MotoGP: Sheene tells the story of Britain's last Grand Prix win
Cal Crutchlow's victory at yesterday’s Czech Grand Prix might have been 35 years after Barry Sheene's last premier class victory for Britain – but it bears an uncanny similarity with Sheene’s 1981 Swedish win. We realised the parallels when we delved into the MCN archives to find Sheene’s column in our edition from August 19, 1981...
"At last, the number one spot on the winners’ rostrum. It finally came together, unfortunately too late to be anything sensational. It's so long since I last won a GP I almost forgot what it was like!
This year has been frustrating because nothing has gone right. As things were coming together as far as the machine was concerned something happened to thwart success.
After Finland my Silverstone-damaged foot and finger got a lot better so I was not too worried about things and from the first practice onwards everything was fine up there in Sweden. I was fastest in all but one of the practice sessions when Marco Lucchinelli was quicker, and after the final one I was in pole position, just under a second quicker than Marco.
It had been sunny all during practice but when Steph looked out of the window on Sunday morning she came back with the report that it was pouring with rain. Now people do seem to think that I like racing in the rain just because I seem to go well in the wet. I prefer the sun and don’t enjoy racing in the rain.
Then of course it was up to the paddock for the usual performance about what tyres to use. The decision was to fit an intermediate front that I cut myself and my own pattern intermediate rear. I fitted the wheels an hour before the race was due to start and said 'that’s that. They are they tyres that we are going to use; there will be no more changes'.
At the start I pulled the bike back as hard as I could and pushed as hard as I could on the foot that was not in top condition. With the wet track I was not able to get good grip and I was not able to push hard enough to get a long stride. I arrived at the first corner in about 20th and thought ‘you’ve made a right mess of that!’
But after a couple of laps I was up with the front runners and after five or six I was with the leaders. 'If everything goes OK you are going to win this one,' I thought.
Boet van Dulmen and I got together and as we swapped the lead I was really enjoying the race. Boet is good fun to race with, he is a good, predictable rider and you can turn around and have a good laugh with him on the long straights. With ten laps to go I decided it was time for me to go, so I pulled out an eight-second lead. Then I eased the pace and, keeping a watchful eye on Boet, ended the race with a lead of about a second which was what I estimated it would be. I didn’t want to rev the engine for nothing so I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
Finally everything has come together, one of the most important things being that Michelin have at last come up with the tyres to suit the machine. The only thing is that fourth place in the championship is no better than 20th. First place is the only one to have."