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Four-time World Champion Kork Ballington is now a MotoGP™ Legend. The South African, who took the 250 and 350 World Championships in both 1978 and 1979, was inducted into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame on Friday at Phillip Island.
Ballington took his first podium in 1976 when he came second in the 250cc race at the West German Grand Prix and he followed it up – this time in the 350 World Championship – with his first win, taken at the Spanish Grand Prix. 1977 saw more podiums and wins – with his first 250 victory coming at Silverstone – before the South African made his charge for the crowns.
Kork Ballington Legend press conference
He began 1978 off the podium in both Championships before he made his first visit to the rostrum that season in the 350cc race at the Salzburgring. Repeating the feat next time out, the eventual Champion in both classes then took both the 250 and 350 wins at the Nations GP at Mugello, something he also did in Finland and at Brno. Ballington took four 250 wins and six 350 wins on the way to winning both titles that year and 1979 was a similar story as the South African on the Kawasaki dominated. Seven 250 wins – achieved three-in-a-row and then four-in-a-row – saw him defend the crown, and five wins in the 350 World Championship wrapped that up title for the second year running too.
Ballington decided to target the 250 and 500 Championships in 1980 and was runner up in the lower category after another five wins, alongside taking some solid top ten results on the 500. That laid solid foundations and his first podiums in the premier class came the following season in the Netherlands and Finland. A final year of competition in 1982 prefaced the four-time World Champion’s retirement.
Kork Ballington becomes a MotoGP™ Legend
“What an occasion, this is fantastic," said Ballington. "I’m deeply humbled. For starters, I'm honoured. Randy (Mamola) flew all the way from California to see me. No I’m amongst friends, this is my fraternity. To be put alongside the 27 other fantastic riders, to sit alongside them, it’s just an honour and a privilege.”
“I had the honour to see him racing. He was racing at the Jarama circuit when I was the director of the circuit, I remember this very well,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “For me, he’s one of the mythical names of the FIM Road Racing World Championship. It’s also an honour to have the first South African, an African MotoGP™ Legend, here there are two successors of Kork. But for us, for everybody in the MotoGP™ family, it’s a pleasure to nominate Kork today as a MotoGP™ Legend, it’s a big pleasure.”
Ballington has now joined a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP™ Legends that includes Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola and the late Nicky Hayden. Dani Pedrosa will join the ranks at the season finale.
2 years ago