Part of the inaugural year of 1949, the spectacular circuit of Spa-francorchamps hosted the Belgian Grand Prix every year, except one, up until 1990. Designed in 1920, the original 14km (8.7 mile) circuit was a triangular-shaped course which used the public roads between the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot; it was essentially a speed course. Indeed, it remains the fastest motorcycle circuit ever used, with Barry Sheene’s incredible 1977 lap record of 220.72kph (137.15mph) never bettered. Spa was a true test of a rider’s skill and bravery and, lying deep in the Ardennes forest, was often hit by heavy rain. Surrounded by houses, trees and other obstacles, safety concerns led to a new, shorter 7km (4.3 mile) course being built for the 1979 season. However, it was boycotted by many of the top riders in its first year due to the poor surface. It retained much of its character including the Eau Rouge, Radillon and Blanchimont sections, but instead of turning left at the end of the Kemmel straight and heading along the Masta straight, it now turned right, negotiating a new, purpose-built section before rejoining the old public road circuit just before Blanchimont. It was still very fast and still very challenging and the ever-increasing speeds and dangers meant it was taken off the calendar after 1990, Wayne Rainey winning the final GP to be held at Spa. The only other Belgian circuit to host a Grand Prix was Zolder, which made a one-off appearance in 1980 while Spa was being revamped. Randy Mamola won a relatively uneventful race, although it was significant in that it witnessed the first appearance in a GP by Freddie Spencer.