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Mr. Sheene wants to dust down the British motorcycling set up

Mr. Sheene wants to dust down the British motorcycling set up

Barry Sheene is the most celebrated British motorcycle racer of the modern era. He was crowned World Champion twice, in 1976 and 1977, during a glittering career which featured 23 Grand Prix victories and a total of 52 podium finishes. The London born former racer, who now resides in Australia, recently returned to the paddock where he made his name, and spared a few moments for to gather his thoughts on the state of British motorcycling. Firstly, you don´t get to many MotoGP events these days. How does the competition rate to your era?

Barry Sheene: I think the competition is great. There are a lot of competitive bikes out there and some great riders. It will be interesting to see what happens next year when the four-stroke machines are introduced.

Q: Who particularly stands out for you?

BS: Well I think the two Italians, Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi are fantastic riders. The whole saga between them is brilliant. People are trying to play down the rivalry but I think they should just let them get on with it. There´s nothing wrong with a bit of added spice and it certainly keeps the interest alive.

Q: What about the British riders?

BS: Well, we´re struggling a bit at the moment. Chris Walker could have done really well but I don´t think he´s been given a fair crack of the whip by Honda. They didn´t let him test before the season at Suzuka and to say he´d never been on the bike before I think that was an outrageous decision and completely unfair. They won´t give him the parts he needs now or let him change the bike how he wants it. Leon Haslam has a lot of potential but we need more like him coming through.

Q: Why do you think there is such a lack of young British talent coming through compared to say Italy or Spain?

BS: In England we just don´t have the infrastructure and support. When you look at youngsters doing well such as Toni Elias, Manuel Poggiali and Marco Melandri you see that they have sponsorship, backing and a structure to guide them through into the sport. They also have a lot of talent but their arrival on the World scene at such a young age is a credit to people like Alberto Puig who set up these youth projects aimed at discovering the talent. That´s what we need in Britain now.

500cc, 2001

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