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McWilliams and Mamola ride dirt track with Kenny Roberts at his California ranch

McWilliams and Mamola ride dirt track with Kenny Roberts at his 
California ranch

McWilliams and Mamola ride dirt track with Kenny Roberts at his California ranch

MotoGP stars past, present and future linked up at Kenny Roberts' training ranch in the USA over the holiday period for two days of dirt track riding. Current MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams and former Grand Prix winner Randy Mamola were both on holiday with their families in California and dropped in on the home of the triple-World Champion, who invited them to a dirt-track challenge in his own backyard. After several warm-up laps the trio went head-to-head on the short 'TT' track at the world-renowned ranch, with the weaving, flowing style of Roberts and Mamola contrasting with the uncompromising, aggressive overtaking for which McWilliams is notoriously recognised.

The British rider admitted it was a pleasure to be on track with two legends who pioneered the route for top Americans into road racing from dirt track two decades ago. "It's great fun to be out there with these guys and the perfect way to end the year," said the 39 year old, who spent the last two seasons riding for Roberts at Proton Team KR. "I have a very good relationship with Kenny even though I am leaving his team this year to ride for Aprilia and Randy has become a good friend through his work in the MotoGP paddock. At the beginning of the two days it was tough for me to stay on the back of both of them because they are such naturals, where of course I have come from racing street bikes, but by the end I was dicing with them and even getting in front."

Whilst Roberts brought the likes of Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey through from dirt-track to win the 500cc World Championship title, McWilliams explained that for him it was more of a recreational than educational exercise. "To be honest there is not much I can learn from riding dirt-track to incorporate into my style, it's a bit too late for that! For my son it is a good way to get the basics of riding, but for me it's just great fun to let the bike hang out and rip the dirt up. It's also a good way to stay in shape and fight off that Christmas pudding!"

For Mamola the two days provided a nostalgic blast from the past which, he explained, reminded him why he began racing all those years ago. "To be out here with Kenny, away from the racetrack and the cameras, was a fantastic experience and to see him with my kids and Jeremy's kids is very gratifying. Chuck Aksland [Proton KR Team Manager] was out here with his family too so it was a unique opportunity for us all to get together. When you look at Kenny, the way he is with my son and Jeremy's son - who are both starting to ride well - you see someone who truly cares about people and about our sport. These kids could be the next generation of riders and anybody who gets to the top in motorcycle racing has to be enjoying themselves - Kenny is a perfect example of that."

Roberts added that, although he was looking forward to some peace and quiet, he would be keeping an eye on the progress of McWilliams and Mamola Junior, who are both nine years old. "These kids make a lot of noise round the house that's for sure, but it has been fun to have them. Out on the track they are replicas of their fathers - true natural talent. I guess they'll be back out here before long."

Photos by Doug Kamholz

MotoGP, 2003, Kurtis Roberts

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