Geoff Duke

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Geoff Duke
Geoff Duke (1951).jpg
Geoff Duke (1951)
Nationality United Kingdom British
Born (1923-03-29) 29 March 1923 (age 91)
St. Helens, Lancashire, England
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years 1950 - 1959
First race 1950 Isle of Man TT
Last race 1959 Nations Grand Prix
First win 1950 500 cc Isle of Man TT
Last win 1958 500 cc Swedish Grand Prix
Team(s) Benelli, BMW, Gilera, Norton, NSU
Championships 350 cc - 1951, 1952
500 cc - 1951, 1953 - 1955
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
89 33 50 359 (371)
Isle of Man TT career
TTs contested 9 (1949 - 1955, 1958, 1959)
TT wins 6
First TT win 1949 Clubmans Senior TT
Last TT win 1955 Senior TT
Podiums 8

Geoffrey Ernest Duke OBE (born 29 March 1923) is a British multi-time motorcycle Grand Prix road racing world champion. He was born in St. Helens, Lancashire.[1]

Duke dominated motorcycle racing in the 1950s, winning six world championships and six Isle of Man TT races.[1] Duke came to prominence after winning the 1949 Senior Clubmans TT and the Senior Manx Grand Prix and was to become the very first post-war motorcycling 'superstar', popularly known amongst the racing fraternity simply as 'the Duke'. He was signed up to the Norton works team for the 1950 TT, finishing second in the Junior TT and breaking both lap and race records in the Senior TT.

After winning three World Championships for Norton, he moved abroad to Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Gilera in 1953.[2] With Gilera, he had a string of three consecutive 500 cc world championships.[1] His support for a riders' strike demanding more start money led the FIM to suspend him for six months, dashing any hopes for a fourth consecutive title.[2][3] For 1953 he joined the sports car racing team of Aston Martin (Feltham-Middlesex) to race the DB3.[4] Teamed with Peter Collins, the pair led the 12 Hours of Sebring until Duke's accident and resulting DNF. In 1955 he was declared the first rider to lap the Isle of Man TT course at 100 mph, though this was later corrected to 99.97.[5] As a consequence the official first 100 mph lap is credited to Bob McIntyre, also on a Gilera, in 1957. Duke was a non-starter because of injury. His final race was the 1959 Nations Grand Prix. In 1963, he formed Scuderia Duke with Gilera to race the 1957 Gileras against the might of MV Agusta.[2]

Duke was the first rider to wear one-piece leathers - he had enlisted his local tailor to make the first of his now famous one-piece race suits.[6] He was named Sportsman of the Year in 1951, awarded the RAC Segrave Trophy[7] and, in recognition of his services to motorcycling, was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1953.

Highly honoured by the Isle of Man, where he made so many of his world record breaking rides, a point on the Mountain Course has been named after him. Three sharp bends at the 32nd Milestone between Brandywell and Windy Corner now carry the title 'Duke's'. The FIM named him a Grand Prix "Legend" in 2002.[8] After retiring from racing, Duke became a businessman, initially in the motor trade and later in shipping services to the Isle of Man. In 1978 he was instrumental in setting up the Manxline company that introduced the first roll-on-roll-off ferry service to the IOM in competition with the 150-year-old IOM Steam Packet Co.[9] His son Peter founded Duke Video, a successful publisher specialising in motorsport videos.

World Championship results[edit]

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6
Points 8 6 4 3 2 1

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap. An empty black cell indicates that the class did not compete at that particular championship round.)

Year Class Motorcycle 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Rank Points
1950 IOM BEL NED SUI ULS NAT
350 cc Norton 2 3 2 3 1 2nd 24 (28)
500 cc Norton 1 Ret Ret 4 1 1 2nd 27
1951 ESP SUI IOM BEL NED FRA ULS NAT
350 cc Norton Ret 1 1 Ret 1 1 1 1st 32 (40)
500 cc Norton Ret 1 1 1 5 1 4 1st 35 (37)
1952 SUI IOM NED BEL GER ULS NAT ESP
350 cc Norton 1 1 1 1 1st 32
500 cc Norton Ret Ret 2 2 7th 12
1953 IOM NED BEL GER FRA ULS SUI NAT ESP
500 cc Gilera Ret 1 Ret 1 2 1 1 1st 38
1954 FRA IOM ULS BEL NED GER SUI NAT ESP
500 cc Gilera Ret 2 C 1 1 1 1 1 1st 40 (46)
1955 ESP FRA IOM GER BEL NED ULS NAT
500 cc Gilera Ret 1 1 1 Ret 1 3 1st 36
1956 IOM NED BEL GER ULS NAT
500 cc Gilera Ret Ret Ret 1 7th 8
1957 GER IOM NED BEL ULS NAT
350 cc Gilera Ret Ret - 0
500 cc Gilera 3 2 4th 10
1958 IOM NED BEL GER SWE ULS NAT
350 cc Norton Ret Ret 5 Ret 1 4 3 3rd 17
500 cc BMW Ret Ret 4 Ret 3rd 13
Norton 1 5 7
1959 FRA IOM GER NED BEL SWE ULS NAT
250 cc NSU Ret 10th 5
Benelli 6 3 10
350 cc Norton 4 4 3 Ret 5th 10
500 cc Norton 9 3 3 3 4th 12

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  • All Grand Prix results are taken from Walker, pp. 248–252

Books[edit]

Walker, Mick (2007). Geoff Duke: The Stylish Champion. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 9781859835456. 

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Umberto Masetti
500 cc Motorcycle World Champion
1951
Succeeded by
Umberto Masetti
Preceded by
Bob Foster
350 cc Motorcycle World Champion
1951-1952
Succeeded by
Fergus Anderson
Preceded by
Umberto Masetti
500 cc Motorcycle World Champion
1953-1955
Succeeded by
John Surtees