The 1975 Swedish 500 Grand Prix

A Bri­tish one-two-three, to­tal dom­i­na­tion by a man ap­proach­ing the peak of his pow­ers... an­other Brit bat­tling it out for the world crown... it has to be 1975 and Swe­den. As Scan­di­na­vian song­sters Abba would sing, the Win­ner­takes it All... but for Barry S

Classic Racer - - WHAT’SINSIDE -

Barry Sheene goes out in search of his sec­ond top of the podium in the premier class. An­der­storp al­ways was good for an ex­tra bit of drama in the 500cc world.

It was a case of sec­ond time on the top step for Barry Sheene at the twisty An­der­storp Race­way hid­den in the sprawl­ing woods of Swe­den. The Bri­tish favourite even­tu­ally scrapped his way to be­ing first across the line at the end of an event­ful 500 out­ing. Right from the start of the weekend’s events Sheene was in sen­sa­tional form, show­ing no signs of any nerves that may have been lin­ger­ing fol­low­ing his clash with Gi­a­como Agos­tini the year be­fore – both rid­ers had crashed heav­ily dur­ing their 1974 battle. In fact, over the course of that race weekend, Barry clocked up 110 laps at An­der­storp in both the For­mula 750 and the 500cc world cham­pi­onship races. If that wasn’t enough he also took on the clock and set the lap records in both events. It was a dom­i­nant per­for­mance. At the start of the 28-lap race Sheene needed his usual ex­tra-long push to start his bike (he would later ad­mit to be­ing rub­bish at

push-start­ing bikes, not least be­cause of his on­go­ing battle with the metal hold­ing his legs to­gether) and af­ter a com­par­a­tively slug­gish start it took Barry sev­eral laps to make it up to the back wheel of race-lead­ing Phil Read. While Sheene was mak­ing his way up the order, first lap race leader Tepi Län­sivuori ended up on his back­side af­ter los­ing con­trol of his Suzuki on lap four when he hit an oil patch.

Agos­tini was in­tent on be­ing part of the fi­nal lap fun, rid­ing hard to stay in sec­ond place to Sheene un­til two laps from the end when he crashed thanks to a rapidly de­flat­ing front tyre that had picked up a punc­ture. Any hopes fans at Swe­den might have had of a dra­matic con­clu­sion were quickly dis­missed though, be­cause with race leader Sheene not in the run­ning for the world ti­tle there was lit­tle point in Read risk­ing a fall and rob­bing him­self of a hat­ful of use­ful points, all for a scrap with Barry who was not to be de­nied his sec­ond mo­ment of 500cc glory. So it was that Read com­fort­ably toured around in sec­ond place, se­ri­ously in­creas­ing his prospect of an­other 500 ti­tle. It was John Williams on a 380cc Yamaha who did a great job by fin­ish­ing third, beat­ing the works MV of Gian­franco Bon­era. Both Kawasakis of Barry Ditch­burn and Mick Grant didn’t get to the fin­ish due to ig­ni­tion prob­lems but Ditch­burn did have some­thing to smile about, be­ing the sec­ond heat win­ner of the 200 mile F750 race and over­all sec­ond on the 750 Kawasaki to Sheene. It was a com­fort­able 500 race for Sheene who even­tu­ally won by a huge mar­gin of 51 sec­onds. Ger­man Di­eter Braun fin­ished af­ter a long battle with Bon­era fifth ahead of Finn Pentti Korho­nen, French­man Ger­ard Choukroun, Brazil­ian Ed­mar Fer­rera, Aus­tralian Jack Find­lay and Finn Pekka Nurmi, all onyama­has. Out of 31 starters only 15 fin­ished the race and only seven of them weren’t lapped by Sheene – it re­ally was an im­pres­sive per­for­mance by Barry in Swe­den. Over­all there were only two more races to hap­pen in the sea­son and it was boil­ing down to a heated scrap be­tween Read and Ago – the only can­di­dates left in the battle for the ti­tle. With just six re­sults count­ing out of 10 fin­ishes it had so far been Agos­tini, who only scored four times. Read had scored

seven times al­ready mean­ing that only a win or a sec­ond place would in­crease his to­tal of points-scor­ing fin­ishes. How­ever, with two wins or two sec­ond places, Agos­tini could still be crowned as the 1975 500cc world cham­pion. With it all still to play for, Ago had to be right on his game to grab the crown. With a 1-2-3 win ‘it was a great day to be Bri­tish’ head­lined the pa­pers. In mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing his­tory a com­pletely Bri­tish podium in the premier class had only hap­pened 11 times be­fore and what makes this par­tic­u­lar re­sult all the more iconic is that this was the last time that such a thing hap­pened in 500GP.

Left: Pro­gramme cover from the 1975 Swedish GP Main: Start of the 500cc race. From right: #37 Pekka Nurmi SF Yamaha – #24 Char­lie Williams GB Yamaha – #22 Pentti Korho­nen SF Yamaha – #6 Di­eter Braun D Yamaha – #(11) Mick Grant GB Kawasaki GB – #1 Phil Read GB MV Agusta – #3 Ar­mando To­racca IT Suzuki – #36 Philippe Coulon CH Yamaha – #25 Tom Her­ron N–IRL Yamaha – #42 Bo Granath SV Husq­varna – #28 John Williams GB Yamaha – #5 Tepi Län­sivuori SF Suzuki – #(31) Ta­pio Vir­ta­nen SF Yamaha – #(26) Karl Auer A Yamaha – #33 Björn Hassli N Yamaha – #2 Gian­franco Bon­era MV Agusta (still push­ing) – #45 Inge­mar Lars­son SV Yamaha – #4 Gi­a­como Agos­tini IT Yamaha – #46 Olivier Che­val­lier FR Yamaha – #8 Jack Find­lay AUS Yamaha – #10 Pa­trick Pons FR Yamaha – #18 Chas Mor­timer GB Yamaha – #32 Ger­ard Choukroun FR Yamaha – #(12) Barry Ditch­burn GB Kawasaki – #20 Mimmo Caz­zaniga HD – #15 John New­bold GB Suzuki (still push­ing) – #27 Alex George Scot Yamaha – #7 Barry Sheene GB Suzuki.

Be­low: A thirsty Sheene en­joy­ing an ap­ple juice and the in­sep­a­ra­ble fag af­ter his sec­ond 500cc Grand Prix win.

Af­ter the first lap Tepi Län­sivuori is lead­ing Phil Read, Gi­a­como Agos­tini, Pekka Nurmi, Pentti Korho­nen and John Williams. Barry Sheene had a bad start and can be seen in 12th place at the back of the fol­low­ing group led by Pa­trick Pons.

Above: Tepi Län­sivuori lead­ing Barry Sheene and Barry Ditch­burn in the F750 race. Barry Sheene was the over­all win­ner of the two-heat event ahead of Ditch­burn on the Kawasaki.

Above: Ar­turo Magni and his crew work­ing in the open air on Read’s MV. It seems that af­ter decades of ab­so­lute power the Ital­ian ma­chine es’ dom­i­na­tion had come to an end.Right: No need to tell Barry how to cel­e­brate.Left: It took Barry Sheene some time e to get up to the lead­ers Phil Read a and Gi­a­como Agos­tini.

Two Brits fol­low­ing MV Agusta rider Gian­franco Bon­era – Char­lie Williams and John Williams. Char­lie had a DNF and John did beat the MV rider on the 380 Yamaha.

Phil Read on the MV Agusta on his way to sec­ond place and valu­able points.

An all-bri­tish 500cc Grand Prix ros­trum, the very last in the his­tory of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing. Barry Sheene is sup­ply­ing the bub­bles for the photographer and Phil Read is en­joy­ing the at­ten­tion of a podium friend. But John Williams is the hap­pi­est of them all fin­ish­ing third in Swe­den, a great job af­ter his sec­ond place at the IOM.

Win­ner Barry Sheene.

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