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Czech Republic - History Lesson

Czech Republic - History Lesson

Jul 5

  • News

With the Czech Republic Grand Prix set to explose into action at the Loket circuit, in just two weeks time, we thought it might be a good moment to remember when the sport in that land brought us so much joy and drama.

A time when that area of Europe was somewhat unknown, however the secret was about to be screamed to the World in the form of some of the toughest men and bikes in the sports history.

Back in 1962 when Czech rider Vlastimil Valek won the 250cc Grand Prix of Czech Republic, at the Holice circuit, it would start a relationship between Grand Prix motocross and the country known for tough hard riders, that would last right up until present day, as the Czech Republic Grand Prix will be played out at the Loket circuit next week.

That victory by Valek wasn’t his last as he won again in 1963 and 1965 at Holice. The 250cc class and the circuit of Holice would be GP partners until 1986, then the 250cc GP moved to the Povaska circuit.

Many great riders took victory in the 250cc class in the Czech Republic, but for Czech riders only Vladimir Kavinov, Miroslav Halm, and Antonin Baborovsky would be able to join Valek as a winner at home in the 250cc class.

A Czech Republic rider who did often win in the 250cc class outside of his homeland, was Jaroslav Falta. The CZ factory rider would win a total of four Grand Prix’s in his career, but it wasn’t the GP success that made Falta famous, but an unfortunate situation back in 1974.

Falta almost won the 1974 250cc world championship, however Russian riders used questionable tactics during the final Grand Prix of the season to secure the title for Russian legend, Guennady Moisseev.

Going into the final round of the 1974 250cc championship only five points separated Falta and Moisseev going into the race in Switzerland. Falta took the lead in the first race and appeared to be heading for victory while Moisseev was being slowed by a bike problem. When Falta came upon the slowing Russian rider, Moisseev made an attempt to obstruct him, allowing second and third place riders, Harry Everts and Håkan Andersson to catch up. When Falta attempted to pass Moisseev, the Russian rider collided with him causing him to fall off his bike. Falta was quickly able to remount but, finished the race in third place.

Falta needed to take victory the final moto to claim the 250cc world championship. After taking an early lead, Falta was again crashed into by Russian riders. Causing him to fall, but remount in third place. The Russian riders were black flagged, and Falta was able to win the moto, but two hours after the of the race had ended, jury officials penalized Falta one minute for jumping the start which dropped him to eighth place handing the world championship to Moisseev.

It would be the one of the very few chances a Czech Republic rider would have of winning a world motocross championship, and once the 1970’s was over the tough riders from the Czech Republic disappeared forever.

Falta would win the first ever indoor race in America, the Superbowl of motocross in 1974. Other successes for Czech Republic riders came in 1963 when Vlastimil Valek finished second in the 250cc motocross world championship, and Petr Dobry finished third in the 250cc motocross world championship. Also in 1975 Antonin Baborawsky finished second in the 125cc world motocross championship, and in 1976 Jiri Churaby and Zdeneck Velky finished second and third in the 125cc world championship behind legendary Belgian Gaston Rahier. Those two being the last Czech Republic riders to ever stand on the podium at season end.

Of course, the Czech Republic brand CZ was famous in the 1960s and 70s, winning world championships with Joel Robert (1964, 1968 and 1969), Victor Arbekov (1965), Paul Friedrichs (1966, 1967 and 1968).

Once the Japanese brand of Suzuki and the Swedish brand of Husqvarna arrived, the honey pot dried up for CZ and like the Czech Republic riders, no more championships were won on the magnificent CZ machine.

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