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Kenny Roberts gives his reaction to the death of his great former rival

Kenny Roberts gives his reaction to the death of his great former rival

Kenny Roberts gives his reaction to the death of his great former rival

Triple 500cc World Champion Kenny Roberts is synonymous with the on-track endeavours of Barry Sheene. The American moved across from the US dirt track scene where he was a star in the mid-70s to Europe and ignited a rivalry that brought a golden era into Motorcycle GP racing.

The sight of Roberts clad in the yellow of Yamaha swapping track space with the black and red Suzuki of Sheene, who was reigning World Champion in 1978 (the first year of the face-off) for many epitomised the sport at its most intense. A testy relationship between the pair gave the press their juice for news inches and also gave the fans their own hero and villain. Roberts would eventually win the tussle taking the title from 1978 to 1980 but the many races in which the pair engaged, such as the momentous 1979 British GP at Sliverstone, left a lasting impression on road racing fans.

Their rivalry hyped and pushed to the fore, Roberts and Sheene were actually not the best of enemies and enjoyed a healthy mutual respect and friendship. Here is what the current team owner of the MotoGP Proton effort had to say on the shock passing away of his former racing buddy: $$$

´I have been completely caught off-guard by this news and don´t really know what to think. This really is going to take a few days to sink in.´

´It is not something that I expected to happen so soon; myself and a lot of people were hoping it would be a thing that would just go away.´

´Barry was always my best rival. I have always said if there was no Barry Sheene then there would not have been a Kenny Roberts. Neither of us held any punches and there would always be stuff said in the press but after the race he would come over and say stuff like ´Your Yamaha was so much better there´ and I´d make comments about his Suzuki, so there was a respect. We were perfect rivals and we made a good show. When the news came out that he had got cancer I said at the time that if he imagined it to be a race against me then he'd beat it; sadly it hasn´t worked out.´

´Barry and I stayed friends after our racing days. He was a very good rider; to win two World Championships means that you had to have been one of the best.´

MotoGP, 2003, Kurtis Roberts

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