1976 – Palomo wins amid confusion

Classic Racer - - MOMENT -

At the end of 1975, confusion reigned as Yamaha with­drew due to es­ca­lat­ing costs and the de­cline in the Amer­i­can mar­ket and Suzuki and Kawasaki soon fol­lowed. How­ever, many of the ma­chines had al­ready been built and the open­ing round at Day­tona saw four fac­tory Ow31yama­has on the grid in the hands of Baker, Ce­cotto, Agos­tini and Kenny Roberts. Agos­tini even­tu­ally with­drew due to a lack of start money, while both Suzuki and Kawasaki fielded strong line-ups, al­beit on old ma­chin­ery, which proved to be no match for the Yama­has, even those in the hands of pri­va­teers such as Pons, Michel Rougerie and Skip Ak­sland. Ce­cotto had sur­prised ev­ery­one the year be­fore and he started his 1976 sea­son in per­fect style, as he won a hec­tic Day­tona 200 from Kawasaki’s Gary Nixon and Suzuki’s Pat Hen­nen. Ow31-mounted rid­ers filled the next three spots with Romero, Pons and Rougerie, while a de­layed tyre change kept Roberts down in ninth. Round two saw the rid­ers head south to San Car­los in Venezuela, the first time the coun­try had held a meet­ing at this level and al­though two good heats took place, they weren’t without con­tro­versy, as firstly Nixon and then Baker was de­clared the win­ner. Baker had pit­ted in the first heat in order to fix a problem with a car­bu­ret­tor and many thought he had lost a lap and should have dropped down the order. Nixon lodged a protest, as did Baker and John New­bold and the mat­ter would run and run. The cham­pi­onship con­tin­ued amid the con­tro­versy and af­ter Baker won at Imola ahead of Rougerie and Sheene, round four headed to Jarama near Madrid, al­though it was no­tice­able that many of the top rid­ers opted out of the meet­ing, Rougerie win­ning from Palomo and Pons. The next venue on the cal­en­dar was Niv­elles cir­cuit in Bel­gium and it was Nixon who got the verdict from the Bri­tish con­tin­gent of Pot­ter, Mick Grant and New­bold. Amer­i­can Nixon, hav­ing his first full sea­son in Europe, was gun­ning for the ti­tle but he could only manage fourth at Nog­aro in the south-west of France, with Estrosi go­ing one bet­ter than his sec­ond place in 1975. Philippe Coulon took sec­ond with Agos­tini third. Palomo was even fur­ther down the leader­board in sev­enth but he got his ti­tle chal­lenge back on track at Sil­ver­stone where Find­lay and Pot­ter joined him on the podium. The Spa­niard’s good run con­tin­ued at Assen where he again claimed max­i­mum points, this time com­ing home ahead of lo­cal hero Boet van Dul­men and vet­eran Phil Read. Palomo then com­pleted his most suc­cess­ful sea­son in rac­ing with a third con­sec­u­tive vic­tory, this time at Hock­en­heim where he edged out his main cham­pi­onship ri­val Nixon. But the cham­pi­onship would be de­cided away from the track and at the FIM Congress in Bruges. No-one could be cer­tain of what had ac­tu­ally hap­pened at San Car­los (did Baker lose a lap or not?) so none of the protests were con­sid­ered and the Venezue­lan re­sults were de­clared null and void. The end re­sult was that Nixon lost the points that would have made him cham­pion. In­stead, Palomo was con­firmed as win­ner of the 1976 For­mula 750 FIM Prize. Cham­pi­onship po­si­tions

1 Vic­tor Palomo (Yamaha) 61pts 2 Gary Nixon (Kawasaki) 59 3 John New­bold (Suzuki) 47

NEXTISSUE: 7andthe It’s197 gets 750cc­class world its­first ion champ Philipe Coulon flat-out

Palomo on the win­ning Yamaha

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