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1978 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season

1978 F.I.M. Grand Prix motorcycle racing season
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The 1978 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season was the 30th F.I.M. Road Racing World Championship season.

Contents

Season summaryEdit

There was an air of excitement at the start of the 1978 Grand Prix season.[1] The popularity of defending champion Barry Sheene had boosted the appeal of motorcycle racing into the realm of the mass marketing media.[1] The arrival of Kenny Roberts from America added to the anticipation.[1] A young Spaniard, Ricardo Tormo took five of seven rounds to claim the 50 cc title for Bultaco. Italy's Eugenio Lazzarini won the 125 cc crown aboard an MBA. South Africa's Kork Ballington pulled off an impressive double, winning the 250 cc and 350 cc titles for Kawasaki, matching the double championships of Walter Villa in 1976 and Mike Hailwood in 1967.[1]

In the 500 cc class, Suzuki returned with its defending world champion, Barry Sheene, along with teammates Teuvo Lansivuori, Pat Hennen and Wil Hartog.[1] Yamaha's official factory team entered former 350 cc world champions Johnny Cecotto and Takazumi Katayama.[1] Lacking a competitive bike with which to compete against Harley Davidson in the AMA Grand National Championship, Yamaha's American subsidiary decided to send its former AMA champion Roberts to compete in the 250 cc, 500 cc and Formula 750 F.I.M. road racing world championships.[2] Roberts also secured the financial backing of the Goodyear tire company.[2]

 
Marco Lucchinelli (11) leads Kenny Roberts (2) during the 1978 Nations Grand Prix at Mugello. Roberts would eventually go on to win the race.

Sheene opened the season with a win in the Venezuelan Grand Prix but then fell ill to a virus that weakened him for the first part of the year.[1][3] Roberts won the 250 cc Grand Prix in Venezuela but then suffered a mechanical failure in the 500 cc race.[1][4] American Pat Hennen won the second round at the Spanish Grand Prix with Roberts finishing in second place and Sheene relegated to fifth place.[5] Roberts then won his first-ever 500 cc Grand Prix with a win at the Austrian Grand Prix, quickly followed by two more victories in France and Italy to take the championship points lead.[6][7][8] Hennen's promising career was cut short when he suffered head injuries while competing in the Isle of Man TT during a break in the Grand Prix season schedule.[9]

 
Johnny Cecotto (4) leads Barry Sheene (7) and Kenny Roberts (1) during the 1978 500cc Dutch TT race

Cecotto won the Dutch TT with Roberts finishing ahead of a resurgent Sheene in third place.[10] Hartog would claim the Belgian Grand Prix for Suzuki with Roberts and Sheene once again finishing in second and third places respectively.[11] At the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix, Roberts crashed during practice for the 250 cc race, sustaining a concussion and a thumb injury.[12] Shaken up by the accident, he could do no better than seventh place in the 500 cc race, while Sheene won the race to close the points gap on championship points leader Roberts.[12][13] Hartog won his second Grand Prix of the season with a victory at the Finnish Grand Prix, while the two championship leaders, Roberts and Sheene failed to finish the race.[14]

The two championship contenders arrived in England for the British Grand Prix with only three points separating them.[12] The race ended in controversy when torrential rains during the race, along with pit stops for tire changes by both Roberts and Sheene, created confusion among official scorers.[15] Eventually, Roberts was declared the winner with Sheene being awarded third place behind privateer Steve Manship, who did not stop for a tire change.[16][17][18]

The title fight between Roberts and Sheene went down to the final race of the season, the German Grand Prix held at the daunting, 14.2-mile-long (22.8 km) Nürburgring racetrack. Suzuki privateer, Virginio Ferrari, won the first Grand Prix of his career, while Roberts finished in third place, ahead of Sheene in fourth place to claim the first world championship for an American rider in Grand Prix road racing history.[19][20] Cecotto claimed third place in the final championship standings.[20]

1978 Grand Prix season calendarEdit

Round Date Race Location 50cc winner 125cc winner 250cc winner 350cc winner 500cc winner Report
1 March 19   Venezuelan Grand Prix San Carlos   Pier Paolo Bianchi   Kenny Roberts   Takazumi Katayama   Barry Sheene Report
2 April 16   Spanish Grand Prix Jarama   Eugenio Lazzarini   Eugenio Lazzarini   Gregg Hansford   Pat Hennen Report
3 April 30   Austrian Grand Prix Salzburgring   Eugenio Lazzarini   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
4 May 7   French Grand Prix Nogaro   Pier Paolo Bianchi   Gregg Hansford   Gregg Hansford   Kenny Roberts Report
5 May 14   Nations Grand Prix Mugello   Ricardo Tormo   Eugenio Lazzarini   Kork Ballington   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
6 June 24   Dutch TT Assen   Eugenio Lazzarini   Eugenio Lazzarini   Kenny Roberts   Kork Ballington   Johnny Cecotto Report
7 July 2   Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps   Ricardo Tormo   Pier Paolo Bianchi   Paolo Pileri   Wil Hartog Report
8 July 23   Swedish Grand Prix Karlskoga   Pier Paolo Bianchi   Gregg Hansford   Gregg Hansford   Barry Sheene Report
9 July 30   Finnish Grand Prix Imatra   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Kork Ballington   Wil Hartog Report
10 August 6   British Grand Prix Silverstone   Angel Nieto   Anton Mang   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
11 August 20   German Grand Prix Nürburgring Nordschleife   Ricardo Tormo   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Takazumi Katayama   Virginio Ferrari Report
12 August 27   Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Brno   Ricardo Tormo   Kork Ballington   Kork Ballington Report
13 September 17   Yugoslavian Grand Prix Rijeka   Ricardo Tormo   Angel Nieto   Gregg Hansford   Gregg Hansford Report

Final standingsEdit

500cc standings[20]Edit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Kenny Roberts 80 United States Yamaha 110 4
2   Barry Sheene 7 United Kingdom Suzuki 100 2
3   Johnny Cecotto 4 Venezuela Yamaha 66 1
4   Wil Hartog 10 Netherlands Suzuki 65 2
5   Takazumi Katayama 8 Japan Yamaha 53 0
6   Pat Hennen 3 United States Suzuki 51 1
7   Steve Baker 2 United States Suzuki 42 0
8   Teuvo Lansivuori 9 Finland Suzuki 39 0
9   Marco Lucchinelli 11 Italy Suzuki 30 0
10   Michel Rougerie 13 France Suzuki 23 0
11   Virginio Ferrari 12 Italy Suzuki 22 1
12   Steve Parrish 6 United Kingdom Suzuki 20 0
13   Boet van Dulmen Netherlands Suzuki 15 0
14   Steve Manship United Kingdom Suzuki 12 0
15   Christian Estrosi France Suzuki 11 0
16   Graziano Rossi Italy Suzuki 7 0
17   John Newbold United Kingdom Suzuki 7 0
18   Roberto Pietri Venezuela Yamaha 6 0
19   Gianni Rolando Italy Suzuki 6 0
20   Gerhard Vogt West Germany Yamaha 5 0
21   Philippe Coulon Switzerland Suzuki 5 0
22   Leandro Becheroni Italy Suzuki 4 0
23   Alex George United Kingdom Suzuki 4 0
24   Jurgen Steiner West Germany Suzuki 4 0
25   Jean Philippe Orban Belgium Suzuki 3 0
26   Carlo Perugini (motorcyclist) Italy Suzuki 2 0
27   Tom Herron United Kingdom Suzuki 2 0
28   Gianfranco Bonera Italy Suzuki 2 0
29   Bruno Kneubühler Switzerland Suzuki 2 0
30   Dennis Ireland New Zealand Suzuki 1 0
31   Kenny Blake Australia Yamaha 1 0

350cc standings[21]Edit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Kork Ballington 5 South Africa Kawasaki 134 6
2   Takazumi Katayama 1 Japan Yamaha 77 2
3   Gregg Hansford Australia Kawasaki 76 3
4   Jon Ekerold 3 South Africa Yamaha 64 0
5   Tom Herron 2 United Kingdom Yamaha 50 0
6   Michel Rougerie 4 France Yamaha 47 0
7   Franco Bonera Italy Yamaha 37 0
8   Patrick Fernandez 8 France Yamaha 36 0
9   Victor Soussan 12 Australia Yamaha 34 0
10   Olivier Chevallier 6 France Yamaha 27 0
11   Penti Korhonen Finland Yamaha 20
12   Franco Uncini Italy Yamaha 19
13   Paolo Pileri Italy 18
14   Mick Grant United Kingdom Kawasaki 16
15   Christian Sarron France Yamaha 15
16   Anton Mang West Germany Kawasaki 14
17   Patrick Pons France Yamaha 9
18   Marco Lucchinelli Italy Yamaha 5
19   Guy Bertin France Yamaha 5
20   Eric Saul France Yamaha 4
21   Vanes Francini Italy Yamaha 3
22   Raymond Roche France Yamaha 3
23   Alejandro Aleman Venezuela Yamaha 2
24   Leif Gustafsson Sweden Yamaha 2
25   Peter Van Der Wal Netherlands Yamaha 2
26   Gianni Pelletier Italy Yamaha 2
27   A.Piccioni Italy Yamaha 1
28   Eero Hyvärinen Finland Yamaha 1
29   Hervi Moineau France Yamaha 1
30   Roland Freymond Switzerland Yamaha 1
31   Mario Lega Italy 1

250cc standings[22]Edit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Kork Ballington 6 South Africa Kawasaki 124 4
2   Gregg Hansford Australia Kawasaki 118 4
3   Patrick Fernandez 10 France Yamaha 55 0
4   Kenny Roberts 80 United States Yamaha 54 2
5   Anton Mang Germany Kawasaki 52 1
6   Tom Herron 5 United Kingdom Yamaha 48 0
7   Mario Lega Italy Morbidelli 44 0
8   Franco Uncini Italy Yamaha 42 0
9   Jon Ekerold 9 South Africa Yamaha 40 0
10   Paolo Pileri 31 Italy Morbidelli 35 1
11   Raymond Roche France 26
12   Olivier Chevallier France 25
13   Jean-François Baldé France 19
14   Mick Grant United Kingdom 17
15   Victor Soussan Australia 14
16   Walter Villa Italy 13
17   Carlos Lavado Venezuela 12
18   Chas Mortimer United Kingdom 12
19   Penti Korhonen Finland 10
20   Clive Padgett United Kingdom 5
21   Hans Müller Switzerland 5
22   Roland Freymond Switzerland 4
23   Ted Henter United States 3
24   Pekka Nurmi Finland 2
25   Ray Quincey Australia 2
26   Alejandro Aleman Venezuela 2
27   John Dodds Australia 2
28   Leif Gustafsson Sweden 1
29   Sadao Asami Japan 1
30   Eero Hyvärinen Finland 1
31   Marc Fontan France 1
32   Hervi Moineau France 1
33   Guy Bertin France 1
34   Thierry Espié France 1

125cc standings[23]Edit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Eugenio Lazzarini 2 Italy MBA 114 4
2   Angel Nieto 3 Spain Minarelli 88 4
3   Pier Paolo Bianchi 1 Italy Minarelli 70 4
4   Harald Bartol 7 Austria Morbidelli 68 0
5   Thierry Espié 27 France Motobécane 62 0
6   Maurizio Massimiani 11 Italy Morbidelli 56 0
7   Hans Müller 8 Switzerland Morbidelli 48 0
8   Per-Edward Carlsson Sweden Morbidelli 46 0
9   Jean-Louis Guignabodet France Morbidelli 42 0
10   Clive Horton United Kingdom MBA 25 0
11 Patrick Plisson 20
12 Matti Kinnunen 18
13 Stefan Dörflinger 17
14 Pierluigi Conforti 16
15 August Auinger 14
16 Christian Leon 10
17 Thierry Noblesse 9
18 Alejandro Aleman 8
19 Felice Agostini 7
20 Ricardo Russo 6
21 Cees van Dongen 6
22 Claudio Granata 5
23 Gert Bender 5
24 Walter Koschine 5
25 M.Cortes 4
26 Luciano Schiavone 4
27 Y.Dupont 3
28 Rolf Blatter 3
29 Henk van Kessel 2
30 Alois Meyer 1
31 Benny Janssen 1
32 Ricardo Tormo 1
33 Enrico Cereda 1
34 B.Wilbers 1

50cc standings[24]Edit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Ricardo Tormo 3 Spain Bultaco 99 5
2   Eugenio Lazzarini 2 Italy Kreidler 64 2
3   Patrick Plisson 5 France ABF 48 0
4   Wolfgang Müller 20 West Germany Kreidler 28 0
5   Rolf Blatter 17 Switzerland Kreidler 25 0
6   Stefan Dörflinger 6 Switzerland Kreidler 24 0
7   Claudio Lusuardi 18 Italy Bultaco 20 0
8   Peter Looijensteijn 27 Netherlands Kreidler 14 0
9   Ingo Emmerich 23 West Germany Kreidler 14 0
10   Aldo Pero 15 Italy Kreidler 13 0
11   Angel Nieto 12
12   Henk van Kessel 11
13   Enrico Cereda 11
14   Julien van Zeebroeck 10
15   Cees van Dongen 10
16 Willi Scheidhauer 10
17 Hagen Klein 9
18 Theo Timmer 9
19 C.Dumont 6
20 Daniel Corvi 5
21 Gerrit Strikker 4
22 Luigi Rinaudo 4
23 Ramon Gali 3
24 A.Jeva 3
25 S.Monreale 2
26 Zbynek Havdra 2
27 J.Mira 1
28 Jacques Hutteau 1

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Noyes, Dennis; Scott, Michael (1999), Motocourse: 50 Years Of Moto Grand Prix, Hazleton Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-874557-83-7
  2. ^ a b Moses, Sam (March 1979). The daring young man whips the heroes with ease. American Motorcyclist. Books.Google.com. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  3. ^ "1978 500cc Venezuelan Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  4. ^ "1978 250cc Venezuelan Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  5. ^ "1978 500cc Spanish Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  6. ^ "1978 500cc Austrian Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  7. ^ "1978 500cc French Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  8. ^ "1978 500cc Nations Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Pat Hennen at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame". motorcyclemuseum.org. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  10. ^ "1978 500cc Dutch TT Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  11. ^ "1978 500cc Belgian Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  12. ^ a b c "Roberts makes the right dream come true". The Modesto Bee. Bee News Services. 23 August 1978. p. 1. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  13. ^ "1978 500cc Swedish Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  14. ^ "1978 500cc Finnish Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  15. ^ Roberts: A Champ With Class. American Motorcyclist. Books.Google.com. November 1978. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  16. ^ "Roberts Declared Official Winner". The Modesto Bee. Bee News Services. 8 August 1978. p. 6. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  17. ^ "Time to Fix 'Flag-to-Flag' Pit Stops Before Luck Runs Out". moto-racing.speedtv.com. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  18. ^ "1978 500cc British Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  19. ^ "1978 500cc German Grand Prix Results". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  20. ^ a b c "1978 500cc World Championship Final Standings". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  21. ^ "1978 350cc World Championship Final Standings". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  22. ^ "1978 250cc World Championship Final Standings". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  23. ^ "1978 125cc World Championship Final Standings". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  24. ^ "1978 50cc World Championship Final Standings". motogp.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.