Grand Prix of Czech Republic - History Lesson
By Geoff Meyer | 27 Jul 2012
The Grand Prix of Czech Republic is one of the oldest and most traditional Grand Prix's in the sport. It was back in 1961 when Swedish hero Bill Nilsson captured the 500cc Grand Prix at the Prerov circuit.
The 500cc class made a regular stop in the Czech Republic, with several riders really showing great form. Not surprisingly East German rider Paul Friedrichs finished with wins in 1965, 66, 67, and 68.
In later year's British rider John Banks picked up his first and only Grand Prix victory at the Prerov circuit, which was in 1969. Belgian legend Roger De Coster produced wins in 1971 and 1974 at the Stribro circuit. On the 500cc calendar the current Czech Republic circuit of Loket arrived on the scene, the year was 1995 and the winner was five times World Motocross Champion Joel Smets.
In the 250cc class it was always the Holice circuit that would hold the Czech Republic Grand Prix. From 1962 until 1985 Holice was the only circuit used for the 250cc boys, although that changed when circuits such as Povaski, Dalecin, Jinin and Loket were used.
Czech rider Vlastimil Valek opening up winning in Holice in 1962 and added wins in 63 and 65. Valek proving to be the most successful of the local riders. Other Czech Republic riders to win their home Grand Prix were Miroslav Halm in 1974 and Antonin Baborovsky in 1977. The 250cc class moved to Loket in 1997 when a young Stefan Everts took a stunning victory on his way to the FIM World 250cc Championship victory.
In 1975 Belgian 125cc legend Gaston Rahier won the first ever 125cc Grand Prix of Czech Republic, played out at the Tabor circuit Rahier was in a class of his own, and like Everts some 22 years later Rahier also picked up the 75 World Championship.
Belgian riders on the Suzuki factory team had a liking for this Grand Prix as Rahier won again in 1978, and wins followed by his Suzuki team-mates Harry Everts (wins in 1979 and 81) and Eric Geboers (wins in 1980, 82 and 83).
Several famous names won the FIM World 125cc Motocross GP in Czech Republic, including future World Motocross Champions Pekka Vehkonen, John Van Den Berk, Dave Strijbos, Trampas Parker, Andrea Bartolini, Greg Albertyn and Alessio Chiodi, they all won in the Czech Republic on their way to winning World Motocross Championships. A very young German boy named Pit Beirer also won in Czech Republic, which was in 1993.
In 1996 the Czech Republic 125cc GP would be won by Sebastien Tortelli, like many of his predecessors he finished the year with the World 125cc Championship to his name. The Czech Republic Grand Prix then disappeared from the 125cc calendar for several years, before it returned at the Loket circuit.
In recent years Loket has been one of the mainstays of the FIM World Motocross Championship, holding a Grand Prix nearly every year of the current double class Grand Prix format. It's an old school circuit that sometimes reminds us of the old days. Until today the circuit keeps its natural beauty, while still moving into the present and hopefully into the future.
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