Back in time - Graham Noyce and 1979
News Tuesday 12th June 2012 By Geoff Meyer
Somebody sent us an e-mail this week with a story on the final stages of the 1979 World 500cc Motocross championship. It was the year Englands own Graham Noyce would take victory. On July 29th of 1979 the Dutch 500cc GP would be run in Markelo. Only two other rounds would follow after Markelo, those being Belgium and Luxembourg. Here are the comments of the leading riders from that classic year, a year when a blonde British youngster knocked some legends for six.
Graham Noyce: The difference between Gerrit and I is now so big that, in fact, I only have to actually finish the last races. But still, a lot can happen in six heats. I definitely don't want to call myself world champion as yet. Winning the title is certainly a possibility, although I don't feel totally confident. I’m going to ride these six heats exactly the way I have ridden lately, i.e. defensively. I’m not going to try and win everywhere. You’ve seen that in Farleigh Castle. I stayed behind Lackey, because a second place was good enough for me.
Gerrit Wolsink: Graham is forty points ahead and that's a lot. Until now he’s completed everything. If he breaks down at all – just like all the other riders do – surprising things could still happen. But he’s been lucky in that he’s managed to actually finish all the races. Furthermore he has the advantage that the Honda (and I think the Yamaha too) at the moment is slightly better than our Suzuki's.
Brad Lackey: Noyce is in the best position at the moment. But there are still six races to go in which 90 points are up for grabs. That means I still have a chance, although I don’t really believe it. For the second place it becomes much more interesting. I’m only three points behind Wolsink. Second place has to be achievable for me. But it’s very possible that Gerrit is going to keep hold of his second place till the end. It’s difficult to say. As a matter of fact I’m glad that the end of the competition is in sight, so I can go back to the States. I think I’ll go to California for a while between the Swiss and the Dutch Grand Prix, because I’m happier there than here in Europe.
André Malherbe: You ask the stars what they think of it. Well; then don’t ask me. I don’t belong to that group as yet. It’s going very well with Honda at the moment. Graham has a safe lead and has a very good chance of winning the championship. After that it could become very interesting. If I can keep on form as of late, I should be able to finish higher than the fourth place which I have since Payerne. I’ve ridden more often in Markelo and like the track. I expect to finish in a good position
Heikki Mikkola: Noyce will be champion. That seems definite. They say that Graham isn’t the best rider and that he should not, for that reason, become world champion. I don’t agree. Someone who keeps on scoring points has to be good. How you get the points and how many is not important. As long as you make sure you get the most points, you become champion. For me the world championship is lost. The only thing that matters to me is to gain as many victories as possible. I’m glad that I’m as good as new again; only my knee still bothers me a bit. I’m going to go to Finland first for a race and then I’ll come back to Belgium. Next year I want to try and get the title back from Noyce. I’m staying with Yamaha. I’m doing very well with them. Am I too old to become champion one more time? Of course not, I’m only 34 years old!
Roger DeCoster: The season began very badly for me. The same goes for Heikki. If we both hadn’t had an accident just before the start of the Grand Prix, we would surely still be fighting, furiously, for first place. Graham has the big advantage that he completes every race and consequently scores points each time. He doesn’t win races, like Heikki and I often do. Graham does score the most points, but he’s not the fastest. The three oldies – Heikki, Gerrit and I – have proved that we still very much belong here.
Jean-Jacques Bruno: Noyce will be champion. For me, that’s indisputable. The way he rides at the moment, so much calmer than at the beginning of the season means the lead of forty points on Gerrit Wolsink is more than enough to stay in first place. I am 7th at the moment. I’d like to climb a little, but I think that will be difficult, because I’m 27 points behind Roger DeCoster. That will probably be too much of a gap to bridge. I also have to watch out for the lads behind me, like Yvan van den Broeck and André Vromans. I don’t expect a lot of trouble from my left foot in Markelo, so I’ll be able to go flat out while there.
Yvan van den Broeck: This year everything is going very well for me. I’m very satisfied. Markelo’s track suits me. I hope to gain quite a few points in Markelo. I need that to be able to hold onto eighth position, because André Vromans is right behind me. The difference between us is just five points and that's very little. Concerning first place, there’s only one contestant and that’s Graham Noyce. He realises that most likely too, because lately he’s riding much more calmly, taking less risks, but still managing to collect his points all the time.
André Vromans: I hope it’s going to go better in Markelo than today, here in Payerne. Today it was hopeless, a fall in the first and a broken gearbox in the second heat. That cost me my eighth place, which Yvan has now taken from me. In any case I want to try and get back the eighth place in Markelo. It looks as if there’s already a clear championship leader. Without any setbacks Graham will be champion.
Gerard Rond: The new champion is Graham Noyce. He’s always there and as a result manages to gain points every time. I’m glad I’ve put something right today by becoming seventh twice. I believe, provided my injuries give me no problems in the last races, that I’ll be able to finish a bit higher than the tenth place I’m in now. For the first time since my fall in Lienden I’ve enjoyed my ride again today.