GP back in the day: Hock­en­heim 1975

Over 150,000 spec­ta­tors gath­ered on the grass banks and grand­stands of the Hock­en­heim­ring Mo­to­drom in Baden-würt­tem­berg, south Ger­many to watch their heroes in ac­tion.

Classic Racer - - WHAT’S IN­SIDE - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy: Jan Burg­ers

One of the most me­morable races of the year comes un­der the eye of Jan Burg­ers, for an­other ex­pert slice of the good, the great and the‘gosh I never knew that’of GP rac­ing from decades ago.

The 1932-built cir­cuit was very much a unique out­ing amidst its ri­val venues. Hock­en­heim had two long straits and only five turns, four right-han­ders and just one left turn in the Mo­to­drom. In sim­ple terms it has be­come a real Mecca for race fans from all over the world. At this round of the 1975 500cc World Championship MV Agusta rider Phil Read once again turned up to the meet­ing on full song. A new modified cylin­der head plus some new front forks on the MV-4 gave the bike just enough speed to fol­low the works Yamaha of Gi­a­como Agos­tini – an es­sen­tial up­grade to Read’s chances. What added as ex­tra drive for both Ago and team-mate Kanaya was that nei­ther of their 350cc works Yama­has man­aged to get to the end of an ear­lier race – so both riders were keen to score a good re­sult in the 500cc class. The po­ten­tial for a scrap was high. In prac­tice it was Finn Tepi Län­sivuori on the works Suzuki who was only 0.3sec faster than Agos­tini. The first row of the grid was com­pleted by Kanaya and the two MV Agusta riders Ar­mando To­racca and Read. Stan Woods, on the Suzuki-4, was the best of the sec­ond row, with Barry Sheene and Alex Ge­orge join­ing him on the grid in seventh and eighth places re­spec­tively. Come the start and it was Read who made a light­ning-quick get­away, div­ing into the lead of the 20-lap race. His team-mate To­racca was sec­ond and Agos­tini third. Ago was push­ing To­racca hard and passed him af­ter two laps be­fore set­tling down and hunting for Read. Af­ter four laps To­racca re­tired, as did Sheene on the works Suzuki (the ma­chine had been hav­ing un­solv­able car­bu­ret­tor prob­lems across the whole week­end that kept pil­ing the plugs). Mean­while, a ter­rific 16lap long war for the lead was fought be­tween Read, de­fend­ing, and the at­tack­ing Agos­tini. Read was play­ing catch-up with Ago lead­ing

but the ten­sion on track was pal­pa­ble, just like it was two years ear­lier be­tween Read and Jarno Saari­nen at the same cir­cuit. Read got his head down and passed Ago again be­fore find­ing his rhythm and lead­ing dur­ing sev­eral laps. Ev­ery­thing was look­ing good un­til a hor­ren­dous 130mph slide at the fast east curve un­set­tled Read’s charge, he didn’t fall af­ter the slide, but it was enough to per­suade the Brit to set­tle for sec­ond. Agos­tini went on to set the fastest lap at 111.12mph and won the race by a very com­fort­able four sec­onds. Län­sivuori, de­spite hav­ing that great qual­i­fy­ing and prac­tice, had a bad start and his Suzuki de­cided to add to his woes in the race by mis­fir­ing and drop­ping off four cylin­ders. Nev­er­the­less, he still man­aged a bril­liant third place fin­ish and crossed the line 25sec ahead of Kanaya, who was also strug­gling with an un­will­ing bike. A fine fifth place for Stan Woods on the GB Suzuki-4 was a highlight, while John New­bold

on an­other GB Suzuki, couldn’t man­age a fin­ish on his bike. French­man Christian Leon was the only König rider to fin­ish in the points. He even­tu­ally came home in seventh. Pri­va­teer Alex Ge­orge did a great job, once again fin­ish­ing ahead of Brazil­ian Adu Celso-san­tos in ninth, which was Alex’s third ninth-place fin­ish in three GPS. Af­ter three rounds Ja­panese Yamaha rider Kanaya was still lead­ing the race for the championship with a three-point ad­van­tage over Read who, was just two points ahead of Agos­tini. It was tight at the top.

Al­ways re­laxed, the leader of the championship, Ja­panese rider Hideo Kanaya and his me­chanic read­ing a comic book. Why not?

Phil Read lead­ing Ago in front of the huge crowd at the Hock­en­heim Mo­to­drom.

Above: The bat­tle for seventh to ninth raged dur­ing the whole race be­tween French­man Christian Leon on the fast König, Brazil­ian Adu Celso-san­tos and Scots­man Alex Ge­orge, both on Yams.Right: Gi­a­como Agos­tini in stalk­ing mode, clos­ing up to Phil Read.Be­low: Aus­tralian Jack Find­lay (5), Swiss Felix Harzen­moser (23), Ger­man Hel­mut Kass­ner (31) and Finn Tepi Län­sivuori (3) brak­ing hard at the end of the long straight en­ter­ing the Mo­to­drom.In­set: Wait­ing for the ros­trum cer­e­mony. A tired Phil Read against a wall hav­ing his in­dis­pens­able fag. Note his un­healed lit­tle fin­ger of his right hand, a sou­venir from his 120mph crash at round one of the championship.

The win­ner’s ros­trum. Phil Read is ex­plain­ing to Ago that he could have beaten him, but he didn’t. Tepi Län­sivuori is just tired and over­heated, as he al­ways was af­ter a race.

Ja­panese star Hideo Kanaya on the 0W23 waslead­ing the championship af­terthree rounds.

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