Amer­ica’s first GP win­ner and Sheene’s team-mate O Easy grab carry han­dles O Wa­ter­proof roll top clo­sure O Ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal pock­ets for small items O Wipe-clean, wa­ter­proof con­struc­tion with welded seams O Padded shoul­der strap for added com­fort O Fr

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Pat Hen­nen be­came the first Amer­i­can rider to win a 500cc Grand Prix when he took the Fin­nish round at Ima­tra in 1976. As team-mate to Barry Sheene in the fac­tory Suzuki squad he would go on to take three vic­to­ries – in­clud­ing win­ning the very first Bri­tish GP – and 12 podi­ums from just 26 GP starts. He was ar­guably the last ma­jor GP star to tackle the TT and set the first-ever sub-20 minute lap there in 1978, in what was only his se­cond at­tempt. Sadly, his ca­reer was cut short fol­low­ing a hor­ren­dous crash later in the same Se­nior race and he never raced again. He was in­ducted into the AMA Mo­tor­cy­cle Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wasn’t Kenny Roberts the first Amer­i­can rider to win a 500GP? No, al­though that’s what most peo­ple think. Hen­nen beat him to it by two years – Roberts didn’t win a GP un­til 1978. Hen­nen’s win at Ima­tra in Fin­land was so un­ex­pected that the race or­gan­is­ers didn’t even have a copy of the Amer­i­can na­tional an­them to play as Hen­nen stepped onto the podium.

How good was he? Good enough to fin­ish third in the world be­hind Barry Sheene and Tepi Lan­sivouri in his de­but year in 1976 and third again be­hind Sheene and Steve Baker in 1977. When Hen­nen won in Ima­tra in ’76, it was only his GP. Did he get on with Sheene? No. Sheene felt threat­ened by Hen­nen’s tal­ent and was not happy about hav­ing him as his team-mate. ‘I was an Amer­i­can and Barry knew that if I started beat­ing him then Suzuki GB might lose its con­trol of GP team,’ Hen­nen says. ‘He was right. For him, the ideal sit­u­a­tion was to have an all-bri­tish GP team – which is what it had been un­til I came along. I was fairly con­fi­dent I was go­ing to win the cham­pi­onship and if I had won, I was go­ing to in­sist that the GP team had some au­ton­omy from Suzuki GB.’

Could he have won the world cham­pi­onship in 1978? When he crossed the Ir­ish Sea to con­test the 1978 TT, Hen­nen was only two points adrift of Roberts in the ti­tle stand­ings so there’s ev­ery chance he could have beaten Roberts to be­come

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