125 Grand Prix Racing History

11 Bilər 2015 | müəllif: | Off Şərhlər haqqında 125 Grand Prix Racing History

125 Grand Prix Racing History

125-cc Grand Prix motorcycles have been around since the first official GP season of 1949. 2011 will see the end of this era when the last race finishes at the Spanish track of Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana. No longer will the screaming 125 2-strokes be seen in Grand Prix racing; in their place will come the next generation of small capacity racers: the MotoGP 3 bikes.

The 125-cc class has been very popular with riders and spectators alike since the beginningoften having some of the closest races and finishes of the entire Grand prix weekend. Many of the great all time riders either started their careers on the 125s, or used the class at Grand Prix level to learn the various tracks around the world, and hone their racer skills.

The 125s have always been a challenge for riders. The engines generally have a very narrow power band (sometimes with a little as 500 rpm of power spread), their tires have at times seemed minuscule, and the riding style required on such a small machine (smooth and neat) was often difficult for taller riders. But almost every past and current champion of other classes has raced a 125 at some time.

The first winner of an official 125 Grand Prix race was Nello Pagani on a Mondial. Pagani was an Italian rider who also competed in the 500 Grand Prix race on a Gilera finishing 4th. That first 125 GP was held on the Circuit Bremgarten in Switzerland.

Most Successful Rider of all Time

The most successful 125-cc Grand Prix rider of all time is Angel Nieto. The Spaniard claimed seven world titles on a variety of machines including Bultaco. Derbi, Kreidler, Minarelli, Morbidelli, Garelli and Ducados between 1969 və 1984.

Besides Nieto, many famous riders went on to Grand Prix success from the quarter liter class.

Riders such as Mike Hailwood, Barry Sheene, and more recently, Loris Capirossi, Valantino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo all started to make a name for themselves in the 125-cc class at Grand prix level.

Not only did many riders make a name for themselves in the 125-cc class, so too did many motorcycle manufacturers. This is especially true of the Japanese manufacturers who saw the small capacity class as an ideal entry into international motorcycle racing and, by extension, a chance to showcase their machines and names.

From Italian to Japanese

In the early days of Grand Prix racing, the Italian manufacturers dominated the class; Mondial, Ducati and MV were all prominent manufacturers entering the 125-cc class. But it was the Japanese manufacturers who saw the class as an ideal entry level race series. Their expertise was in small capacity engines and their knowledge of high performance from them was groomed in the class.

Most of the early 125-cc Grand Prix racers were 4-stroke based, but as the class developed, both two and 4-stroke engines were used. Besides the engine type, many different configurations of cylinders were also used. The term exotic was often leveled at the 125 works bikes which had seen many possible configurations of engines from single cylinder 2-strokes to five cylinder 4-strokes.

Not only were the engines often complex, because of their cylinder numbers and configurations, but the manufacturers would be forced to employ multi-speed gearboxes (Suzuki had a 14-speed version at one time), to make the most of the inevitable narrow power bands.

Most Complex Engine

Probably the most technically advanced and complex 125-cc engine was the Honda RC 148. This five-cylinder 4-stroke engine is rumored to have produced 34 bhp at a staggering 20,000 rpm. The Honda used an eight-speed gearbox and a wet sump oiling system.

Suzuki DS 125

Dry weight was claimed to be 187 lbs. (85 kg’s).

Not all of the Japanese machines were successful though. The early Suzuki’s were under powered and generally slow. lakin, that all changed for the company when East German rider and renowned engineer, Ernst Degner, defected and joined the Suzuki factory team (Degner’s knowledge of rotary valve induction systems proving to be particularly helpful).

Unfortunate Bike

But not all of the Japanese 125-cc Grand prix bikes were successful. Besides the poor performance of the early Suzuki’s, Honda also had an example they would prefer to forget in the RC144 of 1961. The long stroke parallel-twin engine had poor performance compared to the opposition, and the bike was even described by Honda as “unfortunate.”

The performance of the 125-cc machines has long been admired by race engineers/technicians and riders alike. From a modest 15 bhp developed by the early bikes, through 38 bhp for the 20,000 rpm producing Honda’s to more than 45 bhp for the latest single cylinder 2-strokes, the 125-cc machines have produced incredible speeds.

Cornering Speed

Although the bhp figures are remarkable for such a small engine, the class’s minimum weight of 176 lbs. (80 kg’s) helps to propel these bikes to more than 145 mph. Not only do these bikes have excellent power to weight ratios, they also offer fast cornering speeds; their mid-corner speeds often being faster than the MotoGP bikes.

To achieve good lap times, 125-cc riders must maintain speeds from smooth consistent riding. A good example of this is the 125-cc lap record around the IOM TT circuit which stands at 110 mph (set by Chris Palmer in 2004).

The 125-cc Grand Prix class will be missed by many, but the little machines will be seen for years in classic and vintage racing .

Suzuki DS 125
Suzuki DS 125
Suzuki DS 125
Suzuki DS 125
Suzuki DS 125
Suzuki DS 125

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