1978 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season

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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.

Season summary[edit]

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 team mates 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]

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]

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]

Grands Prix[edit]

Round Race Location 50cc winner 125cc winner 250cc winner 350cc winner 500cc winner Report
1 Venezuela Venezuelan Grand Prix San Carlos Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi United States Kenny Roberts Japan Takazumi Katayama United Kingdom Barry Sheene Report
2 Spain Spanish Grand Prix Jarama Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Australia Gregg Hansford United States Pat Hennen Report
3 Austria Austrian Grand Prix Salzburgring Italy Eugenio Lazzarini South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
4 France French Grand Prix Nogaro Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi Australia Gregg Hansford Australia Gregg Hansford United States Kenny Roberts Report
5 Italy Nations Grand Prix Mugello Spain Ricardo Tormo Italy Eugenio Lazzarini South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
6 Netherlands Dutch TT Assen Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Italy Eugenio Lazzarini United States Kenny Roberts South Africa Kork Ballington Venezuela Johnny Cecotto Report
7 Belgium Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps Spain Ricardo Tormo Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi Italy Paolo Pileri Netherlands Wil Hartog Report
8 Sweden Swedish Grand Prix Karlskoga Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi Australia Gregg Hansford Australia Gregg Hansford United Kingdom Barry Sheene Report
9 Finland Finnish Grand Prix Imatra Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Kork Ballington Netherlands Wil Hartog Report
10 United Kingdom British Grand Prix Silverstone Spain Angel Nieto Germany Anton Mang South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
11 West Germany German Grand Prix Nürburgring Nordschleife Spain Ricardo Tormo Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington Japan Takazumi Katayama Italy Virginio Ferrari Report
12 Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Brno Spain Ricardo Tormo South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Kork Ballington Report
13 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavian Grand Prix Rijeka Spain Ricardo Tormo Spain Angel Nieto Australia Gregg Hansford Australia Gregg Hansford Report

Final standings[edit]

500cc standings[20][edit]

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

350cc standings[21][edit]

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

250cc standings[22][edit]

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

125cc standings[23][edit]

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1 Italy Eugenio Lazzarini 2 Italy MBA 114 4
2 Spain Angel Nieto 3 Spain Minarelli 88 4
3 Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi 1 Italy Minarelli 70 4
4 Austria Harald Bartol 7 Austria Morbidelli 68 0
5 France Thierry Espié 27 France Motobécane 62 0
6 Italy Maurizio Massimiani 11 Italy Morbidelli 56 0
7 Switzerland Hans Müller 8 Switzerland Morbidelli 48 0
8 Sweden Per-Edward Carlsson Sweden Morbidelli 46 0
9 France Jean-Louis Guignabodet France Morbidelli 42 0
10 United Kingdom 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 Spain Ricardo Tormo 3 Spain Bultaco 99 5
2 Italy Eugenio Lazzarini 2 Italy Kreidler 64 2
3 France Patrick Plisson 5 France ABF 48 0
4 West Germany Wolfgang Müller 20 West Germany Kreidler 28 0
5 Switzerland Rolf Blatter 17 Switzerland Kreidler 25 0
6 Switzerland Stefan Dörflinger 6 Switzerland Kreidler 24 0
7 Italy Claudio Lusuardi 18 Italy Bultaco 20 0
8 Netherlands Peter Looijensteijn 27 Netherlands Kreidler 14 0
9 West Germany Ingo Emmerich 23 West Germany Kreidler 14 0
10 Italy Aldo Pero 15 Italy Kreidler 13 0
11 Spain Angel Nieto 12
12 Netherlands Henk van Kessel 11
13 Italy Enrico Cereda 11
14 Belgium Julien van Zeebroeck 10
15 Netherlands 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

References[edit]

  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. 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.