Over the course of Assen history there have been many first-time winners and many great races. Here’s a look back at the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix that qualified as both – Barry Sheene’s thrilling first 500cc victory against Giacomo Agostini.
By Chris Carter
Barry Sheene won his first ever 500cc world championship race before a record crowd of 140,000 at the Dutch TT in breathtaking style.
Trailing behind Giacomo Agostini at the last corner of the, 16 lap race, Sheene’s four cylinder water cooled Suzuki blasted past the Italian’s Yamaha-I to win by half a machine’s length in the 200 yard run to the flag.
“Earlier in the race, I found the Suzuki was much quicker than Ago’s Yamaha,” said Barry after the race. “I knew I could pass him down the finishing straight.”
Poor Ago was shattered by the defeat, and there will have to be plenty of work in Yamaha workshops in Amsterdam be tween this race and the Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps, Third in this 500cc clash was reigning world champion Phil Read on an MV that lacked the pace of either the Suzuki or the Yamaha.
Agostini looks to have lost his 350cc title, to add to his problems. Young Venuzuelean Johnny Cecotto finished fifth in the 350cc race, just behind the leading group of four riders, after a poor start.
But Ago wasn’t able to take advantage of Johnny’s troubles. His Yamaha was not as quick as many privateer machines down the straight and on the comers problems with the rear “slick” tire created handling faults.
Ago finished fourth, and only victories in the remaining four rounds can salvage the crown he has worn for the last seven successive seasons.
Dieter Braun, the wily, experienced West German won the 350cc race after a great scrap with Finn Penti Korhonen, Alex George of Scotland and Ago.
It wasn’t really Cecotto’s day, either! After a poor start robbed him of higher placing, he was forced out of the 250cc event while leading the Harley-Davidsons of Michel Rougerie and Walter Villa by a comfortable margin.
His Yamaha, housed in the ex-Kanaya 350cc cantilever frame, suffered a major engine blow up on the ninth lap. Rougerie led for a couple of laps until he slid off, under pressure from Villa.
Walter then pulled away to another convincing, if lucky, win to bring the 250cc world title even closer to his grasp. Rougerie remounted to take second spot, while Dieter Braun snatched back third place from Swiss star Bruno Kneubuhler after a great scrap.
The 125cc title is almost the property of little Paulo Pileri. He and teammate Pirpaulo Bianchi demolished the opposition to make it another Morbidelli one-two.
One more win will clinch it for Pileri, and even that is not needed if Kent Andersson does not win the next round. The Swede needs to win all four remaining rounds to keep his title, but that would be a major miracle. The Yamaha is just not quick enough, and once again Kent’s water cooled twin broke down trying to catch the uncatchable Morbidellis which now tum out a staggering 43bhp.
Bruno Kneubuhler was left to carry the Yamaha challenge to the Italians. He took third place, but he was more than a minute behind Bianchi in second spot.
The remaining solo class provided one of the day’s best’ finishes. Three 50s, led by Angel Nieto crossed the line separated by just three tenths of a second after a really superb race. Third was Herbert Rittberger on another Kreidler, while Eugenio Lazzarini on the Piovaticci took third place, and a record lap!
In the sidecar class West German Werner Schwarzel on the Konig outfit proved his pole position from practice was no fluke by winning comfortably from Swiss ace Rolf Biland. Schwarzel might have had a much bigger problem on his hands had not Mac Hobson, from Britain, crashed on the sixth lap while in close pursuit. Mac broke his arm in the accident, and passenger Gordon Russell was detained at the hospital with a fractured skull.
Unhappily this was not the only serious accident of the meeting. Rolf Thiele, the young 125cc German national champion was killed in an accident in the 250cc race. He suffered serious head injuries.
To read more from the 1970’s, click here.