Looking through those stats about the British Grand Prix that I posted yesterday I noticed an amazing one that really jumped out at me. It has been 36 years since British rider has won the British Grand Prix in the premier class, yes, that’s right, 36 years. The last British rider to do so was the late Tom Herron who won the British Grand Prix when the TT races were still part of the world championships and it was in 1976. Tom was riding an RG500 Suzuki. The picture above shows Tom on an RG in 1979, the year in which he was killed while competing in the North West 200. Tom was an Irishman so he qualifies as a British rider, of course.
Even the great Barry Sheene failed to win his own grand prix in the premier class. Since the era of Sheene there have been no premier class winners and only a handful of winners in any class, the last being Scott Redding a few years ago in the soaking wet conditions at Donington Park in the 125cc class.
Why is is that a country which virtually created the road racing that we know today has become a spent force in it? There are as many theories as there are riders and, while Britain has had many winning riders in all sorts of other types of motorcycle racing, from observed trials to sidecar racing and world superbike, British riders have totally failed to have the sort of impact that they should have in grand prix racing.
Commentators have even christened this phenomenon “The Sheene Syndrome” This is a suggestion that British riders have become a victim to the expectation that every promising one of them will somehow miraculously morph into the next Barry Sheene. And, it has been a sad fact that, the majority of them have failed to live up to that expectation. Despite the fact that there is patently no lack of talent, somehow it hasn’t translated to a championship or even a win in the premier class.
And it’s not to say that the British system doesn’t foster talent, the British racing scene is HUGE. And sponsorship is much more readily available there than it is here as well, but somehow, it just hasn’t translated to anything. The only bright spark on the horizon is Cal Crutchlow who is showing signs of being a “possible” but, like his predecessor, James Toseland, he is yet to prove that he is the “next big thing”
The British press is hoping that Crutchlow will podium this weekend, but, unless a miracle happens, I can’t see that happening.