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Talent spotting.

As the usual end of season rumours spread through the paddock like a forest fire in recent weeks, the wheelers and dealers in the business of putting bums on saddles all sought the answer to a very important question - where will the next MotoGP talent emerge from?

Spotting a potential world champion is a very rewarding business both for that personal satisfaction and definitely for giving similar satisfaction to your bank manager. So where do you start looking?

Forty or even fifty years ago it was a bit like whistling down a coal mine in the North East of England to find an international footballer. A similar call to the British or Italian Championships would produce a queue of riders capable of winning grands prix in all classes.

The likes of Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali leant their trade on the track and road circuits at home before spreading their talent on the European stage.

It was a natural progression and Norton, MV Agusta and Gilera could pick and choose from riders competing in their national championships and the host of international meetings that augmented the small number of grands prix.

When the Japanese invasion arrived in the early sixties the major players, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki tended to pick riders who already were established on the international scene.

Typically they went for the very best with Honda persuading Mike Hailwood to leave MV Agusta in 1966 and then Yamaha in 1974, pulling off biggest coupe of them all. They signed multi world champion Giacomo Agostini from his beloved Italian MV Agusta team to spearhead their two-stroke attack on the four-stroke dominated 500cc World Championship.

Ago did not let them down and brought Yamaha the title they craved for in 1975. However there was revolution in the air and, despite Barry Sheene continuing the European domination for the next couple of years, across the Atlantic the dirt tracks of America where producing a crop of riders, the likes that have never been seen before or since.

A Californian rider, small in stature but rich in both talent and desire and who was never afraid to express an opinion, led the revolution that was to change the face of grand prix motor cycle racing for ever. Kenny Roberts was honed on the tough and unforgiving dirt tracks of America. He arrived in Europe to race on the tarmac and won three successive world 500cc titles at the very first attempt.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Left to right: Mamola, Schwantz, De Radigues, Rainey, Roberts, Doohan, Catalunya MotoGP, 2004
Wayne Gardner during his 500cc GP prime.
Rossi and Biaggi go head to head in qualifying
Valentino Rossi at 2014 Monza Rally (Pic: Cristiano Bami)
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014
Rossi, Valencia MotoGP test, November 2014

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