Kenny Roberts will at all times be identified for changing into the primary American to win the 500cc Grand Prix Championship. The three-time premier class titleholder additionally has two A.M.A. Grand National Championships to his identify. However, legacy isn’t solely decided by accomplishments, it is also formed by the opponents one faces alongside the way in which.
King Kenny dominated the American Flat Track sequence within the mid-’70s, capturing back-to-back titles in 1973 and 1974. Along together with his dust oval supremacy, Roberts translated his distinctive fashion to the street racing circuit, however his foray into worldwide racing was something however clean.
In 1974, the then-23-year-old rider competed within the famend Imola 200. Roberts finally completed the race as runner-up to Grand Prix nice Giacomo Agostini. However, his first efficiency endeared him to the European crowds instantly.
The King then took his skills to the 1974 Transatlantic Trophy, a sequence that pitted one of the best U.Okay. riders towards the highest American racers of the day. The occasion famously featured the primary showdown between Kenny Roberts and Britain’s Barry Sheene. Roberts claimed victory in 4 of the six races, however the Brits gained the conflict, taking the Transatlantic Trophy with a 416-401 total rating.
Roberts and Sheene didn’t face off once more till the American joined the Grand Prix ranks in 1978. Sheene jumped out to an early lead within the championship chase earlier than Roberts strung collectively three consecutive victories in Austria, France, and Italy. By the tenth spherical, solely three factors separated the 2 championship contenders.
At Sheene’s house race, the British Grand Prix, the 2 engaged in considered one of their most contentious battles, with Roberts rising victorious after a controversial name by race course. The Yamaha man ultimately secured his first Grand Prix title within the season finale on the German Grand Prix, squeaking by the Suzuki rider by simply 10 factors.
Roberts and Sheene revived their rivalry in 1979. The two battled but once more at Britain’s Silverstone Circuit, however the King seized his second championship by a snug margin by season’s finish. Of course, Roberts three-peated in 1980, however Sheene couldn’t problem King Kenny after crew woes derailed his season.
Despite the onerous racing on-track and the smack discuss within the press, Roberts and Sheene loved a private relationship off the monitor. It’s good to see King Kenny reminiscing concerning the good outdated days, and recognizing the contribution Sheene made to his prestigious legacy.