Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Sheene conquers the world – 40 years ago today

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Sheene conquers the world – 40 years ago today

Barry Sheene’s first world title looked like a walkover but his title-winning weekend was anything but

This is the day. Forty years ago, during the afternoon of Sunday July 25, 1976, Barry Sheene rode over the finish line at Anderstorp, both hands aloft waving V-for-victory signs, to collect his first 500cc World Championship.

The Cockney whizz-kid had utterly dominated the 1976 season, winning five of the six races he contested and taking second place in the other. His final score of 87 points was 33 more than championship runner-up Tepi Lansivuori. In other words, it was a walkover.

But Sheene’s historic Anderstorp weekend very nearly turned out to be a total disaster. This was largely due to his factory Suzuki team in fact consisting of Sheene, dad Franko, mum Iris, girlfriend Stephanie McLean and mechanic Don Mackay, an electrician by trade.

Japanese engineers rarely appeared at races that year because Suzuki had shut down their factory 500 effort at the end of 1975. The company had been sucked dry by the development costs of their first four-stroke road bike, the GS750.

So Sheene’s 1976 crew was by no means slick and professional. In fact, parts of the team were dangerously incompetent.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

Sheene was one of the glittering diamonds of motorcycle racing.  Fabulous talent and a fabulous, well-rounded personality.  People think of Schwantz as the Suzuki hero - but Sheene transcended Schwantz exponentially.

RIP Barry Scheene - an immortal figure of motorsport in both your homeland and the land you chose to come to and grace we Aussies.

In terms of style, there's only three sat at the bottle strewn table leering at the talent in a cloud of fag smoke, Bazza, Lucchinelli and VR, Gobert being refused entry at the door for looking a bit worse for wear whilst Hailwood Ivy and James Hunt have already been ejected....but there's only ever been one (maybe two with VR, but only maybe) that my Granny knew.

THAT'S Celebrity- not the gross abuse of the genre we have today. 'You came fifth in a crap singing/jungle/simulated sex programme?-we're gonna make you a star!'

Don't get me started, oops, too late......