the GP took 2nd ahead of Carlqvist for a HRC / Honda 1-2 the best result the Japanese form could have hoped podium again. for.

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GRAHAM NOYCE Text: P. Haudiquert

Graham ‘Rolls’ Noyce retired in 1985 with one world title, five British titles and six GP wins; as member of the British Team at the Motocross des Nations, he may have never been a winning member but his presence on the team certainly helped Team GB to several ‘Nations podiums placing 3rd in 1975 / ‘77and 2nd in 1979 / ‘81. Even though he is not seen round the MXGP paddock these days he has always been a huge fan of motocross and regularly enters veteran races were he remains a popular rider, thanks to his riding style and friendly personality with the fans.

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HALL OF FAME

Brad Lackey

the pioneer

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Right after he was crowned US Champion, Brad Lackey was the first American rider who crossed the Atlantic to race the FIM Motocross World Championship. Considered a pioneer, Brad had to persevere. It took him five years to win his first Grand Prix and ten years to win the world championship. He was the first American to do so. Born in Northern California on the 8th of July 1953,

Brad Lackey was lucky to have a father who was a keen motorcycle rider. His Dad took him riding with friends along the coast and over the hills of the San Francisco Bay area before he had even reached his tenth birthday. At 13 years old he entered his first scramble race, and a few years later, as Motocross started to take off in America, he was able to race against the top European riders in the famous Trans AMA series, which was a key moment in his career. “The Europeans taught us that we needed to take our training much more seriously� Lackey

1972: 500 US Motocross Champion (Kawasaki) 1973: 13th in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki) 1974: 10th in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna) 1975: 6th in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna) 1976: 5th in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna) 1977: 4th in 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP (Honda) 1978: 2nd in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 2 GP (Honda) 1979: 4th in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP (Kawasaki) 1980: 2nd in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP (Kawasaki) 1981: 6th in the 500 Motocross World Championship. Winner of 1 GP (Suzuki) 1982: 500 Motocross World Champion. Winner of 1 GP (Suzuki)

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HALL OF FAME remembers, “and I took that to heart. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to go to Europe and compete against the top riders in the world at that time”. From then on, his love for racing was stronger than ever and his dream broadened when the brand he was riding for, CZ, took him to Europe to ride at a training camp in 1971, with an opportunity to eventually race the FIM Motocross World Championship. Lackey was the best finishing American rider in the Trans AMA series at the time, before it evolved into the US championship where he soon became the first ever US Champion, back in 1972. In 1972 he switched from CZ to Kawasaki after turning down a decent deal to defend his title on a CZ for an opportunity to racing on the world stage, in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Even though Kawasaki’s deal was much less in comparison, Lackey was determined to chase his dream. After finishing thirteenth place in his first season, the Husqvarna Factory Racing Team came knocking and he jumped at the opportunity to join Heikki Mikkola on the Swedish brand where he spent three seasons gradually improving his results. The pinnacle of his time at Husqvarna was Team USA at the 1974 Motocross of Nations where with the efforts of his teammates Jim Pomeroy, Tony Di Stefano and Jimmy Weinert, he managed to stand on the second step of the podium. In 1977, Honda made its debut in the FIM 500cc Motocross World Championship with two American riders, one of which was Lackey while the other was Pierre Karsmakers. With the support of the HRC, he managed to win his first ever GP, the grand prix of Great Britain, and finished fourth in the championship behind Mikkola, De Coster and Wolsink. Considered as one of the fastest 500cc riders in the world, Lackey was Mikkola’s main rival in the 1978 season, where he won three races and two

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Grand Prix’ but unfortunately missed the final two rounds of the season which forced him out of contention for the title. Instead, he finished in second place. In 1979 Lackey took a risk and left Honda to ride for Kawasaki where he helped develop a brand new bike with suspension that was unseen in that era. In the ’79 season, he won six races, but also scored no points in six races, which saw his teammate, Noyce, claim the title. In 1980 he was even closer to the title after a season long battle with Honda’s new star Andre Malherbe, where the title went right down to the wire. The duo were almost tied on points at the final grand prix of the season, in Luxemburg, where Lackey lost out once again, by 1 point. Malherbe finished the season on 215 points compared to the 214 of Lackey. In ’81 Lackey refused Kawasaki’s offer of returning to the US to race their national series and he signed with Suzuki. Once again, he was a crucial


BRAD LACKEY Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

part of the development process as Suzuki was only just returning to the 500cc class. During the ’81 season he won one Grand Prix but also had a couple of races he didn’t finish, one of which was because he broke his foot and had to withdraw. After finishing sixth place in ’81, the American had been written off by many, although the twenty-eight-year-old still had a dream he wanted to achieve. In 1982 he finally did it after piecing together his most consistent season ever with

seventeen top-three race finishes and one Grand Prix win to be crowned world champion! The most surprising thing was the announcement at the end of that season, “When Suzuki informed me that they wouldn’t come back the new season I didn’t really have a great opportunity for a ride, so I figured the best thing to do was to retire,” he said. “I spent a lot of years in Europe, put a lot of effort and a lot of time, I had a lot of help and that’s how long it took me to get this World title. I’m so happy I finally did it!”

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HALL OF FAME

Mark Barnett

‘The Bomber’

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ark Barnett didn’t race so long as a professional rider, but in a very short time – five seasons – he collected all the main titles in the USA with one supercross and three motocross titles, a couple of podiums and two grand prix wins in the US round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. He was also a winning member of the US Team at the 1983 Trophy and Motocross of Nations! Born on September 16th 1960 in Bridgeview, Illinois, Mark Barnett learned to ride a bike when he was a kid, before successfully dominating all the classes he entered in his native region, culminating

with a win at the AMA Amateur National Championship when he was 15. The following season he was a lucky member of the FOX team and became a Pro rider and after what turned out to be a great rookie season he joined the factory Suzuki team in 1978. This was an absolute dream for him, because as a kid he’d seen Sylvain Geboers race a Trans Ama race in Wisconsin and became a long-time fan of the Belgian rider! In April 78 he won his first AMA motocross race in Houston, but a shoulder injury later in the season brought his year to a premature end, which also hampered the first part of 1979. However, when he returned, Barnett proved to be the toughest rival of Broc Glover, who was dominating the 125cc class; Mark won a couple of National events, dominated

1979: Winner of the 125 US Grand Prix (Suzuki) 2nd in the 125 US Motocross championship 1980: 125 US Motocross Champion (Suzuki) 1981:250 US Supercross Champion (Suzuki) 125 US Motocross Champion Winner of the 125 US Grand Prix 1982:125 US Motocross Champion (Suzuki) 2nd in the 250 US Supercross championship 1983:2nd in the 250 US Supercross championship (Suzuki) Winner of the Motocross of Nations with Team USA Winner of the Trophy of Nations with Team USA

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HALL OF FAME the US Grand Prix and also got his first supercross win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. “It is one of my best racing memories. We had a huge crowd that night, something like 79,000 people and I won in front of all those screaming fans. It was crazy, I was only 18 and I beat Mike Bell by a bike length after two memorable final laps,” he remembers. Mark was the first rider from the Midwest to get a factory ride, he was used to the mud, ruts and roots and had in his eyes a slight advantage at the east coast races; he may have been short in stature but he was a giant in confidence and determination, with an aggressive, explosive riding style, which is how he acquired the nickname ‘Bomber’. After winning a couple of races in ‘79, Mark put an end to Glover’s domination the following season where Broc was looking for a fourth consecutive championship but he lost the title at the final round of the season as Mark won four of the seven rounds on his Suzuki, using the new ‘Full Floater’ suspension technology. He may have only been 19 years old but Mark was a hard worker at his private training facility, a 400-acre ranch owned by his grandmother in Alabama. He was the man to beat in 1981, and it was nearly the perfect season for him as he clinched his and Suzuki’s first supercross title as well as a successful defence of his 125cc motocross title. He had won the first fourteen rounds of the 125cc outdoor series, but the perfect season was brought to a halt when he broke his collarbone whilst training at home and missed the final race of the series. Before his injury though he raced and dominated the US Grand Prix at Mid Ohio, where he humiliated the European riders, lapping up to 10 in the first moto before winning the second race by nearly two minutes! Runner up in the 250 US supercross series in 1982, Mark won his third consecutive title in the 125cc class, his favourite one. He earned no less than 25 wins and 40 podiums in the 125 National series, a

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record that stood for over twenty years until Ricky Carmichael earned his 26th win in 2001! In 1983 Barnett was leading the 250 US supercross series for most of the season, but his bike broke in Massachusetts; he not only lost 25 points, but also the title. It was a tough season for Suzuki, as Mark also suffered some mechanical problems outdoors and wasn’t able to defend his title. The following season was even worse as Barnett hit his knee, and by the end of the 1984 season, his love affair with Suzuki was


MARK BARNETT Text P. Haudiquert photos: Racer X

over as he moved to Kawasaki. Back in the 125cc class he struggled to re-gain the form that saw him previously dominate and at the end of the season ‘Bomber’ decided to call time on his career. “Maybe I was getting tired or maybe the other guys were just going better. I won very early in my career and I think it’s tough to maintain that level for any length of time,” he said when he retired at only 25 years old. The first rider in motocross history to sign a

million-dollar contract (with Suzuki in 1981) Mark never really quit the sport though, as he later became famous for his track-building in the US. Working for some of the best US athletes and companies, such as Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed, Justin Barcia or JGR, the ‘Bomber Built Tracks’ company is always busy. “When I was racing you could train nearly everywhere, but now you must have your own place to practice if you want to be competitive. That’s why many riders buy or rent a place to build their own track,” he said. A summary of Mark’s career is detailed below.

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HALL OF FAME

Neil Hudson

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‘Smooth’

he first ever British rider to claim a 250cc world title in 1981, Neil Hudson remains the only ‘Brit’ to triumph in this class, as most of his countrymen shone in the 500cc category. Quiet in the paddock but always riding smoothly on his bike, Neil had a short career as he only entered seven world championship campaigns. Born on the 24th of January 1957 in Pensford, just a month earlier than Graham Noyce, Neil Hudson started racing in the schoolboys a few weeks after his debut on a 125cc BSA, his first motocross bike. The young kid was talented, but he had to wait a few more years to be selected by the Maico importer in the UK before he could enter the world championship. He was 20 years old when he entered the GP’s, and immediately collected his first points at a time when only the top ten riders scored points.

Scoring points in fourteen heats, Neil confirmed his great potential at the end of his debut season in 1977 and he was selected to race for Great Britain for the team races. In Cognac for the Motocross des Nations and in Markelo for the Trophy des Nations, Neil entered the top eight and along with Noyce, one of the best riders on the team, Team GB finished third overall in both events. Neil also won the Coupe de l’Avenir and as a result became a serious contender for the FIM 250cc World Championship for the 1978 season. The German manufacturer Maico upped its level of support and Hudson rewarded his paymasters with 5th overall, winning his first ever GP in Sweden along the way. Going into 1979 Hudson was seen as the main contender to the Swede Hakan Carlqvist but it was ‘Carla’ who won the first two GP’s of the season on his Husqvarna. Hudson duly replied by winning in Italy and Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, in the second half of

1977: 13th in the 250cc Motocross World Championship (Maico). Winner of the “Coupe de l’Avenir” 3rd at the MX of Nations with team GBR 3rd at the Trophy of Nations with team GBR 1978: 5th in the 250cc Motocross World Championship (Maico). Winner of 1 GP

3rd at the Trophy of Nations with team GBR 1979: 2nd in the 250cc Motocross World Championship (Maico). Winner of 2 GP

2nd at the MX of Nations with team GBR 1980: 18th in the 250cc Motocross World Championship (Maico). 1981: 250cc Motocross World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 1 GP. Winner of 4 GP 1982: 3rd in the 500cc Motocross World Championship (Yamaha).

3rd at the MX of Nations with team GBR 1983: 14th in the 500cc Motocross World Championship (Yamaha).

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HALL OF FAME the season the Maico only finished one race per GP, and even though he won five heats during the season, he finished runner-up behind his rival, while fellow countryman Graham Noyce claimed the 500cc World title in what was a great year for British motocross. Disgruntled with how 1979 eventually panned out Hudson signed with Yamaha during the winter, but Maico took the matter to court and as a result Neil was forced to miss the opening round of the 1980 season in Spain! He returned for the second round but it was on a Maico. Despite putting the matter behind him and winning the first race at round three in Germany, Neil was involved in a crash at the start of the second race and suffered a broken leg; his season was over, and when he returned in 1981 it was on the brand new 250cc factory Yamaha. The first GP of the season in France didn’t go according to plan as he was forced to retire in both races due to mechanical failure, but then the determined Brit went on the rampage, picking up wins in the USSR, Bulgaria, Austria and The USA to get himself back in to contention. Reigning world champion Georges Jobé had a healthy lead in the series, and with an advantage of 53 points before the last three rounds, the Belgian was the favourite to defend his crown, but the Suzuki rider got injured during a national race, missed the US round and entered the final event with an 11-point-advantage over Hudson. Jobé did his best during the final GP in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, but he was forced to retire twice. Hudson still had a job to do and when he crossed the line in the second race, the Brit was crowned the FIM 250cc Motocross World Champion with a winning margin of just two points over Jobé. The 500cc class was the main one at that time, and Neil joined Carlqvist in the factory Yamaha squad for the 1982 season. His riding style was suited perfectly to the bigger bike, and after four rounds Neil was tied on points for the lead with the American Brad Lackey after winning his first 500cc race in Finland. Neil scored points in all but two races in his debut 500cc season but in the end was no match for the Suzuki boys of Lackey and André Vromans and had to settle

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for third overall. He did manage to beat the factory Honda’s of Noyce and André Malherbe. Scoring another podium at the Motocross des Nations with the British team, Neil was confident for 1983 but his season turned out to be a disaster as he failed to record any podium finishes and only scored points in nine of the twenty-four races. As a consequence, he decided not to honour his factory status and retired from racing at just twenty-five years old. Two years later David Thorpe became the British hero when he won the first of three 500cc World Titles for Honda.


NEIL HUDSON

Text and Photos : P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME ‘Little Professor’

David Bailey

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he career of American David Bailey was not a very long one, but in just five seasons he achieved amazing results, winning four US titles and went undefeated with Team USA at the Motocross of Nations from 1982 to 1986. He also won two US Grand Prix and was twice a member of the winning team at the Trophy of Nations

(a Team race with 250cc bikes). David Bailey still remains one of the greatest US champions. Born in San Diego on December 31 1961, David Bailey got his first bicycle at the age of three and had his first bike when he turned 10. Travelling the country with his stepfather Gary ‘Professor’ Bailey, who ran a motocross racing school, David had to wait many years to get his first taste of success,

1981: 7th in the US 250 Motocross championship (Kawasaki) 1982: Winner of the MX of Nations with the US Team (Honda) 6th in the US 250 Motocross championship Winner of the Trophy of Nations with the US Team 1983: 250 US Supercross Champion (Honda) 250 US Motocross Champion Winner of the MX of Nations with the US Team Winner of the Trophy of Nations with the US Team Winner of the 250 US Motocross Grand Prix 1984: 500 US Motocross Champion (Honda) 2nd in the US 250 Supercross championship Winner of the MX of Nations with the US Team 1985: Winner of the MX of Nations with the US Team (Honda) 3rd in the US 250 Motocross championship Winner of the 500 US Motocross Grand Prix 1986: 500 US Motocross Champion (Honda) 2nd in the US 250 Supercross championship 2nd in the US 250 Motocross championship Winner of the MX of Nations with the US Team

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME which was at the age of sixteen when he won the 250cc Amateur National Championship on an antiquated Bultaco. His first professional season didn’t stay in the memories, but in 1980 he was one of the first riders to join Kawasaki’s Team Green programme; during two seasons he cracked a couple of top 10 results in the 250cc US Series, and was one of the leading young riders when he got an offer to join Honda in 1982. Alongside Honda’s team manager Roger De Coster, who was one of his heroes, David earned his first podiums in the Motocross and Supercross series. “I remember going to the airport to pick up the new ’82 CR250. I took it out of the crate and it had an aluminium gas tank that came completely down to the engine cases, an aluminium rear removable tail section and a blue seat that went all the way up on the gas tank. I’d never seen anything that radical. That bike was the biggest technological leap probably ever in the sport. We were all just stoked to be able to ride it and there wasn’t any great expectations on us since all of us were so young,” he says. Finishing sixth that year in the 250cc US championship, he became worldwide famous when he replaced Donnie Hansen and went on to win the Motocross and the Trophy of Nations at the end of the season with team USA! The 1983 season proved to be a turning point for Bailey. His off-season training paid off and he opened the year with his first AMA national victory in the Anaheim Supercross. That season was like a dream for Bailey who won the AMA Supercross title and later the 250cc Motocross title; he also dominated the US Grand Prix at Unadilla, before winning again with Team USA the Motocross and the Trophy of Nations. After that perfect season David was the leader at Team Honda and the following year in 1984 he had a season-long battle in the outdoor

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DAVID BAILEY

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HALL OF FAME US series with Jeff Ward, who finally beat him by a single point! Honda wanted to spread its talent around in motocross and moved him to the 500cc series, where he completely dominated by winning eight straight races in the 10-race series. At the Motocross of Nations in Vantaa (Finland) he claimed his third consecutive win with Team USA. The 1985 season was not the best one for David, who missed several races due to injuries; only 3rd in the 250cc series, he dominated the 500cc US Grand Prix at Carlsbad before winning the Motocross of Nations with Jeff Ward and Ron Lechien. In 1986 David had his main rival as his teammate, when the young and talented Ricky Johnson joined the Honda squad. Ricky beat Bailey in the 250cc Supercross and Motocross series, but in the 500cc class David earned his fourth and last US title. That year again he was part of the US Team at the Motocross of Nations with Ricky Johnson and Johnny O’Mara and the trio put an amazing show in Maggiora where they wiped out the other countries to bring home the Peter Chamberlain trophy for the sixth consecutive time. That team was known as the Dream Team. Unfortunately, that Motocross of Nations would be the last time he would race for Team USA and one of his last ever races as the ‘Little Professor’ suffered a crash at a Golden State event during practice in California, prior to the start of the 1987 Supercross season. There was significant spinal cord damage and Bailey became a paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. It was a devastating blow to the entire motorcycle racing community. Later Bailey worked in the motocross accessories and apparel business as a consultant, and in 1993 provided commentary for ESPN’s coverage of the AMA

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Supercross and motocross championships. However, he never forgot his passion for the sport and became a leading triathlete; 3rd and then 2nd in the prestigious Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii and he finally won it in 2000 in his division! As a motocross rider David Bailey was a true athlete and will always be remembered for his smooth and fluid racing style and his short, but outstanding career.


DAVID BAILEY

Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME

Michele Rinaldi il maestro!

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ot so many riders have claimed a world title as a rider and later as a manager! Italian Michele Rinaldi is a true legend of our sport, as he was the first Italian rider to become Motocross World Champion and later the first World Champion to get other titles as a team owner/ manager.

Born in Parma on the 9th of March 1959, Michele Rinaldi started riding a bike pretty late, as he was 13 years old when he did his first race on a 50cc Ancilloti. With his natural talent he got some good results and joined one of the numerous Italian manufacturers when he signed with TGM, a bike built in his home town: Parma! Michele was only fifteen years old when he claimed his first regional titles in Emilia and Piedmont, and in 1977 he was crowned Italian 125cc Junior

1978: 12th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (TGM) 1979: 8th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (TGM). 1980: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (TGM). Winner of 1 GP 1981: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Champion (Gilera). Winner of 2 GP Winner of the 125 Cup of Nations with team Italy 1982: 3rd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Gilera). Winner of 1 GP Winner of the 125 Cup of Nations with team Italy 1983: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 3 GP 1984: 125 Motocross World Champion (Suzuki). Winner of 5 GP 1985: 4th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 1 GP 1986: 2nd in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). 3rd at the Motocross of Nations with team Italy 1987: 4th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki).

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HALL OF FAME champion on the Italian bike. Both TGM and Michele improved every year and reached a higher level together, and in 1978 they entered for the first time the 125cc FIM World Championship. For his first year as a pro rider, Rinaldi finished the season in twelfth position and gained some positions in ‘79 with an eighth overall on the last water cooled production of the TGM factory. In 1980 he won his first GP on his home soil in Montevarchi and all season long he was the main rival of Harry Everts; leading the championship before the final round in Mongay (Spain), he finally finished runner up, only five points behind his Belgian rival. Considered as a potential world champion, Michele joined the factory Gilera team at the end of the season to enter another challenge alongside legendary Gaston Rahier. Twice third of the series in 1981 and 1982, he signed with Suzuki to represent the brand in the 125cc FIM World Championship with Eric Geboers. The Belgian won the title ahead of Michele, who finally reached his dream one year later when he became 125cc FIM World Champion after an epic final. Missing some GP’s early in the season due to injuries, Michele was in second position before the last GP in Luxemburg, but championship leader Corrado Maddii broke his leg during the practice session and lost the title! Michele, who was also a two-time winner with the Italian team at the Cup of Nations (the Motocross of Nations for 125cc bikes, ran from 1981 until 1984), was at that time one of the best riders in this class when he decided to move in the upper category. Moving to the 250cc class still with Suzuki but through his own private team – with pasta Barilla as main sponsor – as Suzuki officially retired from racing at the end of 1983, Michele would never succeed in this class against Heinz Kinigadner, Gert Jan Van Doorn, Jacky Vimond or Eric Geboers. Winner of one 250cc GP, runner up in 1986 and twice fourth in 1985 and 1987, Michele struggled with an injured

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shoulder and after racing the Paris Dakar in winter time he officially retired from racing to become team manager. He had his own team with some great sponsors, and he received the official support from Suzuki. He signed American Rodney Smith in 1988 and a year later his fellow countryman Alessandro Puzar, who offered the first World Title in the 250cc class to his manager in his second year in the team (1980). Two years later Michele moved to Yamaha following the wish of his main sponsor Chesterfield, and he immediately obtained a 250cc title thanks to American Donnie Schmit, who beat his team mate Bobby Moore. Now, twenty-five years later Rinaldi and Yamaha


MICHELE RINALDI Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

are still together, with a couple of World titles under their belt with Bobby Moore (125cc in 1994), Andrea Bartolini (500cc in 1999), Stefan Everts (six consecutive titles in 500cc/ Motocross GP/MX1 from 2001 to 2006), David Philippaerts (MX1 in 2008) and Romain Febvre (MXGP in 2015). And the story is not finished, as team Yamaha Rinaldi is still involved in the main MXGP class with Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek. There are still some other wins and titles to come for the Italian manager!

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HALL OF FAME ‘The youngest’

Dave Strijbos

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n the 80’s there was no age regulation in the 125cc class, and even though some very experienced riders raced their entire career in this category, some young kids shined and had strong performances. Winning his first Grand Prix when he was only sixteen years old, Dutchman Dave Strijbos was only eighteen when he became the youngest 125cc World Champion in 1986! Both records stayed on the FIM books for 25 years until Ken Roczen won his first GP at the age of 15 and then became World Champion when he was only 17 years old.

Born on the 8th of November 1967 in Venlo, the Netherlands, Dave Strijbos got his first bike when he was eight years old and entered his first race in 1978 at Apeldoorn on a 50cc. Three years later he was crowned Dutch National Champion in the 50cc big wheels’ class and moved in the junior class on a 125cc Suzuki. After only three races he went in the senior class and less than two years after his first race in the 125cc class, he entered the FIM World Championship! Racing the 1984 World Championship for the Dutch Honda Venko team run by Jan De Groot, Dave Strijbos impressed the world when he won the national GP in Stevensbeek, in what was

1984: 6th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 1 GP 1985: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 4 GP 1986: 125 Motocross World Champion (Cagiva). Winner of 4 GP 1987: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Champion (Cagiva). Winner of 5 GP 1988: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Cagiva). Winner of 7 GP 1989: 7th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 1 GP 1990: 7th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki). Winner of 1 GP 1991: 7th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). 1992: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 2 GP 1993: 3rd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 1 GP 1994: 4th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 1 GP 1995: 8th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki)

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HALL OF FAME only his second Grand Prix! Only sixteen years old, the young blond haired kid was impressive on his powerful Honda and even if it was a learning season for him, everyone understood that this young rider would have a great future. In 1985 he was the main rival of Finn Pekka Vehkonen on his factory Cagiva and was leading the series when he made an unfortunate mistake at the German round in Holzgerlingen; using his reserve bike on Sunday morning during the warm up, the Dutch teenager was disqualified from the race following a protest from the Italian factory. Winning four GP’s Dave remained a title contender but in Argentina he had a flat tire twice and finally lost the title to Vehkonen by only nine points. Impressed by the performance of Strijbos, Cagiva made him an offer to join Vehkonen and Italian Massimo Contini on the factory team managed by Dutch engineer Jan Witteveen. 1986 was a Dutch season, as Dave and former neighbor John Van den Berk battled all season long for the title; the factory Cagiva was more powerful than all the Japanese bikes and got nearly every holeshot that season, and winning again four GP’s Strijbos beat Van den Berk to claim his first World

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DAVE STRIJBOS

Text and photos: P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME title and become the first ever Dutch World Champion. That year Cagiva placed its three factory riders on the top four of the series, but with a second overall Van den Berk was the only one able to disrupt the Cagiva domination. The 1987 season was a kind of remake of 1986, but Van den Berk was an even stronger rival; Strijbos had an impressive beginning of season, winning eight of the first nine motos, but his Cagiva later failed in three heats and the consistent VDB finally beat his long-time rival by sixteen points! With Van den Berk moving into the 250cc class in 1988 Strijbos lost one opponent but found another one: Jean Michel Bayle. The young Frenchman was a true rival and even if Dave won seven of the eleven rounds before the final race in Switzerland, the two rivals came to Geneve extremely close in the points with Dave leading JMB by seven points. The atmosphere was incredible on the ‘Bout du Monde’ track, and when the young Frenchman won the first race his rival lost his advantage in the series as he finished only fourth; with the same number of points (378, almost 150 more than Pedro Tragter who was third in the standings), the last race decided who would be the champion … and it was JMB! As Cagiva didn’t enter the Motocross championship, Dave moved to Suzuki in 1989, but a knee injury ruined his season. Moving in the 250cc class at the end of the season with a private Kawasaki team, Dave had another injury during the Czech GP and could only win one moto that season. Switching back to Suzuki in 1991 he wasn’t really successful (7th in the standings) and decided to come back to the 125cc class where he won again some GP’s to finish twice on the podium for second in 1992 behind Greg Albertijn and a third in 1993 behind Pedro Tragter and Yves Demaria. After two more attempts in the 125cc class he retired from racing at the end of 1995 but remains passionate of the sport and regularly visits the MXGP World Championship with an eternal smile on his face.

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DAVE STRIJBOS

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HALL OF FAME

Trampas Parker

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n the long history of the FIM Motocross World Championship there are only five American riders (Brad Lackey, Dany Laporte, Bobby Moore, Trampas Parker and Donny Schmit) who engraved the FIM tablets as they became Champions, and two of them had the opportunity to get two titles in different classes. Trampas ‘Chad’ Parker was the first of them with a 125cc title in 1989 and a 250cc in 1990, just followed by Donny Schmit, who was champ’ in 1990 and 1992.

Born on the 27th of July 1967 in Louisiana, Trampas Parker was pretty unknown in his native country when in 1989 he won the opening round of the 125cc World championship during his first full season as a GP rider. His young career in the United States was so brief and unfortunate that almost none of his countrymen even knew that he was still racing when he emerged on the Italian and later International scene. Trampas Parker was only seven years old when he got his first motorcycle, and as soon as he started racing he

1987: 52nd in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki) 1988: 33rd in the 250 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1989: 125 Motocross World Champion (KTM). Winner of 6 GP’s 1990: 7th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (KTM). Winner of 1 GP 1991: 250 Motocross World Champion (Honda). Winner of 2 GP’s 1992: 5th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 2 GP’s 1993: 6th in the Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1994: 10th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1995: 2nd in the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM). Winner of 2 GP’s 1996: 22nd in the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1997: 8th in the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1999: 12th in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki). 2000: 8th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (TM) 2001: 31st in the 500 Motocross World Championship (Yamaha) 2002: 12th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 2003: 11th in the 650 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 2004: 14th in the MX3 Motocross World Championship (Honda)

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HALL OF FAME

was successful as he won the first race he entered and immediately claimed his first regional title in the 50cc class when he was 11 years old. Involved later in the Team Green program he won his class at Loretta Lynn and turned pro in 1985, but he sustained a bad ankle injury and lost his ride. At the end of 1986 he went to Italy invited for a charity race and he didn’t go back home as his friend Billy Liles found him a ride for the following season. Working as a mechanic and racing mainly in Italy, he got some success and got a deal to race for KTM in 1988; he didn’t finish so many 250cc GP’s due to technical issues, but won both the 125cc and 500cc Italian titles! In 1989 with the support of KTM Farioli he entered the opening round of the 125cc World Championship in Faenza and surprised many people as he won both races. Winner of five other GP’s that year he claimed the 1989 World title after a long battle with Italian hero Alessandro Puzar and became more famous in Italy than in USA, racing for example the 1989 Motocross of Nations for team Italia; winner of one heat in the 500cc class, he got his first and last MXoN podium as Italy finished runner up behind USA! Moving in the 250cc class in 1990, he got injured in the fourth round of the series and missed most of it but won the Swiss GP after his comeback to finish seventh overall. Switching from KTM to Honda in winter time he had a great season as he claimed his second world title during the last round of the series in Japan; the battle with Alessandro Puzar and Mike Healey was so intense that year that the three riders were in fifteen points

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before the last heat, but Trampas didn’t failed and became the first American rider to get two world titles. It was one of his best seasons, as he also won the three Italian titles, a performance that remains unique in the history. Renowned for its endurance that helped him to be stronger than most of his rivals during the last minutes of the races, Trampas lost one of his strengths in 1992 when the race format changed from two to three shorter races; only fifth in the 250cc class, he would never be again able to fight for the title in this category and he finally moved to the 500cc class in


TRAMPAS PARKER Text and photos: P. Haudiquert

1995. Racing with a 360cc KTM against the 500cc Husaberg of Joel Smets, the 500cc Husqvarna of Jacky Martens and Peter Johansson but also the private Kawasaki of Darryl King, Trampas showed again his good form fighting for the title until the last race of the series in Germany. Parker was the winner of seven heats and two GP’s, but he got several DNF’s due to technical failures and he finally failed behind Smets after a disastrous performance in two of the last three rounds. However, the Parker also entered in the history of American

racing, as he became the first – and remains the only one – US rider to ever win a GP in the three classes (125cc, 250cc and 500cc). It was his last very good season, as he never won any more GP’s or was again a title contender. The American continued racing during many seasons in Motocross and also Supermoto, like a mercenary who stops racing at 37 years old.

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HALL OF FAME

Donny Schmit ‘Peanut’

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merican Donny Schmit has been the most successful US rider in the history of the FIM Motocross World Championship, obtaining two World Titles, like Trampas Parker, and fifteen Grand Prix victories within five seasons. He stopped racing at the end of the ‘94 season and he tragically passed away

less than two years later at only 29 years of age. Born on January 17, 1967, Donny grew up in a motocross environment as his older brother Dave, who was ten years older, was a local rider. His dad offered him a small bike and he was able to start practicing alongside his brother, even if things weren’t easy for him as he was one of the smallest kids behind the gate, using milk crate to hold himself on

1986: 125 US Supercross Champion, West Coast (Kawasaki) 5th in the 125 US Motocross Championship 1987: 5th in the 125 US Motocross Championship (Suzuki) 1988: 2nd in the 125 US Motocross Championship (Suzuki) 1989: 4th in 125 US Motocross Championship (Honda) 1990: 125 Motocross World Champion (Suzuki). Winner of 4 GP’s 1991: 8th in the 125 Motocross World Champion (Suzuki). Winner of 3 GP’s 1992: 250 Motocross World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 4 GP’s 1993: 3rd in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Yamaha). Winner of 3 GP’s 1994: 7th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Yamaha). Winner of 1 GP

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HALL OF FAME the bike behind the starting gate. But as a kid Donny had already a strong determination and nothing could stop him, and as soon as he got a real motocross bike, he started winning races and was picked up by Kawasaki Team Green. After a successful career in the amateur ranks he turned pro in 1986 and won straight away his first title in the 125cc West Supercross championship. Then he signed for Suzuki, won a few races, got many podiums and was named AMA rookie of the year but he also got injured. After two seasons he couldn’t get any factory deal for 1989, so Donny bought a van and a Honda, entered the Motocross Championship as a privateer and finished fourth in the 125 series. Not so many US teams showed interest in signing him for 1990 as he didn’t race Supercross, but everyone knew that he was fanatic about training and it was a European team who called him to offer him a ride in the World Championship. Donny and his wife Carrie joined team Bieffe Suzuki and surprised everyone as Donny got immediate success in the 125cc World Championship. He started his new career with a double win in the opening round of the series in Montevarchi (Italy), he won eleven heats and three Grand Prix to beat fellow countryman Bobby Moore and clinch his first world title. He soon became one of the fan’s favourites and he was happy to travel all around Europe. The 1991 season started perfectly for him as he won the first three rounds (Italy, France and Netherlands) of the World Championship; renewed as a hard worker Donny was fast on all kind of tracks, but a crash in Hungary suddenly stopped his season. During winter time Donny signed for Michele Rinaldi and team Chesterfield Yamaha looking for a new challenge in the 250cc class. That year the GP scheduled changed with three shorter races instead of two, and Donny had to wait the fourth round of the series to win

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his first 250cc heat. Having already won the Pre Season International on Beaucaire’s track in Southern France, Donny was impressive winning the three heats in Beaucaire and doing the same one week later in Belgium. Winner of four Grand Prix that season, he beat again Bobby Moore in the series to claim his second World title. Runner up in the opening round of the 1993 series Donny won the second round in Spain, but in The Netherlands he had the first DNF of the ten he got that season. Although he won two more Grand Prix that season (France and Hungary), he was not able to defend his title against Greg Albertijn and Stefan Everts. The ‘94 season started pretty well for Donny, who


DONNY SCHMIT Text and photos : P. Haudiquert

won the first GP, but a big crash in Belgium at the seventh round of the World Championship put an end to his season. After that crash he was not able to finish a race in the top five and he was back to seventh in the standings. Despite having a few good offers to continue racing in Europe, Donny and Carry decided to go back home after that season and they retired from full time racing. Donny did some motocross races in US, won the Four Stroke Championship in Glen Helen on a CCM and then he went racing on asphalt in the 600 Supersport series. However, his career had a dramatic end as he passed away suffering from an aplastic anaemia which took him away within a week.

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HALL OF FAME

Stefan Everts

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‘The King’

t is never easy when you are the son of a former World Champion and you want to make a career in the same sport as your father. Son of four-times World Champion Harry Everts, Stefan had the most successful career of any other rider as he beats all the records in our favourite sport with ten World Titles, 101 GP wins, fourteen podiums at the Motocross of Nations – including five overall wins with team Belgium – and many other achievements! Born on the 25th of November 1972 in Bree, Stefan

visited some Motocross tracks even before he could walk when his father was in the beginning of his professional career. Stefan got a bike when he was just 4 years old, and when his father started to win races and World Championships in the 80’s he had some opportunities to train on GP tracks when he travelled with his parents in a camper. When Harry stopped racing in 1986 he had more time to spend alongside his son, and at the age of 16 Stefan clinched his first Belgium title in the 125cc class. One year later he made his GP debut and finished 15th in the 125 World Championship, getting more and more

1989: 15th in the 125 Motocross (Suzuki) 1990: 3rd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki) 1991: 125 Motocross World Champion (Suzuki). Winner of 5 GP’s 1992: 11th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 1 GP 1993: 2nd in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki). Winner of 3 GP’s 1994: 2nd in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki). Winner of 5 GP’s 1995: 250 Motocross World Champion (Kawasaki). Winner of 5 GP’s Winner of the MXON with Team Belgium 1996: 250 Motocross World Champion (Honda). Winner of 5 GP’s 1997: 250 Motocross World Champion (Honda). Winner of 9 GP’s Winner of the MXON with Team Belgium 1998: 2nd in in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 9 GP’s Winner of the MXON with Team Belgium 1999: 11th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Honda). Winner of 1GP 2000: Injured 2001: 500 Motocross World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 7 GP’s 2002: 500 Motocross World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 4 GP’s 2003: Motocross GP World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 9 GP’s 125 Vice World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 9 GP’s Winner of the MXON with Team Belgium 2004: Motocross GP World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 7 GP’s Winner of the MXON with Team Belgium 2005: MX1 World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 8 GP’s 2006: MX1 World Champion (Yamaha). Winner of 14GP’s

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HALL OF FAME support from Suzuki and joining the factory team in 1990. Alongside team-mate Donny Schmit, who claimed the World title in 1990, Everts obtained his first podium in the series and his first GP win was in Kaposvar, Hungary. However, when the Belgian was working to obtain his first world title, he got injured in 1991. Moving to the 250cc class in winter time, Stefan got seriously injured for the first time in his career at the GP of Germany and missed several rounds of the series. Runner up during the next two seasons in the 250cc World Championship, he got his second World title in 1995 on a Kawasaki and also enjoyed his first Motocross of Nations overall win with Team Belgium. Moving to Honda after just two seasons in green, Stefan had the same success on the red bikes and clinched his 3rd and 4th titles in 96-97 also winning that year another MXoN. The 1998 season was one of the most exciting ones for the fans, as Stefan fought all year long with Sebastien Tortelli. In fact, it was not until the last meter of the last GP in Greece when the title was decided. Finally, Tortelli beat him and it was the beginning of a bad period for Stefan who got injured twice in 1999 and 2000 during the same pre season race in France. In 2000 he took one of the best decision of his career when he signed with Yamaha Rinaldi. Already world champion with Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda, Stefan would reach his best results in blue as he dominated the sport during six consecutive seasons. The 2003 season was probably one of the most unpredictable ones because after three GP’s Stefan was only third in the rankings behind Mickael Pichon and Joel Smets. In that period there was only one race per class, and with his team Stefan decided to also enter the 125cc class as a ‘warm up’ before the Motocross GP race. In the end it was a successful strategy as he won the nine other Motocross GP races of the season, but also won eight of the nine 125cc GP’s he entered to finish also runner up in that class. Last but not least, he raced the three classes (125, Motocross GP and 650) in the last GP of the season and won all of them to clinch his 72th GP win. Besides, he

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travelled to Brazil later on where he also won the overall classification at the International Six Days Enduro! From that year Stefan would never quit the spiral of success, dominating the sport during three other years before announcing his retirement at the end of 2006. His last season was also one of the most successful ones, as he won fourteen of the fifteen rounds of the series and he ended his career with a last win during the final round of the series in France. It was his 101 GP win, a new record that will stay probably for many years in the FIM books.


STEFAN EVERTS

Text and Photos : P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME ‘Wardy’

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Jeff Ward

eff Ward has been one of the best ever American riders, winnings a total of seven titles in all classes and both in Motocross and Supercross during a long career that went from 1980 to 1994. Doing all his pro career with Kawasaki, Wardy never won any GP, but he is one of the most successful winners at the Motocross

of Nations. He entered the MXoN seven times with the US Team and won it seven times! Born in Glasgow, Scotland on June 22, 1961, Jeff Ward moved to America when he was four years old and very soon riding motorcycles was a part of his life. He began racing minibikes in Southern California and became the best minibike rider of his era, and in 1978 he joined the professional motocross ranks. Claiming some top ten results

1980: 3rd in the 125 US Motocross Championship 1981: 3rd in the 125 US Motocross Championship 1982: 4th in the 125 US Motocross Championship 1983: 2nd in the 125 US Motocross Championship

4th in the 250 US Supercross Championship Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1984: 125 US Motocross Champion 4th in the 250 US Supercross Championship Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1985: 250 US Motocross Champion 250 US Supercross Champion Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1986: 4th in the 250 US Motocross Championship 4th in the 250 US Supercross Championship - 3rd in the 500 US Motocross Championship 1987: 250 US Supercross Champion 2nd in the 250 US Motocross Championship Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1988: 250 US Motocross Champion 3rd in the 250 US Supercross Championship

Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1989: 500 US Motocross Champion - 2nd in the 250 US Motocross Championship

Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1990: 500 US Motocross Champion 2nd in the 250 US Motocross Championship

Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 1991: 2nd in the 500 US Motocross Championship 1992: 3rd in the 500 US Motocross Championship

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HALL OF FAME that season he moved to Kawasaki in ‘79, got his first podium in a 125cc outdoor race and also had a first taste of Supercross as he raced a few events. Possibly due to his stature, success took some time as he won his first event during his fourth pro season in 1982 and finished runner up in the 125cc series that year. Wardy won his first major title two years later in 1984, after seven years of hard work and persistence on the circuit. Ward was at his best and proved it the following season by taking the AMA Supercross title from long-time rival Johnny O’Mara, as well as the 250cc Motocross title l. 1985 was an incredible season for him, as he also entered for the third consecutive year the Motocross of Nations and enjoyed his third win in this prestigious event In 1986 a huge change was made on the AMA circuit with the “production rule” and the defending SX and MX champ did not have a great season on his new production bike. It was another learning year for Jeff and Kawasaki, who both rebounded in 1987 and won another Supercross title after a strong season being on the podium ten times out of the 14 possible; he beat Ricky Johnson in SX, but RJ – one of his main rivals during his pro career – beat him in the outdoors. Having already some 125cc and 250cc titles under his belt, in 1989 Jeff became the first rider to win a title in all the three major divisions, beating Jeff Stanton in the 500cc Motocross series and finishing runner up in the 250cc class. In 1990 Stanton beat Ward in the chase of the 250cc title, but Ward was better in the 500cc class, and he obtained his seventh and last title as he could only finish on the podiums during the following two seasons. His amazing career finally came to an end in 1992 when he won his 56th and last AMA Pro race in Delmont. Racing his entire career with Kawasaki, Jeff Ward proved that even with a small stature you could win races on any type of track and on any size of motorcycle. He was the first US rider to win titles in all the classes in the US, and he also got a victory in all classes at the Motocross of Nations where he

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raced and won whatever class he entered: 125cc (1988), 250cc (1984, 85) or 500cc (1983, 1987, 1989 and 1990)! After retiring from Motocross, Jeff went racing in Indy car and even if he won the prestigious Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award he never got any success in car racing. He got his last trophy in 2004 racing the AMA Supermoto series and winning the title against riders half his age!


JEFF WARD

Text and photos: P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME

Greg Albertijn

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outh African Greg Albertyn was the first rider coming from South Africa to race the Motocross World Championship, where he got some huge success as he claimed three World titles in a row before moving to America. By moving to Europe he also showed the way to some of his fellow countrymen such as Grant Langston or Tyla Rattray, who both travelled later to Europe and also put their names on the FIM books.

18. Based in Belgium, the heart of European Motocross, he discovered the Belgian and Dutch tracks and entered his first GP’s scoring some points and learning a lot during his few attempts in the World Championship. The 1990 season was a learning year for the young kid, who joined the Honda Venko team for another step in his career; the legendary Dutch tuner Jan de Groot, manager of the team, was convinced that Greg had a huge potential and even if he was injured during the 1991 season, he showed his potential with two race podiums and several top five results.

Born on 13th October 1970 in Johannesburg, Greg had already been dominant in South Africa with several 85cc, 100cc and 125cc titles when he decided to move to Europe when he turned

With a new GP format introduced in 1992 with three shorter races per weekend, Greg immediately showed that he was stronger than ever when he dominated the opening round in

1985-1986: 80 South African Champion 1987: 100 South African Champion 1988-1989: 125 South African Champion 1990: 23rd of the 125 Motocross championship (Kawasaki) 1991: 10th of the 125 Motocross championship (Honda) 1992: 125 Motocross World Champion (Honda), winner of 4 GP’s 1993: 250 Motocross World Champion (Honda), winner of 6 GP’s 1994: 250 Motocross World Champion (Suzuki), winner of 2 GP’s 1995: 10th of the US 250 Motocross championship (Suzuki) 1996: 4th of the US 250 Motocross championship (Suzuki) 1997: 5th of the US 250 Supercross championship (Suzuki) 1998: 2nd of the US 250 Motocross championship (Suzuki) 1999: 250 US Motocross Champion (Suzuki) 2000: 7th of the US 250 Motocross championship (Suzuki)

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HALL OF FAME Spain. Dutch Pedro Tragter and Dave Strijbos, and Frenchman Yves Demaria won the following rounds and until mid season these four riders fought for the title before the series moved to the East countries. In Czech Republic and Poland Greg won five of the six heats to score important points, and later he did another strong performance when he won the penultimate round in the Netherlands before he secured his first ever World title in Japan. The following season Greg Albertyn raced the 250cc class with Jan De Groot and Honda and once again the South African started the series with a win in Italy and entered a strong battle with Stefan Everts. In the end, the consistency of Albertyn made the difference and during the penultimate round of the series in Finland he secured his second consecutive title. Both him and his strongest rival changed team during wintertime; while Stefan Everts moved from Suzuki to Kawasaki, Greg Albertyn took his factory ride in the Suzuki team. It was a strategic move for Greg, who was planning to move to the USA later, but that season was even harder than the previous one as Everts won five GP’s and he was one of the favourites to claim the title until the last round. Greg only won two rounds that season, but once more his consistency was better than his rivals and he celebrated his third consecutive World title before moving definitively to the US. Greg Albertyn joined Roger de Coster to rebuild a strong Suzuki team in the US, but the South African struggled with injuries during his first seasons there; he had to wait until 1996 to win his first National and in 1999 he claimed his first and single US title in the 250cc Motocross championship. Unfortunately, he was not able to defend the title as he broke his femur during a Supercross race in 2000, and later he announced his retirement from racing.

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GREG ALBERTIJN

Text and photos: P. Haudiquert

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HALL OF FAME ‘Four Stroke’

Jacky Martens

W

hen you are born in Lommel, can you do another sport than Motocross? Jacky Martens is one of those kids who dreamt to become a champion and he did it even if he had to wait many years before celebrating his 500cc World title at the age of thirty.

Born on the 3rd of July 1963 Jacky did his first race when he was sixteen years old and had to wait several more years before winning his first international race during the 1983 Cup de l’Avenir. Ten years later he was crowned World Champion and opened a new area for Motocross as he was the first rider to win this title aboard a four stroke machinery for more than twenty years. Although Jacky started racing pretty late, he

1982: 46th of the 250 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1983: 13th of the 250 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1984: 5th of the 250 Motocross World Championship (KTM), winner of 1GP 1985: 8th of the 125 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1986: 59th of the 250 Motocross World Champion (KTM) 1987: 8th of the 500 Motocross World Champion (KTM), winner of 1GP 1988: 9th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1989: 5th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM) 1990: 4th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM), winner of 2GPs 1991: 2nd of the 500 Motocross World Championship (KTM), winner of 3GPs 1992: 11th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna) 1993: 500 Motocross World Champion (Husqvarna), winner of 4GPs 1994: 2nd of the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna), winner of 3GPs 1995: 5th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna), winner of 2GPs 1996: 7th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna), winner of 1GP 1997: 14th of the 500 Motocross World Championship (Husqvarna)

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME didn’t wait so much to enter his first GP, and just three years after his debut, he scored his first point in the 250cc World Championship. In 1982 he only took part in one GP, but the following year he entered the whole series on a KTM and he obtained his first podium finish in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, with a third. After obtaining more support from the Austrian company he became one of the top riders in the 250cc class, improving regularly his results to finally win his first GP in Bielstein (Germany) and scored a final fifth position in 1984. In 1985 Jacky moved to the 125cc class and he also obtained some podiums, but his season suddenly stopped with a broken knee. He was out of action during nearly one year and he just scored a few points during his come back at the 1986 Swedish GP. With his tall size Jacky moved up to the 500cc class in 1987 and impressed the World with a stunning victory during the fifth round of the series in Sweden. However, Jacky was missing some consistency, and with another heat win in the Netherlands he entered the top ten of the series with an 8th overall. Improving his performances each year he finally came close to the podium with a 5th position in 1898 and a 4th in 1990. In 1991 Jacky had a very strong rival in the likes of Georges Jobe and they were very close in the point standings when the championship came to the penultimate round of the series in Luxemburg. Unfortunately, Jacky made a mistake and he finished runner up in what was his last season with KTM. Convinced that the four strokes would be the future of the sport, he signed with Husqvarna, which was an Italian company at that time, to develop a new project. The first year was a tough one with a lot of technical troubles, but both Jacky and the Italian engineers never gave up and finally reached their goal as they won

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the 1993 World Championship. It was not an easy achievement for Jacky, as Swedish Jorgen Nilsson was a strong opponent; Nilsson won the first three GP’s while Jacky broke his nose twice in Great Britain and Austria! After three races Jacky was far behind Jorgen (68 points vs 124) but thanks to the race format – three heats and 60 points per GP – the Belgian could reverse the situation when he started winning heats and GPs. But it was a close battle, as Jacky finally beat Nilsson by three points after twelve rounds and thirty-six heats! In 1994 he had another tough battle with another Swedish rider, Marcus Hansson, and again the


JACKY MARTENS TText and photos: P. Haudiquert

title was decided at the last round. A crash cost Jacky the title, as Hansson beat him by seven points. It would be the last time that Jacky raced a full championship, as injuries stopped him during the following seasons. He finally retired from GP racing in 1998, but he raced some more years in Belgium before entering another successful career as team manager with his JM team, working first with KTM and now with the factory Husqvarna since 2014.

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HALL OF FAME

Ricky Carmichael ‘The GOAT’

R

icky Carmichael has been one of the main US riders in the history of our sport, and remains today as the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ athlete thanks to his impressive domination on the US scene during a decade. Winning championships every year from 1997 to 2006, Ricky won as well aboard two stroke and four stroke bikes, but also on different brands as he successfully obtained

victories with Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki! Born in Florida on November 27, 1979, Ricky Carmichael started successfully his career in the amateur ranks, where he won no less than 67 titles including nine wins at Loretta Lynn! With such results, he was picked up by a factory team for his first season as a Pro racer and entered the first Supercross of his career in 1997 on a Pro Circuit Kawasaki. He won several main events, but missed consistency and ended his first Supercross series

1997: 3rd in the US 125 Supercross Championship (East Coast) US 125 Motocross Champion 1998: US 125 Supercross Champion (East Coast) US 125 Motocross Champion 1999: US 125 Motocross Champion 16th in the US 250 Supercross Championship 2000: US 250 Motocross Champion 5th in the US 250 Supercross Championship Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 2001: US 250 Supercross Champion US 250 Motocross Champion 2002: US 250 Supercross Champion US 250 Motocross Champion 2003: US 250 Supercross Champion US 250 Motocross Champion 2004: US 250 Motocross Champion 2005: US 250 Supercross Champion US 250 Motocross Champion Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations 2006: US Supercross Champion US Motocross Champion 2007: 8th in the US Supercross Championship 6th in the US Motocross Championship Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME on the box with a third overall. A few months later, he claimed his first Pro title when he beat Steve Lamson in the Motocross National championship. The following season was a perfect one as he won the 125cc Supercross (East Coast) and Motocross National titles. He jumped to the 250cc class for Supercross in 1999, and once more his learning season in a new class was a mix of strong results and crashes. Only 16th in the overall standings, he was more successful in motocross that year, as he won his third consecutive title in the 125cc class. Moving definitively in the 250cc class in 2000, he was much more consistent in Supercross. Carmichael won his first main event in Daytona and obtained a couple of top five results. Race after race he got used to his new bike and when it came the time for the outdoors series, he was able to dominate the National Motocross championship to collect his fifth US title. He was definitively ready for some incredible seasons, and he started by winning both Supercross and Motocross titles during the following three seasons! In 2002 he switched from Kawasaki to Honda and he had the same success thanks to his strong fitness and preparation. His career in red didn’t start in the best way as he didn’t score any points in the first Supercross round, but thanks to eleven wins he kept the Supercross title. In the Motocross National championship he became the first rider to win all the motos (24), an achievement he would repeat in 2004 and 2005! In 2003 he won once again both titles, but a knee injury forced him to skip the 2004 Supercross championship. When he went back racing he was ready to collect another Motocross title, his last one with Honda as he moved to Suzuki in 2005. It was another perfect season, as he first regained his Supercross title, then he had a perfect season in the outdoors championship and ended the year winning the Motocross of Nations with team USA. It was his second win at the Nations, the first one was in 2000; in fact the MXoN was and still is an

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event he loves and he has never missed it as a rider even if he had long seasons in the US. In 2006 Ricky campaigned the season for the first time on a four stroke bike, an RMZ Suzuki; it was one of the most exciting seasons for the fans, as Ricky Carmichael, Chad Reed and James Stewart shared the Supercross wins to come to the last round of the season with five points difference from each other. Ricky finally won the title, and added a fifteenth title to his scoreboard when he won the Motocross championship. The 2006 season didn’t end so well for him as he crashed heavily during the final round at Glen Helen and damaged his shoulder. However, in 2005 he had already announced his retirement from full time racing and he would only race selected events in 2007. Once again he got incredible results, as he won every race he entered: three supercross races and six outdoors events! His last race was the 2007 Motocross of Nations in Budds Creek and he won it with team


RICKY CARMICHAEL Text and Photos: P. Haudiquert

USA to end his career on a high note in what was one of his favourite events. To resume RC career on a few pages is impossible! The stats will retain that he won 15 Pro US championships, he obtained three victories with Team USA at the Motocross of Nations, won three times the X Games (from 2007 to 2009), obtained a total of 162 Pro victories (including 60 SX wins) and he was elected AMA Athlete of the year five times. He was a hard worker, a fierce competitor

on the track but he was also very humble outside the track. Besides, he had and still has fans all-over the world. After switching for several years to car racing, he came back to his favourite sport as a teacher through his riding school and remains one of the best ambassadors of Motocross.

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HALL OF FAME

Bob Hannah

‘Hurricane’

E

ven if he retired from racing thirty years ago, Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hannah remains as one of the greatest US athletes! No one really knew him when he entered his first PRO race in 1975, but just one year later he got his first US title in the 125cc class. Claiming five other

titles within three seasons, with back to back Supercross titles from 1977 to 1979, he broke records before suffering a terrible accident in 1979. Born in California on September 26, 1956, Robert Gregory Hannah got his first bike when he was seven years old, but he had to wait many years before being able to race as his

1975: 10th in the US 125 Motocross Championship 1976 US 125 Motocross Champion Winner of the Florida Winter series 1977: US 250 Supercross Champion 2nd in the US 500 Motocross Championship 3rd in the US 125 Motocross Championship 1978: US 250 Motocross Champion US 250 Supercross Champion Winner of the Trans AMA 1979: US 250 Supercross Champion US 250 Motocross Champion 1981: 5th in the US 250 Supercross Championship 2nd in the US 250 Motocross Championship 1982: 9th in the US 250 Supercross Championship 6th in the US 125 Motocross Championship 1983: 5th in the US 250 Supercross Championship 3rd in the US 250 Motocross Championship 1984: 10th in the US 250 Motocross Championship 10th in the US 250 Supercross Championship 1985: 4th in the US 250 Motocross Championship 1986:15th in the US 250 Motocross Championship Winner of the 250 US Motocross Grand Prix 1987: 7th in the US Motocross Championship 26th in the US Supercross Championship Member of the US Team winner of the MX of Nations

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EDITORIAL

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HALL OF FAME father didn’t want him to get injured. Riding and practicing in the Southern California deserts with his father, he entered his first race when he turned 18. He missed racing experience, but spent so many hours on a bike since he got one that he dominated the race in the amateur class, so the officials forced him to move with the professionals in 1975. Racing only two Nationals that season, he scored a top six result in the 125cc class and got a ride in team Yamaha for the following year. Winning the pre season Florida Winter AMA series, he dominated the 125cc National and beat reigning champion Marty Smith, winning five of the eight series rounds to get his first title. Moving to the 250cc class in 1977 he again dominated his rivals, taking six of the 10 rounds of the Supercross series to win the main US title during his third year of racing! Winning rounds of the outdoor in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc classes that year, he claimed another title in the 250cc Nationals, and he became one of the fans favourites thanks to his riding style, agressivity and motivation on a bike. He continued to break records when he added a second and a third Supercross title in 1978 and 1979, winning also the 250cc outdoor championship to become the most successful rider in the AMA history. He also became the first American to win the famous Trans AMA series in 1978, and his career was at his zenith when he suffered a tragic accident at the end of 1979 when he broke his right leg in a water skiing accident in the Colorado river. He nearly lost his leg, but once more he surprised the doctors, who had told him that he would never be able to race again, by his determination and came back racing one year later. Unfortunately, he would never be able to capture any other championship even if he scored some podium finishes and a few wins. His best results were a second place finish in the 250cc outdoor in 1981 during his last

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season with Yamaha and a third in the same series in 1983 as a factory Honda rider. He won his last AMA outdoor race – the 70th – during a 250cc national in 1985, and after signing for Suzuki in 1986 he surprised many people when he won the 250cc US Grand Prix that year. Bob never had a real interest in the World Championship as he didn’t want to travel outside USA. However, during his last full season travelled to France to race the Stadium Cross in Paris and one week later the 250cc French Grand Prix. He also raced several


BOB HANNAH Text P. Haudiquert photos: Racer X

Motocross of Nations, and when the AMA asked him to join Jeff Ward and Ricky Johnson to defend the US flag at the 1987 Motocross of Nations, he went back training on a 125cc Suzuki to win with the US Team the event on his favourite track in Unadilla. When he finally retired from racing in 1989 he was the alltime win leader in the AMA history with 70 wins during his career, a record that Jeremy McGrath would break ten years later.

retirement, Hannah also entered into another field. During his recovery period in 1980 he learned how to pilot an airplane, got his pilot license and created ‘Bob Hannah Aviation’, a company that imports, renovates and modifies old airplanes. He also entered some airplanes competitions with his P51 Mustang, with the same motivation and racing spirit that he had each time he went on a track.

Working with Suzuki as a test rider after his

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#52_December 2018

Chief Editor: Marionna Leiva Photos: Youthstream YOUTHSTREAM Media World Trade Center II Rte de PrÊ-Bois 29 1215 Geneva 15 Airport Switzerland The articles published in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the official position of Youthstream. Then content of this publication is based on the best knowledge and information available at the time the articles were written. The copying of articles and photos even partially is forbidden unless permission has ben requested from Youthstream in advance and reference is made to the source (ŠYouthstream).

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MXGP #52 SPECIAL VINTAGE EDITION 2017  

Youthstream is proud to announce the release of a special issue of the MXGP Mag, the fifty-second issue of MXGP Mag is a Special Christmas E...

MXGP #52 SPECIAL VINTAGE EDITION 2017  

Youthstream is proud to announce the release of a special issue of the MXGP Mag, the fifty-second issue of MXGP Mag is a Special Christmas E...