THE WEEKLY FEED: THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MOTOCROSSER?

CAPTURED: RD, HEIKKI, JOEL OR?

There is serous banter amongst my peers as to who was the most influential motocrosser of all time. But like all things dealing with athletics and motosports, technology plays a huge role in the evolution. My brother Mike worked for Suzuki for over two decades and spent a considerable amount of time working across the hall from Roger DeCoster. Here’s his take, along with Carl Ribaudo, a friend from the early days and an aficionado of everything we treasure from 1970’s motocross.

Roger DeCoster: 5-time 500cc Grand Prix champion- ’71, ’71, ’73, ’75, ’76. The FIM altered the rules (weight limit) just prior to that 4th season and Suzuki’s proto/works bike were already finished, in order to meet the new weight limit they had to add lead to the the lower frame tubes and Roger told me the brilliant handling was instantly history……

Roger DeCoster and Heikki Mikkola faced each other in the 500 GP’s in 1972, 1974, 75, 77 and 78. Roger won 32 motos and Heikki won 41. Head to head, Mikkola beat DeCoster consistently. And right in the middle of their battles, Heikki switched to the 250 class and won a championship in 1976. RD told me by far The Finn and the Hurricane were his most worthy opponents.  But Roger put motocross on the map. When the GP season ended Joel grabbed a smoke, beer and a chick, RD went and raced in South America, Australia, Mexico, Japan etc. He never stopped spreading the word and there is no one that comes close to RD as far as advancing the sport!!!!!!
It’s funny, I worked with him for almost 20 years, I don’t know a soul who has such passion for the sport.

Heikki Mikkola; 3-time 500 GP champion ’74, ’77 ’78; ’76 250 GP champion. While Roger DeCoster was a PR machine, Heikki couldn’t get back to Finland soon enough. He loved the battle but hated the PR.
Joel Robert: 6-time 250 World Champion; 3 times on CZ, 3 on Suzuki. Obviously Joel had talent in spades, but those first 3 years when they were on the RH Suzuki they had a massive advantage, the bikes were so far advanced compared to the top Euro brands. Only Husky could respond to a degree and the Swedish engineers put in a massive effort to keep pace.
DeCoster considered Hannah to be one of his toughest opponents- along with Heiiki.

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 WOLF: BACK IN THE DAY

Back in ’95 I was heavily into XR600’s, probably helped along by the fact that Dick Burleson was working on them with the company Thumper Racing. This is from the Idaho ISDE Qualifier and my machine was pretty much stock at the engine, Scott’s valved and sprung the suspension and perhaps the biggest mod I made was fitting an XR250R saddle and tank onto it. This made the bike thinner, easier to manage and made it feel lighter. The engine on that beast would throttle down to zero, almost wouldn’t stall and would never flame out. As I recall I got a gold for the event. Yee haw.

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