Britain's Barry Sheene won the 500cc race by less than a wheel from his compatriot Phil Reed at the Italian motor-cycling grand prix near Florence on Sunday (16 May), a meeting marred by the deaths of two Italian riders.
GV Spectators watching start of 350cc race
GV winning rider Johnny Ceccotto crossing line
GV Ceccotto and Uncini on rostrum
GV start of 500cc race
GV Bikes down straight and around bend
GV winning bikes Barry sheene and Phil Read crossing line
SV Sheene and Read on rostrum.
Initials RH/0214 RH/AMN/AH/0226
SPORT: MOTOR CYCLING
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Background: Britain's Barry Sheene won the 500cc race by less than a wheel from his compatriot Phil Reed at the Italian motor-cycling grand prix near Florence on Sunday (16 May), a meeting marred by the deaths of two Italian riders.
Paolo Tordi crashed fatally in the 350cc race and in the next event, the 250cc, Otello Buscherini fell and was killed at the meeting in the village of Scarperia.
Italian ace Giacomo Agostini took the lead at the start of the 500cc race, but had to retire after eight of the 29 laps with brake trouble. Sheene and Read, both riding Suzukis, then battled it out wheel to wheel for the remainder of the race.
The two Britons appeared almost glued together as they went around the track, nearly a minute ahead of the third rider, Italian Virginio Ferrari. But Sheene always kept just in front and won by one-tenth of a second to take his world championship points score from three races to 45, 19 ahead of his nearest rival in the category.
Johnny Ceccotto, (Yamaha) one of the pre-race favourites, had to withdraw early in the event with ignition problems. But the young Venezuelan star notched up a fine victory in the 350cc event.
Lowering the track record several times, Ceccotto led the race from the third lap when Agostini pulled out with engine trouble. Of the 30 starters in the 350cc race only 15 finished. Several riders fell, but apart from the death of Tordi, no other injuries were reported. Franco Uncini (Yamaha) was runner-up.