World Championship means what it says on the tin

by | Apr 19, 2022 | Honda, motoGP News, Yamaha

World Championship means what it says on the tin

As MotoGP™ returns to Europe, Nick Harris reflects on the early days of Championship flyaways to make it a more global sport

When you call it a World Championship you must mean it. MotoGP™ arrives in Europe this weekend after a journey of approximately 43,000 km dropping off in four countries on three separate continents and that is just the opening four rounds of 21. Exhilarating and exhausting all rolled into one.

The logistical freight problems first encountered, and then brilliantly overcome by the MotoGP™ community in Argentina, is part of crisscrossing the globe week after week. Twenty-one races in 17 separate countries on six continents in just eight frantic months is bound to cause problems and not only for the teams and riders.

Ironically 40 years ago I made my first journey outside Europe to report on a Grand Prix. There had not been a 500cc race outside Europe for three years when we ventured to the 1982 opening round in Buenos Aires for the Argentine Grand Prix. It was the same circuit that had hosted the first-ever Grand Prix outside Europe in 1961, 12 years after the birth of the World Championship. I had been to Daytona in Florida a couple of times for the pre-season races, but this was so different. Somehow Peter Clifford and I persuaded our editor that we should go a week earlier to ride across Argentina to the border of Chile high in the Andes in a Che Guevara style motorcycle trip. We returned after an amazing journey to witness a classic Grand Prix. Kenny Roberts fighting off the Yamaha of Barry Sheene by 0.67s with Freddie Spencer, spearheading the Honda return to Grand Prix racing, in third place. We had no idea there were problems between Argentina and Great Britain. We arrived back in London on the Monday after the race. Two days later war was declared between the two countries over the Falkland Island dispute.

I had been due to go to Venezuela two years earlier, but the Grand Prix was cancelled. Barry Sheene had won at the San Carlos circuit at the three premier class races between 1977-79. Most people and certainly journalists had been forced to stay 100 kilometres from the circuit. Typically, Barry got friendly with the local fire brigade and slept in the fire station in the local town.

REWIND: Chapter 4 - 500GPs: Making History

The year after the Argentine adventure we went to South Africa for the first time and the Kyalami circuit on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It was an amazing trip where the MotoGP™ community ignored the apartheid regime. I had severe doubts about making the journey but honestly felt by going we had helped in our small way to fight against prejudice. Freddie Spencer won that first 500cc race but two years later crashed when his rear wheel collapsed. He arrived to the airport to fly back to London in a wheelchair. Flying films out of South Africa at the time was not easy because the authorities want to develop films to see what pictures were going to be distributed. Freddie took the films and sat on them in his wheelchair, and we sailed through customs and on the plane.

In 1987, Grand Prix racing returned to Japan after a 20-year absence. It was my first trip to a country whose machinery had dominated the World Championship for so long. It was a wonderful experience flying to Suzuka. In those days you could not fly to Japan in one go and we landed at Anchorage in Alaska to refuel where we were told they had the biggest duty-free shop in the world and there was a massive stuffed bear outside the entrance. The racing and hospitality were fantastic but something else was my highlight. We met ‘Mr Fax’ in the media centre who persuaded us if we put a sheet of paper in his machine it would arrive at the other end in London. It worked and those long hours on a Sunday night typing out the race results that could be from six classes at some Grands Prix had disappeared at that moment. We loved ‘Mr Fax.’

From a rodeo to the rollercoaster: MotoGP™ heads to Portimao

Portugal on Sunday. No time for a breather, the next country, and continent beckons. It may not be quite Around the World in Eighty days, but it is very close.

VideoPass allows you to watch every single second of every single sector LIVE and OnDemand

Read more here


Changes to how MotoGP™ riders enter Q2 approved

Changes to how MotoGP™ riders enter Q2 approved

Changes to how MotoGP™ riders enter Q2 approved The Grand Prix Commission agrees to change the sessions timed for entry into Q2 The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Biense...

2021 Ducati SuperSport 950/S

2021 Ducati SuperSport 950 S (Ducati Red) (Ducati/)UpsUpdated electronics with Bosch six-axis IMU at the controlsNew windshield and seat enhance comfortA versatile and practical everyday machine with fantastic composure on the trackDownsLost a few horsepower due to...

2021 Royal Enfield Meteor 350

2021 Royal Enfield Meteor 350 (Fireball trim) (Royal Enfield/)UpsThe beginner cruiser market gains one more competitorImpressive, well-balanced handlingEngine power may not be jaw-dropping, but its mild-mannered delivery and lack of vibration provides a very relaxed...

2023 Alpinestars Adventure Tour and Venture XT Jacket-Pant Review

Recently Alpinestars USA hosted its inaugural adventure tour in Big Bear Lake, California. The tour is an opportunity to showcase the Italian gear manufacturer’s ever expanding streetbike and off-road motorcycle gear lines. Astars pulled out the big guns for this...

Yamaha Motor Unveils Hydrogen-Powered V-8 Combustion Engine

Powerful hydrogen power: 397 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm are the claimed figures. (Yamaha Motor/)Exciting and surprisingly specific news from Hamamatsu: Yamaha Motor has been tapped by Toyota Motor Corporation to develop an automotive engine fueled entirely by...

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 World GP 60th Anniversary Preview

The newest member of Yamaha’s sportbike line, the YZF-R7 will come in special World GP 60th Anniversary dress in 2022. (Yamaha/)In celebration of 60 years of World Grand Prix competition, Yamaha is releasing a number of anniversary edition sportbikes for the 2022...

Can-Am and Road Warrior Foundation Sponsor Veterans on Cross-Country Ride

The 2022 Road Warrior Ride, sponsored by Can-Am, ended at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Columbus, Ohio. During the week of Sept. 23-30, a group of veterans seeking adventure, camaraderie, and healing rode Can-Am Spyders from Florida to Ohio, covering over...

Form And Function: Ashley Watson’s Waxed Cotton Jackets for Motorcyclists

From the green hills of the Central Hemisphere comes Ashley Watson. Ashley is a designer who has been itching to update the laminated fabric of traditional motorcycle gear into a more classic, sustainable choice  – and he’s gone and done it with waxed cotton. ...

Triumph Extends Moto2 Partnership Until 2029

Triumph Motorcycles has signed a new contract to remain an Exclusive Engine Supplier for the FIM Moto2™ World Championship for another five seasons. Triumph is developing a full new race gearbox, which will debut in the 2025 season, alongside improvements for the 2024...

2021 Yamaha YZF-R3

2021 Yamaha YZF-R3. (Yamaha/)UpsSmall size, amiable manners for new ridersRevvy engine, good handling for expertsDownsNeeds slightly bigger engine to compete with rivals$300 price increaseVerdictThe R3′s debut six years ago changed the entry-level motorcycle...

2021 KTM 200 Duke, 390 Duke, 890 Duke, and 1290 Super Duke R | Comparison Review

KTM’s line of naked bikes has steadily evolved over the past 25 years. We assembled the latest lineup of Dukes (left to right: 200 Duke, 390 Duke, 890 Duke, and 1290 Super Duke R) for a side-by-side evaluation. Photos by Kevin Wing. KTM rose to prominence with its...