Racers prepare to sprint across the track for the LeMans-style start.
Britain’s annual Goodwood Revival is universally recognized as the world’s premier Historic race meeting — on both two wheels and four. It’s been staged each September since 1998 over the 2.37-mile Motor Circuit opened in 1948 by the Duke of Richmond, and laid out on a decommissioned WW2 airfield, which the RAF had built on his Goodwood estate near Chichester, on England’s leafy South Downs.
Catering for the bikes and cars that would have competed at the circuit before it closed first time around in 1966, the three-day event thrills an annual sell-out crowd of 150,000 spectators, almost all in ’60s-style period clothing. It complements the annual mid-summer Goodwood Festival of Speed founded in 1993 by the present Duke, after he took over management of the Goodwood Estate from his father.
Until now, the list of riders competing in the Revival’s annual two-leg Barry Sheene Trophy motorcycle race has been headed by a mixture of stars of yesteryear, coupled with current Superbike and Isle of Man TT racers taking the weekend off from their day job. What’s more, almost all of them until now have been Anglophone [English-speaking], either British (TT legend John McGuinness and the factory Kawasaki team’s Leon Haslam are the best-known current riders to have raced there), Australian (like multiple Goodwood winner and ex-500GP World champion Wayne Gardner, or 2018 Revival winner and twice World Superbike champion Troy Corser) or American — like three-time World champion Freddie Spencer, usually a regular at the event, and from which he was thus absent owing to MotoGP duties at Misano.
But for this year’s race the 14 Isle of Man TT race winners on the grid with a total of 84 victories between them were joined by another three-time World champion from Spain — the man who until his retirement from racing at the end of last season rivalled Valentino Rossi as MotoGP’s most experienced rider, Dani Pedrosa [see sidebar]. After winning the 125GP World title once and the 250GP crown twice as a Repsol Honda factory rider, Dani finished in the top six places of GP racing’s premier class no fewer than 11 times between 2006 and 2017 — including second and third three times each — scoring 31 race victories and 112 rostrum finishes in 236 MotoGP starts. After retiring from racing at the end of last season, Dani signed on for the KTM MotoGP team as a test rider, though injury prevented him from starting work for the Austrian factory until June.
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