The first round of the Transatlantic Motor-Cycle Trophy competition was held at Brands Hatch on Friday (16 April), with the American team building up a significant points lead over Britain.
The first round of the Transatlantic Motor-Cycle Trophy competition was held at Brands Hatch on Friday (16 April), with the American team building up a significant points lead over Britain. At the end of the day the Americans were leading the British by 137 points to 122.
The first round races were dominated by America's Steve Baker, who was in superb form on his Canadian importer's works Yamaha. There are four more events in the series - two at Mallory Park on Saturday (17 April), and two at Oulton Park on Easter Monday (19 April). If Baker maintains the form he showed on Friday, he will probably be unbeatable, and the Americans will have every chance of retaining the trophy.
Not even the brilliance of Britain's Barry Sheene, or the experience of the British captain, Phil Read, could make an impression on the young bespectacled American, who broke the 750 cc lap record in both races, and finally left it standing at 96.26 mph.
Kenny Roberts (Yamaha), the American captain, took the lead at the start of the first leg, which suggested that the additional power of his machine would win him the day. He and Baker both race the new OW 31 factory machines. At the end of the first lap he was still leading, but was unable to shake of Sheene (Suzuki). Sheene cut inside on Graham Hill's bend early in the second lap, but was unable to break clear. But Baker was not far behind, waiting composed and patient.
Eventually Roberts again overtook Sheene and Baker followed him. In the eighth lap, coming out of the Surtees bend, Baker had taken the lead. Sheene took quick advantage of Baker's move, swept inside Roberts at Westfield, and kept him marginally at bay to the finish. But Baker by then was out of sight.
The British team entered the second leg trailing by 57 points to 69, and with Ron Haslam (Yamaha) taking the place of Dave Croxford (Cosworth Norton). Baker quickly built up such a clear lead over Roberts and Sheene, that Haslam's unremitting down-field tussle with Gary Nixon (USA) (Kawasaki), became the focal point of the race. Nixon finally crossed the line perhaps a quarter of a length ahead of Haslam.
Sheene was Britain's most successful rider with a second and third in the match races. But he also had a good double victory in supporting events, winning both the Shellsport 500 cc and Motor-Cycle News Superbike events.
SYNOPSIS: About fifty thousand motor-cycle enthusiasts went to the Brands Hatch racing circuit in Kent on Friday, for the first round of the Transatlantic Trophy series between America and Britain. One of the star riders - America's Steve Baker, who was racing his works Yamaha.
Britain's brightest hope was Barry Sheene, riding a Suzuki. But as it turned out, it was not to be Britain's day. On the first of the two legs to be raced, the American captain, Kenny Roberts, on another works Yamaha, was to take an early lead.
But close behind Roberts was Sheene, who he was unable to shake off.Sheene cut in on the Graham Hill bend early in the second lap, but was unable to break clear. Waiting close behind was Steve Baker, who followed his captain when he regained the lead. And it was Baker who took the flag form Roberts and Sheene.
In the first leg, Baker had broken the lap record, and in the second leg he was to push it up to 96.26 miles per hour. The British had entered the second leg trailing by fifty-seven points to sixty-nine.
Baker quickly built up such a clear lead over Roberts and Sheene, that a mid-pack battle between Britain's Ron Haslam and America's Gary Nixon, became the focal point of the race. Nixon was eventually to cross the line perhaps a quarter of a length ahead of Haslam, who had taken the place of Dave Croxford.
Once again Baker's superb form took him over the line far ahead of Sheene and Roberts. The first round left Britain trailing America by 122 to 137.