1979 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season

1979 F.I.M. Grand Prix motorcycle racing season
Previous: 1978 Next: 1980

1979 World Champions
500ccKenny Roberts (Yamaha)
350cc - Kork Ballington (Kawasaki)
250ccKork Ballington (Kawasaki)
125ccÁngel Nieto (Minarelli)
50ccEugenio Lazzarini (Kreidler)
Kenny Roberts (pictured in Assen) became the 1979 500cc world champion

The 1979 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season was the 31st F.I.M. Road Racing World Championship season.

Season summaryEdit

A season of changing fortunes in the 500cc class saw American, Kenny Roberts capture his second crown in the face of the Suzuki-mounted opposition.[1] In the 50cc class, Eugenio Lazzarini won every race in which he finished to take the championship.[1] Angel Nieto dominated on a Minarelli to take his seventh world championship.[1] Kork Ballington would repeat as double world champion in the 250cc and 350cc classes for Kawasaki.[1]

Defending champion Roberts was injured in a pre-season test but came back to win round two in impressive fashion.[2] His rivals also suffered from bad luck. Hartog breaking his arm in practice, Cecotto badly breaking his kneecap in Austria and Sheene suffering from mechanical failures.[1] The 1979 British Grand Prix would be remembered as one of the greatest races of the modern era with Roberts beating Sheene to the finish line by three-hundredths of a second.[3]

After an eleven-year absence from world championship racing, Honda returned to competition with the exotic, four-stroke NR500 ridden by riders Mick Grant and Takazumi Katayama at the British Grand Prix.[4] The motorcycle featured an engine with oval-shaped cylinders as well as a monocoque chassis. Both bikes retired from the race, Grant crashing out on the first turn after the bike spilled oil onto his rear tire. Katayama retired on the seventh lap due to ignition problems.[4]

The top riders boycotted the Belgian Grand Prix over safety issues showing their increasing dissatisfaction with the way the FIM conducted races.[5] After several safety issues, the top riders banded together near the end of the year to announce that they would create a competing championship called the World Series.[1] Although the series never got off the ground, the riders had flexed their political muscles and it forced the FIM to change the way they dealt with races and the riders themselves.[1] The FIM announced an increase in prize money for the following year.[1] This would mark the beginning of an era of increased professionalism in the sport.[1]

1979 Grand Prix season calendarEdit

Round Date Race Location 50cc winner 125cc winner 250cc winner 350cc winner 500cc winner Report
1 March 18   Venezuelan Grand Prix San Carlos   Angel Nieto   Walter Villa   Carlos Lavado   Barry Sheene Report
2 April 29   Austrian Grand Prix Salzburgring   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
3 May 6   German Grand Prix Hockenheimring   Gerhard Waibel   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Jon Ekerold   Wil Hartog Report
4 May 13   Nations Grand Prix Imola   Eugenio Lazzarini   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Gregg Hansford   Kenny Roberts Report
5 May 20   Spanish Grand Prix Jarama   Eugenio Lazzarini   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
6 June 17   Yugoslavian Grand Prix Rijeka   Eugenio Lazzarini   Angel Nieto   Graziano Rossi   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
7 June 23   Dutch TT Assen   Eugenio Lazzarini   Angel Nieto   Graziano Rossi   Gregg Hansford   Virginio Ferrari Report
8 July 1   Belgian Grand Prix[6] Spa-Francorchamps   Henk van Kessel   Barry Smith   Edi Stoellinger   Dennis Ireland Report
9 July 22   Swedish Grand Prix Karlskoga   Pier Paolo Bianchi   Graziano Rossi   Barry Sheene Report
10 July 29   Finnish Grand Prix Imatra   Ricardo Tormo   Kork Ballington   Gregg Hansford   Boet van Dulmen Report
11 August 12   British Grand Prix Silverstone   Angel Nieto   Kork Ballington   Kork Ballington   Kenny Roberts Report
12 August 19   Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Brno   Guy Bertin   Kork Ballington   Kork Ballington Report
13 September 2   French Grand Prix Le Mans   Eugenio Lazzarini   Guy Bertin   Kork Ballington   Patrick Fernandez   Barry Sheene Report

Final standingsEdit

500cc standingsEdit

Place Rider Team Machine Points Wins
1   Kenny Roberts Yamaha USA YZR500 113 5
2   Virginio Ferrari Nava Gallina-Suzuki RG500 89 1
3   Barry Sheene Heron-Suzuki RG500 87 3
4   Wil Hartog Riemersma Racing RG500 66 1
5   Franco Uncini Zago-Suzuki RG500 51 0
6   Boet van Dulmen RG500 50 1
7   Jack Middelburg RG500 42 0
8   Randy Mamola Zago-Suzuki RG500 29 0
9   Philippe Coulon Frankonia Suzuki RG500 29 0
10   Tom Herron Heron-Suzuki RG500 28 0
11   Christian Sarron Sonauto Gauloises-Yamaha YZR500 26
12   Steve Parrish Heron-Suzuki RG500 19
13   Mike Baldwin Zago-Suzuki RG500 17
14   Dennis Ireland Derry's Racing RG500 17 1
15   Michel Rougerie Ecurie Ste Pernod RG500 16
16   Bernard Fau Suzuki-France RG500 13
17   Kenny Blake RG500 12
18   Marco Lucchinelli RG500 11
19   Gary Lingham RG500 10
20   Johnny Cecotto Venemotos-Yamaha YZR500 10
21   Gustav Reiner Dieter Braun Team RG500 8
22   Hiroyuki Kawasaki Heron-Suzuki RG500 6
23   Henk De Vries Team 77 RG500 6
24   Gerhard Vogt Bill Smith Racing RG500 6
25   Roberto Pietri RG500 5
26   Sepp Hage Dieter Braun Team RG500 5
27   Jacky Matagne RG500 4
28   Max Wiener RG500 4
29   Ikujiro Takai Yamaha International YZR500 3
30   Carlo Perugini RG500 3
31   Sergio Pellandini RG500 2
32   Guy Cooremans RG500 2
33   Graziano Rossi Morbidelli 2
34   John Woodley RG500 2
35   Peter Sjostrom Ava MC Stockholm RG500 1
36   Seppo Rossi Kouv MK RG500 1
37   Dieter Heinen RG500 1
38   Mick Grant Honda-HRC RG500/NR500 1
39   John Newbold Team Appleby Glade RG500 1
40   Gianni Pelletier RG500 1

350cc standingsEdit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Kork Ballington 1 South Africa Kawasaki 99 5
2   Patrick Fernandez France Yamaha 90 1
3   Gregg Hansford 3 Australia Kawasaki 77 3
4   Anton Mang 16 West Germany Kawasaki 64 0
5   Michel Frutschi Switzerland Yamaha 47 0
6   Michel Rougerie 6 France Yamaha 47 0
7   Roland Freymond 27 Switzerland Yamaha 40 0
8   Jon Ekerold 4 South Africa Yamaha 34 1
9   Sadao Asami Japan Yamaha 27 0
10   Jeff Sayle Australia Yamaha 24 0
11   Pekka Nurmi 23
12   Penti Korhonen 17
13   Christian Estrosi 16
14   Carlos Lavado 15
15   Patrick Pons 12
16   Eric Saul 10
17   Michel Rougerie 10
18   Richard Hubin 9
19   Herve Guilleux 8
20   Olivier Chevallier 8
21   Victor Soussan 8
22   Graeme McGregor 5
23   Murray Sayle 5
24   Eddy Elias 4
25   Bengt Elgh 4
26   Paolo Pileri 4
27   Edi Stoellinger 4
28   Reinhold Roth 3
29   Tony Head 3
30   Klaas Hernamdt 3
31   Victor Palomo 3
32   Eero Hyvärinen 3
33   Alan North 3
34   Adelio Faccioli 2
35   Joey Dunlop 2
36   Yoshimi Matsumoto 2
37   Gianfranco Bonera 2
38   Max Wiener 1

250cc standingsEdit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Kork Ballington 1 South Africa Kawasaki 141 7
2   Gregg Hansford 2 Australia Kawasaki 81 0
3   Graziano Rossi 46 Italy Morbidelli 67 3
4   Randy Mamola United States Yamaha 64 0
5   Patrick Fernandez 3 France Yamaha 63 0
6   Anton Mang 5 West Germany Kawasaki 56 0
7   Walter Villa 16 Italy Yamaha 39 1
8   Jean-François Baldé 13 France Kawasaki 29 0
9   Edi Stoellinger Austria Kawasaki 28 1
10   Roland Freymond 22 Switzerland Yamaha 22 0
11 Olivier Chevallier 22
12 Christian Estrosi 19
13 Chas Mortimer 14
14 Paolo Pileri 14
15 Graeme McGregor 14
16 Barry Ditchburn 13
17 Victor Soussan 11
18 Eric Saul 11
19 M.Sayle 10
20 Fernando Gonzales de N. 9
21 Penti Korhonen 9
22 Jon Ekerold 8
23 Richard Hubin 7
24 Guy Bertin 6
25 Michel Simeon 5
26 Jeffrey Sayle 4
27 Hans Müller 4
28 Massimo Matteoni 3
29 Maurizio Massimiani 3
30 Pekka Nurmi 3
31 J.Lazo 3
32 B.Elgh 2
33 Y.Matsumoto 2
34 Eero Hyvärinen 1
35 Tony Head 1
36 Sadao Asami 1
37 Thierry Espié 1
38 Alan North 1
39 Rinus Van Kasteren 1

125cc standingsEdit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Angel Nieto 2 Spain Minarelli 120 8
2   Maurizio Massimiani 6 Italy MBA 53 0
3   Hans Müller 7 Switzerland MBA 50 0
4   Thierry Espié 5 France Motobécane 48 0
5   Gert Bender West Germany GB Bender 47 0
6   Guy Bertin France Motobécane 40 2
7   Ricardo Tormo 8 Spain Bultaco 39 1
8   Harald Bartol 4 Austria Morbidelli 36 0
9   Bruno Kneubühler Switzerland MBA 36 0
10   Pier Paolo Bianchi 3 Italy Minarelli 35 1
11 Stefan Dörflinger 35
12 Barry Smith
13 Walter Koschine 25
14 August Auinger 25
15 Eugenio Lazzarini 22
16 Jean Louis Guignabodet 20
17 Matti Kinnunen 19
18 Patrick Herouard 18
19 Marcelino Garcia 17
20 Thierry Noblesse 16
21 Per-Edward Carlson 14
22 Jean Francois Lecureux 12
23 Patrick Plisson 12
24 Martin Van Soest 10
25 Gianpaolo Marchetti 10
26 Rolf Blatter 8
27 Peter Looijesteijn 8
28 Clive Horton 7
29 Francois Granon 7
30 Stefan Janssen 7
31 Ivan Troisi 5
32 Paul Bordes 5
33 Pierluigi Conforti 4
34 Anton Straver 4
35 Peter Balaz 3
36 Jean Paul Magnoni 2
37 Alfred Waibel 2
38 Stefano Ferretti 2
39 Henk van Kessel 2
40 Jan Huberts 2
41 Marc Antoine Constantin 2
42 Miguel Cortes 1
43 Fernando Gonzales de N. 1
44 Renè Renier 1
45 Johnny Wickstroem 1

50cc standingsEdit

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1   Eugenio Lazzarini 2 Italy Kreidler 75 5
2   Rolf Blatter 5 Switzerland Kreidler 62 0
3   Patrick Plisson 3 France ABF 32 0
4   Gerhard Waibel West Germany Kreidler 31 1
5   Peter Looijensteijn 8 Netherlands Kreidler 30 0
6   Hagen Klein 17 West Germany Kreidler 26 0
7   Henk van Kessel 12 Netherlands Sparta 23 1
8   Jacques Hutteau France Kreidler 27 0
9   Ingo Emmerich West Germany Kreidler 8 0
10   Stefan Dörflinger Switzerland Kreidler 6 0
11 Rainer Scheidhauer 17
12 Theo Timmer 16
13 Aldo Pero 16
14 Rudolf Kunz 13
15 E.Saffioti 10
16 Wolfgang Müller 9
17 Ricardo Tormo 6
18 Enrico Cereda 5
19 Joaquim Gali 5
20 Daniel Mateos 4
21 M.Servadio 4
22 Graham Singer 4
23 P.Verbic 3
24 Theo Van Geffen 3
25 R.Oosting 2
26 Claudio Granata 2
27 Hans Hummel 2
28 Cees Van Dongen 1
29 D.Priori 1
30 Gerrit Strikker 1

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Noyes, Dennis; Scott, Michael (1999), Motocourse: 50 Years Of Moto Grand Prix, Hazleton Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-874557-83-7
  2. ^ "Roberts Ruptures Spleen In Crash". The Hour. United Press International. 16 February 1979. p. 26. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Silverstone 1979 – a Roberts-Sheene classic". motogp.com. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b "The NR500s: A Humiliating Debut". world.honda.com. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Roberts Suspended For Boycott". Modesto Bee. Modesto Bee. 2 July 1979. p. 1. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  6. ^ Top riders went on strike at the Belgian Grand Prix over track safety.

ReferencesEdit