1979 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season

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

Season summary[edit]

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] Near the end of the year, the top riders banded together to announce 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]

Grands Prix[edit]

Round Race Location 50cc winner 125cc winner 250cc winner 350cc winner 500cc winner Report
1 Venezuela Venezuelan Grand Prix San Carlos Spain Angel Nieto Italy Walter Villa Venezuela Carlos Lavado United Kingdom Barry Sheene Report
2 Austria Austrian Grand Prix Salzburgring Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
3 Germany German Grand Prix Hockenheimring Germany Gerhard Waibel Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Jon Ekerold Netherlands Wil Hartog Report
4 Italy Nations Grand Prix Imola Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington Australia Gregg Hansford United States Kenny Roberts Report
5 Spain Spanish Grand Prix Jarama Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
6 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavian Grand Prix Rijeka Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Spain Angel Nieto Italy Graziano Rossi South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
7 Netherlands Dutch TT Assen Italy Eugenio Lazzarini Spain Angel Nieto Italy Graziano Rossi Australia Gregg Hansford Italy Virginio Ferrari Report
8 Belgium Belgian Grand Prix[6] Spa Netherlands Henk van Kessel Australia Barry Smith Austria Edi Stoellinger New Zealand Dennis Ireland Report
9 Sweden Swedish Grand Prix Karlskoga Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi Italy Graziano Rossi United Kingdom Barry Sheene Report
10 Finland Finnish Grand Prix Imatra Spain Ricardo Tormo South Africa Kork Ballington Australia Gregg Hansford Netherlands Boet van Dulmen Report
11 United Kingdom British Grand Prix Silverstone Spain Angel Nieto South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Kork Ballington United States Kenny Roberts Report
12 Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Brno France Guy Bertin South Africa Kork Ballington South Africa Kork Ballington Report
13 France French Grand Prix Le Mans Italy Eugenio Lazzarini France Guy Bertin South Africa Kork Ballington France Patrick Fernandez United Kingdom Barry Sheene Report

Final standings[edit]

500cc standings[edit]

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1 United States Kenny Roberts 1 United States Yamaha 113 5
2 Italy Virginio Ferrari 11 Italy Suzuki 89 1
3 United Kingdom Barry Sheene 7 United Kingdom Suzuki 87 3
4 Netherlands Wil Hartog 4 Netherlands Suzuki 66 1
5 Italy Franco Uncini Italy Suzuki 51 0
6 Netherlands Boet van Dulmen 13 Netherlands Suzuki 50 1
7 Netherlands Jack Middelburg Netherlands Suzuki 42 0
8 United States Randy Mamola United States Suzuki 29 0
9 Switzerland Philippe Coulon 21 Switzerland Suzuki 29 0
10 United Kingdom Tom Herron N.Ireland Suzuki 28 0
11 Christian Sarron 26
12 Steve Parrish 19
13 Mike Baldwin 17
14 Dennis Ireland 17
15 Michel Rougerie 16
16 Bernard Fau 13
17 Kenny Blake 12
18 Marco Lucchinelli 11
19 Gary Lingham 10
20 Johnny Cecotto 10
21 Gustav Reiner 8
22 Hiroyuki Kawasaki 6
23 Henk De Vries 6
24 Gerhard Vogt 6
25 Roberto Pietri 5
26 Jodef Hage 5
27 Jacky Matagne 4
28 Max Wiener 4
29 Ikujiro Takai 3
30 Carlo Perugini 3
31 Sergio Pellandini 2
32 Guy Cooremans 2
33 Graziano Rossi 2
34 John Woodley 2
35 Peter Sjostrom 1
36 Seppo Rossi 1
37 Dieter Heinen 1
38 Mick Grant 1
39 John Newbold 1
40 Gianni Pelletier 1

350cc standings[edit]

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1 South Africa Kork Ballington 1 South Africa Kawasaki 99 5
2 France Patrick Fernandez France Yamaha 90 1
3 Australia Gregg Hansford 3 Australia Kawasaki 77 3
4 West Germany Anton Mang 16 West Germany Kawasaki 64 0
5 Switzerland Michel Frutschi Switzerland Yamaha 47 0
6 France Michel Rougerie 6 France Yamaha 47 0
7 Switzerland Roland Freymond 27 Switzerland Yamaha 40 0
8 South Africa Jon Ekerold 4 South Africa Yamaha 34 1
9 Japan Sadao Asami Japan Yamaha 27 0
10 Australia 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 M.Sayle 5
24 E.Elias 4
25 B.Elgh 4
26 Paolo Pileri 4
27 Edi Stoellinger 4
28 Reinhold Roth 3
29 Tony Head 3
30 K.Hernamdt 3
31 Victor Palomo 3
32 Eero Hyvärinen 3
33 Alan North 3
34 A.Faccioli 2
35 Joey Dunlop 2
36 Y.Matsumoto 2
37 Gianfranco Bonera 2
38 Max Wiener 1

250cc standings[edit]

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1 South Africa Kork Ballington 1 South Africa Kawasaki 141 7
2 Australia Gregg Hansford 2 Australia Kawasaki 81 0
3 Italy Graziano Rossi Italy Morbidelli 67 3
4 United States Randy Mamola United States Yamaha 64 0
5 France Patrick Fernandez 3 France Yamaha 63 0
6 West Germany Anton Mang 5 West Germany Kawasaki 56 0
7 Italy Walter Villa 16 Italy Yamaha 39 1
8 France Jean-François Baldé 13 France Kawasaki 29 0
9 Austria Edi Stoellinger Austria Kawasaki 28 1
10 Switzerland 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 standings[edit]

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1 Spain Angel Nieto 2 Spain Minarelli 120 8
2 Italy Maurizio Massimiani 6 Italy MBA 53 0
3 Switzerland Hans Müller 7 Switzerland MBA 50 0
4 France Thierry Espié 5 France Motobécane 48 0
5 West Germany Gert Bender West Germany GB Bender 47 0
6 France Guy Bertin France Motobécane 40 2
7 Spain Ricardo Tormo 8 Spain Bultaco 39 1
8 Austria Harald Bartol 4 Austria Morbidelli 36 0
9 Switzerland Bruno Kneubühler Switzerland MBA 36 0
10 Italy Pier Paolo Bianchi 3 Italy Minarelli 35 1
11 Stefan Dorflinger 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 Edvard Carlsson 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 standings[edit]

Place Rider Number Country Machine Points Wins
1 Italy Eugenio Lazzarini 2 Italy Kreidler 75 5
2 Switzerland Rolf Blatter 5 Switzerland Kreidler 62 0
3 France Patrick Plisson 3 France ABF 32 0
4 West Germany Gerhard Waibel West Germany Kreidler 31 1
5 Netherlands Peter Looijensteijn 8 Netherlands Kreidler 30 0
6 West Germany Hagen Klein 17 West Germany Kreidler 26 0
7 Netherlands Henk van Kessel 12 Netherlands Sparta 23 1
8 France Jacques Hutteau France Kreidler 27 0
9 West Germany Ingo Emmerich West Germany Kreidler 8 0
10 Switzerland 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

Notes[edit]

  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.

References[edit]