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Ten years of Grand Prix racing at Silverstone

Ten years of Grand Prix racing at Silverstone

The MotoGP World Championship returns to the circuit for the first time since 1986 this weekend for the AirAsia British Grand Prix. Here, motogp.com looks back over the ten years of GPs held at the Northamptonshire prior to its departure.

The first Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone was in 1977, when the British round of the Motorcycle World Championship was moved from its previously traditional home of the Isle of Man TT circuit to the Northamptonshire venue.

The GP was then held at Silverstone for ten successive years, the last time being 1986 before it moved to Donington. This weekend the AirAsia British Grand Prix takes place at a newly redeveloped Silverstone as MotoGP makes its return, and here motogp.com looks back over the 1977-1986 period.

1977 – This was the final race of the season and British hopes for a home winner in the 500cc class were high, with reigning champion Barry Sheene qualifying on pole on his factory Suzuki. However Sheene retired with mechanical problems on lap nine. This left the door open for team-mate Steve Parrish to lead the race into the closing stages only to crash with a couple of laps to go. Fellow Britain John Williams then moved into the lead before he also crashed out. Finally the third factory Suzuki rider, American Pat Hennen, took the victory. Kork Ballington had a double victory in the 350cc and 250cc classes on his private Yamaha machines and in the 125cc race, Pierluigi Conforti took his only ever GP victory.

1978 – The 500cc GP ended in chaos, after rain started to fall mid-way through the race. With no specific rules to deal with such a situation, the riders had to enter the pits to change tyres. Barry Sheene (Suzuki) was by far the quickest rider after the tyre change but suffered with a pit stop that took over seven minutes. By contrast the eventual winner Kenny Roberts (Yamaha) was in the pits for less than three minutes. Splitting these two riders on the podium was Britain’s Steve Manship, who had gambled on starting the race with intermediate tyres. Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) won the 350cc race from British riders Tom Herron and Mick Grant. Toni Mang scored the first of his record 33 victories in the 250cc class, with Herron once again finishing second. Angel Nieto won the 125cc race riding a Minarelli from British rider Clive Horton.

1979 – The two top riders of the day, Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts, exchanged the lead throughout the 500cc race. Roberts eventually took the win by 0.03 seconds in one of the closest finishes of all-time. In the 250cc race Morbidelli factory rider Graziano Rossi (Valentino’s father) fell on the final lap of the race when holding a two-second lead. Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) took advantage of Rossi’s misfortune to win the race and then did the double by winning the 350cc race. Angel Nieto repeated his 125cc victory of the previous year.

1980 – After a great battle early in the 500cc race, Randy Mamola (Suzuki) pulled clear of fellow American Kenny Roberts to win the race with Marco Lucchinelli finishing third and Graziano Rossi finishing fourth. Toni Mang (Kawasaki) won the 350cc race and Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) was once again victorious in the 250cc class. In the 125cc class Loris Reggiani (Minarelli) took his first ever Grand Prix win.

1981 – The edge was taken of this race as early as the third lap when race leader and pole position man Graeme Crosby crashed and took out Barry Sheene and forced championship leader Marco Lucchinelli into the catch fencing. Dutchman Jack Middelburg (Suzuki) went on to win the race from Randy Mamola and Kenny Roberts. This was the last time that a premier class GP race was won by a true privateer rider. Toni Mang (Kawasaki) won both the 350cc and 250cc races. The home crowd were given something to cheer with Keith Huewen finishing second in the 350cc race. Angel Nieto (Minarelli) won in the 125cc class at Silverstone for the third time.

1982 – Barry Sheene had a huge crash in practice that eliminated him from the 500cc race and Kenny Roberts’ race was short lived with a crash at the first corner. With his two main challengers out of the race, Franco Uncini (Suzuki) cruised to a comfortable victory which effectively sealed the world title. Jean-Francois Balde (Kawasaki) won a tremendous 350cc race and Martin Wimmer (Yamaha) won the 250cc race from pole having crashed out of the earlier 350cc race which he also started from pole. Angel Nieto won the 125cc race once again – this time riding a Garelli.

1983 – The 500cc race was run in two parts, after the race had been stopped due to a big crash in which Norman Brown and Peter Huber lost their lives. Kenny Roberts took overall victory from great rival Freddie Spencer with Randy Mamola making it an all-USA podium. There was an historic win in the 250cc race with Jacque Bolle giving Pernod their one and only GP victory. Angel Nieto won the 125cc race at Silverstone for the fifth time.

1984 – Riding as a replacement for the injured Freddie Spencer, Randy Mamola won first time out on the V-four Honda from fellow American Eddie Lawson and British rider Ron Haslam. Christian Sarron (Yamaha) won the 250cc race on the way to taking the world title and Angel Nieto won the 125cc race and in doing so clinched his 13th and last world title.

1985 – In horrendously wet conditions, Freddie Spencer (Honda) won the 500cc race after finishing fourth in the earlier 250cc race to clinch the world championship title. British rider Alan Carter had led the 250cc race until mid distance before crashing and re-starting to finish seventh. Toni Mang (Honda) took the 250cc race victory from Reinhold Roth and Manfred Herweh in an all-German podium. Austrian rider August Auinger (Monnet) won the 125cc race.

1986 – As in the previous year, the event was held in terrible wet weather. Wayne Gardner (Honda) had a start-to-finish win in the main race after starting from pole position. Winner of the 250cc race was Dominique Sarron (Honda) – brother of the winner of the race in 1984. Alan Carter crashed out of the 250cc race once again; this time on the last lap while challenging for the lead. August Auinger (Bartol) repeated his 125cc win of the previous year. History was made in the 80cc race held in the dry weather on Saturday, when Ian McConnachie (Krauser) became the only British rider to win a Grand Prix race for solo motorcycles around the Silverstone circuit.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2010

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