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Ten years of grand prix racing at Silverstone

Motorcycle grand prix racing returns to Silverstone this weekend, after a gap of 23 years.

The first motorcycle grand prix to be held at Silverstone was in 1977, when the British round of the world championship was moved from the Isle of Man TT circuit.

The grand prix was held for ten successive years at the Northamptonshire circuit, before moving to Donington Park:

1977
This was the final race of the season and British hopes were high for a win in the 500cc class by a home rider, with reigning champion Barry Sheene qualifying on pole on his factory Suzuki.

However Sheene retired with mechanical problems on lap nine. This left the door open for team-mate Steve Parrish to lead the race into the closing stages only to crash with a couple of laps to go.

Fellow Britain John Williams then moved into the lead before he also crashed out. Finally the third factory Suzuki rider, American Pat Hennen, took the victory.

Kork Ballington had a double victory in the 350cc and 250cc classes on his private Yamaha machines and in the 125cc race, Pierluigi Conforti took his only ever GP victory.

1978
The 500cc GP ended in chaos, after rain started to fall mid-way through the race. With no specific rules to deal with such a situation, the riders had to enter the pits to change tyres. Barry Sheene (Suzuki) was by far the quickest rider after the tyre change but suffered with a pit stop that took over 7 minutes.

By contrast the eventual winner Kenny Roberts (Yamaha) was in the pits for less than 3 minutes. Splitting these two riders on the podium was Britain's Steve Manship, who had gambled on starting the race with intermediate tyres.

Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) won the 350cc race from British riders Tom Herron and Mick Grant. Toni Mang scored the first of his record 33 victories in the 250cc class, with Herron once again finishing second. Angel Nieto won the 125cc race riding a Minarelli from British rider Clive Horton.

1979
The two top riders of the day, Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts, exchanged the lead throughout the 500cc race. Roberts eventually took the win by 0.03 seconds in one of the closest finishes of all-time.



Tagged as: Silverstone , 125

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