Debut of a King

The Eagle has landed - Venezuela 1978, Derek 'Nobby' Clark on the left and Kel Carruthers working on Kenny Roberts' Goodyear Yamaha YZR500 (OW-35K).
The Eagle has landed – Venezuela 1978, Nobby Clark on the left and Kel Carruthers working on Kenny Roberts Goodyear Yamaha.

The location is San Carlos in Venezuela and it would be an inauspicious start to their 500 campaign as a mechanical issue side-lined rider Kenny Roberts and reigning champ Barry Sheene would win. It wasn’t all bad, as Roberts would win the 250 race but would soon concentrate on the 500 title and take it by 10 points from Sheene as the Brit suffered from a mystery virus all year.

Kenny would go on to be a triple world champion, taking the title the following two years too. From then he would continue to be a front-runner, right up until his final season in 1983 when he was beaten at the last round by fellow American Freddie Spencer. Kenny paved the way for the American invasion of the 1980s, inspired a knee-out hang-off riding style that worked on bikes with lots of power and limited tyre technology and became a Yamaha team owner as well as a manufacturer in his own right. Triple champ as a rider, four-time world champ as a team owner and a visionary who has helped make MotoGP what it is today.

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