This week in... 1968

The year the Kray twins were ar­rested, Agostini took his first 350 ti­tle and Phil Read did the dou­ble

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Read gets one over on Agostini

Great Bri­tain com­peted in the Win­ter Olympics...hooray. And won no medals... boo! The Viet­nam war was caus­ing huge world­wide de­bate and protests while Man­fred Mann were giv­ing us The Mighty Quinn.

Agostini was at the height of his pow­ers and he took his third world 500 ti­tle in 1968. It was also the year he ex­tended his in­flu­ence to the 350 class tak­ing that ti­tle too.

In the smaller-ca­pac­ity GP classes it was a bat­tle of the Brits with Phil Read and Bill Ivy locked in an epic, sea­son-long bat­tle for the 250cc ti­tle.

The Bri­tish bike in­dus­try was also fac­ing some tough com­pe­ti­tion. Ja­panese im­ports had joined the surge of Ital­ian and Ger­man machines into the UK. Bri­tish bike pro­duc­tion dropped from 171,300 in 1950 to just 84,000 by 1968.

Honda’s CB range was sell­ing well and once the CB750 ar­rived in 1969 the writ­ing re­ally was on the wall for Bri­tish bike firms whose machines were gen­er­ally out­dated, un­re­li­able and more ex­pen­sive than their new overseas com­peti­tors.

‘I slowed down, then saw Agostini bear­ing down at high speed. I had to start us­ing all my gears again’ PHIL READ

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