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First It Was Difficult, Then It Was Easy


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I've just finished watching a DVD covering Yamaha's golden age between 1977 and 1980. Despite having very little focus on them taking the 750 titles also in 78 and 79 (the 77 title with Baker was well documented) it was pretty interesting. Not the least how hard they rode and how far they leaned over on these flexi-flyers and their peaky engines.

 

However, what I really wanted to mention was a few comments made by KR about Silverstone. In 1978, he said it was a very difficult track to learn because it was so wide and had so much grip. In fact, the grip was so great that you didn't have to brake much, instead relying on friction during turning and cornering to slow you to the right speed at the apex. He also said that you could be 2 or 3 feet off the line without noticing due to the width. (I presume maintenance throttle was nigh on impossible with these smokers, as one mm extra throttle could - and probably would - land you on your head before you could cry uncle).

 

Then, a year later, he said the track was very easy to learn, but that most failed to use it properly. Since the track was so wide, few managed to use the whole track, but apparently that was the trick to go fast. I found it interesting that his opinion could change so much over a year.

 

Another peculiarity I noticed is that some riders seemed to ride with different numbers on their bikes in the same season. Roberts seemed to be using both #1 and #3 in 1978, and Mamola both #10 and #8 in 1980. There were a few others as well that I cannot recall.

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Oh, and of course it was very obvious how dangerous the tracks were back then. Also, riders would race with helmets badly damaged from practice get-off and also leathers with obvious crash damage. Baker in particular raced with a helmet I'd never consider to put on my noggin for protection.

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That sounds like an interesting DVD, I'll have to look for it. It is always an eye opening experience to realize how far the safety measures have come. Plus I love history in almost any form. My grandfather used to say "If you want to know where you are, look at where you've been".

 

Of course, he may have been talking about getting lost in the woods but I'm going to give him credit for being more profound than that. :)

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