A brief look at the career and legacy of Barry Sheene
To comment on the career of Barry Sheene leads to far more than a list of numbers and races. The man was famous for his antics and savy off the track as much as his ability on two wheels.
Two potentially career-ending crashes (Daytona 1975 and Silverstone in 1982), a stinging rivalry with Kenny Roberts and a panache and style that raised the profile of motorcycle racing to new heights; Sheene became a celebrity in Britain and one of the country's leading sportsmen.
Here is a breakdown of the main talking points about the man's career:
1968: First ever race at age of 18, crashes out at Brands Hatch but gains first win only a month later.
1970: First British Championship (125cc).
1971: Finishes runner-up in the 125cc World Championship with Suzuki and introduces himself to the GP paddock, cue numerous hi-jinks with new pal Angel Nieto.
1975: Wins first ever 500cc GP at Assen by toying with former World Champion Giacomo Augustini and waiting until the last corner before over-taking the Italian. $$$
Several months before he had crashed at 170mph on the banking at Daytona after a tyre fault locked his rear wheel against the swinging arm. The TV documentary filmed at the time made him an overnight star with it´s subsequent story.
1976: 500cc World Champion with Suzuki. Wins 5 GPs. Becomes the visible face of Faberge Brut commercials and becomes a national celebrity.
1977: Successfully defends world title against with six victories from nine starts.
1978: Loses world title to Kenny Roberts after missing the first part of the season with a virus. MBE for services to the sport.
1979: Again loses out to Roberts on an aging Suzuki but their duel captures the imagination of the fans. A perfect example being a packed British GP at Silverstone; an all-time classic race that Sheene loses by the length of a wheel.
1981: Last GP win at Anderstorp with Yamaha and still the last Briton to win a 500cc race.
1982: Is in contention for the Championship up to his horror crash at Silverstone in practice for the British GP that practically obliterates both of his legs. His surgery and recovery leads to the X-rays of his metallic legs appearing in national newspapers. $$$
1983: Makes a comeback and returns to Suzuki on sub-standard machinery. Also becomes a movie star with leading role in budget flick ´Space riders´ involving a fictional story based around the GP year.
1984: Last year of World Championship participation and gains a superb third position in the wet at the South African GP at Kyalami riding little more that a production Suzuki.