British legend Barry Sheene has been honoured in a special awards ceremony at the Phillip Island circuit today.
As part of the 60th anniversary celebrations for the MotoGP world championship, special ‘MotoGP Champions Towers’ have been presented to some of the legendary previous winners during 2008.
Today’s ceremony saw five-times world champion Mick Doohan, 2007 champ Casey Stoner, and 1987 world 500cc champion and former MCN Man of the Year winner Wayne Gardner collect their awards from Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta.
Late British star Sheene, who spent the majority of his time after retirement living and working in Australia where he became a popular figure, was also honoured at the ceremony.
Sheene’s son Freddie collected the double world champion’s trophy. Freddie saw his dad race in classic races in Phillip Island and he said: “I didn’t see him in a Grand Prix but it was great to see him out there. It was a bit surreal seeing him out on the track because I’d only ever seen him riding in the movies.”
Doohan, who dominated MotoGP between 1994 and ’98 before injury wrecked his career, said: “It was a lot of fun riding against Wayne in the early years while he was trying to push for another title. It was lot of fun riding in the Grand Prix series and I still enjoy watching it now with Casey and Valentino (Rossi).”
Talking of his experience of taming Honda’s NSR500 machine he said: “Some of them were scary. I remember sitting in the pits while they were warming the bike up and I’d be cringing. Once you got on top of them and worked out how to tame them they were a lot of fun to ride and very rewarding to actually get on top of.”
Modern day Aussie favourite Stoner, who relinquished his MotoGP crown to Rossi in Japan just five days ago, said: “Wayne was a bit before I could understand what GP racing was all about but even now I have the DVD of some of the great old races. My mum and dad had stocks of old tapes of the old races and it was something I grew up with for years.
"Since I can remember, racing is all I’ve ever wanted to do after watching Mick come up and do what he did with the injuries and how he pushed through. Something that stuck with me was Mick and Wayne never giving up. I’ve had some hard years but I kept pushing all the time, even when things looked really grim for us.
"It was an unbelievable feeling last year reach to a target I thought was going to be impossible. We never gave up, kept pushing and got a great reward out of it.”