Back in the day: Anderstorp GP 1974
Drama rears its racing head for Barry Sheene and Giacomo Agostini in Sweden.
It had been a difficult meeting for some, but in Sweden it was home hero Lansivuori who found the top step of a memorable 500cc race. Jan Burgers explains what happened.
T he eighth round of the 500cc World Championship took placee at a quiet, open place in the woods of Sweden. Part of the circuit was an airstrip and it was at this very fast part of the circuit that a drama struck two works riders. With only three races to go, Phil Read, Giacomo Agostini, Tepi Länsivuori and even Barry Sheene were still in the race too win the world title. During practice flying Finn Länsivuori seet the fastest lap on the four-cylinder Yamahaa. Second and third on the row were Sheenee on the works Suzuki and Agostini on a works Yamaha. In the second lap of the race Sheene crashed at 130mph, just before the brake point at the end of the 3/4-mile-long airstrip. Phil Read could just avoid the crash, however Agostini, who was right behind Sheene, panicked, slammed the front brake and also crashed into the steel wire netting. Both riders were very lucky that at the end of that airstrip there were no Armco barriers. This time it was not the gearbox but a seized water pump that caused the crash. Both riders were transported to hospital and Ago was diagnosed with severe shoulder damage and a broken collarbone. Sheene hurt his ankle badly, had a stiff neck and concussion. Meanwhile, Pentti Korhonen was leading the race on an Arwidson 351 Yamaha, just in front of his countryman Länsivuori on the Yamaha 500. MV Agusta riders Read and Gianfranco Bonera were duelling for third place. However, Bonera’s MV suffered from gearbox problems and nearly threw him off the bike, as had happened before in practice. Jack Findlay, who rode behind, could not avoid Bonera, who was struggling to stay aboard the bike and crashed into the MV. Findlay fell off the works Suzuki and Bonera
miraculously controlled the MV and continued the race. Länsivuori, who had won the 350 race earlier that day, passed Korhonen, setting the fastest lap of the race and won in his spectacular race style. Read eventually finished second and must have been a happy man, as he was only on place eight in practice. There were two Finns on the rostrum, Länsivuori and Korhonen. Places five to 10 were won by privateers on 351 Yams: Karl Auer from Austria,
Billie Nelson, Swiss rider Werner Giger, Victor Palomo from Spain, Tom Herron and John Williams. An almost championship deciding race came to an end. Read was a lucky man, finishing second, as his MV didn’t like the long twisty bends at Anderstorp. With Ago and Sheene out of the competition, he needed only one first place to win the title. His remaining rival, Länsivuori, had to win the next two Grands Prix on the Yamaha. Don’t miss the next issue of Classic Racer with the outcome of this championship at the charismatic circuit along a lake in the lonely woods near the Russian border in Imatra, Finland.
Below: The Anderstorp paddock still asleep in the early morning. No people around, just the vans and tents of the competitors. Even the sidecar of Rudi Kurth and Dane Rowe is standing in the open air during the night. MV Agusta has left some wooden pallets to mark an area for them to work when they came back from the hotel.the John Player Norton motorhome was the first and only luxury motorhome in the whole paddock.
Above: Works mechanic Ruggero Mazza working on the clutch of an MV Agusta.
Above: Gianfranco Bonera had gearbox problems during the whole weekend. He crashed an MV in practice and just managed to avoid a second crash during the race.
Right: MV had more and more problems to beat the four-cylinder two-strokes fromyamaha and Suzuki.the factory flew in some extra bikes to defend their titles in the 500 class. Left: Pr rogramme book of the race.
Billie Nelson, a rider who was loved by many in the paddock, showing his talent. Billie had raced four-strokes for many years and even won a Grand Prix as a sidecar passenger. In the early Seventies he was one of the top 10 riders in the 500 class on two and four-strokes. He very seldom crashed. Unfortunately, some weeks later at a 250 race in Yugoslavia, he crashed after touching the rocks alongside the track with his knee and he died in hospital that night.
Below: The winningyamaha oftepi Länsivuori and the mechanics Ristotenhunen and Vince French. Ththeiri riderid won theh 350, as wellll as theh 500 race.
Franco Bonera, the substitute of Ago, who had left MV for Yamaha, did his utmost to fulfil the expectations of the factory. He did a great job and it was a pleasure to watch him racing the MV.
Above: Phil Read was a bit of a lucky winner, as his MV was not 100% fit and two of his main rivals crashed out of the race.
Right: The fantastic style of a small guy on a huge bike. Flying Finn Tepi Länsivuori on the works Yamaha. He won the 350 and 500 race that day.
Below: Eight riders dive into the paddock bend during the first lap of the 500 race. Gianfranco Bonera is leading Victor Palomo (351 Yamaha), Tom Herron (351 Yamaha),teuvo Länsivuori (500 Suzuki), Barry Sheene (500 Suzuki), John Williams (351 Yamaha), Charlie Williams (351 Yamaha) and Billie Nelson (351 Yamaha).