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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