The Germans - History Lesson

Posted on May 16, 2018

Germany has a great history with the FIM World Motocross Championships. Riders such as Paul Friedrichs, Adolf Weil, Pit Beirer, Max Nagl and Ken Roczen have made Germany one of the proudest nations in our sport.

Way back in 1957 a guy named Fritz Betzelbacher won the European 250cc championship, unfortunately for Betzelbacher the 250 class was not classified as a world championship until 1962, but that European Championship victory was the first signs of things to come from the German riders.

In 1965 East German rider Paul Friedrichs finished second to British legend Jeff Smith in the 500cc World Championship and many were looking at the young German as the next rider to challenge the might of the Swedish and British riders.

Sure enough a year later in 1966 Friedrichs would win his first world title, adding titles in 1967 and 1968. Friedrichs was a very consistent performer and finished top three in 1969 (third), and 1972 (second).

Just as Friedrichs was losing his power in the 500cc class two other young German riders started making waves. Adolf Weil and Willy Bauer finish second in the 250cc and 500cc World Championships in 1973 and when Weil moved to the 500cc class in 1974 he added a third place in that very same season, and then also finished third in 1976. Hans Maisch added a third place in the 250cc class in 1978.

Germany had to wait nearly 20 years when in 1997 Pit Beirer scored third place in the 250cc championship. Beirer backed that third place spot with another top three finish (third) again in 1998, then scored a close second in 1999. Beirer had looked likely to win the 1999 title and only bad luck and problems at the GP of Germany saw him lose a grip on the points lead held by Frenchman Frederic Bolley. Beirer who was a tough and determined racer also scored third places in 2000 and 2002.

With the new era arriving Max Nagl scored second place in the 2009 MX1 class and Ken Roczen followed that up with his own second place in the 2010 MX2 class. Roczen would be crowned MX2 World Champion in 2011 and become the first German Motocross World Champion since Friedrichs way back in 1968.

With four motocross world championship titles (three to East Germany’s Friedrichs and one to Roczen) Germany is among the most successful nations in the sport of Motocross. They also won the 2012 Motocross of Nations at the Lommel circuit.