An­ton Mang

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - ARCHIVE - Words: Ber­tie Sim­monds Photo: don mor­ley

An­ton mang was one of the great­est 250 rid­ers the world had ever seen. An­ton ‘toni’ mang started out as a me­chanic and started rac­ing on a ma­chine that he de­vel­oped him­self – the SMZ 250. in 1975 he was Ger­man 350cc champ and had dipped his toe into Grands Prix by tak­ing part in the Aus­trian round. A year later he took his first world cham­pi­onship win at the daunt­ing nur­bur­gring on a 125cc mor­bidelli. By 1978 he was with Kawasaki, rid­ing in both 250 and 350cc classes and by 1980 he was 250cc World Cham­pion and run­ner-up in the 350cc class. A year later he won both ti­tles – an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment. He was also the last 350cc cham­pion in 1982, a year in which he was run­ner-up in the 250cc class. An abortive year in the 500cc class in 1983 was spoiled by a pre-sea­son in­jury so he re­turned to the class he loved in 1984. He be­came the old­est World Cham­pion when he re­gained the 250cc ti­tle for the third time in 1987 but he was sadly forced to re­tire the fol­low­ing year thanks to an in­jury sus­tained in yu­goslavia. When he fi­nally quit, he had 42 grand prix vic­to­ries to his name and five world cham­pi­onships. to sum up An­ton mang as a man and a rider, let’s leave it to Fred­die Spencer – the man who beat toni into sec­ond place in the 250cc ti­tle in 1985, Fast Fred­die’s dou­ble year. “in my dou­ble year i would do a 20-30 lap 250cc race af­ter a drain­ing race on the 500. And let me tell you, peo­ple like toni mang never made mis­takes. “At mugello i’d just com­pleted the 500 race and rushed back to my motorhome to drink some wa­ter af­ter a tough race with ed­die law­son. i was tight on time to get back to the 250cc grid, but toni – per­haps the great­est 250 rider ever and on a non-fac­tory rs250 Honda at the time – had not left the form-up grid to give me time to get there and take part in the race. He didn’t have to do that. What a man.”

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