Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - After 117 years: Triumph’s first GP win

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.


After 117 years: Triumph’s first GP win

Triumph has been around since 1902 but has never won a Grand Prix. That will change soon, with Triumph set to become Moto2’s sole engine supplier

MotoGP looks set to throb to the mellifluous tone of Triumph triples from 2019, when the British brand is expected to take over from Honda as Moto2 engine supplier.

This is good news. Motorcycling needs classic brands shining in MotoGP’s limelight, and there are few older marques than Triumph, which started selling motorcycles (or motor bicycles as they were called back then) 46 years before Honda, 48 years before Ducati, 50 years before Suzuki and 52 years before Yamaha.

Triumph was established in Coventry by German immigrants Maurice Schulte and Siegfried Bettmann, who later became mayor of the city, only to be stripped of his office when the First World War broke out. The company’s first motorcycle was powered by a Belgian Minerva engine, but Schulte soon designed his own three-horsepower single, which was good enough to win the brand the nickname ‘Trusty Triumph’.

Although the Triumph/Dorna deal has yet to be confirmed, strong rumours suggest Moto2 will be powered by a new version of the three-cylinder engine that has helped make the name of the modern Triumph concern.

The old company was as good as dead when construction magnate John Bloor bought the name in the 1980s and created an all new three-cylinder Trident and four-cylinder Trophy. After so many false rebirths by other struggling British marques, few people expected Bloor to make a success of his venture, even when the first bikes left the Hinckley plant in 1990.

At that time I was road-testing bikes, racing and reporting on races. I rushed back from the Dutch TT – where I’d ridden in the F1 support race and written about Kevin Schwantz’s defeat of Wayne Rainey in the 500 GP – to be the first journo to ride a new Triumph through the factory gates in Hinckley. (Fellow tester John Robinson and I cut a deal: he would start his engine first, I’d ride out of the gates first.) I feared the all-new Triumph would be a dud, like every other so-called “British world beater” I’d ridden in that era.

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

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Total votes: 34
Total votes: 34

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Comments

Bloody brilliant tale, bravo Mat! There are so many stories about the Brit motorcycle industry of that period that just begger belief. It's a wonder that any of the marques of the period are remembered today.

Total votes: 37

Fascinating article! No matter how long you've been reading about this stuff there's always more to learn.

Total votes: 28

Hi David,

i always wait for your link to Mat's articles, as opposed to going direct from his Twitter links. Is there any quasi benefit for Motomatters in using the link from this site?

I hope so!

You voted 5. Total votes: 27

Ah yes, there are those pesky 7 years between 83 and 90 when Harris supposedly "continued" production under license... 

Total votes: 24