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From the editor
JAMES ROBINSON, EDITOR
As many of us surely are, I’m not just interested in classics, but in all manner of motorcycles and motorcycle-related sport. Racing has always been my favourite – it was the black-and-gold John Player Nortons of the late 80s and early 90s that really caught my imagination, fuelling another long running and ongoing obsession… To that end, I’ve been watching James Toseland’s progress in the premier class of two-wheeled racing, MotoGP, avidly and as many of us have been, I’ve been impressed with the Sheffield man’s early efforts. It’s great to have a British representative at the top level of the sport – and one who looks competitive.
However, it is what is going on lower down the GP rung that has really caught my eye. Of course, Britain has produced 125cc world champions in the past (it was while writing and researching the Bill Ivy archive page piece that put this in my mind) and the performances of three British teenagers in the eighth-of-a-litre category this year have been nothing short of sensational. Bradley Smith has led the way with a couple of pole positions, while fellow youngsters Scott Redding and Danny Webb have been there or about the top six too. This is something unprecedented for years – certainly in all the time I’ve been watching motorcycle racing, anyway.
Though British riders dominated the bigger classes in the first couple of decades of GP competition, in the smaller classes the Italian riders (and manufacturers) normally held sway; with the inaugural champion being Nello Pagani (Mondial) with the next two champions Italian and Mondial mounted too (Ruffo and Ubbiali). Cecil Sandford became the first British champion, on an Italian MV, though it was 1967 before Ivy (Yamaha) became the second British 125cc king. He lost his crown to Phil Read (Yamaha), then it was Dave Simmonds (Kawasaki) in 1969. Since then, though, no Brit has been top 125cc dog, the class being the preserve of Italians, Spaniards, Japanese, Swedes…
However, all three of the British young guns look like they might be able to perhaps add a fifth name to the illustrious roll call – although it probably won’t happen this season, maybe next year… it’s just a shame that their efforts have merited scarcely a mention in the mainstream press but, hopefully, they will begin to catch the public imagination and bring positive press to motorcycling in general, much as Toseland’s impressive debut has.
JAMES ROBINSON, EDITOR