Bal­ling­ton to be­co­me Mo­toGP le­gend

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - Auto Dealer - AN­DRÉ DE KOCK

Kork Bal­ling­ton is set to join a long list of gre­ats that ha­ve been ma­de Mo­toGP Le­gends.

Old South A­fri­can mo­tor­cy­cle ra­cing ent­hu­si­as­ts will be ex­tre­me­ly hap­py to he­ar that this coun­try’s first e­ver mo­tor sport wor­ld cham­pi­on will soon be ho­nou­red at in­ter­na­ti­o­nal le­vel.

Na­tal re­si­dent and four-ti­me mo­tor­cy­cle wor­ld cham­pi­on Kork Bal­ling­ton is set to be in­ducted in­to the Mo­toGP Le­gends Hall of Fa­me at this y­e­ar’s Aus­tra­li­an Mo­toGP.

Bal­ling­ton won dou­ble tit­les in 1978 and 1979, ta­king the cro­wn in both the 250cc and 350cc Wor­ld C­ham­pi­ons­hips.

That b­land sta­te­ment de­ser­ves clo­ser scru­tiny. In to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment, that would be the sa­me as win­ning both the Mo­to3 and Mo­to2 wor­ld tit­les in the sa­me y­e­ar. T­wi­ce.

The South A­fri­can took his Grand P­rix first po­di­um in 1976, in the 250 Wor­ld Cham­pi­ons­hip, w­hen he ca­me se­cond in the West Ger­man Grand P­rix.

Four-ti­me Mo­tor­cy­cle Wor­ld Cham­pi­on

At the next e­vent, Bal­ling­ton took his first win - this ti­me in the 350cc Wor­ld Cham­pi­ons­hip - at the S­pa­nish Grand P­rix.

1977 saw mo­re po­di­ums and wins - his first 250cc vic­to­ry co­ming at Sil­vers­to­ne - be­fo­re the South A­fri­can ma­de his char­ge for the cro­wns.

Bal­ling­ton be­gan 1978 off the po­di­um in both c­ham­pi­ons­hips, but then won the 350cc Aus­tri­an GP at the Salz­bur­gring as his first vi­sit to the ros­trum that y­e­ar.

Al­so on the po­di­um next ti­me out, the e­ven­tu­al cham­pi­on in both clas­ses then took both the 250cc and 350cc wins at Mu­gel­lo -so­mething he re­pe­a­ted in Fin­land and at Br­no.

O­ver­all, Bal­ling­ton took four 250cc wins and six 350cc wins on his way to win­ning both tit­les in 1978.

1979 was a si­mi­lar sto­ry, as the se­ri­ous­ly cool South A­fri­can on the Ka­wa­sa­ki do­mi­na­ted.

Se­ven 250cc wins - a­chie­ved three-in-a­row and then four-in-a-row - saw him de­fend that cro­wn, and fi­ve wins in the 350cc Wor­ld Cham­pi­ons­hip wrap­ped that up for the se­cond y­e­ar run­ning, too.

For 1980 Bal­ling­ton tar­ge­ted the 250cc and 500cc c­ham­pi­ons­hips and was run­ner-up in the lo­wer ca­te­go­ry af­ter a­not­her fi­ve wins; al­so ta­king so­me so­lid top ten re­sults on the 500cc ma­chi­ne.

His first po­di­ums in the p­re­mier class ca­me the y­e­ar af­ter with ros­trum fi­nis­hes in the Net­her­lands and Fin­land, be­fo­re a fi­nal y­e­ar of com­pe­ti­ti­on in 1980 pre­fa­ced the four-ti­me Wor­ld Cham­pi­on’s re­ti­re­ment.

“I am o­ver­w­hel­med,” says Bal­ling­ton. “To join the e­li­te group al­re­a­dy on the list is such an ho­nour. I am dee­ply hum­bled that I am to be­co­me one of them. Throug­hout my ca­reer I ne­ver ex­pected or ma­de it a go­al to be­co­me re­cog­ni­sed. My fo­cus was on gi­ving the be­st ac­count of my­self whi­le ho­nou­ring the true va­lu­es of sports­mans­hip and re­spect for fel­low com­pe­ti­tors. Re­cog­ni­ti­on be­ca­me a by-pro­duct. This in­ducti­on as a Mo­toGP Le­gend is a new high for me. It will be a ple­a­su­re to at­tend the Aus­tra­li­an GP. I will bring my wi­fe, Bron­wyn, who was an in­te­gral part of the w­ho­le jour­ney,” Bal­ling­ton ad­ded.

Bal­ling­ton will join a long list of gre­ats that ha­ve been ma­de Mo­toGP Le­gends.

They in­clu­de Gi­a­co­mo A­go­sti­ni, Mick Doohan, Ge­off Du­ke, Way­ne Gard­ner, Mi­ke Hai­l­wood, Dai­ji­ro Ka­to, Ed­die Law­son, An­ton Mang, An­gel Nie­to, Way­ne Rai­ney, P­hil Re­ad, Jim Red­man, Ken­ny Ro­berts, Jar­no Saar­i­nen, Ke­vin S­chwantz, Bar­ry S­heene, Mar­co Si­mon­cel­li, F­red­die S­pen­cer, Ca­sey S­to­ner, John Sur­tees, Car­lo Ub­bi­a­li, A­lex C­ri­vil­lé, Fran­co Un­ci­ni, Mar­co Luc­chi­nel­li, Ran­dy Ma­mo­la and the la­te Nic­ky Hay­den.

An­dré de Kock is mo­to­ring e­di­tor of The Ci­ti­zen.

P­ho­tos: Mo­toGP

Bal­ling­ton in blis­te­ring form.

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