SportMotoGPBarry Sheene and Suzuki's first title in 500cc

Barry Sheene and Suzuki's first title in 500cc

On July 25, 1976, Barry Sheene and Suzuki clinched their first world title together after finishing the Swedish Grand Prix , in which the Englishman won for the fifth and last time in a season in which he only entered six races.

He dominated at Le Mans , the Salzburgring, Mugello (which was a new addition to the calendar), and Assen, but lost to teammate John Williams on the final lap of the Belgian Grand Prix. However, having already built up a remarkable points lead, the title was on the line at the next race in Sweden.

The first practice session was plagued by mechanical problems, but the team managed to fix them for qualifying, with Sheene starting from second on the grid.

The Briton won at Anderstorp by 34 seconds over the next qualifier, taking with what seemed insulting ease his first world title, as well as the one that saw Suzuki also debut as champion. Thus the circle was closed in his sixth year in the motorcycle world championship.

Although he had reached the 500cc class in 1974, Sheene already had a 125cc runner -up finish in 1971, also with Suzuki. The Japanese manufacturer returned to motorcycles when he rose to the premier class and prepared to write the best pages of his career.

Already in France, where he made his first race in 500cc, he was noticed, finishing in second position, while in Austria, the next race in which he took part, he repeated the podium, this time occupying the third place.

Barry Sheene

Barry Sheene

Sheene was at the heart of the Suzuki program and played a major role in the development of the RG500 four-cylinder two-stroke engine while it was still in its first season.

However, his meteoric rise came to an abrupt halt in early 1975, when he suffered a terrible accident during training for the 200 Miles in February. His rear wheel locked up at almost 300 km/h and he was miraculously saved, although he suffered serious fractures.

The accident, which was recorded live, received a lot of media attention and made him a real star. On his return to the world championship four months later, he won the legendary Assen TT to claim his first 500cc win, ahead of Giacomo Agostini himself .

His second victory of that season, in Sweden, curiously also the second race that ended that year, began to postulate him as one of the serious contenders for the title in the following season.

The Sheene/Suzuki duo doubled titles in 1976 and 1977. We already know the first, but the second achieved it with similar figures. Eight podium finishes in nine races, including six wins, catapulted them towards a repeat of their crowning as champions.

Together, Suzuki and Sheene would win another five races, and add eight more podium finishes, until 1979, the last successful year they shared together. Sheene was runner-up in 1978, losing the title to Kenny Roberts , and placed third in 1979.

The Briton moved to Yamaha, for whom he won his last grand prix, repeating once more in Sweden in 1981, and retired at the end of the 1984 season, having spent the last two years of his career at Suzuki, finishing third. as the best result of this last season lack of victories.

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